Pool at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives.
Photo: Courtesy of Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

13 of the Most Extraordinary Hotel Pools Around the World

From Mexico to the Maldives, discover one-of-a-kind swimming spots that embrace their natural surroundings with ingenious design

Shedding its utilitarian skin, the modern hotel pool doubles as an aquatic altar that can exalt properties into the pantheon of architectural icons. From the jet-set rock pools along the French Riviera to Hollywood-favored oases nestled in Beverly Hills, these emblematic water features have long distilled the essence of legendary resorts into single crystalline focal points. But what, today, separates the merely picturesque from the truly extraordinary?

Some, such as a gravity-defying cantilevered pool suspended from Dubai’s skyscraper canopy, elevate the swimming experience by employing audacious engineering and ingenious design. Others, like Herzog & de Meuron’s lake-within-a-lake at a Como retreat, wholly embrace (or eschew entirely) their natural surroundings in an unprecedented fashion.

Marvels like these showcase how innovative design can at once work in symbiotic harmony with delicate ecosystems, embody cultural and natural surroundings, and leverage sustainable practices, together creating a new paradigm of recreation and responsible luxury. From sky-high infinity pools to desert swimming holes, these one-of-a-kind swimming spots aren’t just part of the hotel experience—they’re examples of humanity’s communion with water’s life-giving splendor.

Pool at One&Only One Za'abeel. Photo: Courtesy of One&Only One Za'abeel

1. One&Only One Za’abeel | Dubai

Among Dubai’s bevy of architectural superlatives, One&Only One Za’abeel asserts itself as a boundary-shattering icon. Conceived by Japanese architectural luminaries Nikken Sekkei, two asymmetrical towers are bridged by “The Link,” a cantilevered podium housing Dubai’s most extensive infinity pool. This 8,500-ton concrete and steel edifice, levitating 328 feet above the cityscape, is poised in an interplay of verticality and horizontality, its glass facades seamlessly assimilating the urban panorama.

Outdoor pool at Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como. Photo: Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como

2. Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como | Lake Como, Italy

Revealed at Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como in 2023, Herzog & de Meuron constructed a breathtaking 121-foot-long “optical illusion” infinity pool crafted entirely from prefabricated steel and quarried Cardoso sandstone. This mirror-like expanse merges indistinguishably with the lake’s waters, engineered to curtail wave turbulence while perfectly reflecting the mountain landscape. Access to this aquatic marvel is via a gently sloping ramp extending from a newly erected bar and dining pavilion, with an arched colonnade that alludes to the neoclassical villas that dot the lake’s storied shores.

Pool at Farasha Farmhouse. Photo: Courtesy of Farasha Farmhouse

3. Farasha Farmhouse | Morocco

Husband-and-wife designers Fred and Rosena Charmoy dreamed up this Ibizan-inspired agroturismo property to pay homage to the country’s artisanal heritage through a curated collection of bespoke furnishings, handwoven Beni Ourain rugs, and hand-painted tadelakt and zellige tile work. At the heart of it all, a 164-foot-long pool serves as a liquid altar where the hotel’s in-the-know guests gather on oversized sunbeds before drifting into soulful candlelit evenings beneath the desert stars.

Pool at Waldorf Astoria Seychelles. Photo: Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Seychelles

4. Waldorf Astoria Seychelles | Platte Island, Seychelles

A tiny jewel in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Platte Island’s Waldorf Astoria resort revolves around a fan-shaped pavilion, with a 108-foot-long infinity pool framed by coconut palms as its centerpiece. The aqueous indulgence offers a prelude to the island’s profound environmental communion, centered on species preservation and transformative encounters with its gentle hawksbill turtles. Venture outside and you may witness hatchlings navigating across the sands toward their oceanic destiny or join resident naturalists for hands-on turtle “patrols.”

Estelle Manor's Eynsham Baths. Photo: Courtesy of Estelle Manor

5. Estelle Manor | Oxfordshire, England

Within the Jacobean estate of Estelle Manor, Eynsham Baths, envisioned by Roman and Williams, conjures an ancient Roman bathing ritual through its capacious tepidarium hall. Enrobed in opulent marble, this 32,300-square-foot spa houses five thermal baths and ten treatment rooms where masseurs rejuvenate the body with bespoke botanicals. The domed tea lounge perpetuates the seamless marriage of wellness antiquity and modern indulgence, proffering elixirs and tonics to accompany a daily tea ceremony. The estate reaches its zenith at the members-only outdoor pool, fringed by an alfresco bar.

Pool at César Lanzarote. Photo: Courtesy of César Lanzarote

6. César Lanzarote | Lanzarote, Spain

Occupying local artist César Manrique’s former Canary Islands residence, César Lanzarote debuts as a bohemian-chic retreat in the volcanic La Geria Natural Park. The property’s 110-foot-long crescent pool is surrounded by black volcanic sands, palm trees, and rugged cacti, reigning supreme atop a terrace overlooking the protected landscape. Below, private nooks capture the gentle sea breezes, reminiscent of a Lanzarote vineyard. Manrique’s legacy of integrating nature with architecture lives on in features such as curving stone lounges and baths adorned with local basalt.

