Once the city’s Achilles heel, the last few years have seen rooftop bars become a Brisbane specialty. It’s thanks to a new wave of hoteliers and independent operators that has woken up to the appeal of drinking with a breeze and a view. Here are 10 of the best in the Queensland capital.
Eleven Rooftop Bar
The well-heeled yardstick when it comes to Brisbane’s sky-high offerings, Eleven has become a beacon for Brisbane’s bright young things since it opened 18 months ago. The cocktails are good, the people watching better. And the unusual view of the city – uphill, from a narrow angle – is something else, the office towers appearing almost piled on top of each other like a glittering citadel. Try an afternoon session before things get too rambunctious.
757 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
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Elixir Rooftop Bar
It’s a surprisingly cosy hideaway from the nonstop assault on the senses that is Fortitude Valley. What Elixir lacks in views, it makes up for with its intimate layout, knowledgeable staff and first-class service. Things can get crammed on a Saturday night but the anonymous staircase sorts out the riffraff – everyone who’s here is here for a good time, lending the venue a giddy, communal atmosphere.
646 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
Sazerac Bar Brisbane
Try as it might, Sazerac can’t quite detach itself from the hotel, Four Points by Sheraton, underneath – the fit-out leans towards the utilitarian and service can be a touch stiff, if always friendly. But, those views: 30 floors up, they’re what you’d expect from Brisbane’s first proper sky bar. The outlook to the north in particular, over the waterfront skyscrapers and towards the Story Bridge beyond, is stunning. Start a night here before venturing further afield.
99 Mary Street, Brisbane
Eagles Nest Brisbane
Just the fact that it’s south of the river – a place where the city’s high rises rarely venture – makes Eagles Nest unique. That it’s only open to the public on Sundays (from 3pm) is also a point of difference so you’d best plan ahead. If you’re in town on a weekend, this compact bar on top of The Point Brisbane hotel is an excellent place to pitch up. Looking west towards the CBD, with the sun setting through the skyscrapers, it’s a beguiling spot to while away an afternoon.
21 Lambert Street, Kangaroo Point
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Pullman Brisbane King George Square lies between the courts along Roma Street and the commercial end of town to the north. It’s an odd, no-man’s-land location but the outlook from the top is unusually spacious. Sixteen Antlers, the hotel’s new rooftop bar, makes the most of it. The view eastwards, across the square and towards the city, is spectacular in the afternoon, the tower blocks reflecting the setting sun to turn the skyline a handsome shade of orange. The bar itself is an intimate corner space, serviced by hip bartenders slinging an imaginative cocktail list.
Corner Ann and Roma streets, Brisbane
Soleil Pool Bar
Searching for Soleil Pool Bar? Just listen. Its DJ-driven crowds can be heard hovering just above the bustle of Grey Street. Sprawling across Rydges South Bank Brisbane’s second-level pool deck, this is another successful bucking of the hotel-bar blues – probably due to the chic locals who float in over the course of the weekend. The views aren’t the best but the location – jammed between the Cultural Precinct and the restaurants along Grey Street – can’t be beaten.
Corner Grey and Glenelg streets, South Bank
This is about as far removed from a big-chain bolt-hole as you can possibly imagine. Atop the tiny Limes Hotel in Fortitude Valley, The Rooftop comes alive on weekends with crowds of garrulous twentysomethings either gathering around the bar or jumping into the twin plunge pools opposite. Wednesdays and Thursdays feature an open-air cinema — a laid-back affair that allows you to order from Alfredo’s Pizzeria next door.
142 Constance Street, Bowen Hills
The Pool Terrace and Bar
Technically speaking, this isn’t a rooftop bar because most of Next Hotel Brisbane is actually towering above the space, however the atmosphere on the fourth-floor pool deck – looking out across the buzzing Queen Street Mall – is much the same. The best seats are down the front, by the pool. At dusk, with the setting sun streaming into the top of the mall, it’s a terrific spot to either finish your day or begin the night.
2/72 Queen Street, Brisbane City
Up on Constance
You’d hardly know Up on Constance is part of the Tryp Fortitude Valley Hotel, given the alleyway and exclusive lift that serve as its entrance. The punters, too, tend to be locals, crowding out the stylish space on Friday and Saturday nights. Better to visit in the afternoon, when the venue’s fourth-floor deck soaks up the sun that bounces off the newly built office towers that populate the area. It’s an excellent spot to start your night.
14/20 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley
Dandys sets the mood with an eye-popping colour palette, tiled fit-out and garden furniture. The location does the rest: atop the three-level Fox Hotel, right in the heart of South Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct, it boasts unique views of the city in the north-east, all the way around to West End. Stop in on a summer’s afternoon for a shared cocktail jug before things get unrestrained – a sure bet when the younger crowd piles in after dark.
71-73 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane