Top 10 Urban Hotel Pools

by  ShermansTravel Editorial Staff | Aug 7, 2008
Colonnade Hotel rooftop pool in Boston
Colonnade Hotel rooftop pool in Boston / Photo courtesy of the property

If you find yourself singing the lyrics to The Lovin' Spoonful's “Summer in the City" during the dog days of summer, ride out the heat wave at one of these great urban hotel pools, set in popular cities across the United States. Our editors have dived into all of them and surfaced to recommend six rooftop pools with a view, two hotels with beachside pools, one resort pool with its own waterslide, and one indoor lap pool with whirlpool. While they may not drown out their city's hustle and bustle, these cool city hotel pools definitely make a big splash with their guests. So, come on in: The water's fabulously fine.

Arizona Biltmore

This historic "Jewel of the Desert", with its distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, sits on 39 bucolic acres in the heart of Phoenix and boasts eight glorious pools long favored by visiting Hollywood celebrities. Marilyn Monroe, for one, famously loved to sun herself by the colorfully tiled Catalina Pool, while most of today’s Arizona Biltmore guests flock to Paradise Pool, a complex of three different swimming holes, poolside dining, cabanas, and a swim-up bar. Other highlights include a 92-foot-long water slide and personal pool valets.

The Colonnade

Once summer rolls around, the place to be-and-be-seen in Beantown is 12 stories high atop The Colonnade, where Boston's only rooftop pool is found. Families, stylish sunbathers, and socialites alike can admire the impressive city views from here while hobnobbing around the full-service poolside bar and sipping divine drink concoctions from the menu: We love the "Nantucket Lemonade," a lip-smacking blend of Grey Goose vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and lemonade. White arbor fences and a deck-like ambience add to the charm, giving this rooftop retreat an authentic New England character.

The Delano

This trendsetting South Beach hotel raised the standard for Miami's hotel-pool scene when it opened in the 1990s, after designer Philippe Starck created a shallow 150-foot-long pool, framed it with graceful palm trees, piped in classical music underwater, and named the whole area the Water Salon. His posh oasis is just as splendid today (especially when scantily clad bathing beauties occupy its plush lounge chairs) but, while anyone can take in the scene from the hotel's restaurant terrace (or opt to go for a dip after dusk), only Delano guests can actually bask in the poolside fun under the sun.

Donovan House

A rarity for the capital city, this D.C. property from the trendy Thompson Hotels group (opened in 2008) not only has a cool quotient to rival Manhattan's hippest boutique hotels, but aquatic entertainment, to boot. Indeed, Donovan House's fashionable minimalist design extends to the rooftop, where a sleek pool (and newly-opened bar) occupies a wooden lounge deck with views of Thomas Circle. It's hardly the place to conduct political business, but the pool scene, designer digs, and reasonable rates will surely sway patrons to vote unanimously in favor of repeat visits.

Hotel Gansevoort

This hotel’s urban rooftop pool is still making waves in New York’s sceney Meatpacking District some five years after its debut – a veritable feat considering how quickly "it" spots can be deemed washed up here. Set on the Hotel Gansevoort's 15th floor, the guest-only 45-foot heated swimming hole is surrounded by glass walls (perfect for admiring the cityscape), and features nifty extras like underwater music and aromatherapy towels – not to mention easy access to the chic and aptly named Plunge bar just next door.

Ivy Hotel

Sure, a $75 million renovation has turned this Gaslamp Quarter hotel into one of San Diego's most notorious pleasure palaces (think in-suite stripper poles and a thumping, three-level nightclub), but The Ivy's most winning attribute has to be its Miami-worthy Eden Rooftop pool and lounge decked out with potted palms, poolside cabanas, and plush seating. The scene has already created a celebrity following (Kid Rock counts among past guests) and comes with stellar city views that stretch all the way from downtown to the harbor. Bring your (waterproof) camera with you.

The Joule

When The Joule, A Luxury Collection Hotel, opened in Dallas in spring 2008, the buzz quickly turned to its dramatic rooftop pool. Extending eight feet beyond the perimeter of the building's 10th floor, the cantilevered pool proffers dazzling downtown views (through a clear Plexiglas wall) to patrons who swim to the end. Those afraid of heights can stay on terra firma, mind you, and plant themselves in one of the lounge chairs or private cabanas on the surrounding deck.

Mandalay Bay

While Las Vegas's popular, glitzy pool parties have inspired some new aquatic innovations on The Strip, the Mandalay Bay remains the ultimate desert oasis for a cool, refreshing plunge. The fantastic 11-acre pool area combines a lazy river, several lagoons, and an extensive beach (with 2,700 tons of sand, undertow, and 6-foot swells for hanging ten). Luxurious private cabanas, the stylish 21-and-over Moorea Beach Club, and a three-story, climate-controlled beachside casino complete this poolside paradise.

Peninsula Chicago

The only indoor hotel pool to make our list, the Peninsula Chicago's classy 19th-floor pool area boasts high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of the Magnificent Mile, and a bevy of lounge chairs suitable for idling poolside. The three-lane, 25-meter lap pool at its center is perfect for doing laps (or water aerobics) on a hot summer's day, while those feeling less aquatically adventurous can always opt for a leisurely dip or a muscle-soothing session in the nearby whirlpool instead.

The Standard Downtown LA

This downtown Los Angeles hotel’s perpetually trendy rooftop pool is the place to swim with the big fish: Celebrities of all stripes (photographers, musicians, actors, and models) regularly ascend to The Standard's heights to imbibe expensive drinks while taking drunken dips in the pool and/or make out on its attendant vibrating waterbeds. Let the dance-party DJs who frequently spin here provide the sounds, while the lights of downtown LA add their Tinsel Town twinkle to the scene.

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