Making Rooftop Bars Safe for Guests

"They are really attractive, but drinking and heights don't really go together."

The Exchange at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square
The Exchange at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square

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How do hotels make their rooftop bars safe for guests?

“Rooftop bars seem to be opening at every new high-rise hotel. They are really attractive, but drinking and heights don’t really go together. I’m curious how hotels make sure that rooftops are safe for their guests? Also, how do hotels handle the traffic in and out of these public spaces?”

In the case of our new rooftop bar, The Exchange at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, we had to consider many aspects in the development of this dedicated space to ensure guest safety.


First and foremost, as a bar, we restrict access to the over-21 crowd and provide a door ambassador at the entrance to the space. The bar, which sits above the guestroom tower, is accessible through a street entrance, giving it a unique characteristic as an independent space and not actually part of the hotel. Therefore, our door person serves as a welcome ambassador but also doubles as security and checks the identification of all those who enter.

The dedicated rooftop elevator has a camera inside to make sure that we have recordings of any activities from within. This dedicated elevator does not stop to pick up or drop off on the guestroom floors, allowing a separation between hotel guests and bar patrons. Both locals and hotel guests must enter through the main doors off the street. We also have cameras throughout the spaces both at the roof and entrance.

On weekends and during heavy demand periods, we contract outside security to assist in crowd control and to keep our guests safe and secure. Hotel security monitors the cameras and patrols the space throughout the night as part of their regular route.

Our two emergency stairwell doors are locked from the inside, but will automatically unlock should there be a fire alarm in the location. In addition, these doors from inside the stairwell also have an electronic camera and monitoring device so that access can be gained inside the rooftop bar, if so authorized—an added security and safety feature so that anyone trapped inside the elevator may gain access if granted.

With respect to providing a safe and comfortable environment, we have installed multiple sources of outside heat fixtures: two natural-gas “fire pits” and four natural-gas-fired heat lamps. The fire pits are protected with double-pane, insulated glass. Our heat lamps are also well-insulated and the heat shield well-protected, allowing for a great distribution of warmth when needed, yet safe from causing guests any harm.

A pedestal, slip-resistant tile flooring system was installed so that rain or snow drains off the flooring and keeps it free from standing water, helping to eliminate slips and falls. Finally, protective glass panels were installed around the exterior patio at eight feet in height to protect from wind and items being thrown to the ground below or accidentally dropped.

With all this in mind, we believe we have created the best and most secure and safe environment for our guests, making certain that comfort and safety was top-of-mind from the initial design phase throughout the opening of our beautiful rooftop bar.


Answered by Jay Rosenthal, General Manager, Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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