When most people think of stunning pools, they see the backyard of a billionaire’s mountain villa. While there are certainly some of those hanging off the edge of a cliff, commercial swimming pools make up just as many of the world’s best facilities. Sometimes housed in health clubs or held up as fixtures of their cities and a monument to history, private pools are no longer the exclusive domain of the rich and famous.
Pool management at these facilities takes the next step, and patrons are sometimes only a hotel reservation away from gorgeous vistas, pristine water and some special amenities to boot. Check out the world’s best commercial swimming pools and maybe learn a thing or two in the process.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas is known for its fast-paced party attitude, and no soiree is complete without the requisite tropical-themed pool. USA Today said that this 5-acre pool equipped with 40 cabanas, 25 daybeds and six banquettes is one of the top facilities in the country. The pool itself is split into three distinct areas that offer patrons different experiences, including a swim-up blackjack table and views of the strip.
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort – Hilton Head, South Carolina
Steps away from one of the premier country clubs on the East Coast, this facility is the epitome of southern hospitality. The hotel recently poured $30 million into a renovation project that refitted the outdoor pool with three sections ringed with tiered spas, all surrounded by a multi-layered garden. Hilton Head has one Olympic-sized pool for lap swimming, a round pool for free activity and families and a smaller heated facility outside.
Bondi Baths – Sydney, Australia
The first international pool on the list isn’t for the faint of heart. This Aussie facility is located on the shores of the Tasman Sea, well known for its rough waves and chilling temperatures. The Bondi Baths is a full-service fitness club and spa, but it also doubles as the home of the Bondi Icebergs Club, a group of enthusiasts who favor jumping into and swimming around in ice cold waters. For a nominal $6 fee, any member of the public can swim in the pool, which is inches above sea level and shares water with the Tasman Sea.
If you want to join the Bondi Icebergs Club, though, you’ll have to make 75 swims in sub-60 degree water.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – London, United Kingdom
The best public swimming pools aren’t just beautifully designed, but they also share some history of great swimmers of the past. In the case of the Aquatics Center that was constructed for the 2012 Summer Games in London, Michael Phelps’ four gold and two silver medals are more than enough to cement the now-public pool into history.
Visitors can sign up for their personal timeslots in either the 50-meter competition pool or the 25-meter training pools.
Astoria Park – New York City
If Manhattan’s great social equalizer is Central Park, then that mantle falls to Astoria Park for Brooklyn and Queens. Lonely Planet explained that Astoria is New York City’s oldest public pool, which makes it the first choice for millions of New Yorkers every summer. Though not a full lap pool, Astoria Park’s wading pool cools off the residents of New York’s boroughs better than anything else in the city.
Gellert Thermal Baths – Budapest, Hungary
Most Americans associate swimming with the heat of summer, but millions of people around the world appreciate the power of a hot bath during the winter. The Gellert Thermal Baths are public pools built atop natural hot springs to keep the water naturally – and some believe therapeutically – warm. Similar baths can be found throughout China, southeast Asia and Japan.
The Modern Hotel – Honolulu, Hawaii
It might seem crazy to swim in a pool on the island of Hawaii, but this facility on the shores of the world-famous Waikiki Beach combines the comfort of a five-star resort with the natural beauty of the island’s coastline. The Modern Hotel’s pool is split into two palm-tree lined areas – the Sunset and Sunrise pools. Both feature shallow lounging areas and deepwater sections for all kinds of swimmers, though most might find themselves admiring the scenery from one of the pool’s infinity-edged lagoon-style areas.