The Summit One Vanderbilt Review – A look at New York Latest Observation Deck

Summit the Latest New York Observation Deck, sitting aloft the 14001 ft One Vanderbilt Building in Midtown Manhatten. The Deck Promises Panaroamic Views of Midtown and Beyond, Stunning Art installation Heartounding Glass Floors and Glass Elevators, and sky-high cocktail bars.

In our review, we take a trip up to the Summit to see if the Hype lives up to reality. We check out the different zones, take a look at the views on offer, investigate the art installation and added attractions, and of course, try out the New Apres Bar! Our Review of The Summit One Vanderbilt will let you know if this New Attraction is another New York Must Do or if you can skip in favor of one of the many other New York Observation Deck available in the City.

The Summit One Vanderbilt Review

The Summit One Vanderbilt Review

  • Height: 73rd Floor and up – 1,020 –  1,200 Feet
  • Cost:  Adults: $39 – Child $33 (5 and Under – Free) – Live Prices
  • Cost + Ascent:  Adults: $59 – Child $33 (5 and Under – Free) – Live Prices
  • Sunset: + $10
  • Location: One Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Av, New York
  • Prominent Landmarks: Empire State Building, Central Park, and Midtown Manhatten
  • Indoor or out: Indoor

*Tax and Booking Fees not Included

What is The Summit One Vanderbilt Review?

It feels like only yesterday New York just had the two observation decks, in 2015 the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock were joined by The One World Observatory and the City was spoiled for choice of Observation Decks. Then in 2020, the badly timed opening of the Edge brought the number to 4 and now the Prestiguueous One Vanderbilt Building has opened it is crowned with New York 5th and most intriguing Observations Decks.

The Summit is situated on the 73rd floor of the New One Vanderbilt Building and is quite unlike any of the other Decks available in New York. While decks height of 10,20 ft is not that impressive, the deck is on many floors and the top height is a lofty 1,200 ft, just below the One World Observatory and the 102nd floor of the Empire State.

Rather than relying on just providing stunning views of the City, which is already available from the competitors, the whole deck is an interactive art installation where the building, the art, the cityscape, and yourself all converge to form really stunning immersive art scapes that really blow your mind. We take a look at each level, what to expect there, and what the actual views are below.

One thing to remember is the Summit is an INDOOR Observation deck and on the whole, we prefer outdoor spaces as they offer far superior photographic opportunities and just feel more raw and real! Of course when the weather is poor, and the wind chillingly arctic, you may pine for the toasty warmth of an indoor deck.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt is one of New York’s latest Skyscrapers and sits at the 4th highest building in the City, and the 28th tallest in the world at 1401 ft. The $3.3 Billion Tower sits right next to Grand Central Terminal and offers expansive views right across the City. Its location gives it very good prominence with very little in the way, dwarfing the now quite petite Chrysler building just a few blocks away.

Summit Options

The Summit at Night

There are three main options for entry to the Summit. You can visit the main areas as detailed below, or upgrade to add on the Ascent option, a daring lift hoisting you to 1200ft in a glass elevator! And finally, there is the premium option which basically just provides you with a Cocktail from the Apres Bar.

SUMMIT Experience

  • Adult – $39
  • Child – $33 (6-12) (5 and Under – free)

This is the basic option, this gets you entry to the Main Deck, Air, Levitation, and Apres Bar. It includes pretty much the whole experience EXCEPT Ascent.

SUMMIT Ascent

  • Adult – $59
  • Child – $53 (6-12) (5 and Under – free)

For an additional $20 you get a ride on Ascent. This is a glass elevator that rises up to 1200 ft above street level, one of the highest points reachable in the City. Complete with a Glass Floor and a startling amount of open space beneath your feet this is one for the thrill-seekers.

Ultimate SUMMIT

  • Adult – $73
  • Child – $67 (6-12) (5 and Under – free)

The Ultimate Package is essentially the SUMMIT Ascent but with a pre-paid cocktail. $14 is not cheap for a cocktail, but in New York, it’s not actually that bad and considering the location, it’s pretty cheap. They are keeping the menu and bar prices under wraps atm so we are not sure if this option will save money, but we assume at the least it won’t cost you.

Summit Extras

  • Sunset -$10
  • Photo Book – $22
  • Apres Cocktail – $14

The Sunset option is a bit disappointing. This is obviously the best time to visit as you get to see the City in 3 “lights”. Daylight, Sunset, and Night. This will require hanging around for a couple of hours as the night descends, but it’s well worth it, it’s a shame they chose to “cash-in” on this popularity.

The Photobook might appeal to some but in the age of the smartphone, we are not sure it’s a worthwhile choice. Finally, if you don’t book the Ultimate, you can still pre-pay for a cocktail if you book the basic package without the Ascent.

