Best hotel bars in Southeast Asia
From the coastline of Bali to the rooftops of Singapore, Southeast Asia Globe selects five of our favourite hotel bars
Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali
When a bar is located in such a spot that it requires its very own funicular [cliffside railway], the chances are good that said bar is going be rather spectacular. And so it goes with Rock Bar, which is perched upon a wild rock formation lashed by the Indian Ocean 14 metres below. Aside from the exquisite sunset views, as well as a DJ booth carved into the cliff face, the drinks menu is refreshingly compact, offering 10 cocktails that err towards the fresh and fruity, along with a small selection of specialty gin and tonics.
The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore
The rooftop bar at the Fullerton Bay has much to live up to, set, as it is, on the roof of one of Singapore’s most legendary addresses. Named after the red oil lamps that helped mark out the shore for the peninsula’s early settlers and seafarers, Lantern boasts splendid views of Marina Bay, with its soaring three-tower hotel and the unfurling lotus flower that is the ArtScience Museum, as well as the city-state’s glimmering skyline. The menu here takes in a range of flavoured mojitos, Singapore sling adaptations and a choice wine selection, but it’s the 45-day barrel-aged negronis and manhattans that will most interest serious drinkers.
The Nam Hai, Hoi An
A lesser-known jewel in the regional bar scene is this laid-back beauty in Vietnam’s prettiest tourist town. The Nam Hai had long been regarded one of the region’s finest resorts before it was brought into the Four Seasons stable in December last year. And the food and beverage expertise brought by the international chain certainly paid off in the Nam Hai’s bar. Accessed via a wide wooden staircase, the Bar provides impossibly sleek surrounds in which to imbibe – all dark wood, glowing lanterns and sweeping ocean views. A signature creation well worth a try is the Rock Star, a potent concoction that includes whiskey, bitters, Cointreau, passion fruit and lime.
Hotel Muse, Bangkok
A relative newcomer to the Bangkok rooftop bar scene, the Speakeasy brings a little prohibition-era pizzazz to proceedings atop the elegant masculinity of Hotel Muse. Numerous drinking dens combine to make up this Art Deco beauty, from the Blind Pig cigar lounge to a relaxed ‘lawn’ atop the roof – in true speakeasy style, only accessible via a hidden staircase, of course. The views are lovely but, unlike many Bangkok skybars, this is a spot where the drinks are given equal prominence. Mixologist Lersak Jamkadsin specialises in the classics but occasionally adds a playful touch, perhaps best evidenced by his bacon old fashioned.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh
There is only one choice for the best hotel bar in Cambodia – anything other than Raffles’ iconic Elephant Bar would simply be disingenuous. With a list of legendary visitors as long as your arm – the bar’s signature Femme Fatale cocktail was created to mark Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1967 visit – nowhere does atmosphere quite like the Elephant Bar. A complete refit in 2015 was remarkably well judged, adding a layer of richness to the already decadent surrounds, and ensuring that a visit to Raffles’ iconic bar (an extra long happy hour runs from 4pm to 9pm) remains a must-do for most visitors to Phnom Penh.