Nothing captures our wanderlusting, daydreaming minds quite like a crystal-blue swimming pool, shimmering in the sunlight or dramatically lit at night. On a beach or a mountain, in a jungle or a desert – we love them all. Hotels know this, too, and that’s why in recent years they’ve been upping (and one-upping) their game by taking the basic resort pool to the next level.
From cliffside infinity pools with killer sunset views to naturally warm mineral pools to tropical lap pools, we’ve rounded up 10 of the world’s most travel-inspiring hotel pools – all you need to bring is your bikini and sunglasses.
Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
Sure, Jade Mountain has a James Beard Award-winning chef and a beautiful private beach, but that’s not why this resort wins so many awards (or why the only common complaint among guests is that they don’t want to leave). No, it’s all about the pools here. All 29 suites are open where a fourth wall would ordinarily be, and all but five have private, roomy infinity pools (450-900 square feet) that look out over the Caribbean and the two volcanic peaks of the Pitons, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Acrophobics, this infinity pool is not for you. But for everyone else, the 360-degree views from the 57th floor are nothing short of breathtaking. At 492 feet long, this watery wonder set the length record for an elevated pool; that means there’s plenty of space to spread out, do a little backstroke, or relax on one of the pool’s in-water chaise longues. Then stake out some space along the edge for the obligatory selfie, where you’ll appear to be mere inches from tumbling over into the Singapore skyline.
One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
This gets our vote as arguably the best lap pool anywhere. If you feel you must put in the effort, it might as well be here, because your reward for all that admirable exercise is nothing but azure skies and cerulean Indian Ocean for as far as you can see. The pool was thoughtfully designed with a sitting area in the middle, just in case you need a breather – or a mai-tai.
This is the place to, quite literally, see and be seen. Four floors up, the end of the InterContinental’s 25-meter pool extends past the building to form an overhang with a curved bottom that’s clear on all sides – including the bottom. That means you can see through the water to onlookers below (and they can get a good view of you, too). If you need a little liquid courage first, grab a drink from the pool bar.
Grotta Giusti, Italy
The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi called this place, tucked into a serene Tuscan hillside, the “eighth wonder of the world”; we call it the best pool anywhere to take the cure. The mineral-rich water flows at a constant 95 degrees from the property’s underground grotto, where you can descend for a steam treatment. Within the 8,000-square-foot main pool, relax in any one of the four spiral “mini-pools,” each with a unique water-jet configuration.
Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania
Forget the poolside wildlife in Vegas; this is the real thing. Singita Sasakwa sits at the edge of an escarpment overlooking the Serengeti plains, where – if your timing is right – you can witness the Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and impala from the cooling comfort of the lodge’s main pool. Or, retreat to the privacy of your own cottage; each one has its own infinity pool and the same amazing views.
Katikies Hotel, Santorini
There’s nothing that captures the iconic Greek landscape quite like a whitewashed Santorini hotel clinging to the rocks high above the Aegean. Katikies has not one but three infinity pools, where guests can take in the view of the caldera as boats come and go below. The smallest pool is set back into the rocks, providing seclusion and protection from the sun. The other two are perched vertiginously into the cliffside, with sunset views to die for.
Hanging Gardens Ubud, Bali
Each of the 44 suites and villas has its own heated infinity pool, with views of the valley, river, and jungles below, where the sounds of birds and monkeys carry from the rainforest. But the centerpiece of the resort is the spectacular two-story pool, designed to echo the free-form curved shape of the area’s ubiquitous rice paddies. If the heat starts to get to you, sit in the lower pool under the waterfall, cascading from the pool above.
Playa Vik, Uruguay
The Playa Vik provides the perfect buffer for those who want proximity to the chic beach scene at trendy, jet-setting San Ignacio but who want their privacy as well. The four pools at this resort are minimalist in design, nestled on the sand dunes at right angles to one another to maximize the views of the South American sunset. Hop from pool to pool, all of which face the warm South Atlantic Ocean, with a caipirinha in hand.
St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet
This property is steeped in a feeling of Zen, with its views of the imposing Potala Palace (the main residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959) and the soaring Himalayan Mountains beyond. Anchoring the hotel’s spa are baths fit for a Tibetan emperor: The 2,422-square-foot indoor pool, which looks onto serene blue ponds outside, is entirely lined with golden tiles, casting a calming, iridescent glow through the heated saltwater.