How to Get Summit Tickets

You can get your tickets as a walk-up, but it is very busy right now and still has limited occupancy so this is a poor idea. Most days are completely sold-out up to a week in advance and Sunset even earlier! The best option is to book Direct from SummitOV.com and get a booking as soon as possible, especially if you want a sunset time slot.

Attraction Passes

The other 4 Observation decks are now all included on the Cities Attraction Passes. The Summit is not yet included, but we imagine it will make its way onto them in due course as the initial hype dies down.

Missed Slots

Officially, if you miss your slot then you lose your money. This seems overly harsh and is NOT in line with the other Observation Decks. We think they may rethink this in the future, again once the hype has died down.

The FAQ states that if you are late they will try and get you in, but there is no guarantee, we think if you do miss your slot definitely ask for a re-schedule as this is a terrible policy and there might be some leeway.

Inclement Weather

Again they are being VERY rigid on the Weather Policy. Some days in New York the Cloud Descends and views from up high are basically the inside of a cloud. It’s pretty disappointing to spend hundreds of dollars and not get to see anything. Once more we hope they revisit this once the hype has died down as it’s a poor policy and will lead to a lot of disappointment!

The Summit Experience

The Summit Layout One Vanderbilt

Journey to the Summit

The Journey starts in the Main Lobby and the main elevator up to the first part of the Summit Experience Air. This mirrored elevator gives you a glimpse of what you are walking into.

Air

Air is the Main deck of the Summit and is a large interactive art installation by the modern Artist Kenzo Digital.

The Centerpiece for this is the stunning Transcendence. This is an infinity mirror room that features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the City and reflects this scene endlessly in a series of mirrors and windows to surround you in a mindblowing, inception-Esque, visual wonder. It’s really hard to put into words but the imagery does the floor justice, although actually walking out onto the floor is pretty challenging for your mind to cope with.

There is also Transcendence 2, a second concept that is more circular in nature and bends the imagery giving you a new perspective.

There is also the Affinity section that fills the space with mirrored globes, which looks very intriguing but we are a little unsure on how this will be managed from a visitors perspective.

Levitation

Summit Levitation

Levitation is the second section of the deck and offers the brave the chance to step out over nothing. This clear glass box extends out over the ether and allows the brave to step out and really get to see the City from a unique perspective. This is the Ultimate Instagram Show as you are literally levitating over the cityscape below.

The View for levitation is out over Bryant park and gives some really stunning views over the city. It’s just a shame the perfect insta-selfie shot is not the most iconic view of New York.

Ascent

Summit Ascent

The final attraction of the Deck is Ascent and this is an optional part of the attraction, costing $20 extra to add on to the original price. Here you board a Glass Elevator and ascend higher than any other visitable part of the tower right up to 1200 ft above ground level…With a pane of glass beneath your feet.

It’s quite a thrill and if you can stomach it, we think it’s a must-do. When a full-on Willy Wonker Glass elevator is on offer you gotta take it! This attraction offers a LOT of exposure to height and for some, it’s hard PASS.

Apres

Apres Summit

One of the stand out features of the Deck is the Apres Bar and Restaurant. The Bar is situated high up in the building, something we worried would not be the case as Apres means “After” so we were worried that the bar was down in the lobby to get a drink Afterwards. It’s not it’s right up on the top level of the deck just a little bit lower than the Lifts.

The Bar quite small and this means we think it’s probably worth buying a drink prior, either with the Ultimate Package or as an add-on. This way you are going to be guaranteed entry to the bar whereas at busy times it may be restricted to walk-ups.

$14 is not overly terrible for a good cocktail at an NYC rooftop bar such as this, compared to Bar 65 or Bar 54, two very popular Rooftop Bars, both have cocktail prices well over $20!.

The View

The Summit View

The Summit is definitely marketed as being an immersive art installation as opposed to a mere Observation Deck, but really many will see this as merely a gimmick. Above all the Deck has to offer amazing views. Now at 1000-1200ft that is not hard and with Manhattan as the backdrop, you are guaranteed breathtaking views. But that is not enough.

Not with the intense competition from 4 other observation decks. All the bells and whistles in the world won’t cut it if the view is poor. Fortunately, The location of One Vanderbilt is pretty much perfect and the Views out over New Yorks Landmarks are right up there.

First, we have Central Park, it’s not the best view as New York’s moneymen have built tower after tower along Billionaires row, largely obscuring the Park from most of Manhattan south of the Row, Cheers Guys. But you still get as good a glimpse as possible past the towering monstrosities.

