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Top of the Strand

The elevators on the rooftop of the Strand Hotel in Chelsea open onto a small bar with an excellent south-facing view.  It will take you a few minutes to realize that the Empire State Building -- only a few blocks away -- is right in front of you; it's so close, and so big, that you'll have to crane your neck to see the whole thing.  Top of the Strand generally attracts a mixed and unpretentious crowd and its drinks are reasonably priced, making it more fun than many of the staid hotel rooftop bars further uptown.  It's also one of our favorite rooftops in the winter.  A retractable glass roof keeps out the cold without compromising the view.