Ahhhhh, the fabled hotel pool. Like opening up a Christmas present from your second-favourite godmother - the filthy-rich one you only see twice a decade - you never really know what you’re going to get.
Sometimes they can be venues for the craziest parties anywhere on the planet; the sort that you dreamed of attending when watching the MTV Dance channel as a teenager, secretly accepting these scenes of leaping into a pool with a red plastic cup in one hand a bikini-clad stranger in the other are totally manufactured by spotty DJs. Other times, you find yourself tussling for a sun lounger with a group of heavily-oiled German’s who’s budgie-smugglers are fast disappearing into the fold beneath their big beautiful bellies as they suck down another canned beer, half of them watching their kids wrestle on pool floats while the other half invites you to a late dinner at their condo, before challenging you to a game of backgammon in front of some decidedly dodgy Eurotrash film. The point is: hotel pools can be a pretty mixed bag.
That’s why we’ve gone and taken the guesswork out of it for you, traversing our wonderful world in search for the most extremely beautiful, totally unbelievable and ridiculously baller spots to take a dip after you’ve digested your buffet lunch). From infinity pools that will boggle your mind for hours on end to glass-bottom tanks that hover in the air twenty-stories above ground, to those places that are so luxurious they probably come with a tanning-butler to help you protect that patch of pale back-fat you can’t quite reach, these are the most breath-snatching hotel pools you’ll find in any pocket of the planet.
9. Singita Grumeti Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania
We love a safari. We really do. But, like most people, we’re not always okay with getting up at dawn’s crack, yawning from the backseat of some rickety, open-top jeep while secretly hoping we’ll spot an animal of interest at some point during the five hours we’re driven about the wilderness. Thankfully, that’s not how the Singita Grumeti Sasakwa Lodge does their animal-spying safaris. Oh no. They’re all about you sipping on an ice-cool cocktail in their infinity pool as a herd of antelope wanders past, followed by a few elephants and whatnot. That’s right. The main pool at this lodge gives you a front-row view of Africa’s savannah and all those creatures that dance among it. It’s incredible.
8. St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet
If you’re searching for that somewhere super-high-class, then you need to book the next flight to Tibet, regardless of how many stopovers you might have to endure, and book a week’s stay in The Iridium Room at the St. Regis Lhasa Resort because it has the one thing absolutely every person is looking for in a hotel: a perfectly heated and gold-plated dipper. Yup. You read that right. This pool is bejewelled with GOOOOOOLD! And yet it’s not distasteful at all. Okay, maybe it’s a puny-pinch garish, but the timber pillars, mahogany-clad walls and endless stretches of plush sofas make it the perfect place to retreat, refresh, relax, float in luxury and find your spiritual centre, which is what a getaway should be about.
7. Hotel Caesar Augustus, Italy
This is it. This is paradise. The sort that flutters across your imagination before you even get a chance to finish muttering the word. It’s a place you can’t comprehend until it’s waltzed with your eyes in real life because, perched on an all-but-hidden hillside on the stunning Isle of Capri, is this most luxurious of resorts. It’s a place where you can - literally - surround yourself with blue hues, as you fold your arms over the edge of this irresistible infinity pool and do nothing but daydream. It’s… it’s… just... wow. It’s a 90-ish-foot pool made from cobalt that’s been designed to match the intense cerulean colour of the bay it overlooks; the Bay of Naples. But what makes it super-special is the sunsets. The dusty silhouette of Mt. Vesuvius made all the more spectacular by the amber glow of the Mediterranean sky. It really is a daydreamer’s paradise.
6. Holiday Inn, Shanghai Pudong Kanggiao, China
Without a splash of doubt, this has to be the scariest pool ever envisaged - one that will yank your eyes open, make your fears fizz and leave your heart pounding in your ears as you do lengths of this glass-bottomed pool that’s somehow been suspended by clever cantilevers and inexplicable magic twenty-four stories in the air. It’s incredibly daring, giving anyone able to tear their eyeballs away from the drop beneath them a seldom chance to stare across the skyscrapers of Shanghai. It’s as close as you’ll ever get to swimming through the air because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. So, if you're a teeny-tiny bit afraid of heights, you may wanna keep your eyes closed and stick to paddling around at the kiddie end of things. But if you love that feeling of your heart thudding against your sternum, well, this is the hotel pool for you.
5. Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
In the same way that it only takes five-seconds to know if a stranger is vegan or not, you’ll know if someone’s taken a dip at Jade Mountain because the resort pool here is probably the sexiest and most one-of-a-kind pool anywhere in the world. Its views over St Lucia’s famous and otherworldly Piton Peaks alone will be enough to leave your arm a bit sore from all the pinching yourself you’ll be doing. But it’s not the resort pool that you’ll be spending your time in. Not. A. Chance. Not when each of the twenty-four wood-and-stone Sanctuaries has its own private pool and the sort of vista that will leave you speechless. Oh and we’re not talking about plunge pools that can barely squeeze a slender couple in because these glass-tile oasis’ are huuuge. Really huuuuge. Between 400 and 900 square feet kinda huuuuge. And they’re all open to Mother Nature’s magnificence too.
4. Cambrian Hotel, Swiss Alps
If you think there’s something a little weird about packing a pair of speedos or funky trunks for a bracing trip to the top of a mountain, then you and us are singing off the same song sheet. But there is an exception to every rule and, on this occasion, it’s the Cambrian Hotel in the Swiss Alps. Head here for a whisked-away weekend and you’ll live in your swimmers more than your ski boots because it’s not often you get to dive into a heated pool that overlooks the snow-capped mountains of Europe. Trust us: this place is like nowhere else. The rejuvenating waters of this outdoor dipper are gorgeously-equipped with floating massage bed and relaxing jets, while the perfect reflection on the pool’s surface means you get to enjoy two mountain views for the price of one. It’s a bold call but, if we were to go skinny dipping in any pool, this would be the one.
3. Katikies Hotel, Greece
Nowhere feels more secluded, more magical or more honeymoon romantic than this cold-water pool. It’s a big bath of glistening Grecian liquid that’s perfectly nestled inside the white-clay walls of an ancient cave turned luxury resort. It’s simply stunning. It’s the epitome of Santorini Luxe, your mind fizzing with nothing but good vibes as you lounge inside this cavern, looking out across the Aegean Sea and toward what we hope is an extinct volcano (or “ηφαίστειο” if you fancy a spot of the Greek). It’s pure peace and tranquillity. It’s the perfect place to escape the humdrum of everyday life and pretend you’re a Polar Bear for a week or so. It really is idyllic in every sense of the word.
2. Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali
Bali is one of those rare places that doesn’t need an awe-inspiring infinity pool to be beautiful because this island is fifty shades of magical all on its own. But that hasn’t stopped the Alila Hotel from going the extra mile and carving out a watery-wonderland you won’t believe exists until you slip into your Gecko swim shorts and glided over to the edge of this infinity pool to gaze at the sunset, your jaw dropped and eyes wide. And that’s just the pool. We haven’t even mentioned the setting yet, in which this resort is sat on top of a dramatic limestone cliff more than 300 feet above the glistening Indian Ocean. And you’re in Bali. You’re surrounded by unrivalled natural beauty. It’s Shangri La. It’s absolute magic. It’s a pool that manages to relax your mind, body and soul in ways you never knew were possible.
1. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
This pool is as spectacular as they come. It’s your chance to swim on top of the world as you float this way and that in the warm waters of the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, your heart skipping a beat fifty-two times a minute as you gaze down on the glittering skyline of Singapore from fifty-seven floors up. It’s a place so breathtaking that no photo will ever do it justice, and yet every photo from this vantage point could break Instagram. It’s that perfect place to take a dip before stretching out to catch some rays on a plush poolside lounger, the wind tickling your sunkissed skin as you roll into the shade of a manicured palm tree, a flute of chilled champagne making the sunset of colourful clouds that much more unforgettable. We just hope they don’t use those clever chemicals that colour the water because, when you're swimming fifty-plus stories up, it’s pretty likely you’re going to let out a little bit of excited wee.
And there we have it.
Nine of the most badass hotel pools you can ever hope to blag your way into for a quick dip and celebratory glass of bubbly. Of course, it doesn’t matter get to enjoy one of these mind-boggling puddles by hook, crook or just good old-fashioned booking.com, each one of these pools will be worth every ounce of hassle and haggling it took to finally get wet. Trust us on that.
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