You also get great views of the Chrysler Building and midtown Skyscraper Cluster including the Bank Of America Tower and the City Glow that radiates out from Times Square. You will get views out over the east river and the Husdon along with the Famous Bridges over to Brooklyn.

Oh, and there is the best, unobstructed view of the Empire State Building you are likely to find in New York. Really this is what we all want to see and we were pretty nasty about the Edge’s impeded glimpse of this Icon and praise is heaped on TOTR for its view, but this is higher, closer, and even more perfect. It really is THE place in NYC to get a great view of the most iconic buildings in the world.

Downtown, One World Trade Center, and the Statue of Liberty are both visible but they are distant. Downtown makes a great backdrop for the Empire State, but other than that it’s pretty murky and far away and the Statue is but a speck.

Things We Don’t Like about the Summit!

Things seem to be shaping up nicely for the Summit, but it’s not all rosy in the superhigh garden.

Glass

We rank the One World Observatory as the WORST Observation Deck in New York, despite it being the tallest, and suggest the 102nd floor of the Empire State as a skip, when we rank the main deck as No1! What do all are less favored observatories have in common? They are inside…and so is the SUMMIT

The first problem with this is one that really upsets us. Glass has a real detrimental effect on Photography. Photos NEVER come out as well through glass as without. Dirt on the Windows, reflections, and simply distortions from the glass all add up to a hugely reduced image. This is one reason we don’t like the enclosed decks.

The second is they are just not as exhilarating. The view is nice enough but if you are not faced with the harsh realities of the outdoors, the wind, the cold, the exposure, it just doesn’t feel as real. To fully appreciate the height and the full experience of being on top of Manhatten you have to be outside.

The Summit combats these by in a number of ways. The Indoor Space itself is a photographer’s dream! The Endless reflections, infinity mirrors, and stunning light mean you can grab some really mind-blowing shots unlike anything else in the City. These will surely become cliche over time but you are going to grab some fantastic memories. And the Glass Floors, Levitation viewing pods, and glass elevators all add up to make this are really cerebral experience that is unlike anything in New York. The One World Observatory is just basically an observation deck with windows, this is so much more.

Apres has a small outdoor area but it’s behind glass, and as such subject to all the above issues apart from you getting wet and cold if it rains! They have not even given you the handy gaps the TOTR provides to poke your camera through.

Fear

The Summit Levitation

There are a lot of glass floors and exposed drops around the Summits deck. The Space is really stunning but it’s pretty pulse-raising for those with a nervous disposition to heights. Anyone with a serious fear should stay away really as there is a lot to provoke a really serious reaction. Even walking on the glass floor is a bit nerve-racking and the large amounts of liability waivers included in the booking process are unnerving!

We love it for the visceral and cerebral experience but some will find the deck overwhelming. It’s not all clear glass floors over plunging heights but there is a fair amount of unnerving visuals. Even the Elevator up to the top is enough to evoke some reactions!

Other Observations Decks

The New Kid on the block has a lot to live up to and some stiff competition. Here are your other options

Empire State Building

The Most Iconic Building in the world and still the best in our opinion. There is just something so utterly “New York” about standing aloft the Empire State that everyone has to do it at least once in their lives.

Top Of The Rock

On Paper the Top Of The Rock is the loser here. It’s the lowest with the fewest bells and whistles, but it’s still a narrow second place to the Empire State. Why? It’s simply the best view. Looking head on to the Empire State the TOTR offers mind-blowing Views of midtown, central park, downtown, Times Square, and the Empire State Building. An Absolute Must.

The Edge – Hudson Yards

This was the Newbie and offered a really unparalleled experience. With Glass floors and the stunning Titanic-esque point, it had all the hallmarks of a class-leading experience. The Let Down for us was the fact a great big building was directly in front of the Empire State Building, obscuring the view and putting a big dampener on the experience.

One World Observatory

The Tallest of the five and should have been the best, the One World was a letdown for us. The enclosed nature just kills the experience. The View is a little less brilliant than the others too, it’s just too “Downtowny”, with fewer iconic sights. Although it does have the best Statue View!

Which to Choose?

Honestly, if you had to just do one as a flying visit, it’s a tough call between Empire and top of the rock. But for most people, we say DO THEM ALL. Make your own mind up, There are all amazing in their own way. Buy an Attraction Pass and head on up. They only take an hour or so each and you can suck in the best views in the whole City!

Have Your Say?

Have You been up to the Summit Yet? What did you make of it? A Marvel of modern art or a tourist trap full of gimmicks? Just let us know your thoughts in the comments. How did you find the exposure? Did you get the wobbles or was it all ok? Again just fire away n the comments and do the same if you have any questions.

You May Also Like:

Leave a Comment