Is Westlight the best rooftop bar in New York City?

I knew that when we went to New York for my 40th Birthday this summer that I wanted to do something really special to mark the occasion (as is going to New York in itself wasn’t special enough!). I love a rooftop bar, which combines two of my favourite things; cocktails and views. And what better views can you get than the Manhattan skyline at sunset?

I did a bit of research into the best rooftop bars in New York, knowing that I wanted to go to one in Brooklyn; if you’re on a rooftop bar in Manhattan, you can’t see Manhattan. Thankfully we were staying in Brooklyn on this occasion anyway and it didn’t take me long to realise that Westlight in Williamsburg was going to be the best option. It was one of the few places that didn’t require a deposit or a minimum spend, you didn’t have to order food and the views were absolutely stunning.

Westlight is situated on the 22nd floor of The William Vale (a super duper swanky hotel) and was the idea of chef Andrew Carmellini. The bar menu offers cocktails, rare spirits, craft beer and wine with a German slant; the craft beer on offer was Kolsch and the wine is Riesling. Not normally my first choice but always happy to try new things!

You can reserve online a month before you want to visit and can stipulate whether you want to sit inside or outside. I put in the requests section that the visit was for my birthday so an outside seat along the edge would be appreciated, knowing fine well from my travel agent days that requests can always be noted but aren’t always guaranteed.

Must have been my lucky day though because when we arrived, we had, what was probably the best seat in the house. The kind of seat that had we had the choice of anywhere in the whole bar, that’s the seat I would have chosen. The vibe is exactly what I was looking for as well, nice comfy sofas and low level music. To be honest, the amount of people that were there it was nice just listening to the chatter and letting that create the atmosphere. The dress code is also pretty casual, I wore a black jumpsuit and sandals but is definitely a ‘jeans and a nice top’ kind of place.

Despite it being a Thursday night it was still busy, busier when we first got there at about 6pm and got quieter as the evening went on. I suspect most people were there to see the sun go down and went elsewhere once it did. We’d planned on doing the same to be honest but seeing all the lights come on was equally as spectacular and we ended up staying for three drinks rather than the two we’d originally planned. I started off with a cocktail (a Paloma; tequila, grapefruit, lime, agave and club soda – $18) and then two classes of white wine ($16 each). Not the cheapest bar in the world, but to be honest, the exchange rate was so bad when we were there, nowhere was cheap – and these prices were actually quite competitive compared to other places we visited during the trip)

I mean, the pictures speak for themselves but the views were simply breathtaking and I don’t use that term lightly. We timed it just right, arriving about half an hour before the sun started going down, and staying for a good hour or so afterwards to enjoy the city lights. We were always very lucky with the weather as it was a cloudless sky so absolutely nothing obstructing our view. We were right across the water from the Empire State and Chrysler buildings but you could also see all the way down to lower Manhattan and right across Brooklyn from the other side.

It terms of what I imagine for our rooftop bar experience in New York, Westlight absolutely exceeded my expectations and I would recommend anyone to pay a visit if it’s the type of thing that floats your boat. I will 100% be going back next time we go to New York, which is hopefully sooner than my 50th!

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