There are pools. And then there are rooftop pools. Whether lingering at the water’s edge with a cocktail or enjoying a few easy laps before dinner, there are few greater pleasures than taking in sweeping views from a sun-baked pool without the clamour of street level.
And they’re the ideal way to blend a city break with a chance to properly kick back and forget the everyday. If the mood takes, you can always skip the sights and the action below and spend the day lolling with a good book and a foot in the water.
While towering skyscrapers offer the most obvious place for a vertiginous swimming spot, the glorious ME Barcelona does things differently. An unprepossessing building leads up to one of Europe’s finest places for a dip. This eighth-floor gem overlooks Placa Catalunya – on the city’s so-called golden mile of designer boutiques – as well as offering views of the city as it tumbles down the surrounding hillsides.
The rooftop pool at ME Barcelona, pictured, is one of Europe’s finest places for a dip, offering views of the Spanish city as it tumbles down the surrounding hillsides
The Belbo restaurant at ME Barcelona, where rooms cost from £266 per night based on two sharing
This is the best spot in the city to watch the sun go down, before drying off and going downstairs to sample the amazing local tapas in the Gothic Quarter and Eixample.
Rooms cost from £266 per night based on two sharing (melia.com).
American cities are in thrall to tall buildings, which means visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to rooftop pools.
While taking the lift to the top of the Empire State Building is one (well-travelled) way to see New York’s glorious skyline, a dip at The William Vale’s pool is a far more enjoyable experience.
It’s in Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg neighbourhood, with views across the East River to the Manhattan skyline. There are also sunbeds and cabanas for post-swim downtime.
While many New Yorkers leave during the hot summers, this is one place you’ll want to linger during an East Coast heatwave.
Double rooms start from £365 per night, with pool access also available to non-guests (thewilliamvale.com).
High life: Above is the Pool Club at Virgin’s Dallas hotel in Texas, which offers views of downtown to die for
For those looking to explore America’s South, Virgin’s Dallas hotel is the place to be. This hot new property’s Pool Club sits on the fourth floor along with a bar and views of downtown to die for.
As with The William Vale, non-residents can get in on the action, with cabana and daybed rentals from $50 (about £40), plus a minimum food and drink spend. But it’s far better to book in and get up to the pool first thing for a sunrise swim before lounging around in the sunbeds reserved for guests.
Double rooms cost from £221 per night (virginhotels.com/dallas).
While Rome may be free of high-rise buildings, with a skyline dominated by ancient and classical architecture, that doesn’t mean it isn’t blessed with somewhere to cool off while drinking in the view. The pool at Anantara Palazzo Naiadi looks out over the rooftops of ancient Rome and is big enough for laps as well as lounging.
Above is the pool at Anantara Palazzo Naiadi – with views over the rooftops of ancient Rome
Anantara Palazzo Naiadi’s rooftop pool is big enough for laps as well as lounging. To try it out for yourself, check into a double room from £422 per night
Double rooms cost from £422 per night (anantara.com).
You won’t be surprised to learn that Dubai is a rooftop-pool record-breaker. The spectacular Address Beach Resort is home to the world’s highest infinity pool in a building, at almost 965ft on the 77th floor.
And this isn’t some plunge pool, though, as it’s an incredible 300ft long and 50ft wide – almost double an Olympic-size pool.
Early risers can squeeze in a lengthy dip with the city spread out beneath them, while those who’d rather have a quick splash can simply slip a toe into the water from the partially submerged sunloungers.
The spectacular Address Beach Resort in Dubai is home to the world’s highest infinity pool in a building (pictured), at almost 965ft on the 77th floor
Early risers can squeeze in a lengthy dip with the city spread out beneath them at Address Beach Resort
Double rooms cost from £400 per night (addresshotels.com).
The Singapore outpost of luxury hotel group Shangri-La has one of South-East Asia’s finest rooftop pools. JEN Singapore Orchardgateway, on the buzzing shopping street of Orchard Road, is home to a stunning 150ft infinity pool on a gorgeous roof deck replete with bamboo huts and cabanas where you can book a massage.
As the hotel is just outside the city centre, the views take in the entire skyline of this thriving metropolis, including the iconic Marina Bay Sands – home to another sensational rooftop pool.
Double rooms cost from £170 per night (shangri-la.com).
If you want to mix a city break with poolside downtime, then the smart money is on Bangkok.
