Forget finding a room with a view: today’s traveller knows it’s all about a pool with a view.
Just imagine yourself watching a vermilion sunset or taking in a twinkling cityscape or mountain panorama from the cocoon of a warm pool of water, preferably cocktail in hand. It’s the kind of effortless sightseeing that everyone can get on board with.
So take the plunge in one of these fabulous pools with scenery to match. It’ll definitely float your boat (or lilo).
Hanging Gardens of Bali, Ubud
Possibly the most photographed splash pad in the world, the Hanging Gardens of Bali was voted the world’s most unique swimming pool by Architecture and Design in 2015. Float high above the rainforest canopy in its glittering bathwater and relax to the rhythms of the Ayung River below, flowing through the rice paddies and past the ancient Dalem Segara temple. At night, the hotel lights up the pool with a hundred tiny frangipani candles, all flickering under a split-sugar sky and offering a different view of perfection. A quick dip has never felt so timeless – but then they don’t call Bali the Island of the Gods for nothing.
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, France
Stretch out beside the basalt pool at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc near Cap D’Antibes and enjoy the same French Riviera view that has captivated A-listers for decades. You’re king or queen of all you survey here; which is a vast azure panorama that runs from Juan-les-Pins to the Esterel coastline. Small wonder the hotel’s guestbook has everything from doodles by Picasso to salutations from George Clooney in it. The hotel is also where the stars migrate to for the Cannes Film Festival every year, nipping across to the Croisette every day on the hotel speedboat. It might cost three times as much to bag a room during the festival, but at least you’ll have the pool to yourself while the glitterati are all at work.
Grace Santorini Hotel, Greece
Carved out of cliffs in western Santorini, this dazzling white boutique hotel in the Cyclades looks like sugar cubes dropped into Curaçao. Plus, it has a pool with a view that pretty much writes the book on Greek island idylls. Bob in the warm waters with the Santorini caldera, an underwater basin of an ancient volcano, below you and it’s hard to see where the pool ends and the blue of the Aegean Sea begins. Skaros fortress, topped with Venetian castle ruins, lies in the distance – best spotted in silhouette as the legendary Santorini sunset falls in orange and purple splendour over the vast skies above you.
Avalon Hotel, Gothenburg, Sweden
Sweden’s most overlooked city break, Gothenburg is a crucible of café culture, great seafood restaurants and hip hangouts, all just bubbling under the radar – plus it’s even got its own vintage rollercoaster. What more can you ask for? A swimming pool above it all, that’s what. And at the funky, feng-shui-ed Avalon, on Kungsportsplatsen, you can swim out over the scene in its ‘floating’ penthouse pool. You’ll need nerve, and possibly a shot of Aquavit – Swedish herb-infused vodka – from the pool bar. Then plunge in and wave at the crowds six floors below as they watch you front crawl above their heads.
The Berkeley, London
On a clear day you can see forever from The Berkeley’s seventh-floor rooftop pool – or at least as far as the bustle of Knightsbridge and green patchwork of Hyde Park below. All that urban intensity feels very far away though when you’re lazing around in this white and gold mosaic oasis. With just 10 beds by the pool and eight in the garden area next door, it’s so peaceful it’s hard to believe you’re right in the heart of London. Guests and day users get to step out of the everyday here – go when the retractable roof is off and the sunshine sparkles on the water and you can have a whole holiday in an afternoon. Or a lunch break.
Bondi Icebergs, Sydney
OK, a wave in the face might not be your idea of a great view, but the Bondi Icebergs Club puts the ‘infinity’ in infinity pool by basically being part of the Pacific Ocean. Only a wall separates you from the big blue in this legendary Bondi Beach pool, home to hardy Sydney swimmers since 1929. You’ll do your lengths along a mirror surface of water in the summer, and something resembling a Perfect Storm during winter. Check the pool temperature on the website beforehand if you don’t want a shock, then dive in – if you’re feeling weedy there’s always the on-site Italian restaurant and cocktail bar to retreat to.
Chongwe River House, Zambia
Zambia’s Chongwe river is famous for its male elephants and at the Chongwe River House, a swim is also a safari with amazing views of the majestic pachyderms. The low-level heated pool lies at the front of the private house – a place part-Flintstones, part-boutique hideout, made of clay and built around a frame of natural wild wood. Of course, you can also see the big game of the Lower Zambezi National Park from the bedrooms, sitting room and the deck here as well, while you – and they – feed, drink and play. But there’s something unforgettable about floating along and enjoying a sundowner with the chance that a hippo might come and join you.
The Yeatman Hotel, Porto, Portugal
Drink in the romance of one of the world’s oldest wine capitals from the decanter-shaped pool at The Yeatman Hotel in Porto. Both the indoor and outdoor pools of this boutique hotel offer spectacular vistas of the Portugese city; a glorious jumble of bell towers, baroque churches and Beaux-Arts buildings as dense as the port wine for which it's famed. Reach out from the pool and you can almost touch the warm terracotta roofs, stepped down the hillside to the Douro river. The Douro itself is lined with a wealth of riverside wine tasting cellars at which to clink your glass and cry, ‘Saúde!’ Rise above the inevitable hangover in style on a rooftop pool lounger the next day.
The Cambrian, Switzerland
This is a view to dream of when you’re stuck at your desk: soaring mountains rising up on all sides, capped with snow or dotted with cows and wildflowers. At Adelboden, in the Swiss Alps, The Cambrian hotel’s outdoor pool wreathes you in steam as you take in the local natural drama and lungfuls of fresh, sunshine-tinted mountain air. The pool is popular with spring walkers and winter skiers alike fresh from the slopes of the Bernese Oberland, both of whom drop in to soothe aching muscles as hotel or day guests. Follow with a mountain herb massage or a blackberry wrap in the spa and you’ve got relaxation that’s hitting peak levels.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
At three times the length of an Olympic pool and 57 floors above the streets, the pool at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore has upped the swimming ante. You have to be a guest at the hotel to take a dip, but the pool alone is worth the stay, giving you the chance to swim amid the soaring skyscrapers of the city’s financial district. Once you’re done watching the workers toiling in the windows opposite, stretch out on a sunlounger in the shade of an incongruous rooftop palm tree. It’s all equally surreal 650ft from the ground, but as far as pool power goes, you’re on top of the world.
Boucan Hotel, St Lucia
Soak up the rainforest and cocoa groves of Saint Lucia’s oldest plantation, Rabot Estate, from the 50ft infinity pool at the Boucan Hotel, owned by UK chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat. Lined in black quartz, the pool offers a mirror reflection of the island’s iconic jagged Piton mountains, a view that is only disturbed by your lazy front crawl. Hop out and you can dry in the balmy Caribbean heat on wooden sunloungers and Adirondack rockers dotted around the water’s edge. Book a cacao massage on the deck to enjoy while sipping a Cacao Bellini and life is all the sweeter.