HOUSE SPE­CIALS

Raise a glass to our se­lec­tion of out­stand­ing Asian bars

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents - WORDS VA­LE­RIAN HO

Gone are the days when ho­tel bars were a dark, de­press­ing af­ter­thought pop­u­lated by a smat­ter­ing of soli­tary busi­ness­men; these days they’re of­ten an at­trac­tion in their own right. From the best new open­ings to those with ex­tra­or­di­nary of­fer­ings, we round up a se­lec­tion of great ho­tel bars to whet your ap­petite.

NEW AR­RIVALS

Asia-Pa­cific is no stranger to new ho­tel open­ings so whit­tling down our se­lec­tion was tough. The first bar to make the grade can be found at the new Rose­wood Ph­nom Penh, which opened in Fe­bru­ary this year. The stun­ning Sora (which trans­lates as “sky” in Ja­panese) is the high­est bar in Ph­nom Penh and is quickly be­com­ing the hottest spot in town. Set on a can­tilevered ter­race on level 37, the rooftop deck of­fers un­ob­structed views over the Cam­bo­dian cap­i­tal while city so­phis­ti­cates lounge in daybed-like chairs en­joy­ing be­spoke cock­tails, rare whiskies and a se­lec­tion of Ja­panese tapas. (Open 5pm-late daily; rose­wood­ho­tels.com)

Over in China, The Zuk Bar at The Sukhothai Shang­hai opened in May, with a gor­geous out­door ter­race ac­ces­si­ble from street level. Inside, the cosy venue is decked in leaf-pat­terned wall tiles, white and wal­nut fur­nish­ings and mood light­ing. Guests can perch on high stools around a rec­tan­gu­lar brass-plated bar to watch world-class mixol­o­gist Vin­cenzo Pagliara con­coct de­li­cious ar­ti­sanal cock­tails, while en­joy­ing the soul­ful rhythms of high-class jazz acts. (Open Sun-Thu 12pm-12am; Fri-Sat un­til 2am; sukhothai.com)

When the Four Sea­sons Kuala Lumpur opens this sum­mer in Malaysia, it will bring with it sul­try new cock­tail venue Bar Trig­ona, where a troupe of master bar­tenders will cus­tomise creative cock­tails made with lo­cal, sus­tain­able in­gre­di­ents. (Open Sun-Wed 6pm-1am; Thu-Sat un­til 2am.) Al­ter­na­tively, guests can head to the ho­tel’s gar­den oa­sis that is the Pool Bar & Grill. Of­fer­ing Mid­dle East­ern mezze by day, the ur­ban oa­sis be­comes a shisha lounge and grill by night, with breath­tak­ing panoramic views. (Open 12pm-10.30pm daily; foursea­sons.com)

If bub­bles are more your thing then get ready for the Wal­dorf As­to­ria Bangkok, open­ing in Thai­land this year. The stylish Cham­pagne Bar on the top floor will boast vin­tage glass chan­de­liers, or­ganic wood sculp­tures and rock­ing chairs in a slick in­te­rior de­signed by Hong Kong’s renowned ar­chi­tect An­dre Fu – and not for­get­ting a stand­out col­lec­tion of cham­pagnes. ( wal­dor­fas­to­ria3.hil­ton.com)

Another re­cent open­ing is Ho­tel Vic on the Har­bour in Hong Kong’s North Point. With its prime wa­ter­front lo­ca­tion, the rooftop bar Cruise will of­fer in­spi­ra­tional panoramic views of the fa­mous Vic­to­ria Har­bour as well as the Kai Tak Cruise Ter­mi­nal. (Open Sun-Thu 12pm-1am; Fri, Sat and pub­lic hol­i­days un­til 2am; hotelvic.com)

Sim­i­lar views can also be en­joyed at East Ho­tel’s Sugar in Taikoo Shing. The bar was re­cently ren­o­vated with a new in­door area dom­i­nated by a long, glow­ing onyx and tim­ber cock­tail bar. But it’s the out­door ter­race with its stun­ning views, low-slung so­fas and chic ot­tomans that re­ally steal the show. (Open Sun-Thu 5.30pm-1am; Fri, Sat and evenings of pub­lic hol­i­days un­til 1.30am; east-hongkong.com)

