My five favorite hotel pools

There’s nothing that floats my hotel boat quite like an amazing pool. So I figured I’d share some of my favorites.

Up front I should say that I have a weird taste in pools, so I’m not for a second suggesting you guys should agree with me (though in the comments section I’d love to hear your favorite hotel pools). What makes a hotel pool great for me?

  • Awesome views. This is why I’m slightly partial to indoor pools, since at many hotels they boast amazing views.
  • Not too crowded. While pools have busier times and slower times, I’m really not a huge fan of resort pools with 1,000 people in the pool at the time, half of which are drunk out of their mind.
  • People actually swimming in the pool. I’m not a fan of reflection ponds that “bros” use to show off their abs. If people aren’t swimming in it, it ain’t a pool as far as I’m concerned (yes, I’m looking at you, Andaz West Hollywood).

With that in mind, here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

Park Hyatt Tokyo (my review of the hotel)

When I stayed at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in December, one of the things I was most looking forward to was visiting the pool and gym, given the screen time it got in “Lost in Translation.” The views are awesome, but “Lost in Translation” makes it even cooler.

Ritz Carlton Hong Kong (my review of the hotel)

Just about everything at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong is the “tallest in the world,” and that includes the pool, which is located on the 118th floor. The floor to ceiling windows make you feel like you’re swimming in the clouds. But it’s not just that the views are nice, but the pool itself is as well. There’s even an outdoor hot tub, also the tallest in the world.

Park Hyatt Shanghai (my review of the hotel)

Before the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong opened last year, the Park Hyatt Shanghai was the tallest hotel in the world. I really enjoyed my stay at the Park Hyatt in January, in particular the 85th floor pool, spa, and gym. The pool area is beautifully furnished and every time I used the pool I had it to myself. So I feel it’s the perfect balance between being a beautiful pool and not being over hyped.

InterContinental Hong Kong (my review of the hotel)

No hotel in Hong Kong can compete with the location of the InterContinental. It’s located right on the Avenue of Stars with an ideal view of Victoria Harbour.

Suffice it to say their rooftop pool has equally awesome views, especially from the whirlpool, which looks straight onto the Avenue of Stars. It’s the perfect location from which to view Hong Kong’s nightly “Symphony of Lights.”

Marina Bay Sands Singapore (my review of the hotel)

While these are all amazing pools, I saved the best for last. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore features an outdoor infinity pool on the 57th floor. The pool is on the roof of the hotel, as you can see below:

And while the pool is a huge tourist attraction, it deserves the hype. The views are spectacular and the pool itself is huge. But here’s the trick, in my opinion. The pool gets incredibly crowded during the day, so I highly recommend getting there at 6:30AM when the pool opens. Not only will you more or less have it to yourself, but you can luck out with some pretty nice sunrise views as well. Swimming at the Marina Bay Sands at 6:30AM is one of my most memorable hotel experiences ever.

So, I’ve shared my favorites, and now I’m curious, what are your favorite hotel pools?

Filed Under: Hotels
  1. None outside Asia? Looks like the rest of the world has some catching up to do…

  2. For the record… those aren’t “bros” at the Andaz West Hollywood, those are just gays trying to get laid. Trust me.

  3. I booked a night at the IC Hong Kong next month just so I can experience the pool.

    My favorite hotel pool I’ve been to so far is the rooftop pool of the Westin New Orleans Canal Place. It’s definitely not the nicest hotel pool, but it gives great 360 degree views of my hometown. So for me, it’s the nostalgia associated with it.

  4. Wow, spectacular pools. I’ve only been to the PH Tokyo, which was one of my top 5 for sure. Of other ones I have been in I’d add just about any pool in Oia (Santorini) and also the infinity pool at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc to your list. I am adding the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and Marina Bay Sands Singapore to my bucket list after this post!

  5. I was at the IC Hong Kong last month. There is very loud construction going on next door so if you want to relax at the pool you may have to wait until after 5pm or so when construction ends. Totally worth staying there for the pool.

  6. While those are all nice, the #1 pool in the world is at the Yacht and Beach Club at Disney World in good ole Florida. Nothing quite like getting a foot massage while swimming in a pool with sand at the bottom. šŸ™‚ perfection

  7. My favorite pool so far:

    The Mercure Samui Buri Resort on Koh Samui, Thailand, has an incredible infinity pool that overlooks the beach, with views of Koh Pha Ngan across the sound. The pool is enormous and has a swim-up bar. Many rooms also have their own personal plunge pools. (The beach here is not that great, but the architecture, spacious rooms, amazing views and of course the pool are delightful.)

  8. intercontinental warsaw has a stunning 40ish floor swimming pool overlooking the city. AMAZING!

  9. After winning a recent photo ID contest, I’m the kind of guy who thinks he’s got instant credibility, and I’m a long-time hotel pool connoisseur besides. So here goes:

    My all-time favorite was the Sinclair Hilton pool in Houston, sadly demolished in the mid-1980s. They filmed Giant there. It was a 50-meter competition pool, and they used to have long-course swim meets there in the Summer.

    My current favorite is the Frankfurt Hilton pool. The lanes are bit narrow, but it’s a real 25 meter short-course pool with a pace clock.

