When choosing a summer destination, vacationers often weigh the appeal of urban sightseeing against that of splashing in the sun. In New York City, visitors can do both. The city’s rooftop pool scene sizzles in summer, and an array of complementary amenities makes the hotels where they’re located destinations unto themselves.

Space is at a premium in this city of 8.5 million people, making pools the ultimate luxury. Naturally, hotels have taken to constructing pool facilities on their roofs, and access is typically restricted to paying guests. These high-altitude hot spots also offer unbeatable views. And while hotel stays offering rooftop swimming can be pricey (the hotels below range from US$289 to US$399 per night), they are guaranteed to transform the way you experience summer in New York City. 

The William Vale

Brooklyn’s The William Vale boasts views of Manhattans eastern skyline and one of New York’s longest hotel pools, an 18-metre heated affair. Guests can splash about in the pool or sunbathe on lounge chairs on the adjacent terrace. The second floor features an open-air green space complete with grass and trees, and casual fare (burgers and fries) is served from the window of a retrofitted 1974 Airstream trailer.

Poolside drink: Beer is always poolside-appropriate. Try a Brooklyn Lager. This American amber ale is produced at the Brooklyn Brewery, across the street from the hotel. Another delicious option is The Bronx Brewery’s Bronx Banner golden ale.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Also pleasantly appointed, the 11th-storey rooftop of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge commands a view of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It features a heated lounge pool, firepits and a bar made of reclaimed railway ties. Indoors, the hotel boasts a yoga studio and an outpost of the UKs Bamford Haybarn Spa (set to open in the fall).

Poolside drink: The Waterbearer is a refreshingly unlikely concoction of pasteurized sea water, Material vodka and Brooklyn-made Uncouth wildflower vermouth.

The Empire Hotel

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, guests enjoying The Empire Hotel’s unheated eight-metre plunge pool on the 15th floor have access to a bar and food from the hotel restaurant, Ed’s Chowder House. On the weekends, a DJ spins Top 100 hits, poolside.

Poolside drink: Sparkle & Pop, the hotel’s signature summer cocktail, consists of a glass of prosecco served with a fruit-flavoured popsicle crafted in Brooklyn.

Getting there: WestJet flies to JFK once a day from Calgary and to La Guardia 48 times a week from Toronto.