10 Architecturally Stunning Hotel Pools
From Switzerland to the Caribbean, these pool views are beautiful whether
you're looking in or gazing out.
By Devorah Lev-Tov
When it comes to hotel design, building architecture tends to get a lot of the glory. But even as hotels and resorts up the ante with dramatic skyscrapers, charming farmhouses, and overwater bungalows, exteriors aren’t the only eye-catching structures to pay attention to.
Take, for example, the humble hotel pool. While in many cases, it’s simply a tiled rectangle, at some hotels, they come in intricate shapes, complete with features made from materials like quartzite stone, marine-grade steel plates, and shiny black granite. Many are designed by award-winning architects, from Bill Bensley to Peter Zumthor, who draw inspiration from places as diverse as ancient ramparts, a rainwater reservoir, and Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. These are the most stunning architectural hotel pools to take a dip in around the world.
Brown Beach House, Croatia
Designed by Saar Zafrir, Brown Beach House Croatia’s 41 rooms and pool are inspired by the history of the city of Trogir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 2,300 years of history and architecture influenced by the Greeks, Romans, and Venetians. The checkered pool is made with Biancona and Nero Marquina marble in a black-and-white color scheme that recalls the grandeur of the Roman Empire. A total of 3,229 square feet of marble was used for the pool and coated with a special anti-slip treatment. The deck sports a herringbone pattern and the furniture was designed by Zafrir, along with select pieces from Greek brand 10 Deka.
Alila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia
Opened in November 2018, the sleek Alila Villas Koh Russey on Russey Island in the Koh Rong archipelago is a 10-minute boat ride from Cambodia’s southern coast. The resort’s design, by Singaporean architect Chioh-Hui Goh of Studiogoto, was inspired by the grid-like Cambodian Krama pattern. The 98-foot-long pool structure was also designed to echo the geometric layout of the famous Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat, combining two of Cambodia’s cultural icons. Two shades of local Cambodian stones were used to build the pool, further accentuating the 3D grid pattern.
Rosewood Miramar Beach, California
Developer and owner Rick Caruso was inspired by Art Deco-era Los Angeles architect Paul Williams while designing the new Rosewood Miramar Beach, and it shows in details like the grand staircase at the entrance and the adult’s only swimming pool. The hotel’s unique scalloped, zero-edge Cabana Pool is based on the now-demolished Arrowhead Springs Hotel in Central California, designed by Williams, and nineteen black and white cabanas and a poolside bar complete the 1920's California picture.
Park Hyatt, St. Kitts
Set on the pristine beaches of Banana Bay, the Park Hyatt St. Kitts opened in November 2017 with 126 rooms designed by Simeon Halstead. The resort’s adults-only infinity Rampart’s Pool is designed to embody the ancient ramparts found on the island’s UNESCO Brimstone Hill Fortress, which was built during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the stones in the arches that dot the pool are the same local stones used in the original fortress. Guests can relax in a private cabana for the day surrounded by the rampart waterfalls, and at night, lights set into the bottom of the pool twinkle like the surrounding stars.
7132, Vals, Switzerland
The 7132 Hotel, part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts network, is at the entrance of the picturesque village of Vals in Switzerland’s Grisons Alps. Its legendary thermal springs with highly mineralized water were highlighted by architect Peter Zumthor, who rose to international fame with his design for the new spa complex, eventually winning the Pritzker Prize in 2009. Made from raw concrete and 60,000 slabs of local quartzite stone fitted together, the monolithic structure is an architectural tribute to Vals, with openings in just the right places to highlight the sweeping valley views.
Hanging Gardens of Bali, Indonesia
The curvaceous two-tiered pool at the Hanging Gardens of Bali resort is nothing short of breathtaking. In 2005, 700 local artisans built the resort using traditional materials, like Batu Chandi volcanic stone and solidified volcanic ash. The same materials were used on the pool, which was designed by French architect Gordon Shaw. The cascading infinity pools are suspended over the dense rainforest, giving swimmers the sensation of floating above the Ayung river gorge below.
Tschuggen Grand Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland
Located in the Schanfigg Valley and surrounded by the Alps, the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa, Switzerland, dates back to 1929 but was completely renovated in 2006, when a 53,800-square-foot multi-level spa with indoor-outdoor pools was added. One pool is designed for swimming, while the other features a whirlpool, massage jets, and waterfalls. Behind these pools is a massive, undulating granite wall that recalls the mountain ranges just outside, in an effort to bring the outdoors in. Both pools and the wall behind them are made of concrete and lined with Duke White granite sourced from the Alps. The wall behind the pool features various textures—untreated, brushed, and sanded—to create a dynamic look and feel while the ceiling overhead has sail-shaped glass skylights that let natural light flow in.
Playa Vik Jose Ignacio, Uruguay
This dramatic, cantilevered pool is at Playa Vik Jose Ignacio, 93 miles from the capital of Montevideo in Uruguay. The boutique beach house escape opened in 2009 and is focused around art, and the pool is a towering, swimmable sculpture designed by Carrie and Alex Vik in collaboration with Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott. The 75-foot cantilevered pool is made of Uruguayan black Absolute Nero granite and stretches out past the terrace to hover 32 feet over the beach below. The pool also features a fiber-optic light celestial map of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky, created by small optic light points set within the pool floor.
JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, Vietnam
Another stunner from Bill Bensley, the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa on an island south of mainland Vietnam features every mermaid’s dream: a seashell-shaped pool. The glittering, mosaic-tiled pool also has a scalloped railing and a lavish breakfast is served poolside each morning. Bensley’s innovative design narrative for the property was a fictional school, Lamarck University, inspired by French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck. This vision is carried throughout the resort, with each building modeled after an academic department.
Capella Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Hospitality architect Bill Bensley is responsible for designing a major chunk of Southeast Asia’s hottest hotels and resorts, including the plush tented camp of Capella Ubud, Bali. Opened in July 2018, the resort’s main swimming pool is called the Cistern, named after the ancient rainwater reservoir found on the site during construction. Designed as a replica of that reservoir, the above-ground pool is made from marine grade steel plates that weigh 220 pounds each. They were assembled by hand to create a zigzag pattern on the bottom and sides of the pool, which is fed by multiple steel faucets and surrounded by lush palms and greenery.