Travel Writing

Take Five: Cool pools

Pools are just to cool off, dive in and splash out, right?

Nope. You may not remember, but there were photogenic pools before Instagram. A few savvy hoteliers saw the trend coming and designed their establishment around a liquid focal point, with world-famous (and constantly tagged) results.

Here are five of those hotel pools, from rooftops and Art Deco, to infinity, and beyond…

Katikies infinity pool Santorini
Katikies infinity pool Santorini

Infinity pools, Santorini

If infinity pools weren’t invented in Santorini, they were perfected there. From almost any point on Greece’s volcanic crater-island, high cliffs teeter over the glittering Aegean sea below. Add a turquoise pool slipping seamlessly into the vast blueness, hemmed by dazzling white buildings, and we’ll give you a second to get your breath back. The island is favourite spot for honeymooners who – celebrating the rest of eternity together – find infinity pools the perfect backdrop to that ‘living our best life’ selfie.

Katikies luxury hotel has two infinity pools, with rooms to match the unforgettable view. Astarte Suites also brings its pool game, and promises rooms with a private ‘cave pool’ coming summer 2018.

 Hotel Gansevoort's rooftop pool
Hotel Gansevoort’s rooftop pool

Rooftop pools, New York

During those humid summer months, New Yorkers must see mirages of swimming pools among the parched pavements. Hotel Gansevoort’s rooftop is a city-dweller’s fantasy: an urban oasis of landscaped garden, cocktail bar and 14m pool with underwater sound system to escape the city’s noise. Its location in the hip Meatpacking District means no pesky skyscrapers to obstruct the sunshine and spectacular views.

Villa d’Este, Lake Como
Villa d’Este, Lake Como

Pool-in-a-lake, Lake Como

Lake Como’s Villa d’Este is most succinctly described as a living Renaissance painting. The 16th century buildings, fountain-studded gardens and antique furnishings see to that.

The aquamarine pool floating in the lake gives the picture a Surrealist touch. The pontoon pool bobs gently as yachts pass, always safely tethered to the deck. Soak up sun, lake views and snow-capped Alps, then turn around to admire the 25 acre estate that’s been a playground to Napoleon, an English Queen and countless poets and artists in its 500 year history.

The Raleigh, Miami
The Raleigh, Miami

Art Deco decadence, Miami

The Raleigh’s curvaceous Art Deco pool almost outshone movie star and competitive swimmer Esther Williams when she splashed about in it in the 1950s.

Like any 78-year old Miami resident competing with a beach full of younger, newer models, The Raleigh Hotel has one or two facelifts over the years. This South Beach classic was first built by architect L. Murray Dixon in 1940, and several renovations have brought it back to that 50s glamour,  including a restored Art Deco lifeguard tower and touches like black-and-white umbrellas and daybeds.

Golden Nugget pool
The pool empire at the Golden Nugget

Pool-in-a-shark-tank, Las Vegas

Trust Vegas to go big – $30 million big – for their water-recreation.

The Golden Nugget Casino boasts a three-storey complex of waterfalls, Jacuzzi and pool with a giant aquarium in the centre of it all.

Swim alongside sharks, stingrays and fish on the other side of the glass in a 200,000 gallon aquarium tank. For those who want bigger thrills, the enclosed water-slide allows you to splash right through The Tank without becoming fishfood.

The hotel even offers a “behind-the-scenes shark tank tour” led by a marine biologist on staff. But if you miss that, there’ll be no shortage of sharks at the poolside blackjack and Dive Bar.

This article was first published in Cara magazine