Sprawling pools with swim-up bars at beach resorts may garner attention for their optical illusions, like infinity edges that blur with the horizon. But across the United States, in some of the biggest cities, there are well-designed watering holes also deserving of superlative descriptors. Most urban pools show off city skylines, some are a quiet oasis with sophisticated menus, and others have poolside fitness programs to set them apart.
A decent-sized pool to cool down in is a coveted hotel amenity. But they can be a little tougher to find in urban areas short on square footage. The good news, though: Unlike last summer, you don’t need pool reservations at most hotel pools—i.e. you can go ahead and enjoy that R&R in a chaise lounge without worrying about time limits.
From coast to coast, here are seven great urban pools especially worth planning a vacation around this summer.
1. Halcyon, a Hotel in Cherry Creek
Where: Denver, CO
Your first order of business: Reserve a west-facing cabana so you can enjoy the Rocky Mountains that are sprawled out before you. The mountain views are unobstructed (a rarity) from this rooftop pool in Denver’s upscale Cherry Creek neighborhood. Elevated, the adjoining bar, serves local beers from the Mile High City’s favorite microbreweries. But there’s a punch cocktail in a pouch that’s perfect for poolside sipping, too. If you’re a guest at Halcyon, you’ll also have access to all kinds of toys from the onsite Gear Garage, like longboards, Piaggio Motor Scooters, fly-fishing rods, telescopes, and an Osprey backpack equipped with a GoPro and binoculars. To put it another way: You can have a summer camp do-over, with Denver as your basecamp.
Airy and ethereal, the rooftop pool at Rosewood Washington, D.C. comes with an especially pleasant surprise—a built-in fireplace—that makes nighttime swims remarkable. The luxury hotel is in the heart of Georgetown, and its pool showcases spectacular views of the Capital City. CUT Above, the rooftop lounge, is adjacent to the pool and also serves seasonal sips like a house margarita made with Don Julio reposado and key lime. From here, you can take in sights of the Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Washington Monument.
Perched on the hotel’s 21st floor, The Joseph, a Luxury Collection Hotel, gives Grecian columns a modern brutalist makeover for a striking pool scene. The 50-foot pool is surrounded by plush lounge chairs, private cabanas, and a living green wall—plus a damn good view of Nashville’s skyline. The rooftop lounge Denim serves wood-fired pizzas, summer salads, and overflowing charcuterie boards.
4. Elev8 at Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale
Where: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Art and fitness lovers alike will appreciate the eighth-story Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale‘s Elev8 pool. It’s got panoramic views of the downtown skyline, but the other vantage point is a bold, colorful backdrop of murals painted by local contemporary artist Danny Doya inspired by the area’s fast-growing art scene. For more urban art and eye-catching murals, head to the nearby Flagler Art & Technology (FAT) Village. Elev8 also has a “Poolside Peloton Concierge Service,” which includes the use of a Peloton bike on the pool deck for a sunshine-fueled spin workout, and a dedicated butler who brings cold towels and ice water throughout your ride.
Courtyard or rooftop? You can pool hop between both at The Betsy – South Beach, which has two pools and is steps away from the beach. The infinity rooftop pool, though, is an architectural marvel suspended mid-air between two buildings. There are impressive views of palm trees, Art Deco district, and the ocean from the sun-soaked 3,200 square-foot rooftop complex. The courtyard pool, on the flip side, has plenty of shade so it’s a good place to bury yourself into a book.
Hotel Figueroa in downtown LA claims to have the only coffin-shaped hotel pool in the country (and possibly the world). But what inspired the curious shape of the pool, which was built in 1952, remains a mystery. Today, hotel guests and Angelenos with day passes laze around the geometric pool. Veranda Al Fresco, a poolside eatery, serves Mexico City-inspired fare like ceviche, tacos, and inventive margaritas.
Surely proving infinity pools aren’t confined to tropical destinations, The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore is a stylish 128-room hotel on the city’s historic Recreation Pier. It has a spacious pool that stretches out toward the harbor. Guests can order crab cakes and wine from a shipping container that’s been converted into a swanky pool bar. Mosey into The Cannon Room, a whiskey bar inside the hotel. Accordingly, it pays homage to the cannons that were beneath Recreation Pier for centuries. The pool, an open-air oasis, offers pool passes Monday through Wednesday for non-hotel guests.