8 June 2023

Take 3: Canberra bars with the best views for watching the changing seasons

| Travis Radford
Leyla Bar view

Leyla Bar’s sweeping views over Canberra take in Parliament House, Black Mountain’s Telstra Tower, Lake Burley Griffin and all the pretty foliage dotted in between. Photo: DOMA Hotels.

Winter is well and truly here, meaning single-digit temperatures (in the negatives and positives) and puffer jackets are the height of fashion in the capital for the next few months.

But staying out of the cold doesn’t have to mean staying away from amazing views of the bush capital, especially as the yellow, orange and gold leaves slowly fall away.

Here are three bars where you can hang the puffer over the back of the chair for a few hours and warm up over a drink while taking in Canberra’s unique character.

cakes and champagne

The Leyla Luxe offering includes three French cakes and a glass of their finest champagne for $45. Photo: DOMA Hotels.


Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 3 pm to late
Where: Leyla Bar, Level 7, 1 Burbury Close, Barton; book here.

Leyla is one of Canberra’s newest rooftop bars (more on how she’s celebrating her first birthday later), with the contemporary Barton venue still innovating and pulling out exciting new stops for its patrons.

One of the newest additions is Leyla Luxe, an invitation to enjoy a glass of Leyla’s finest champagne and three delicate French cakes (think chocolate mousse on a pastry and lemon tarts with peach meringue) every Saturday and Sunday from 3 pm to 6 pm.

“It’s really a way of elevating the afternoon tea experience, where we’re taking the traditional high tea and putting a modern spin on it,” venue manager Joshua Cicchini says.

You can also upgrade from the base $45 per person afternoon tea experience to include one of Leyla’s signature cocktails, oysters, caviar and more from the bar menu for those feeling peckish.

During Leyla’s birthday month (June), anyone who enjoys a Leyla Luxe package will also go into the running to win a staycation for four at Canberra’s Burbury Hotel, which Leyla sits atop.

And at no additional cost, guests can take in sweeping views of Canberra from high-top seating or enjoy quieter conversations from one of Leyla’s intimate lounge nooks.

What’s more, Leyla is kicking off her first birthday celebrations on Friday (9 June) with a DJ from 6 pm, alongside discounted cocktails, prizes and, of course, cake.

high tea at Howling Moon

High Tea at Howling Moon, featuring sweet and savoury bites and a glass of sparkling on arrival, is on Saturday, 24 and Sunday, 25 June, from 12 pm. Photo: Howling Moon.

Howling Moon

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, from 4 pm to late
Where: The Howling Moon, 150 Northbourne Ave, Braddon; book here.

Holding the title (and accompanying bragging rights) for being Canberra’s very first rooftop bar, Howling Moon still brings the magic with stunning panoramic views and a dance floor like no other.

But you won’t just be looking out from floor-to-ceiling windows – you’ll also be looking up – with a glass-topped ceiling for cloud watching during daytime visits or to dance the night away under the stars.

Alongside a signature cocktail list and a range of other choices to suit all tastes, guests will find a bar menu to tempt their tastebuds with modern alternatives to classic bar snacks, including Sydney rock oysters, tacos, fries and more. For those looking for a heartier meal, there’s also a selection of freshly baked in-house pizzas and, for a limited time, a Howling High Tea on the 24 and 25 June weekend.

Positioned high above the capital on level six of Canberra Rex Hotel, you’ll also be dining or dancing atop a piece of lesser-known Canberra history.

Built in 1959 as luxury accommodation, over the past 60-plus years, the hotel has played host to royalty, foreign dignitaries, world-famous entertainers, prime ministers and US Presidents – including one Lyndon B Johnson, who in 1966 is rumoured to have been escorted back to the hotel in an unmarked police car to avoid anti-Vietnam War protestors after a drunken night out with Australia’s Prime Minister Harold Holt.

Highball Express balcony

Take in Canberra’s nightlife from Highball’s lush, tropical terrace overlooking London Circuit. Photo: Pew Pew Studio.


Opening hours: Sunday to Wednesday (4 pm to 12 am), Thursday to Saturday (4 pm to 3 am)
Where: Highball, Level 1, 75 London Circuit, Canberra; book here.

From the pros behind Molly and 88mph is Highball, a self-described ‘perfectly boujee’ bar perched above London Circuit in the historic Melbourne Building.

Highball’s lush, tropical palette and breezy fun atmosphere spill out onto a paved terrace with big windows to breathe in all the sights and sounds of the capital’s nightlife.

The elevated bar serves all the drinks your heart could desire (seriously, the drinks menu is double columned and 17 pages long), but Highball says rum culture is at its heart. With the liquor clocking up at least 150 mentions on their expansive drinks menu, the claim checks out. Alongside the bar’s boozy buffet is a substantial food menu, featuring nachos, tacos, empanadas, cheese and charcuterie platters and more.

What’s more, every week are Latin Tuesdays from 6:30 pm with a salsa class (the first one’s free!) and $15 mojitos and every Sunday, a ‘Sun Day’ Sesh from 4 pm bringing Caribbean Summer to thaw Canberrans out.

Cocktail classes and other masterclasses are also a semi-regular treat, with a Four Pillars Masterclass next up in the calendar for gin lovers, who have the opportunity to taste the brewer’s range of craft gins.

Original Article published by Travis Radford on Riotact.


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