    Another favorite is the pool at the old Intercontinental in Chicago. It’s a 25 yard pool with really impressive 1930s art deco detailing. It started its life in the 1920s a private club, and they say Johnny Weissmuller used to work out there before he became famous as the first great Tarzan.

    The Houstonian in Houston. It’s an outdoor short-course competition pool (I think yards rather than meters), and a favorite for local lap swimmers. The surrounding vegitation is spectacularly lush — if you’re into that kind of thing.

    More generally, some of the old Westin hotels have pretty serious-looking lap pools. The ones in New Orleans and Houston are outdoors on the rooftop, and the one in Philadelphia (though indoors) is part of a full-sized industrial strength gym.

    I’d be interested in other readers’ takes on pools in Manhattan, too. I need a favorite there, but haven’t found one yet — not counting the private clubs.

  10. Outdoor pool + high floor + earthquake = very long drop when you get sloshed right out! (Sorry, but we Californians think about these things…)

  11. I agree with San Greg… W Hong Kong pool should definitely be listed!!!

    In terms of the Andaz West Hollywood being annoying, you should go to the SLS pool, which is even worse! Maybe it’s an “LA thing…”

  12. Just got back from Tokyo. Grand Hyatt Tokyo has a nice 20m pool with three lanes for lap swimming, but it’s indoors with no windows, so it’s a little dark and (for me) depressing. Park Hyatt pool looks cheerier.

    My favorite pool in Hong Kong is the Four Seasons Hong Kong with its outdoor pool overlooking Hong Kong Harbor (and it even has underwater music pumped in).

    My favorite pool in Las Vegas is at the Signature MGM — if you stay at the Signature, you get to use their nice quiet pools (complete with poolside drink service) *and* use the giant crowded mega-pools at the MGM itself.

  13. Never been in the Marina Bay Sands pool, but I’ve been up there, and I don’t see how it could get any better.

  14. The Four Seasons Hong Kong has a spectacular pool as well. Hong Kong generally seems to be quite well represented on this list!

  15. My favorite pool is… not. When I think about where I want to go to enjoy the water and some views nothing beats the North Shore of Oahu. Give me a good shortboard, some good waves, and the “scenery” of the surfergirls of Hawai’i. Y’all can keep your pools. šŸ˜‰

  16. The pool mentioned by Chip above in comment 19, the Grand Hyatt in Beijing, is my favorite pool also.

  17. Wow, those are some really cool pools. Definitely staying at the Grand Hyatt next time I’m in Beijing.

  18. I’m in NYC for work quite a bit and usually stay at the Mandarin in Columbus Circle. The pool there, while not incredibly large, is rarely (if ever used) and has nice views from the 36th (maybe 37th) floor.

    Nice facility too. Certainly not the place to sunbathe…it’s really for swimming laps. On a business trip in December, it’s fantastic to have that option.

  19. Once I stayed at the Westin Shanghai, and they provided antibiotic eye drops for use after swimming. I changed my mind about swimming there, even though the pool was awesome – one side of it was lucite and you could see into it.

  20. @MDAccount…as a fellow Californian, if you’re in a pool in which the earthquake was strong enough to slosh you out, I think you’d have a pretty big problem no matter where you were…

  21. The most awesome hotel pool I’ve experienced is at Viceroy Miami. The 300 ft (!!) infinity pool sits on the 15th floor of the complex and is shared with residents of the Icon condominiums. Given that these people need days jobs to pay for their flats, not a very crowded swimming pool :-)

  22. These are all nice pools, but I still am one for the pool-to-beach or pool-with-loads-of-hot-loose-women feel. And since I’m feeling a bit patriotic, I’ll just mention US-located hotels. šŸ™‚

    With that in mind… pool-to-beach:
    Hilton Waikaloa Village, Big Island, HI
    Grand Wailea, Maui, HI
    Wet Republic, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
    Rehab, Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
    Upscale desert:
    Fairmont Princess, Scottsdale, AZ

  23. Best Western in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
    It’s in the shape of the state of Minnesota. It’s indoor. Not crowded when I was there in winter of maybe ’02 haha. Clean. All the rooms look out on the pool, which I really like bc it reminds me of fun times going to my dad’s company Christmas parties when I was small.
    The hotel has a lot of culture too.

  24. Lucky, I cannot believe you did not mention InterContinental Berchtesgaden! That outdoor pool is the best!!!

  25. The pool at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Kauai, Hawaii is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

  26. Johnny Mac- My (almost) homeboy! I’m from Detroit Lakes (a bit over an hour away) and have lots of meetings in their “convention center” because it’s pretty close to halfway on I-94 between MSP and FAR, plus points north. This pool is one of my favorites. My favorite patio/outdoor area (not a pool, but…) is in the MSP Hyatt Regency fitness center. They have a balcony that’s four/five stories above Nicollet Mall and it’s absolutely amazing at 6am. Otherwise, IC Chicago, hands down.

  27. I look for a proper lap pool whenever I travel; the pool is more important than the hotel. Many to mention but close to perfect is Lefay Resort overlooking Lake Garda. Also great: L’hotel du Palaise, Biarritz; Montage, Laguna; Hollywood Roosevelt (mornings only); Four Season, Hawaii; Galle Face Hotel, Colombo.

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