Cliffside Pool, Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, France
The majestic infinity-edge pool of the fabled Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc is forged into cliffs along the rugged Cap d’Antibes coast just outside Cannes. Filled with ocean salt water and heated on cooler days, it looks out on the Lérins Islands and the glassy Cannes Bay, where the gin palace yachts of the celebrities and tycoons who stay here bob on the water. On a secluded cement terrace, hidden among rocks above the pool, cocktail waiters tend to guests reclining in private cabanas on deck chairs under glossy white umbrellas. Almost as spectacular as the views are the celebrity sightings of the likes of Kate Moss, Bruce Willis, and Johnny Depp.
Atrium Pool, Park Hyatt, Tokyo
On the 47th floor of the famously sleek Lost in Translation hotel, this 65-foot-long, four-lane masterpiece under a double-height glass roof has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer spectacular views of the Shinjuku district, the city, and Mount Fuji beyond. Visit at night when the pool is a fluorescent blue and the cityscape glitters below. The pool is part of the hotel’s Club on the Park spa and fitness center, so you can order salads and juices from the spa menu while you recline on deck chairs under those tall windows.
Tip: Bill Murray struggled to do a lap here when he took a dip in Sofia Coppola’s film. Try to do better.
Rooftop Pool, Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel, Athens, Greece
While not as chic as our other selections, the rooftop pool of this central Athens hotel has 360-degree panoramas of the ancient city, including a front-on view of the Acropolis and a great vantage point over the nearby Parthenon and the cafés, shops, and winding streets of the Plaka below. On hot summer evenings, with the Acropolis illuminated in the distance, the hotel hosts parties
and banquets by the pool.
Tip: Whether going to or coming from a holiday on the islands, you’ll find this the perfect place to relax away from the frenzied chaos of Athens’s city streets.
Main Pool, Singita Grumeti Reserves Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania
Watching the great annual migration of antelope and zebra on the Serengeti Plains is a spectacular sight in its own right; at billionaire Wall Street trader Paul Tudor Jones II’s flagship hilltop lodge Sasakwa, you can see the migration while paddling in a heated infinity-edge pool built on the cliff-edge promontory of his lodge’s lush front lawn. The lawn is lined with telescopes to better see the animals, and if you spot something you like, you can summon a game ranger and drive down to see it…in your swimming trunks.
Tip: Each of the seven cottage suites at Sasakwa has a secluded private garden plunge pool with similarly dramatic views.
Rooftop Pool, The Standard Downtown, Los Angeles
André Balazs’s über-cool hotel takes the urban swimming pool to another level—namely, the 12th-floor rooftop. The glowing L-shaped pool, rimmed by funky space-age cabanas with vibrating waterbeds, has a lively cocktail lounge to the side, which attracts wide-eyed tourists and local hipsters. They come as much for the drinks and music as the spectacular views of Library Tower, Museum Square, and the rest of the city’s glittering skyline.
Tip: You can watch classic Tinseltown movies projected drive-in style on the giant wall of a neighboring building while you sip a mojito in the pool.
Garden Pool, Palazzo Sasso, Ravello, Amalfi, Italy
This 60-foot-long heated pool in the gardens of the grand 12th-century Palazzo Sasso villa hotel in Ravello is perched on 1,000-foot-high cliff-edge lawns looking out on lush mountains, blue waters, and the historic fishing villages of the Amalfi coast. Windows built into the walls of the pool mean you can see the sparkling ocean while underwater. Garden chairs and umbrellas set to the side let you soak up the view without getting your feet wet.
Tip: Palazzo Sasso’s Infinito Suite has a private heated plunge pool in its terraced garden with an equally dramatic view of the shimmering coastline.
Main Pool, Banyan Tree Seychelles, Mahé, Seychelles
Lush swaying palms and huge granite boulders tower over this glassy, dark-blue infinity pool on Intendance Bay in the Seychelles. A narrow point at the center of the pool juts out over a talcum-powder beach below, leaving you with the feeling you’re floating above the waves. Out on the bay, forest-covered tropical islands loom out of the water, and fishing boats and catamarans sail the trade winds.
Tip: Every one of the resort’s 60 colonial plantation-style villas has a private pool with bay views, but the recently built two-bedroom DoublePool Villas, set in manicured gardens yards from the beach, have one for each room, as well as heated jet-pools.
Rooftop Pool, The Berkeley, Knightsbridge, London
In a city not known for its pools, the heated rooftop lap pool of the classy Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge is one of the best-kept secrets in town. Built in the 1970s and framed by handsome Roman pillars and arches, it’s set under a retractable roof that opens up to the sky on warm days. You get rare views of the leafy expanse of Hyde Park to the north, and an eagle-eye vantage point of Knightsbridge and flagship stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods to the west. You can’t order cocktails from the Blue Bar, but you can sip juices from the spa menu.
Tip: For US $120 (GBP 60) a day, nonresidents can get access to the pool and spa.
Floating Pool, Villa D’Este, Lake Como, Italy
There are few more exhilarating sights on earth than the floating pool on Lake Como, part of the stunning 16th-century, 152-room Villa d’Este hotel in northern Italy. Built into a pontoon that floats on the 28-mile lake, the pool is the centerpiece of a stunning watercourse. Giant cloud-topped mountains rise up from the water’s edge, while streams, grottoes, and fountains gurgle down the mountain slopes. A Jacuzzi has been added to the pontoon pool, although since the pontoon is only open in summer, you’re just as likely to want to cool off in the lake.
Tip: A heated indoor pool open all year round is located in the Sporting Club building of the grounds, accessed by an underground passage
from the main building.