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4 of Asia’s top hotel bars

Once considered desolate watering holes of last resort, hotel bars have gone through a renaissance, especially in Asia. By CYNTHIA ROSENFELD

The great hotel bars of a century ago were dimly lit, club-like meeting places that oozed glamour. Many are credited with inventing cocktails that endure today. But the second half of the 20th century was less kind to the hotel bar, which gained a reputation as the desolate, smoky watering hole of last resort. In the past decade, there’s been a hotel bar renaissance, especially in Asia, where many of the most revered establishments now reside. Here are some leading the way…

Rock Bar, Ayana Resort & Spa

Bali, Indonesia

Rock Bar at the Ayana Resort Bali
Credit: Didi Lotze

Reason 1 to visit Rock Bar: it has its own private funicular. Reason 2 to visit Rock Bar: it’s surrounded by the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean. Reason 3 to visit Rock Bar: it’s Bali’s most spectacular drinking experience.

The rugged location is Rock Bar’s main attraction, but the drinks live up to the setting. Balinese fruits, herbs and spices figure prominently on the cocktail menu, which includes some exceptional mixes like the Spa on the Rock, made with vodka, blackcurrant liqueur, blueberry and cranberry juice. Traditional fishing boat lanterns add to the after-dark ambience, as does the lineup of big-name international DJs. ayana.com

Sky Bar, Lebua Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

Sky Bar at Lebua

Beware, vertigo sufferers: the open-air, neon-lit Sky Bar, perched atop one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings, is at once spectacular and terrifying. This bar is all about drinking on the edge. For starters, a section of the bar juts out 250 metres above the urban sprawl. The stage, often featuring jazz musicians, looks like it features a sheer drop behind (there’s actually a hidden glass staircase). And the wind can make a sudden, powerful appearance, meaning that holding on to your drinks is highly recommended. The brave can look forward to cocktails like the Sunset 63, made with Absolut 100 vodka, Cointreau, pineapple and orange juice. lebua.com

New York Bar, Park Hyatt Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Park Hyatt Tokyo

If you’ve seen Lost in Translation, you’ve seen this bar. This sky-high haunt is where Scarlett Johansson first speaks to Bill Murray, and it features breathtaking vistas over the Japanese capital. The New York nod comes most notably through its soundtrack. An array of international jazz musicians play here, against a backdrop of original murals depicting Radio City Music Hall and the Rainbow Room, two classic New York jazz venues. The extensive menu is less NYC, though: it includes the largest selection of California wines in Japan plus more than 40 liqueurs, 15 cognacs and one of the largest selections of Japanese whiskies in Tokyo. If you want your own Lost in Translation moment, order the Hibiki 17-year-old, Murray’s tipple of choice in the movie. tokyo.park.hyatt.com

Manhattan, Regent Singapore

Singapore

Manhattan at Regent Singapore
Credit: Tom White

Yes, you guessed it – this art deco-style lounge is a homage to the New York speakeasies of the 19th century. There are leather Chesterfield sofas, a black marble-topped bar, shiny leather banquettes and intimate rooms for some extra privacy. But Manhattan’s speakeasy credentials are most apparent in its drinks. The menu focuses on classic and even forgotten cocktails like the Diamond Fizz, a 19th-century New York tipple made of gin, lemon juice, sugar and champagne. And its in-house rickhouse, Singapore’s first, stores more than 100 American oak barrels to finish whiskies and age other spirits. Also try the street-style hotdogs topped with braised tomato, onion, pickle relish and the house-produced Knickerbocker mustard – a sure tonic for homesick New Yorkers. regenthotels.com

Flights per week from Hong Kong

On Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific:

Tokyo: 56
Bali: 9

On Cathay Pacific:

Bangkok: 56
Singapore:  63

Flight and hotel packages are available at cathapacific.com