If you think a pool is merely a place to practice your backstroke, you're kind of missing the point.
Take a group of scantily clad bodies, a hot and steamy day, and a watering hole for some frolicking, and swimming should be the last thing on your mind. Now move the scene to a rooftop — completely exposed yet totally private at the same time — and it becomes an altogether more sexy and decadent proposition.
Whether it's a playful pool that's perfect for a weekend of full-on partying (we're looking at you, Axel Hotel) or a luxurious setting for sophisticated lounging, as at the London West Hollywood, these are the ideal rooftop hot spots to watch the sunset, have a drink and, oh, what the hell, slip off your clothes for a midnight dip.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
The rooftop garden at the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel, perched atop three towers 660 feet above Singapore and totaling more than 15,000 square feet, has the feel of a paradise that's off-limits to mere mortals. (Although, for $20, non-guests can visit the observation deck.) As if the sheer magnitude of the place weren't intoxicating enough, the 500-foot-long guests-only infinity pool — one of the largest urban pools in the world at that height — feels equally endless, and a little dangerous, too. Add to that an international crowd of beautiful people lounging on white daybeds beneath swaying palm trees, and the whole place takes on a floating-in-the-heavens kind of sex appeal that makes you want to strip and drift through the water in your birthday suit. There are also rooftop bars and restaurants, in case, you know, the gods get hungry.
10 Bayfront Avenue
Tel: 65 6688 8888
London West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif.
The London West Hollywood's rooftop has the sexiest pool in a city of rooftop pools. Sure, there are some rooms here, there may even be a restaurant and a lobby, but no one cares. You come here to lie provocatively on a poolside chaise, seduce a movie producer, and get discovered. Or barring that, you come to have a caipirinha, take in a hazy view of Los Angeles, and enjoy walking barefoot on a rooftop lawn (although, this being Hollywood, it may look the part but is not real grass). Just be sure to come back in the evening — the mood lighting comes on, the canopies glow, and the schmoozing really begins.
1020 N. San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood, California
Tel: 310 854 1111
Hotel the Vine, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
This small, 79-room design hotel on the Portuguese island of Madeira is an homage to all things wine-related. But look past the corny name, the grape-purple lounge chairs, and the vinotherapy spa treatments. The real reason to come here is on the roof. The pool has 360-degree views of the island, a Plexiglas barrier between you and any hair-ruffling breezes, and groovy round daybeds that are perfect for reclining in tandem. And after a few hours of gazing — at the city, at each other, at the stranger across the pool — a vinotherapy massage and the bubbling hot tub won't sound so corny after all.
27 Rua dos Aranhas
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Tel: 351 291 009 000
Gansevoort Park Avenue, New York City
From the people who brought a whole new meaning to the meat market district of New York City, a new outpost (due to open August 2010). The Gansevoort's new 249-room hotel will bring some much-needed sex appeal to a business-heavy stretch of lower Park Avenue, not to mention a good excuse to "work late." Naturally, a Gansevoort could hardly call itself a Gansevoort without a rooftop pool. This one is a decent size, for this city at least (40 by 16 feet); it's heated; and one quarter of it is indoors, so you'll have an opportunity to strip down to your skivvies year-round. And since it will undoubtedly attract a lot of attention — most likely from gorgeous, tan, fit people who have their facialist on speed dial — the bar spans three levels at the top of this 20-floor hotel. In other words, you may not be "working" late after all.
420 Park Avenue S.
New York, New York
Tel: 212 317 2900
Axel Hotel, Barcelona, Spain
If washboard abs and hairless chests are your thing, then the rooftop pool at the Axel in Barcelona is your kind of place. The 105-room hotel, which reopened in May 2010 after a swanky renovation, is a big hit with the gay community and pretty much anyone who can appreciate the decadence of sunbathing in the middle of a gorgeous European city. What the pool lacks in size, it makes up for in location (in Barcelona's beautiful Eixample neighborhood) and a cool, color-block design. The pool has a wooden deck, some well-tended greenery, and one very groovy bar that, curiously, guarantees the "most attractive cocktails in Barcelona." (We hear they taste pretty good, too.) Probably best to refrain from too many laps by day, so as to reserve your energy for when the poolside action really gets going, once the bar opens at midnight.
Tel: 34 93 323 93 93
Four Seasons Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
When the Four Seasons Hong Kong's architects designed the place, some romantic had the inspired idea to install underwater speakers in the rooftop pool as an accompaniment to any sub-aqua flirtations. (Forget for a moment that you can't be down there long enough to appreciate more than a few bars of a song before you risk drowning.) For all intents and purposes, this is a pool built for romance: infinity edges, endless views of Victoria Harbor, and at your feet, a panoramic cityscape of Hong Kong. This isn't a honeymoon destination so much as the kind of place where two world travelers may pass in the night, perhaps make their way up to the rooftop, gaze out at the evening skyline, and discover what only a few have dared to dream: Barry White sounds even better underwater.
8 Finance Street
Hong Kong, China
Tel: 852 3196 8888
La Passion Hotel, Cartagena, Colombia
With its vibrantly colored houses, famously spicy food, and bougainvillea dripping over everything, Cartagena is pretty hot and steamy to begin with. And right in the center of all the action is the conspicuously named La Passion hotel. This eight-room property has the air of a palazzo owned by a very rich Colombian relative. And he has one absurdly sexy pool on his roof. Sure, it comes with all the amenities you'd hope to find (bar, whirlpool tub, canopy daybeds with billowing white sheets), but it has one other alluring feature: total privacy. You can look out on all the other brightly colored houses in the old city and virtually none of them can look back, which means you can take a daytime skinny-dip if you so choose — but be polite and invite your fellow guests, too, of course.
35–81 Calle Estanco del Tabaco
Tel: 575 664 8605