Continuing our series on inspiring places to stay, Rebecca Willis dives into hotels with rooftop pools ...

From INTELLIGENT LIFE Magazine, Autumn 2009

The knowledge that water flows downhill has been wired into the human brain for millennia, so the idea of finding gallons of it on top of a building has a certain frisson. A rooftop pool may be the opposite of the untamed ocean, but it offers a particular thrill for anyone who loves swimming. Most have been built, for reasons of space, in cities, and there is an illicit pleasure in slipping almost naked through the water while people in suits are stuck in offices around you and urban life motors grimily on down below.

Hotels with rooftop pools are creatures of latitude. Barcelona has several, and the nearer the equator you go, the more likely the pool is to be open through the year. Most European ones close for the winter, and in the autumn they delightfully prolong the illusion of summer. The Berkeley, in London, ensures year-round use with a sliding roof over the pool which can be opened on fine days. But wherever they are, roofless rooftop pools are closed in extreme weather—they’re the last place you want to be when there’s lightning about.

It’s tempting to choose the pool at the Soho House, also in the Meatpacking District, which featured in “Sex and the City” and is studiously chic. But the pool at the Gansevoort is bigger and higher up, with views of the city and the Hudson river through its glass walls, and more fun with its kitschy 1970s vibe, coloured lighting and underwater music. The 210 rooms are crisply modern with retro touches.
Pool open all year, roofed in winter, hotel guests only; 13.7 metres long; water 27°C.
Rooms from $325. 

Yes, it’s a Hilton, but it’s also the only rooftop pool in Venice. And it’s not your average Hilton. Opened two years ago, the 380 rooms are inside a massive brick neo-Gothic flour mill at the western end of the Giudecca. The view from the pool is not your average cityscape, either—to the Zattere and the rooftops of Venice.
Pool open May to September, non-residents €20 a day; 14 metres long; water 28-30°C.
Rooms from €355.

THE ADELPHI  MelbourneTHE ADELPHI  Melbourne
A sub-genre of the rooftop pool is the cantilevered pool that hangs over the edge of the building.  Melbourne’s minimalist 34-room Adelphi is the most spectacular, despite being in an unremarkable part of town, because the section of pool that overhangs the street has a glass bottom. This means that at the end of a lap you can look down and see the people far below you, like little fishes in the coral.
Pool open all year, non-residents A$35 a day; 25 metres long;
water 24°C.
Rooms from A$225.

LA PURIFICADORA  Puebla,  MexicoLA PURIFICADORA  Puebla,  Mexico
Appropriately enough, this pool is on top of a 19th-century water-purifying centre. The purity extends to the monochrome redesign that turned it into a 26-room hotel in 2007: relics of its industrial past meet slabs of glass, wood and stone. The pool has a glass wall, aquarium-style: not for people who are shy about their racing turns.
Pool open all year, hotel guests only; 28.7 metres long; water 30°C.
Rooms from $155.

The look of this zero-carbon hotel (above) will stop you in your tracks: it’s like a half moon resting on its curved edge. The floors get wider as you go up, so the pool is at the building’s widest point. Dramatically tiled in deep red, it is for hotel guests only, but in the evenings the locals bring a party atmosphere to the poolside bar and restaurant.
Pool open all year, hotel guests only; 25 metres long; water 28°C.
Rooms from $685.