Playground Rooftop Cafe and Bar
This two-storey establishment is located right across from a playground, hence its name. Oriented towards exchange students and open-minded young Seoulites, the crowd here is just as likely to speak English or Chinese as it is to speak Korean. Language exchanges, international parties, and all-you-can-drink events are thrown weekly, and the friendly staff are all fluent in English as well as Korean. Just across from the main gate of Hongik University, Playground is located in the heart of the Hongdae area and is the perfect destination for the fun-loving traveller who is homesick for the sound of English.
14, Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea; +82 2 337 0774
10th Floor of the Express Bus Terminal
Technically, the 10th Floor isn’t a rooftop bar at all, but rather an unofficial gathering place for trendy young Seoulites during warm city nights. The 10th floor of the Express Bus Terminal is home to two Korean BBQ restaurants, from which guests can buy drinks or food with which to enjoy their view. But the true attraction is the gorgeous view of Seoul and the garden that wraps around the building. Random plots of grass are doted with benches and seating areas from which patrons can enjoy a casual drink or two, while situated ten storeys above the city of Seoul. During weeknights, you can find middle-aged businessmen and women enjoying a casual beer, while during the weekend, the crowd becomes a little younger and louder.
Gaja Changgo (가자창고)
The name literally means ‘Rooftop Bar,’ and it dates back as one of the oldest rooftop bars in Itaewon. Located just above Sam Ryan’s, The Rooftop Bar has a plain, unassuming décor. Expect to find large, cafeteria-style tables in the front and a self-service bar in the back, plastic chairs, and friendly staff. It’s a bar with a good view and cheap drinks. Despite being self-service, their bar is well-stocked with a good mix of beer, wine, cider, spirits, and mixers. After making your selection, you can pay at the counter and collect your glasses, ice, and optional lemon slice.
Suave and sleek, this rooftop terrace, located on the 21st floor of the Mercure Ambassador Hotel, describes its ambiance as ‘James Bond taking a summer night off his 007 duties.’ A small greenhouse-like structure serves dinner and cocktails to the trendy young professionals. Though it seats just 61 people, its LED bar lights, color-changing lighting, and colorful red and yellow sofas ensure that the place never feels empty. Outside, Rooftop Kloud offers couples seats for two and the stunning view of Gangnam ensures a romantic atmosphere for any date. Music is electronic, a blend of house music and K-pop, and the ambiance is similarly trendy and sophisticated.
10, Teheran-ro 25-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 10 4268 1580
Native Texans, founders Johnny Yu, Robbie Nguyen and Mr. Abowd integrate the American South with Asian tastes in their remarkable cocktails. They mix and match Korean ingredients such as persimmon and green tea with more exotic ingredients, such as tequila with chipotle chilis. With fresh-pressed juice and homemade syrups, sodas, and even tonic water, their cocktails are unique in their ingredients as well as their makeup. Leather couches, dartboards, hookahs, and an 80s arcade game console, the décor makes this a great place to settle in for the night.
4F 218, Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea; +82 02 749 9522