A swimming pool is such a standard addition to any hotel that it’s more surprising to stay in a property without one. There are two types. The first: a businessy, 20-metre-long utilitarian sort, usually next to a few pieces of desultory gym equipment in the basement. The second: the marquee hotel pool, the star of social media (hotel marketing and travel articles like this one). These bigger, better and more bombastic pools don’t much care about the cursory 20 lengths, rather the number of likes you’ll get while perched on the side of them.
Plus, it’s January – the traditional month you’re supposed to make new year’s resolutions like doing more exercise. Not that these pools encourage anything of the sort…
If we gave out an award for the Most Instagrammable Swimming Pool, Aman Tokyo would clinch it. The deluxe hotel’s 30-metre pool, flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows on the 33rd floor of the businessy Otemachi Tower, is perhaps best at sunrise or sundown, when the Tokyo city light slices through the glass. The comfy daybeds and traditional Japanese baths in the spa areas (with elegant yukatas just begging to be worn) get an honorary mention in the Best Hotel Pool Extras category.
Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang
Northern Laos’ Luang Prabang is blessed with many things: a mere handful of tourists peddling around on bikes, lush temple-studded hills and quaint French streets. And the garden swimming pool at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, up a steep track off Luang Prabang’s main drag, overlooks it all. Framed by banana tree leaves, coconut palms and frangipanis, the pool (and surrounding light stone deck) offers one of the best views in this Unesco World Heritage town.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Italy
It is possible to go for an alfresco swim in all the Great Italian Lakes – but why would you, when Grand Hotel Tremezzo has three swimming pools, including the ice-blue floating one set into Lake Como (bottom left)? It overlooks both the beatific lake and the yellow, art nouveau facade of this turbo-luxe palace hotel. And even if you can’t stay, you can watch the pool action on the website’s live stream.
Laucala Island, Fiji
Fiji’s top private island resort, Laucala Island – owned by Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz – advertises its pool as a 21,530-square-foot lagoon. There’s no mention of its glass-fronted water tunnel above this ‘lagoon’ – ideal for practising water aerobics or your best mermaid pose. The 25 on-land villas are just as impressive: private pool, plasma TVs and complimentary champagne (and, of course, Red Bull) in the minibars.
Park Hyatt, Bangkok
Bangkok’s most anticipated opening last summer was the Park Hyatt – both for its classy, distinctly un-Park Hyatt look (visit the 32nd floor steakhouse, Penthouse Bar + Grill, for a pre-prandial cocktail and you’ll see why) and its unique slide shape. The infinity pool isn’t Asia’s tallest (that’d be Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands) or even the most revolutionary. But it is one of the most interesting: gazing across Bangkok’s booming Lumpini neighbourhood, guests feel like they’re floating in the midst of the city. The poolside sorbet machine is also a nice addition.