Blue Sky Drinking

Tina Lofthouse scales the heights of cocktail fashion to find the world's top ten rooms with a view.

When it comes to bars, fashion is particularly fickle. A 'cool, intimate space' one week can become a 'dingy badly-lit basement' the next. And when you're entertaining important clients, there is nothing worse than finding your venue of choice is a soulless or insalubrious dud.

The bars that stand the test of time and never fail to impress are those that look out over fantastic cityscapes.

Here's our Top 10...

Felix, Hong Kong

For stunning views of the Hong Kong skyline and harbour, you can do no better than the cocktail bar at the Felix, which sits high above the city on the 28th floor of the famous Peninsula hotel. If you can bear to take your eyes off the incredible vista, you can admire the sleek hi-tech surroundings created by designer Philippe Stark; or indulge in late-night snacks. Incidentally, the gents' toilets offer a somewhat 'unique' perspective of the city.

The Peninsula
Hong Kong Salisbury Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Tel: + 852 2315 3188
Hours: Daily 6pm to 2am
Should you reserve? Reservations not accepted
Dress code? Smart casual

The Signature Lounge, Chicago

Way up above Chicago, some 96 floors above in fact, is the Signature Lounge, which offers a relaxed setting from which to admire the cityscape of Chicago. It does draw in the tourists - it works out better value than the observation deck in the same building - but with a vantage point this good, it doesn't seem to matter. There are signature martinis such as the Michigan Avenue, and appetizers for the peckish. Go at sunset for the best views.

The Signature Room at the 95th
875 N. Michigan Ave Chicago
Illinois, USA

Tel: +1 312 787 9596
Hours: Sun - Thurs 11am to 12.30am, Fri & Sat 11am to 1.30am
Should you reserve? Reservations not accepted.
Dress code? Casual

Cloud 9, Shanghai

Cloud 9 is a fitting name for a bar located on top of the 'highest hotel in the world', and 360 degree views are offered from this chic venue. The hotel is conveniently located in Pudong, Shanghai's financial and business district, but the bar itself can be hard to find and requires a change of elevators. However, it's well worth making the effort for the superb view of the Bund and beyond. There are also elegant Asian tapas on offer such as Vietnamese soft spring rolls and Thai fish cakes.

Cloud 9, Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Jin Mao Tower
88 Century Boulevard
Pudong, Shanghai
People's Republic of China

Tel: + 86 21 5049 1234
Hours: Mon - Thurs 6pm to 1am, Fri 6pm to 2am, Sat 11am to 2am, Sun 11am to 1am
Should you reserve? Reservations not accepted
Dress code? Smart Casual - Semi formal

Vertigo 42, London

While London offers several bars with great views, the definitive vista is from Vertigo 42. All the tables line the windows, but the best overlook the Thames' most picturesque sights such as Tower Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral. In addition to the usual drinks menu, there are 30 varieties of champagne on offer, and snacks such as charcuterie, and seared scallops. On the downside, you must book in advance and go through airport-style security; it also closes early. However, this is the best view in London, even beating the London Eye.

Tower 42
25 Old Broad Street
London, UK

Tel: + 44 (0)207 877 7842
Hours: Mon to Fri only. Midday to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm (last entry)
Should you reserve? Yes, essential.
Same-day reservations must be made before 12 noon for lunch, or before 5pm for dinner.
Reservations will be taken up to 9.45 pm
Dress code? Smart dress required

Gondolen, Stockholm

While the other bars feature in our top 10 are situated high up in plush buildings, Gondolen is somewhat different and deserves a mention for novelty alone. Suspended beneath a pedestrian overpass, guests can take the lift dating back to the 1930s (it costs SEK 10) up 38 metres to the bar and restaurant, where they can admire views of Stockholm and Lake M�laren.

Gondolen, Stadtsg�rden 6
S�dermalm Stockholm

Tel: + 46 8 641 7090
Hours: Mon to Fri 11.30am to 1am
Should you reserve? Reservations not accepted
Dress code? None

Ava, New York

This penthouse bar on top of the Dream Hotel is a perfect vantage point from which to gaze over Times Square and the Hudson River. The retro glamour of the place, and the wall-to-wall windows, make this a truly stunning spot, and there's also an outside deck for city gawping when the weather is warm. There are DJs on certain nights but you can still talk, especially if you head into The Den. An hors d'oeuvre menu is available.

Ava Lounge
210 W. 55th St (between Broadway and Seventh Avenue)
New York, USA

Tel: See below Hours: 5pm - 4am
Should you reserve? Advisable. Private Parties - +1 212 974 1934 / Individuals - +1 212 956 7020
Dress code: No trainers and no hats

Skye Bar, S�o Paulo

The Hotel Unique is certainly that with its dramatic bulk and curious round windows; situated on the rooftop you'll find Skye, a casual and uber-cool spot that looks out onto the S�o Paulo skyline. In the evening, the pool area opens to non-guests and becomes an extension of the bar. You can order food from the full restaurant menu, which takes its inspiration from Brazilian, French, Italian and Japanese cuisines. Extremely stylish.

Hotel Unique
Avenida Brigadero Lu�z Ant�nio
S�o Paulo, Brazil

Tel: + 55 11 3055 4700
Hours: 6pm to 2am
Should you reserve? Reservations not accepted
Dress code? No

Zeta Bar, Sydney

A stunning bar overlooking the historic Queen Victoria Building, Zeta is all plush leather and velvet. The cocktails are made with fresh ingredients and are certainly different - if you thought barbecuing was just for burgers, think again. Barbecued blood orange & rosemary fix or a grilled pineapple & cracked pepper martini, anyone? There are DJs each night of the week, but this is no nightclub so you should still be able to talk comfortably. It also boasts an outside terrace.

Zeta Bar
488 George Street

Tel: + 61 (0)2 9265 6070
Hours: Mon to Weds 5pm until late, Thurs & Fri 3pm until late, Sat 4pm until late. Closed Sundays.
Should you reserve? Advisable
Dress code? Hip, high end

Main Tower, Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a city that loves its skyscrapers, and in one of the tallest, the Main Tower, you can be propelled 200 metres above ground in a high-speed elevator to enjoy cocktails in style. The interior is a sleek minimalist affair, and the floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that your view of the Frankfurt metropolis is uninterrupted. The clientele is mixed, making it sophisticated yet lively. Note that there is a EUR 4.50 charge for the elevator.

Main Tower
Neue Mainzer Strasse
52-58, D-60311
Frankfurt am Main

Tel: + 49 (0) 69-36504777
Hours: Tues to Thurs 5.30pm to 1am, Fri & Sat 5.30pm to 2am, closed Sun & Mon
Should you reserve? Advisable
Dress code? Smart

The Peak Bar, Tokyo

The Park Hyatt Tokyo was the stage for the film Lost In Translation and many a visitor has pitched up here to glimpse the spectacular views the hotel provides. Whilst its better-known sibling New York bar, a few floors up, is closed for refurbishment (July 24 until September 1, 2006), check out the Peak Bar, which offers an equally fabulous prospect across Tokyo. Lit by over 50 washi paper lanterns, it is an atmospheric setting.

Park Hyatt Tokyo
3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku
Tokyo, Japan

Tel: + 81 3 5322 1234
Hours: 5pm to 11.30 pm
Should you reserve? Call ahead
Dress code: Smart

Image courtesy of Wikipedia