When a hotel has the kind of pool holiday fantasies are made of, it’s easy to assume it must be way out of your league. Not necessarily so – if you’re flexible with your dates, there are some happy surprises to be had out there. We’ve found six stunning hotel pools that will make a splash on your Instagram feed without getting you into financial deep water.
1. The Leela Palace New Delhi, India – fly from £329
Best for…urban escape
However fascinating the Indian capital might be, there are times when you desperately need a respite from its full-on sensory assault. That’s when The Leela Palace New Delhi, in the well-heeled Diplomatic Enclave, comes in very handy. Squirrelled away up on its eleventh floor is a rooftop pool where you can lie back on the loungers, help yourself to fresh lemonade, sunscreen and rose-water infused towels, and soak up fabulously far-reaching views over the city.
The classic shot to go for is from the west end of the pool, looking towards the golden domes on the far side. There’s nowhere else in Delhi quite like this, so naturally enough it’s a popular spot, but early risers stand the best chance of snapping crowd-free shots.
2. Hotel Habita MTY, Mexico – fly from £590
Best for… a hip vibe
At this super-cool hotel – a capsule of monochromatic, mid-century modernism in the heart of Monterrey – you get not just one pool but two. Up on the top floor terrace, curving round either side of a buzzing bar, are sleek twin lap pools with next-level views over city and mountains in all directions. The hotel might come in for a bit of flak on the service front but when it comes to contenders for the world’s most photogenic rooftop, it has to be up there with the best.
Given the magnificence of the views, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good shot, whatever the time of day, week or year. For added human interest, snap your pics during one of the rooftop yoga or fitness sessions, when the presence of real people in the foreground shows just how epic those scenic backdrops are.
3. Memmo Alfama, Portugal – fly from £26
Best for… something different
Swimming pools turn up in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and situations but when it comes to colour they’re usually much of a bluey muchness. Not the rooftop plunge pool at Memmo Alfama in Lisbon. At this swish little boutique hotel, they ditched the conventional blue tiles, using orange, yellow and deep red mosaics to create an altogether spicier look instead – a bold move that gives this tiny pool huge Instagram appeal. Cleverly, the dramatic colour choice doesn’t just make it stand out from the crowd, it also helps it blend in with the surrounding sea of traditional terracotta roof tiles.
The obvious shot is looking out across the pool to the view over city and sea – but take a look back from the end of the terrace and you get an interesting mix of shapes plus the pleasing contrast of red pool, chairs and umbrellas popping against bright white walls.
4. The Biltmore, Miami – fly from £245
Best for… old-school glamour
Everything about The Biltmore is designed to impress, from the lavish Spanish and Moorish-influenced architecture (the grand central tower is based on La Giralda in Seville) to the sheer size of the place, spreading across 150 acres – so naturally enough, this Miami landmark has a suitably grand and glamorous pool to match. Almost twice Olympic size, it’s lined with polished marble, flanked by a colonnade of classical statues and surrounded by palm trees, hibiscus and bougainvillea, with nine cabanas tucked discreetly away among the foliage.
Stand on the cabana side of the pool, and you get a good view back – apricot painted tower against clear blue sky, palm tree shadows on sparkling water, and, to your right, the diving tower turned waterfall once used by the likes of actors Johnny Weissmuller (a former lifeguard and swimming teacher here) and Esther Williams (who drew huge crowds when she performed aquatic ballets in the pool).
5. Alila Ubud, Bali – fly from £429
Best for… natural serenity
Some pools look fun or cool or impeccably styled. Others – like Alila Ubud’s 25m-long infinity pool – simply tug at your heart strings, even from half a world away. Stretching serenely along a hilltop terrace above the Ayung River valley, it has an ethereal quality to it, and just looking at images of its still, reflective waters seems enough to reduce frazzled nerves. Slip into the water and swim towards the far end, and you have soul-lifting views out across the lush green jungle, home to the monkeys that make regular visits to the poolside every afternoon.
Get up early – really, really early. Not only will it increase your chances of getting a shot of the pool without fellow holiday-makers in tow, it also means you can capture the view of the valley in all its moody morning magic, with little wraiths of mist still hanging in the air.
6. The St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet – fly from £459
Best for…sheer bling
Architect Jean-Michel Gathy is the man behind some of the world’s most spectacular (and most photographed) swimming pools, including the sky-high infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the three parallel pools at The Setai in Miami, and – outblinging them all – this Gold Energy Pool. Housed within the Iridium Spa at the St. Regis in Lhasa, it’s lined with thousands of golden tiles and filled with salt water that’s kept at a constant temperature of 28° to 32°C.
You might need to get nifty with filters to get the water looking quite as richly golden as it does in professional shots. More importantly, though, the pool is intended for meditation and relaxation rather than selfie-taking so don’t even think of snapping away unless you’ve got the place entirely to yourself.
Are you ready to find your own unbelievable pool? Search flights everywhere:
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 2 July 2019.