At 137 Pillars there are two out-of-this-world rooftop pools to choose from. The highest, on the 30th floor, is reserved for suite guests, but the infinity pool on the 27th floor is open to all guests, with views over the Thai capital from three sides.
JEN Singapore Orchardgateway (pictured above), the Singapore outpost of luxury hotel group Shangri-La, is home to a stunning 150ft infinity pool on a gorgeous roof deck
Double rooms cost from £170 per night at JEN Singapore Orchardgateway – above is the hotel’s Panorama Club Room
Double rooms cost from £150 per night (137pillarshotels.com).
While a sea swim always invigorates, the big waves off the coast of Peru that roll into Lima are better suited to those with a board and a wetsuit.
However, you can get that beach feeling from Belmond’s swanky Miraflores Park property, thanks to a rooftop pool that looks out over the Pacific Ocean.
It’s best enjoyed at the end of the day, with the sun dropping into the horizon and the surfers below.
Above is the spectacular pool – reserved for suite guests – on the 30th floor of the Bangkok hotel 137 Pillars
The infinity pool on the 27th floor of 137 Pillars is open to all guests, with views over the Thai capital from three sides
Pictured is the lobby area of 137 Pillars, where double rooms are priced from £150 per night
Double rooms cost from £350 per night (belmond.com).
On the other side of South America, few rooftop pools can match the view from the eighth-floor offering at the Hotel Fasano in Rio de Janeiro.
Set on Ipanema Beach, it feels as if it’s part of the Atlantic, albeit without the crowds found on the nearby sandy bay. The pool can get busy, so get there early for a few lengths before breakfast and linger for lunch and cocktails.
Showstopper: Hotel Fasano on Rio’s famous Ipanema Beach has a pool on the eighth floor (pictured), offering stunning sea views
Double rooms cost from £364 per night (fasano.com.br).
Ibiza isn’t just made for partygoers. And those looking for a relaxing Balearic break will find much to love at the Bless Hotel Ibiza, especially the infinity pool set around four cabanas that stretch out over the water.
Swim to the edge and you’ll feel as if you’re in the Mediterranean itself rather than soaking up the sun in one of Europe’s finest outdoor pools.
Double rooms cost from £201 per night (blesscollectionhotels.com).
The pool water at Downtown Camper in Stockholm (pictured) is heated to a delicious 100F (38C), meaning it’s more like a bath. And there is a view across the capital
Double rooms at Downtown Camper cost from £85 per night. For more visit scandichotels.com
Taking a rooftop dip might not seem like the most obvious way to kick back in Scandinavia, but swimming outdoors all year round is actively encouraged at Downtown Camper in Stockholm.
Part of its Nest Wellness space, the view from the pool looks out across Sweden’s capital, and as the water is heated to a delicious 100F (38C) it’s more like a bath, which makes it especially enjoyable during the darker, colder months.
Double rooms cost from £85 per night (scandichotels.com).
When it comes to panoramic views, few cities in the world can match Cape Town – and they’re even better when taken in from the pool that sits atop The Silo Hotel (pictured)
Double rooms cost from £730 per night at The Silo Hotel. Above is the bathroom in one of the hotel’s guest rooms
Plush: A colourful room in the indulgent Silo Hotel, a former grain elevator that was once the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa
When it comes to panoramic views, few cities in the world can match Cape Town. And they’re even better when taken in from the pool that sits atop The Silo Hotel, a former grain elevator that was once the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa.
In one direction you have the harbour and the rolling waves of the Atlantic. In the other, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.
Spend the day lolling or head here after hiking around the iconic peaks for a well-deserved dip and a sundowner. Either way, this is an indulgent way to see South Africa’s best city.
The newly-opened Kimpton Margot hotel in Sydney is home to one of the best rooftop pools in the southern hemisphere
The Kimpton Margot hotel’s pool is the ideal place to take a breather after spending the day exploring Sydney
Double rooms cost from £730 per night (theroyalportfolio.com).
The Kimpton Margot hotel in Sydney opened its doors only in February. And this Art Deco gem, built in 1919, also happens to be home to one of the best rooftop pools in the southern hemisphere.
Right in the heart of the central business district, it’s the ideal place to take a breather after spending the day exploring one of Australia’s biggest cities. Double rooms cost from £191 per night (kimptonmargotsydney.com).