The Miami rooftop bars keeping us in high spirits

In many ways, Miami’s charms – dominated principally by a culture of beach and sea – are best experienced on the ground level. Less expected though is the heady experience of floating, figuratively speaking, over the landscape, inevitably in an aerie atop a hotel building. And with a chilled drink in hand and the stopwatch set for sunset, the moment is, as they say, priceless. Herewith, our pick of the best rooftop bars in Miami.

Miami rooftop bar
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The Dream South Beach hotel comprises two Miami landmarks, the Lawrence Murray Dixon-designed Tudor Hotel and Palmer House. On the rooftop of the former is the aptly named Highbar, an all-white homage to the 70s that designers Michael Czysz and Kelly Ogden have kitted out with outdoor beds, cabanas, an infinity pool, wire chairs and, for the heat-averse, an air-conditioned bar. Pair cocktails and Mexican snacks from the Naked Taco restaurant with views of the Atlantic.

1111 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; tel: 1.305 673 4747;

Watr rooftop bar

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Watr At the 1 Rooftop

Undaunted by its missing vowel, Watr brings healthy servings of poke and sushi to Miami with an 18th-storey wraparound perch, strung with lights and wall murals, that looks out over the Atlantic. The louche views, though, have to compete hard with chef Catalia Ucros’ pan-Polynesian and Japanese menu of kimchi tuna and quinoa poke, corn tortilla encasing skirt steak and Asian slaw, and unagi with brie, all of which is best sampled alongside quirky cocktails like a Be My Hula Boy of 23-year-old Ron Zacapa, habanero and torched pineapple.

1 Hotel South Beach, 2341 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; tel: 1.305 604 6580;

Juvia bar Miami

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In Miami, the eye reaches for the blue and white horizon, a tendency that’s cannily reflected in the design of Juvia. Spread out over 10,000 sq ft, next to Herzog & de Meuron’s striking car-park complex, the restaurant channels a calming indoor-outdoor vibe, thanks largely to a low-slung profile cast with capacious windows that draw light and views into an inner en plein air courtyard that’s anchored by raw timber planks and botanist Patrick Blanc’s lush vertical garden and a rectangular decorative pool. It’s a thoroughly bucolic spot for a pre-prandial Elderflower Mule cocktail of Ketel One, lime, ginger beer and lemongrass.

1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139;  tel: 1.305 763 8272; 

WET Deck bar at Miami

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WET Deck at W Miami

The W brand has always traded in playful superlatives, but the claim by its Brickell Avenue outpost of having Florida’s highest rooftop pool is a literal boast. From this height, the sunrise and sunset views over the bay and Brickell’s skyscrapers are, of course, spectacular, but made more so with the arrival of a perfectly shaken cocktail. Guests with a head for heights, meanwhile, might prefer to adjourn to the 50th-storey Whisper lounge for cocktails and live music. 

485 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33131; Tel: 1.305 503 4400; 

Miami Sugar rooftop bar

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Located on the 40th floor, the double-decked Sugar grabs the attention straight out of the stalls, artfully blending its rooftop bar and garden with the bracing spread of Biscayne Bay and a pumped up skyline of steel and lights. Arquitectonica and LA-based Studio Collective have conceived a Southeast Asian fantasy centred around thick stands of cocoplums, Buttonwoods, bromeliads, Japanese privets and star jasmines, the whole leading eventually to an oak-lined bar ringed by teak barstools. The escapist illusion is reinforced by sharing plates of steamed dumplings and tamarind-glazed satay, whilst the Lychee Blossom of vodka and sake should be chased with local beers.

East Miami, 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, FL 33131; tel: 1.786 805 4655;

Area 31 in Miami

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Area 31

On emerging into Area 31’s 16th floor perch, one is greeted by the glossy sheen of Brickell Avenue’s skyscrapers. Bolstered by views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami river, the effect is luminous, particularly at night, out on the terrace and pool-deck, as the glittering lights segue into LA-based designer Cheryl Rowley’s honed décor of stone, glass, metal and natural-hued textiles. Toast the view with quirkily named craft cocktails from the bijou bar, among them a Papaya Don’t Preach of tequila and saffron bitters, and a Smokey and the Bandits of mescal, red pepper flakes and sage.

Kimpton Epic Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, FL 33131; tel: 1.305 424 5234;

Ocho bar Miami

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An indispensible component of any Soho House in the world is its rooftop deck, and the Soho Beach House outpost is no exception. Located on the eighth floor, Ocho combines taqueria, tequila bar and plunge pool, the heady pairing given an additional boost with mandatory views of the ocean. Tacos come wrapped around crispy cauliflower and the seared ahi tuna is obligatory, but it’s the small but potent drinks menu that steals the show, the Tommy’s, in particular, hiding its kick of tequila beneath cucumber, watermelon and lime.

Soho Beach House, 4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140; tel: 1.786 507 7900;

Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.