One of the incidental pleasures of summer travel is the chance to take a dip in the hotel—or motel—pool. But not all pools are created equal. Here are our favorites.
Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix
Even with eight pools to choose from—one with a 92-foot water slide—we still love the blue-and-yellow-tiled Catalina best. So did Marilyn Monroe. (800) 950-0086, www.arizonabiltmore.com.
Berkeley City Club, Berkeley, California
You're not allowed to test the pools at Hearst Castle, but you can take a dip in another Julia Morgan pool when you stay here. Light pours in through Gothic windows to illuminate your laps. (510) 848-7800, www.berkeleycityclub.com.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport, Vancouver, B.C.
Wait for your flight while swimming in a pool above the departures hall. Wall-size windows looking down to the check-in counter let you monitor lines between laps. (604) 207-5200, www.fairmont.com.
Four Season Hualalai, Ka`upulehu-Kona, Hawaii
In the King's Pond, with 3,500 tropical fish swimming around you, you'll think you've seen it all—until a spotted eagle ray swoops by. (808) 325-8000, www.fourseasons.com.
Grand Wailea Resort, Wailea, Hawaii
The Wailea Canyon Activity Pool is comprised of nine smaller pools (at different levels) linked by a river. There's also a rope swing, a water elevator, and a swim-up bar. (808) 875-1234, www.grandwailea.com.
Indian Springs, Calistoga, California
What better way to end a day of winetasting than to slip into a lovely pool heated by thermal geysers? (707) 942-4913, www.indianspringscalistoga.com.
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
A giant wave pool sweeps you onto a sandy beach as many times as you can stand it; a lazy river offers a spot to catch your breath. (877) 632-7000, www.mandalaybay.com.
Palms, Las Vegas
The lavender-tinted Skin Pool Lounge spices it up with go-go dancers, mermaids, outdoor blackjack, and floating chaises. (866) 942-7777, www.palms.com.
Peninsula, Beverly Hills, California
The bigwigs taking meetings in the cabanas around this rooftop pool don't even notice the view. It's worth a look for the rest of us. (310) 551-2888, www.peninsula.com.
Phoenix Hotel, San Francisco
It ain't the biggest or the grandest, but this pool has sass. Rock stars gather round when they're passing through town. (415) 776-1380, www.thephoenixhotel.com.
Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab, Utah
After a day hiking at Arches, take a dip here and watch the surrounding cliffs turn fiery red. (866) 812-2002, www.redcliffslodge.com.
Summer Lake Hot Springs, Paisley, Oregon
Talk about away from it all—143 acres of high-desert wilderness form the backdrop for a hot spring-fed pool to soak in and vintage trailers to sleep in. (877) 492-8554, www.summerlakehotsprings.com.
Photography by Robert Holmes
This article was first published in Summer 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.