DRINK IN THAT VIEW

On the topic of fab­u­lous vis­tas, South­east Asia is blessed with some of the world’s best rooftop bars. For un­beat­able views over Marina Bay and the Sin­ga­pore sky­line, head to Lavo – a restau­rant and bar that opened on top of Marina Bay Sands in Jan­uary this year. Com­bin­ing a lounge, out­door gar­den ter­race and ad­join­ing rooftop bar with an ex­cit­ing pro­gramme of DJ sets, this is one place you’ll want to nurse your bev­er­age. (Open 5pm-2am daily; marin­abaysands.com)

Back in Hong Kong, we have to men­tion the high­est bar in the world: The Ritz- Carl­ton’s Ozone bar, dizzy­ingly perched on the 118th floor of the ICC, the tallest build­ing in the city. If you can tear your eyes from Hong Kong’s spell­bind­ing sky­line to peruse the menu, you’ll find sig­na­ture cock­tails and Asian tapas to pair with your ver­tigo. (Open Mon-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri un­til 2am; Sat 3pm-2am; Sun 12pm-2am; ritzcarl­ton.com)

For un­ob­structed har­bour views, head to the Shangri-La Ho­tel Syd­ney’s Blu Bar on 36. Grab a ta­ble next to the win­dow and en­joy the tri­fecta of views that is the Har­bour Bridge, Opera House and the har­bour lights. But while peo­ple come for the view, they stay for the “Liq­uid Physics” – a unique style of mixol­ogy that has se­ri­ous drink con­nois­seurs hang­ing around for a mas­ter­class. (Open Mon-Thu 5pm-mid­night; Fri 4pm-1am; Sat 2.30pm-1am; Sun 3pm-11pm; shangri-la.com)

De­clared by Time Out Seoul as “the trendi­est place to be”, the 21st-floor rooftop bar Float­ing at L7 Myeong­dong Ho­tel punches through the sur­round­ing sky­scrapers to of­fer views over Nam­san Moun­tain and the fa­mous N Seoul Tower land­mark. In ad­di­tion to a killer gin se­lec­tion, pa­trons can en­joy nib­bling on clas­sic Korean fried chicken. (Open Sun-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri-Sat un­til 2am; lot­te­ho­tel.com)

For our fi­nal high-fly­ing rec­om­men­da­tion, we head to the Traders Ho­tel Kuala Lumpur nes­tled in the city cen­tre. On the 33rd floor you’ll find one of the city’s most pop­u­lar nightspots – Sky­bar, of­fer­ing un­beat­able views of the Petronas Tow­ers. Opt for one of the cosy ca­bana booths en­cir­cling the swim­ming pool and soak up the so­phis­ti­cated at­mos­phere. (Open Sun-Thu 10am-1am; Fri, Sat, evenings of pub­lic hol­i­days un­til 3am; shangri-la.com)

LIVE MU­SIC

Some­times you’re in the mood for a quiet drink... some­times you’re in the mood for more. When this hap­pens, head to the MO Bar at The Land­mark Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Hong Kong for one of its reg­u­lar “MO Sound-bites” ses­sions. The new con­cept fea­tures some of the hottest DJs and elec­tronic mu­si­cians from around the globe. Past per­form­ers have in­cluded Dutch pro­duc­ers Eelke Kleijn and Kim Lange. (Open Mon-Wed 7pm-1am; Thu-Sat un­til 1.30am; Sun un­til 11.30pm; man­dari­nori­en­tal.com)

Those stay­ing at the Pull­man Bangkok King Power need not ven­ture far for live en­ter­tain­ment, as the ho­tel’s pop­u­lar Glen Bar fea­tures a packed timetable of bands through­out the week­end – with two per­for­mances per night. Live sports are also shown on the big screen for dou­ble en­ter­tain­ment points. Wash it all down with a se­lec­tion of sig­na­ture Thai cock­tails. (Open 6pm-1am daily; pull­man­bangkokking­power.com)

Another ho­tel-based wa­ter­ing hole with a rock­ing week­end line-up is Bar 81 of Sig­niel Seoul. The South Korean venue at­tracts a cool crowd with its DJ sets ev­ery Fri­day and Satur­day, and keeps them sat­is­fied with a list of pre­mium cham­pagnes, in­clud­ing unique vin­tages se­lected by award-win­ning som­me­lier Lu­cas Yang. (Open 6pm-1am; Fri and Sat un­til 2pm; lot­te­ho­tel.com).

