In this latest article in the ongoing South Africa series, Elite Traveler selects the five best rooftop bars in Johannesburg.
There is nothing quite like sipping on your favorite cocktail while watching the sunset. Johannesburg may lack the dramatic scenery of Cape Town’s Table Mountain or the ocean vistas of Durban, but the cityscape comes alive as the sun drifts below the horizon.
Johannesburg has dozens of rooftop bars offering fantastic views across the City of Gold, but only a select few can offer an experience worthy of an Elite Traveler. In this list, we have selected only the most exclusive venues, ones that offer top-level service, premium beverages, and the essential panoramas.
Four Seasons Westcliff
More of a terrace than a rooftop bar, but what Four Seasons Westcliff lacks in height it certainly makes up for in luxury. The hotel is situated on a hillside close to Johannesburg Zoo. It is a usual stomping ground for those traveling on business or locals celebrating a special occasion and its main selling point is its gorgeous terrace.
Grab a cocktail from the hotel’s ambient Pre View bar and head out to the terrace where panoramic views across Johannesburg can be enjoyed in a luxurious and exclusive setting. Those same views can also be enjoyed from the Flames restaurant, which, as the names suggests, serves grilled regional favorites such as dry-spice–rubbed sea bass and a 600g Tomahawk Ribeye steak.
This exclusive rooftop bar is perfectly situated at the highest point in the Braamfontein district. Located on the 22nd floor of the South Points Tower, it offers 360-degree views that stretch from one side of the city to the other. A state-of-the-art cocktail offers a selection of signature cocktails in a space that can host up to 450 people. There is a chic lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, so the views are never obscured even when you are inside. The bar specializes in private events and offers tailored menus for dinner parties for up to 200 people. The mixologists will also provide a list of cocktail options to suit any type of event.
Sir James van Der Merwe
A popular haunt for Johannesburg’s young professionals, Sir James van Der Merwe is the perfect place to fit in with the locals. Situated in a converted warehouse space, the bar looks like an explorer’s lifetime collection of trinkets and treasures. The owner, who created the bar after failing to find a perfect drinking spot in the city, has stacked the bar full of his own antiques and quirky items. It makes for an eccentric and eclectic atmosphere which is perfectly complemented by the impressive Sandton skyline view.
SAN Deck Rooftop
Located on the sixth floor of the Sandton Sun Hotel, SanDeck Rooftop offers all-day dining before turning into a drinking venue in the evenings. The menu takes inspiration from South African flavors and many dishes are available as either sharing plates or main dishes. Meanwhile, the drinks menu is dominated by South African beers, wines and spirits. Families tend to filter out after the spectacular sunset to make way for an evening crowd interested in sampling the hotel’s signature cocktail list. A DJ is in residence on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, which inevitably attracts a young and vibrant crowd and brings a more energetic atmosphere to the bar.
The Island Bar
Located on the Pool Deck at the Hyde Park Hotel, the Island Bar gives guests the opportunity to experience a famous Highveld sunset while sipping on an indulgent sundowner and dabbling your feet. The bar is a sophisticated yet informal setting with a modern cocktail list and a carefully curated selection of light bites.