I’ve Seen A LOT of Hotel Pools But This Was The Best One Ever

by joeheg

Over the years we’ve stayed in our share of hotels, from the ultra-luxurious to the really cheap. One hotel amenity that almost always fails to impress me is the pool. I get that the pool is the main thing some guests think about, but I just don’t get the appeal. You’ll never hear me say “Wow, that hotel pool was amazing.”

For me, the hotel pool area should be an extension of the hotel and we’ve seen some cool pools in our travels.

Like in Cairns, Australia


or Hawaii

a pool with rocks and palm trees in the background

or Key West.


When the hotel pool doesn’t match the hotel, it can be interesting and a bit strange.

Like this Zen oasis we discovered at a Comfort Inn


Or this uninspiring pool at The Palace in San Francisco


Sometimes you get what you get. Like this pool at a La Quinta in Texas. You’re swimming in the parking lot. I’m sure your kids will love it. They’ll talk about it like it was the best part of the trip that you planned for months.


I don’t know if you’d consider a private outdoor soaking tub filled with water from the local onsen (hot spring) to be a pool, but it sure was cool to reserve it just for us when we were in Japan. You can’t see the steam coming off the bath but it was near freezing outside. The bath was wonderful, but the walk back inside not so much.


Sometimes the pool is just over the top, like this indoor/outdoor one at Hotel Miracosta, just outside Tokyo DisneySea



And then we saw the pool at the InterContinental Chicago.

What made it so cool? It was old. I’m not going to go out of my way to see a hotel pool but I wanted to check it out after reading this on the website.

The pool at InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile on our 14th floor is both a landmark and an engineering marvel. The first pool to be built at its height, it presented a challenge for engineers in 1929, when the hotel was still the Medinah Athletic Club. To hold such a large quantity of water at its height, engineers developed a system similar to the support system used by railroad bridges. The junior Olympic-sized pool is one of the biggest hotel pools in the country, and our pool is also the oldest in the city (and perhaps the most beautiful).

The area around our Chicago hotel pool showcases classic architecture from the ’20s. The architecture has been carefully preserved to look the same way it did in 1929, with only necessary fire-safety features and energy-efficient lighting added. A terra cotta fountain of Neptune, carved with painstaking effort, is the first thing you see when you rise from the stairs to enter the pool. Spanish, hand-painted tiles line the walls, along with marble pillars. Light flows in from elegant stained-glass windows. Ornate terra cotta decorates the ceiling. After your swim, dry off in the viewing gallery, where you can watch other swimmers or admire the architecture

It really is amazing to see.

a pool with a pole in it

We didn’t bring our swimming gear as it was in the low 30s for most of our trip but I would have loved to jump in and swim some laps in the same pool used by Johnny Weissmuller and Esther Williams.

Here’s a short video about the pool:

So maybe hotel pools aren’t always boring. I’ll make sure to check them out more often, and maybe I’ll even bring my swimsuit along.

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Tom November 22, 2017 - 2:58 pm

I stayed there years ago, 7 months after it opened as the InterContinental. The pool is magnificent. The hotel itself was wonderful as well.

Jaime Raba April 5, 2020 - 7:02 pm

That was the pool and the hotel that convince me to buy into the Ambassador club almost 20 years ago. It was a wild ride, and while Ambassador isn’t quite what it used to be, it’s still a great program and they have some of the most amazing hotels in the world.

Dan @ Points With a Crew April 5, 2020 - 10:04 pm

Best hotel pool I was ever in was the Grand Hyatt Beijing


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