While sea views are almost a prerequisite when booking a beach hotel, lately our gaze has been veering poolside. Sidestepping raging pool parties and tubular monstrosities (aka waterslides) we’ve locked eyes on our favourite poolsides of old, complete with ice-cream shades, colourful stripes and abstract designs. These retro hotel pools are certain to whet your appetite.

1. The Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, US

David Hockney will forever be known for his bright paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools – and one in particular. In November 2018 Pool with Two Figures became the most expensive work of art by a living artist sold at auction). While the swimming pool at The Roosevelt isn’t the one depicted in Pool with Two Figures, it has its own Hockney story. In 1988 the artist spent a morning covering the pool bottom with a pattern of swooping half-moon marks, which remain intact today.

2. Il Pellicano, Argentario, Italy

Overlooking a secluded bay in Tuscany’s Porto Ercole, Hotel Il Pellicano is riddled with stories as legendary as the people featured in them. A hangout for a faction of the design, fashion and art worlds, Emilio Pucci, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Kenneth Tynan relaxed poolside at Il Pellicano each summer. Slim Aarons (among other notable photographers, including Juergen Teller) immortalised their R&R in all its yesteryear glamour and, while the film may have faded, the sunspot’s allure endures.

3. The Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, US

Fran Lebowitz said it best: “Los Angeles is a large city-like area surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel.” A beacon of Hollywood glamour and the nucleus of A-list living, Faye Dunaway enjoyed a post-Oscar breakfast here in March 1977, dressed in silk and heels (we’d advise sliders and a one-piece swimsuit from Hunza G instead).

4. The Villa Casa Casuarina, Miami, US

Dip your toes in Gianni Versace’s 54-foot, 24-karat-gold-lined “million mosaic pool” – a play on Versace’s famous 1990s Marine Vanitas collection. It’s pretty gauche and we’re not convinced we’d stay the night here, but a visit is advised if you’re partial to OTT design and having a bit of a snoop. How could you not be after watching Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story?

5. The Drifter Hotel, New Orleans, US

Take the plunge at this renovated 1950s New Orleans hotel. A wash of turquoise and interjections of white envelope the pool’s edges, while a giant disco ball teeters over the water. Throw in a quirky indoor-outdoor bar and some Acapulco chairs and you’ll soon find it’s not just hotel guests who revel in The Drifter’s old-time charm. New Orleans residents who like their exercise and lounge time with a vintage touch (and a scallop-edged umbrella) can avail of a Swim Club membership for an annual fee of $299.

6. Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs, US

Deserts and pools make good company. At Parker Palm Springs, palm trees fan the sky and huddle over the pool’s parameter. When the desert sun gets too intense, take shade under the lemon- and white-striped umbrellas and hit up the vintage-feels lemonade stand. Coordinating your beverage to your bather feels so right here.

7. Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, US

The pool at the Flamingo Hotel is horribly kitsch and is one of the truest representation of Vegas you’ll find on the strip. Grab a chaise longue in the centre of the action and soak it all up. Word of warning: there are flamingos placed on pedestals all around the pool – be sure you position yourself so as to avoid any obstructions to your people watching.

8. Faena Hotel, Miami, US

A cruciform-shaped pool is always a punchy move and frankly we wouldn’t expect anything less from Hollywood’s East Coast hangout. At Faena, the colour code is maraschino-cherry red and Colgate white – just look at those candy-striped parasols and loungers. For 1950s maximalist glamour, North Beach is where it’s at.

9. Austin Motel, Texas, US

The roadside Austin Motel sits just south of the Colorado River and Downtown and gives us serious Great American Road Trip longing every time we think of it. Pull in – you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the phallic-shaped sign – and head straight for the pool, considered by many as the best in town. Lounge on white lawn furniture, surrounded by cacti and with a chilled Austin Eastciders in hand.

10. Colombe D’Or, Vence, France

Sure, the Côte d’Azur is all glitz, but this pool puts the ritzy coastline in the shade. During WWII painters and the literati sought refuge on the Riviera, and many offered artworks in exchange for accommodation at Colombe D’Or. As a result, the property boasts a museum-worthy collection which extends out as far as the heated outdoor pool decorated with a monumental Calder mobile. On your way to dry off, spot the Georges Braque mosaic in the garden.


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The Most OTT Hotels in the World

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