View from the Roof: Sky-High Bars in Washington D.C.

By: Sascha Zuger

August 14, 2013

D.C. is full of parties working hard to come out on top, but visitors can skip the political drama and have a capital good time riding from opulent lobbies to exclusive venues overlooking the gorgeous city sights below. Take a trip to Washington and drink in the view from the roof – along with a cocktail or two – at one of our favourite bars in Washington D.C.

P.O.V. at the W

POV Rooftop Terrace | Washington DC

P.O.V Rooftop Terrace © P.O.V

Undeniably, the most gaspworthy views in town award goes to The P.O.V Lounge at the W Washington D.C. Lauded for the best views of the White House and the city’s historic monuments, well-heeled patrons opt for indoor or outdoor seating to enjoy small plates like baby lamb chops or Chef Ronde’s crab cake. Handcrafted cocktails are complemented by late night bottle service, including Dom, Cristal and a $1000 bottle of Ace of Spades champagne.

DNV Rooftop Bar at the Donovan House

Donovan House | Washington DC

Donovan House Thomas Circle Panorama © Isaac Maiselman

“DNV” (unofficially nicknamed “**bleep** Nice View”) sits atop the Donovan Hotel, the latest to join the popular Kimpton properties of D.C. Chef Nguyen’s pan-Asian tapas is designed with Head Bartender Jon Harris’ seasonal and creative cocktails in mind, as they too have an Asian influence. Open seasonally with a happening happy hour, diverse crowd and overall laidback vibe (the relaxing view 14 floors above the city includes a panoramic view of Thomas Circle)  makes this breezy hotspot a great place to chill out before taking on the dynamic nightlife scene below.

House of Sweden

House of Sweden | Washington DC

House of Sweden Rooftop Terrace Nordic Jazz © House of Sweden

Although not your typical rooftop terrace, this chic work of contemporary Scandinavian architecture by Gert Wingårdh and Tomas Hansen and owned by the Kingdom of Sweden, sits on the Potomac River in the heart of Georgetown. Housing both the Embassy of Sweden and the Embassy of Iceland, House of Sweden is not open on a day-to-day basis; however public art events, parties celebrating the Nordic culture, an annual Nordic Jazz Festival and even yoga classes are frequently held at this prime rooftop locale. Sign up for alerts to events during your visit.

Capella Washington DC, Georgetown Hotel

Book a room at this Georgetown hotel and you’ll have access to sweeping views of iconic D.C. landmarks (best enjoyed alongside sundowners) and an indoor-outdoor rooftop infinity pool with built-in fireplace. Private to hotel guests means true exclusivity.

The Observatory at the Graham

The Observatory Rooftop Terrace | Washington DC

The Observatory Rooftop Terrace © The Graham Georgetown

A view of Kennedy Center, The Washington Monument, historic Georgetown, and the Rosslyn skyline brings in the crowd to this new nightlife oasis at the Graham Georgetown. A strictly enforced dress code and lack of DJ ensures this upscale Georgetown club in the sky will not turn into a rowdy dance party, but those looking for conversation over artfully crafted cocktails and a DR/Honduran cigar will enjoy the comfortable seating and friendly, attentive staff. During busy times, the 3,000sqft club reaches capacity and a line may form (which guests of the hotel can bypass). An early start to enjoy the sunset (stay for the stargazing) might be a smart move.

Bonus: The Lorien Hotel and Spa, Alexandria

Although this isn’t the place for a see-and-be-seen night out, if a private party is more your vibe, the rooftop terrace of the stylish Lorien Hotel and Spa in the heart of Old Town Alexandria (which formerly held a nightly wine hour) is now reserved for those staying in the penthouse suites.

Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Washington D.C. from London Heathrow. Book your flight today.

Have you been to any of these rooftop haunts in Washington D.C.? Where do you go for sundowners with a view in the city? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Sascha Zuger

Sascha Zuger is the author of several Moon Handbook and Spotlight guidebooks. Her work has been seen in National Geographic Traveler, The Washington Post, The LA Times, Food Network Magazine, Parenting, SELF, Gourmet, WIRED, and a number of other national magazines. She also writes novels for teens under pseudonym, Aimee Ferris.

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