From modest heights on Oxford Road to panoramic fancy dining in the sky
Pints are great and stuff but have you ever had a pint on a terrace approximately 20 stories up? It’s a far more exhilarating experience than sitting outside a 'Spoons. Trust us.
With the weather brightening up (touch wood), now is a great time to start booking a spot on rooftop terraces across the city.
Here are twelve of our favourites places to booze with views in Manchester city centre.
Officially the highest eating and drinking spot in the city, in its short existence 20 Stories has become a Manchester icon thanks to food and drink menus that are able to do justice to its sweeping panoramic views. Think dishes like Manchester Gin beetroot cured Scottish salmon with sour cream and pickled cucumber - and a very Instagrammable Manchester tart cocktail. As far as rooftop terraces go, it ticks all of the boxes and then some with a mixture of cosy fire pits and plenty of cover for cold snaps, as well as uncovered spots to soak up the sun. Needless to say, if you struggle with heights you might want to avoid looking out of the windows. And also, why are you even reading this article?
1 Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB
From tallest to smallest with a modest outpost on Oxford Road. Big Hands is an important part of the roof terrace ecosystem providing a rough and ready alternative to all that shiny metal and glass. Perhaps more known for providing the backdrop to messy, ill-remembered afterparties with whichever indie band has recently rolled into town, if you want to get drunk in the sun, with a spot of up-cycled wood and plastic sheeting for when it buckets down, there are worse places to be. Sink a few and you’ll feel like you’re at least one storey higher.
296 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9NS
Underground, overground or up on the terrace you can womble free all over this lesser-known boozer just off Oxford Road. Actually there's a cluster of great, unpretentious little pubs round there, The Thirsty Scholar and The Salisbury to name a couple, but Brickhouse is the only one with its own roof terrace. Formerly Black Dog NWS, next to student-centric cocktail bar Font, Brickhouse Social is all things to all people doing everything from bottomless brunch to basement club nights but its roof terrace is a true hidden gem. There are 16 taps for beer guzzlers, some fun cocktails and a very decent wine list too.
11-13 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP
If you’ve got a pocket full of pretty green and you like your terraces free from "riff-raff" then Hotel Gotham’s seventh floor Club Brass is the place for you. With multiple rooftop terraces to choose from and an exclusive door policy for members and hotel guests only, look down on the city in style whilst rubbing shoulders with fellow tycoons, captains of industry, evil geniuses, off-duty Batmen, and people who lucked out on Wowcher.
100 King St, Manchester M2 4WU
Serving arguably the best food in this entire list of roof terraces, El Gato Negro is one for those who don't just want a sun trap but the Mediterranean food to match. Simon Shaw's modern tapas is widely recognised as some of the best in the city - think chargrilled octopus, acorn-fed Jamon Iberico de Belotta, blood orange, pistachio and avocado salad - and the bar here is as bougie as you'd expect from somewhere with such a cracking kitchen.
52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
The Ivy's terrace made headlines for all the wrong reasons when a fire broke out there just a few months after it opened. It hasn't happened again since though, so you're all good. This bougie London brand is still going strong, despite the pandemic, and its views of the ever-changing skyline are worth a visit even if you can take or leave the food (see Gordo on scathing form when he reviewed The Ivy when it first opened in Manchester)
Over the top in every way, The Ivy’s skylight terrace is the antidote to stripped-back Scandi chic and a convenient retractable roof provides that all-important weather-proofing. If you need an excuse to get your glad rags on and chug (sorry, delicately sip) Prosecco, The Ivy's your gal.
The Pavilion, Byrom St, Manchester M3 3HG
That pool gets a lot of attention on the ‘gram but King St Townhouse also boasts a picturesque rooftop terrace with views over the Town Hall and beyond. It’s secluded and comfortable (thanks to that all-important canopy and heating) and unlike other sun-dependent spots, the terrace is as enjoyable on sunny days as it is watching dramatic skies roll in over the city. Seasonally changing cocktails might include a Summer Daze with gooseberry gin, St. Germain elderflower and Passoa and a choice of meat or cheese sharing boards will keep you sated.
10 Booth St, Manchester M2 4AW
Life is about balance. For every swanky glass tower in the sky you need a friendly, slightly dishevelled neighbourhood boozer where you can watch the football and then go out for a breather in the elevated beer garden. The kind of beer garden where you can enjoy a pint amongst a bit of well-watered greenery and next to an especially large painting of George Best on the side of a chimney. That’s The Nag’s Head all over, pint of Guinness, good beers on tap, packet of crisps and a little nest in the sky where there’s no pressure to keep up appearances. Are you even a Manc if you've not had a beer up here?
19 Jacksons Row, Manchester, M2 5WD
Despite having the most unimaginative name in the city, The Restaurant Bar and Grill has held its own over the years as the city has changed unrecognisably around it. With a crowd-pleasing but creative menu featuring all the steak and seafood you'd expect, the "sky garden" was given a massive cash injection in 2012 and is always packed. It might well have the comfiest seats of all roof gardens in Manchester too.
Ridgefield House, 14 John Dalton St, Manchester M2 6JR
Despite its spell-it-out-for-you name, a surprising number of people don't even realise Terrace has an impressive sun trap of a roof garden on top of its Thomas street bar. So while the hordes gather on the amassed trestle tables of this now-basically-pedestrianised Northern Quarter street, those in the know smugly saunter up top to enjoy the higher ground. The bar offering has everything you'd expect from the NQ and now you can order food from local restaurants like Noi Quattro and Yard & Coop via the app. A new li'l side garden popped up in 2020 an' all.
43 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
Four floors of achingly cool at Yes are topped off with a handsome roof terrace for a snug indoor-outdoor vibe. Unapologetically hip yet still welcoming, Yes is always buzzing with a fashionable, music-led crowd. Negronis on tap and a decent range of local beers as well as a rotating pop-up kitchen that has included vegan "chicken" burgers from Manchester stalwarts Firebird Hope, Pepperoni Playboy pizza and currently vegan kebabs from Donner Summer. A downstairs terrace was added during the 2020 lockdown too if you prefer solid ground.
38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB
Read again: Manchester's top ten secret beery sun spots
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