The lust we have for a destination is often ascribed to the pleasures of the food, the intrigue of the locale, and the inspired designs of the accommodation found. Things like pools, baths and such, are hospitality perks meritoriously considered, of course. However, they’re very rarely ever the direct reason that travellers are drawn off from their couches and safe spaces, and motivated into pool-centric living.
I have come to realize though, that due to the global pandemic, my wanderlust has changed my travel criteria, and I now really exercise a keen eye on the kind of water-based recreational offerings I can get from where I stay. It doesn’t have to be a sun-kissed desert oasis that gets me moving from my home comforts, as cityscapes with stunning rooftops (serving thirst-quenching cocktail bangers) are just as likely to draw me in.
I just want glittering blue waters, bewitching views, and the intangible delight of a”vibe” we Millennials are typified to always be after.
There are a fair few pools and baths around the world, where their still waters run deep enough into my fondest well of memories, that I’d revisit them in a heartbeat. These are some of the awesome finds I’ve experienced, places I’d like to pool-hop in, and some amiable waters I simply wish to float in:
While planning my visit to California (USA), I contemplated the various kitsch little towns, and infamous cities to fully be a tourist exploring, and Palm Springs was on my shortlist in such a major way. Besides being a place where some of the most legendary pop culture moments were made, it has some of the most amazing pools to book for – often with midcentury modernism surrounding them, so ones eye is never without something enjoyable or interesting to gaze on.
In Los Angeles, one of the hotel pools I got to delve into, was the compact concrete pool at Ace Hotel Downtown LA. It was an experience to enjoy the cool waters and a traveller-special cocktail till sundown, while overlooking the city’s bright lights stretched out in all directions.
I actually have a collection of pools which I’ve liked to visit on occasion, but the truly astonishing ones, are always secreted away for booking pleasure.
Steenberg Hotel has 2 pools, but I’d like to direct you to the more hidden favourite of mine…
The private villa pool, which is heated and runs long rather than wide, was one of the few places I’ve ever had, where I could just dip in and go anywhere my mind took me. The warm waters transported me to joyous and peaceful places in my memories – the pleasure was in being there, and elsewhere, and that’s a hell of a thing to nail!
One of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering more about, as insiders give me peeks in, is the Soho House brand and its ritzy lifestyle offerings. The available pools on their roster of properties (which I have only seen a corner of) are so fantastic – a veritable hub of the most refreshing and exclusive lavish swimming spots around the globe.
The Ideas Cartel brand, currently one of only a literal handful of co-working/co-living members-only clubs available in Africa, has begun its collection of tasteful abodes to enjoy, and I’m taken with their Cartel House Hotel‘s trendy rooftop pool.
It’s a short Uber ride from my place, and worth a visit nearly every week, as some of the best fitness and fun take place on their rooftop deck, to some of the best playlists curated to an inner-city haunt.
Quintessential pools still exist, by the way, as not every hotel pool needs unique tile and pool shape designs. The Belmond Mount Nelson gets the classic pool right, with two (2) pools that have pool sizes we’re familiar with, though 2 different poolside designs – one design creating a secret-garden-style outdoor draw, and the other design a sprawling estate-style picture. Here, visitors can have the pool as an extension of their daily habits, or as a delightful special stop during their visit.
For places where temperatures sour and drop quite drastically, the dependability of a body of water where you can also unwind with a glass and not catch a chill, is why the hot tub I would also return to, is the one at Orchard Stay.
When last I was at the farmhouse set between unending rows of orchards, I kept the company of my good friend and travel buddy Jules. We left urban responsibilities and arrived at our pop modern accommodation, to be greeted by the farms’ vast eco-pool, and the hot tub already prepped for a soak, which we readily took advantage of after throwing our bags in and donning dare I say adorable swimwear.
A place that gets the notion of escaping, exploring and entertaining when it comes to pool-centric living, is the stand-alone villa Moji at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel.
When I first glimpsed the extra length swimming pool while making my way to my suite, I was immediately hit with a bout of wanderlust. The private villa, set in a secluded garden, seemed both so close and so far – a secured urban oasis with luxurious St. Barts design sensibilities that would draw any traveller with a penchant for Mediterranean’esque island life, crisp comfort, and effortless cool.
The unequivocal decadence of The Saxon Hotel main hotel pool – both in size, views, and visitor perks – makes it a must for any traveller to the bustling city of Johannesburg, with coin to spare. See, this is not only one of the finest hospitality establishments in the Southern Hemisphere, but it’s kind of a favoured option worth noting, for global industry elites – I’m talking White House famous, and Nobel prize-winning legends famous.
This African-themed luxurious 5-star property is so saturated in power, taste, and quality hospitality, that it’s no wonder there is the most tightly controlled security protocols in place (as its also in Sandhurst – a suburb home to a fair few politicians) and was the host of entertainment icon Beyonce, her rapper husband Jay Z, and thee Parkwood entertainment talents that would perform with the Carters at the fund-raising Global Citizen Festival.
See, I want to go back for the calm waters stretching out to sprawling perfectly manicured green lawns and the rest of the leafy suburb, but it would also be such a boon to return to the place Beyonce actually tread too (yeah, I’m a fangirl – what of it?!).
Obviously, it would be epic to visit every beach, and drop into every beautiful and safe ocean in the world, but for now: I dream only of the picture-perfect (Amalfi Coast-like) Hotel Il San Pietro’s private beach in Positano, Italy.
I can think of few things as likely gratifying as indulging and learning more about Mediterranean culture, from the comfort of this hotel’s refreshing and sophisticated waterside, set up overlooking the bay.
I Lake It!
Now, this is my choice for the world-weary vagabonds: Domaine du Chatelard.
At this divine estates private lake, situated in the relatively small village of Dirac, Charente (South West of France), guests can row or sit lake-side, but be ever close to the water. It was such a pure pleasure to wake up to the idyllic view of this lake from the historic hotels luxury suites, and barely hear any other sounds at all, save for horses and birds.
The ocean may play a tempting uneven rhythm I often want to get lost in, but I do feel like lakes have a certain amount of predictable comfort I hold dear.
Regardless of the lake depth, and natures jagged design of the lake along the Poitou-Charentes countryside woodlands, the steadiness of these waters can calm and excite in equal measure, but you’ll always be able to predict where you stand (or float) with it if you can swim.
So far, I have yet to experience some sort of poolside accompaniments (besides towels) built into many of my visits, but I hear there are hotels all over the United States of America atleast, that offer the likes of Cabana amenities packages, and even Wine and Cheese (which Domaine du Chatelard did offer complimentary).
In thinking back on some of my best and favourite water escapades, I realise just how incredible the notion of pool-hopping is though. With how varied hotels and their ethos are, pool hopping through amazing hospitality spots, is as much an adventure through different characters and their lives, as it is straightforward relaxation to cool off the ails of the world.
Here’s to the next great body of water I’ll get to travel to, to enjoy!