On The Road
Eight Of The Best Pools In The World
From a Brazilian rooftop to a converted monastery on the Amalfi Coast, here are our favourite swimming pools to cool off in
Perched on the edge of a cliff, this pool at the Santa Rosa hotel has breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast ©Chris Caldicott/ Design Pics/ Corbis
The heat is on, the day is clear and all that matters is the angle of your sun lounger. But wait. Is that really all that counts? No. From the cut of your trunks to the grade of your terry-cloth robes, planning the perfect pool experience means being pernickety about the smallest of details. Knowing that the view counts as much as the ingredients in your mojito, we decided to put our high standards into practice, poolside.
Hot-dog legs are so last year – the journeyman’s moneyshot for 2015 is all about playing by the pool – and it follows that this is now the single most important facility in any new hotel’s arsenal. As resorts compete to outclass each other, whether it is an infinity over the ocean or a flash of azure blue underpinning an amazing urban skyline, finding a lounger you’ll never want to leave is easier than ever.
Here to help you choose the best surroundings to set off your capsule travel wardrobe, we bring you eight of the world’s best hotel pools.
Best for finding space
Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, Turkey
Escape reality at the new, award-winning Mandrarin Oriental in Bodrum, Turkey
While the rest of the world gets its trunks in a twist about the new rooftop pool at the latest Soho House outpost in Istanbul, if it’s an escape that’s needed, it might be worth diving a little deeper into the delights that the rest of Turkey has to offer. Ensconced in its own private bay just outside the village of Göltürkbükü, Turkey’s answer to Saint-Tropez on Bodrum’s rugged northern peninsula, you’ll find this vast, spacious and multiple award-winning new Mandarin Oriental retreat, a haven in a natural landscape of pine forests and olive groves with perfect panoramic views over white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Choose from two private beaches and a huge pool complex (including an indoor pool bang in the middle of an outdoor olive grove) and swim to the sound of the cicadas and the sea.
BEST FOR JUNGLE FEVER
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, Culebra, Costa Rica
Watch the sunset over the Culebra Bay
Drink in the coastal mountain views and a cooling cocktail at this thoughtfully designed retreat at the new Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort. Overlooking the blue, blue waters of the Culebra Bay, a pristine forested enclave in Central America’s most magnetic destinations, this is the Andaz’s first property in the region and this blissful pool is one of two that together make sure the property has quickly become a firm fixture on all the region’s best-of and must-see lists since it opened in December 2013. Like elsewhere in the hotel, renowned Costa Rican architect Mr Ronald Zürcher fuses the contemporary with the organic, including rich woods and lots of references to the local flora and fauna. It is also the perfect spot for some serious monkey watching. You can often see both spider and white-faced monkeys slumbering in the trees from the quiet adults-only pool at the far end of the retreat. Whether you’re in the market for a swim, a snooze on the sunbeds or a scenic ceviche snack from one of the hotel’s three themed-restaurants – the Papagayo has the pura vida sewn up.
BEST FOR SEA VIEWS
Iconic Santorini, Imerovigli, Greece
This saltwater pool offers impressive views of the Aegean Sea
Many of the suites at the boutique blue-and-white Iconic Santorini have their own private pools so, to compete, the hotel needed to come up with something pretty special for its main offer. Carved into the hillside high above the Aegean, this heated 11-metre saltwater infinity pool is literally a cut above. An exercise in everything a sublime swim should be, it is sheltered from the sun’s rays by an arch at one end that fuses seamlessly with the ocean’s horizon at the other, and caps off the caldera views with a whirlpool section right at the edge. Built on this ancient volcanic island, the laid-back and lovely Iconic Santorini is a magical and eminently instagrammable location – where traditional Hellenic hospitality meets truly magnificent views.
what to wear
BEST FOR REAL RECUPERATION
The Cambrian, Adelboden, Switzerland
Relax after a day on the slopes in this hot outdoor pool mrandmrsmith.com
It’s small, yes, but it’s steaming, because (at the right time of year) the hot outdoor pool at the Cambrian in Adelboden is surrounded by sunshine dappled snow and the almost painfully pretty chocolate-box scenes of the Swiss Alps. Unwind after a day’s paraskiing with a nighttime dip and let the water jets pummel any remaining stress from your system before heading back indoors for the equally reviving rewards of a raclette and a full-bodied red.
BEST FOR A HIGH-OCTANE WEEKEND
Hotel Fasano, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Join the elite crowd at Hotel Fasano's rooftop pool
Perhaps it’s the young and lovely local Ipanema crowd or perhaps it’s the easy-breezy Italo-Brazilian aesthetic. Either way, the Fasano is Rio’s go-to hotel for the great and glamorous and the pool on the roof is the pinnacle. With the golden sands of Ipanema and the Arpoador on the doorstep, the Mr Philippe Starck-designed Fasano is everything we’ve come to expect from the Frenchman. Service is slick, caipirinhas among the area’s very best and the chances of bumping into the likes of the Beckhams or Beyoncé are higher than most. It’s not surprising that this guest-only package has certain spendthrift Brazilians booking rooms on weekends just to ensure they get their Saturday afternoon poolside fix at Fasano.
BEST FOR ROMANCE
Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast, Italy
©Chris Caldicott/ Design Pics/ Corbis
Originally a 17th-century monastery, the Monastero Santa Rosa is a boutique hotel that has many of its occupants praying for a longer stay the very moment they arrive. Positioned romantically on the very edge of a sheer cliff above the Bay of Salerno in the little historic fishing village of Conca dei Marini, it is world renowned for its scented tiered gardens, its Santa Maria Novella-stocked spa, and of course, its simply magnifico heated infinity pool with one of the best views the Amalfi Coast can afford.
what to wear
BEST FOR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Bisma Eight, Ubud, Bali
Lie back and relax at the new peaceful resort in Ubud, Bali
A shrine to contemporary design, the new Bisma Eight resort in Bali is a quick 15-minute stroll from the Monkey Forest in Ubud. Here, modern aesthetics and natural materials work in spiritual yogi-friendly harmony with the natural beauty of the region, and the emphasis – from the infinity pool overlooking the jungly treetops to the hotel’s own organic farm, Bisma Gardens – is firmly on wellbeing, body and mind. Locavores will love it: guests are invited to pick their own vegetables and sit back while Bisma Eight’s chefs prepare a meal. Lovers will love it, too: Bali does romance better than anywhere else in the world, so should you want the water in the pool resurfaced with seasonal flowers for a special someone, just ask.
BEST FOR DESIGN JUNKIES
The Norman, Tel Aviv, Israel
A secret haven away from the hustle and bustle of the White City
The Norman is a newcomer to Tel Aviv and, with its glittering rooftop infinity pool, it has immediately become one of the White City’s hottest spots. A rare treat in the centre of this Unesco World Heritage Site, far from being the sticky overcrowded throng that often occurs when a pool becomes a victim of its own popularity, The Norman is a fresh and fragrant oasis. In a leafy residential area just blocks away from the sea, it has a distinctly private feel. The supremely sophisticated Bauhaus design, complete with inspiring interior touches and Israeli art all work together to create a sunburst of serenity in the city.