Main pool at Kinsterna Hotel. Photo: Courtesy of Kinsterna Hotel

7. Kinsterna Hotel | Peloponnese, Greece

Perched amid fragrant citrus groves near the postcard-worthy medieval town of Monemvassia, the 27-room Kinsterna is an immaculately restored 15th-century manor with a layered Byzantine, Ottoman, and Venetian heritage. As its name suggests, a historic cistern dating back centuries anchors the estate, culminating in two angular springwater-fed pools: an L-shaped infinity pool reserved for adults and a multi-depth option suited for families with children. Along the perimeter, loungers are angled to soak in views of the Aegean Sea, located 15 minutes by foot from the estate’s olive groves and vineyards.

Pool at Cap Karoso. Photo: Courtesy of Cap Karoso

8. Cap Karoso | Sumba, Indonesia

At this off-the-grid seaside hideaway, a 108-foot-long infinity pool serves as an aquatic proscenium for the sweeping Indian Ocean panorama. The resort’s design ethos, conceptualized by French architect Gary Fell of GFAB, celebrates the island’s rich cultural heritage and pristine natural beauty through locally sourced materials including teak and Sumba stone, voluminous ikat-inspired installations, and intricately carved indigenous Sumbanese symbols. Beyond the show-stopping main pool is a second pool designed for children, and of course, private infinity pools grace each of the 47 villas.

Pool at Trunk(Hotel). Photo: Tomooki Kengaku; Courtesy TRUNK(HOTEL)

9. Trunk(Hotel) | Tokyo

In the Tokyo neighborhood of Shibuya’s streetwear epicenter, Trunk(Hotel) radiates minimalist Danish sensibilities through its Copenhagen-sleek mood board. The true showpiece of this 15-room boutique hotel rests on the sixth floor at Trunk(Pool Club), a guest-only enclave housing a sleek infinity pool and traditional Japanese onsen-style hot tub. By day, it serves as a tranquil respite from the city’s urban bustle; come evening, the space metamorphoses into a hip oyster bar serving up fresh seafood and craft cocktails.

Pool at Six Senses Southern Dunes. Photo: Courtesy of Six Senses Southern Dunes

10. Six Senses Southern Dunes | Saudi Arabia

Six Senses Southern Dunes, part of the Saudi Vision 2030 effort, is an innovative resort that recently debuted along the Red Sea with a design by Foster + Partners. Blending seamlessly with the arid landscape, its pool design is central to the experience, equipped with a Pool Bar & Grill with mosaic tables under palms and a Palm Court featuring local sandstone. A nearby 4,000-square-foot spa, complete with hydrotherapy pools and saunas, operates solely on a groundbreaking 760,000-panel solar array, the largest in the Middle East.

Pool at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

11. Alila Kothaifaru | Maldives

Nestled on the secluded Raa Atoll, Alila Kothaifaru, designed by Singapore’s Studiogoto, redefines the overwater villa experience. The resort features 44 elevated villas with plunge pools merging into the turquoise lagoon, providing direct access to the thriving reef below. Additionally, 36 beachfront accommodations are tucked among lush tropical foliage, with large private pools hidden by green thickets and coconut palms. The architectural highlight is the resort’s main infinity pool, its rectangular shape and subtle gradient echo the lagoon’s changing colors and contrasting the natural contours of this idyllic sandy, reef-fringed retreat.

Spa pool at the St. Regis Kanai. Photo: Courtesy of the St. Regis Kanai

12. The St. Regis Kanai | Riviera Maya, Mexico

The St. Regis Kanai turns away from the conventional beachfront draw to delve into the dense mangrove forests of the Riviera Maya. Crafted by Edmonds International, the resort’s architecture daringly suspends a network of raised pavilions above an intricate aquatic oasis. Here, free-form pools and water gardens reflect the winding waterways of the mangroves, blending seamlessly into the landscape. Elevated wooden walkways navigate this verdant aquatic labyrinth, introducing guests to the native flora and a cenote-inspired spa that harnesses the mystical energy of the region’s subterranean rivers.

Pool at Six Senses Kanuhura. Photo: Courtesy of Six Senses Kanuhura

13. Six Senses Kanuhura | Maldives

Spanning a pair of untouched islands on the Lhaviyani Atoll, this resort boasts 80 thatched villas that blend a “mod-Maldivian” design ethos utilizing local materials such as coconut shell, Maldivian pine, and coral rock. The resort’s signature feature, however, is The Point—a secluded satellite islet at the edge of the lagoon. Dominating this islet is a monumental 13,100-square-foot circular infinity pool encircled by steel-framed pavilions that house an all-day restaurant and a chic pool bar.

Cover: Pool at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives.
Photo: Courtesy of Alila Kothaifaru Maldives


Sign up to receive the best in art, design, and culture from Galerie

Thank You
Your first newsletter will arrive shortly.