Don’t worry if your trav­els by­pass the week­end, at Park Hy­att Seoul’s The Tim­ber House, res­i­dent DJs can be found spin­ning the decks ev­ery night from Mon­day to Satur­day. A se­lec­tion of pre­mium whiskies, sakes, wine and sig­na­ture cock­tails, as well as fine cigars, are on of­fer. (Open 6pm-2am daily; hy­att.com)

IN­STA-WOR­THY DE­SIGN

If am­bi­ence is what you’re af­ter, these well-de­signed bars should in­spire you. Four Sea­sons Jakarta’s Nau­tilus Bar has a stun­ning art mu­ral span­ning the back wall, de­pict­ing the city’s old Sunda Ke­lapa trad­ing port. Sepia tones are paired with a black-and-gold cof­fered ceil­ing and match­ing up­hol­stered walls and bar. It’s a sexy, se­cluded spot with a fan­tas­tic cock­tail menu, sin­gle­malt whiskies and small shar­ing plates. (Open 12pm1am daily; foursea­sons.com)

Another se­duc­tive set­ting is Bar Vagabond, at The Vagabond Club, a Trib­ute Port­fo­lio Ho­tel, in Sin­ga­pore’s Lit­tle In­dia. Walk­ing through red vel­vet cur­tains, pa­trons emerge into the op­u­lent in­te­ri­ors de­signed by in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed Jac­ques Gar­cia. The fo­cal point is a golden ba­boon guard­ing the bar, along­side a large golden tree. Cock­tails and more se­ri­ous spir­its are served ev­ery evening un­til mid­night. (Open 4.30pm-mid­night daily; hotel­vagabondsin­ga­pore.com)

One of Syd­ney’s favourite his­tor­i­cal wa­ter­ing holes is the Mar­ble Bar at Hil­ton Syd­ney. Built in 1893, the orig­i­nal Vic­to­rian-style dé­cor boasts stained-glass win­dows, mar­ble col­umns, or­nate carved ma­hogany bars and a gallery of ru­ral nudes by in­flu­en­tial Aus­tralian artist Ju­lian Ash­ton. A haven of Vic­to­rian ex­cess, this at­mo­spheric set­ting is also a pop­u­lar live mu­sic venue with Aussie ale, fine wine or clas­sic cock­tails to en­joy. (Open 3.30pm un­til late daily; hil­ton.com)

NOT YOUR AV­ER­AGE BAR

Ditch the dress code for a swim­suit at Bathers Bar, the pool bar at bou­tique prop­erty The Siam in Bangkok. A long in­fin­ity pool, run­ning par­al­lel to the lawn, of­fers ma­jes­tic views over the Chao Phraya River. Af­ter a dip, lie back on over­sized day beds and sip cock­tails while the sun sets. (Open 7am-7pm daily; the­si­amho­tel.com)

Al­ter­na­tively, for an evening pool­side en­counter, head to Lantern at The Fuller­ton Bay Ho­tel in Sin­ga­pore. The glam­orous rooftop set­ting of­fers sweep­ing views over Marina Bay and a stylish deck to en­joy sig­na­ture drinks like the Im­pe­rial berry mo­jito. (Open Sun-Thu 10am-1am; Fri and Sat un­til 2am; fuller­ton­ho­tels.com)

For movie buffs, head­ing to a venue fea­tured in a Hol­ly­wood block­buster is a must-do. An iconic scene in Lost in Trans­la­tion showed Scar­lett Jo­hans­son and Bill Mur­ray’s char­ac­ters bond­ing in New York Bar – sit­u­ated on the ver­tigo-in­duc­ing 52nd floor of the Park Hy­att Tokyo. The cos­mopoli­tan en­clave boasts the largest se­lec­tion of Amer­i­can wines in Ja­pan, along with sen­sa­tional views, ice-shav­ing bar­tenders and a live jazz band. (Open Sun-Wed 5pm-mid­night, Thu-Sat un­til 1am; hy­att.com)

Mean­while, in Bangkok the iconic Sky Bar made its block­buster de­but in The Hang­over 2. Set on Level 64 of the Le­bua State Tower, this breath­tak­ing spot is all about the views. If you have a drone – put it to work. (Open 6pm-1am daily; le­bua.com).

CLOCKWISE FROM THIS PAGE TOP: Rose­wood Ph­nom Penh’s Sora bar, Ritz-Carl­ton Hong Kong’s OZONE; Marina Bay Sands cock­tails; Man­darin Ori­en­tal Bangkok’s The Bam­boo Bar; Sky­Bar at Traders Ho­tel Kuala Lumpur; and Wal­dorf As­to­ria Bangkok’s The Cham­pagne Bar

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