When the weather heats up, and life between the skyscrapers becomes a little too claustrophobic, smart city slickers escape to rooftop bars. To assist you in finding your very own inner-city mountaintop, we count down five of our all-time favourites around the country.
Situated high up on the roof of the Main Change of the Maboneng Precinct, the Living Room is part café, part design concept store. Open from Thursday to Sunday, the trendy restaurant serves up organic food beneath a sprawling Bedouin tent with a profusion of greenery, hammocks and low seating. Order a burger and a cone of fries from the retro burger bar, or pop in for the free rooftop yoga (Saturdays from 9:30 am to 10:30am) or regular live music. The space is also available for hire for hip, inventive weddings, as well as other corporate and private events.
The drink: opt for the Bye Bye Baby, made with Maputo Limes and Bombay Sapphire.
With some of the best views over Sandton and its surrounds, the San Deck makes an excellent venue for inner city sunsets. There are three large fire pits to keep you cosy while you relax on one of the plush couches. You can dine here at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think salmon terrines with pea purée and lemon cream cheese, asparagus potage, and caramelized pork belly. (Although personally, we’re tempted to skip ahead to the chocolate croissant and butter pudding with hot chocolate Anglaise and honeycomb ice cream.)
The drink: high rollers (or those in the mood to celebrate), will find a range of real French champagne at this hotel restaurant.
Overlooking Umhlanga beach and the ocean, the Lighthouse Bar offers a different kind of rooftop vista. Dark wood, leather detailing, and a crimson and gold colour theme keep the seaside venue sophisticated. There’s live music, snacks and large plasma screens that screen the matches when big soccer, cricket or rubgy fixtures take place.
The drink: order the Umhlanga Schling cocktail, which uses local Durbs ingredients such as cane sugar and cane spirit.
Grand views of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, dangling fairground lights, and the muffled sounds of Long Street drifting up from below: The Waiting Room’s open rooftop area is well worth the climb up the multiple staircases. There’s no food on offer here, but fuel up on a burger at Royale beneath before heading skywards and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in Cape Town. The venue also hosts live music most nights of the week and then there’s Early Friday (an offbeat party hosted by UCT’s art students on Fridays during university terms). Check out their Facebook page for details of shows and bands on the night they’re taking place.
The drink: craft beer enthusiasts will appreciate the Citizen Alliance on tap.
Towards the bottom of Long Street you’ll find a rooftop bar of a different kind. The Grand Daddy Hotel’s rooftop airstream trailer park has just reopened after a full refit and the rooftop bar (complete with Bedouin tent) is back up and running for sophisticated skyline drinking in the summertime. There’s less of a view to be had here – the trailers block some of it – but their gleaming silver shapes create another kind of ambiance. In summer, the bar transforms to host the Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema – the season opens on Monday 15 September with Forrest Gump. (Check out the full schedule here.) There’s a snack menu for light bites, and if you’re after something more substantial, the barman can arrange for the menu at L’Apero to be ordered up here.
The drink: the menu is currently being reworked, but the barman can whip up any of the classic cocktails.