Built in the traditional Cycladic style, with white-clay walls and a maze of staircases, wood bridges, and terraces, this picturesque Greek resort sits atop a cliff overlooking an extinct volcanic caldera. Despite its intimate size, the 27-room boutique property actually boasts two pools—a small cold-water option inside a cave, as well an extraordinary cobalt blue infinity pool featuring sweeping views of the azure waters of the Aegean Sea.
Perched on a steep embankment next to terraced rice fields that overlook the lush Ayung river gorge, this Orient Express hotel consists of 38 Balinese-style villas that appear to float down the hillside. Just as dramatic is its split-level infinity pool, designed by the French architect Gordon Shaw. Lined with Batu Chandi volcanic stone and consisting of geometric walls of solidified volcanic ash, the striking bi-level pool is suspended over a dense rainforest, with an undulating shape that echoes the surrounding terrain.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Hong Kong, China
Definitely not for those who suffer from vertigo, this rooftop infinity pool is perched on the top floor of the 118-story International Commerce Center. Part of the two-year-old hotel’s spa complex, the indoor pool is noted for its sweeping views of Victoria Harbor and the Hong Kong skyline. Adding to the drama are 144 LED screens installed into the ceiling, reflecting colorful images onto the water below. The award-winning spa also houses cold and hot plunge pools, and—for those who truly aren’t afraid of heights—an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Newport Beach, Calif.
Since opening in late 2008, Pelican Hill has quickly established itself as one of the premier vacation destinations in the U.S., highly regarded for its country club–caliber golf courses and pristine oceanfront setting. Inspired by the work of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, the elegant main hotel consists of classically designed porticoes, barrel-vaulted ceilings, fountain-filled courtyards, and graceful arches.
At 136 feet in diameter, the Coliseum Pool—named after the curved shape of the historic Roman structure—is one of the largest circular pools in the world and serves as the centerpiece of the resort. Most dazzling of all is its sparkling blue bottom, the result of 1.1 million hand-laid glass mosaic tiles.
Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Cap d’Antibes, France
For more than 140 years, this illustrious hotel—built in 1870 by Hippolyte de Villemessant, founder of the newspaper Le Figaro—has been a legendary playground for international royalty, politicians, artists, movie stars, and the literary elite. It wasn’t until 1914, however, that the property added a saltwater pool, carved out of basalt rock and overlooking the Lérins Islands and the Mediterranean Sea. Surrounded by a massive sundeck and Art Deco–style railings that resemble those on cruise ships, the pool’s saltwater is heated to a balmy 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
A Hollywood star in its own right, the idyllic pool at the Pink Palace, as this beloved 100-year-old hotel is known, will forever be a place of myth and lore. Once frequented by stars like Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Dean Martin, it has set the scene for endless drama, both on and off the screen. The trademark green-and-white striped chaises and discreet cabanas still carry the same glamorous allure, and with the hotel in the midst of a thoughtful renovation by renowned hotel architect Adam Tihany, it’s sure to continue to attract City of Angels power players for many years to come.
North Male Atoll, Maldives
Set on a private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this tropical paradise, which opened in 2005, consists of 130 intimate villas scattered across white-sand beaches and lushly landscaped grounds. The property showcases more than 50 different pools, including a gorgeous, adults-only lap pool that extends over 100 feet into the crystal-clear waters of a lagoon. Its carved-stone bed is the perfect place to relax and bask in the sun.