Pick of the pools – Infinity & Beyond

A pool is no longer just a pool. From rooftop lidos and elegant infinity pools to fairytale palaces and safari lodge waterholes, we’ve rounded up the most stylish, dramatic and plain beautiful swimming spots from which you can spot game, sip cocktails or simply gaze at the incredible vistas…

Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, Thailand
Best for… zen chic (www.marriott.co.uk)
The pool
A Jekyll-and-Hyde affair, by day the 25m lap pool is a slick, minimalist oasis with clean lines and rich, earthy colours, ideal for peaceful paddling. After sundown, though, the water is transformed by vivid colours and mood lighting, the beautiful people arrive for cocktails and the H2O bar comes to life.
The view
The vertiginous skyline of eastern Bangkok is reflected in the pool’s surface – enjoy panoramic city vistas from your lofty spot on the 23rd floor.
The hotel
It’s all about the design. Cleverly incorporating the recurring motif of Thailand’s national flower, the Ratchaphruek (Cassia fistula), the interior is in turns soothing – bedrooms are light-filled and serene – and vibrant, using patches of hot colour to contrast with the browns and umbers of the furnishings.
Splash out
Rooms from THB4300 (US$145)
KQ flies daily to Bangkok


Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Best for… Arabian nights opulence  (www.jumeirah.com)
The pool
Twin infinity pools in the Assawan Spa – one mixed, one for ladies only – flank the 18th floor of this landmark hotel, guarded by ranks of bulbous, mosaic-striped pillars and kept at a soothing 30°C. There are also two outdoor pools.
The view
Treading water at the edge of the infinity pool, your eyes sweep from the distant, hazy horizon to the Arabian Gulf and the city of Dubai 150m below, with Jumeirah Beach to the north and the flabbergasting artificial Palm lagoon to the west.
The hotel
Redefining luxury, the Burj Al Arab is also an architectural masterpiece, billowing like a dhow’s sail from its reclaimed island. Its 202 suites range from fabulously lavish to mind-blowingly extravagant, and offer butler service and sumptuous decor blending oriental and Western styles.
Splash out
Suites from AED10,000 (US$2720)
KQ flies daily to Dubai


W Hong Kong

Best for… altitude with attitude  (www.hotels.com)
The pool
Part cocktail bar, part urban beach, the rooftop WET deck is a dazzling see-and-be-seen-at destination for Hong Kong’s hipsters and international visitors. Dominated by a shimmering 200,000-piece mosaic wall designed by Fabio Ongarato, the 219m2 saltwater pool gazes imperiously down from its eyrie on the 76th floor, becoming even more magical at night when DJs arrive to bring beats and a club atmosphere to the Kowloon skyline.
The view
Cast your eyes across to the soaring skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island or 211m down to watch the venerable Star Ferry chug across bustling Victoria Harbour.
The hotel
This sleek, design-focused edifice has Wonderful, Spectacular, Fabulous rooms – not our adjectives, but the names designated by the hotel (though we’d go along with the epithets, too). Understated chic rules, in the room and suites but also the hip Woobar, modern Kitchen bistro and classic Cantonese Sing Yin restaurant.
Splash out
Doubles from HKD2295 (US$295)
KQ flies three times a week to Hong Kong


Shoreditch House, London

Best for… Updated vintage glamour  (www.shoreditchhouse.com)
The pool
Take the red-and-white daybeds and fringed parasols of a classic lido pool, add the industrial urban panache of a Manhattan loft apartment in the adjacent inside-outside bar and you’ve got the Sixth Floor of Shoreditch House. The blue-tiled, 16m rooftop pool is near-unique in central London.
The view
City, city, city: among the forest of soaring glass, steel and concrete, the iconic ‘Gherkin’ (Swiss Re Tower or 30 St Mary Axe, as it’s officially called) dominates the East London skyline.
The hotel
Shoreditch House is a private members’ club housed in a renovated 1930s factory, with 26 compact, minimalist but chic rooms available next door. The club, games room, dining kitchen and Cowshed spa exude the sophistication expected by its mostly media and creative industry membership.
Splash out
The lowdown Rooms from £105 for non-members.
KQ flies daily to London Heathrow


Banyan Tree, Mahé, Seychelles

Best for… Endless Indian Ocean vistas (www.banyantree.com)
The pool
When they say infinity, they mean infinity: with its crystal water matching the azure sky above and ocean beyond, this cliffside pool appears truly endless.
The view
Water and air. Ocean and sky. Possibly the waving fringes of palm leaves and, below, the beach punctuated by smooth boulders. That’s it. And it just might be the best view of the Indian Ocean to be found anywhere.
The resort
A selection of luxurious villas nestle into a verdant hillside on a patch of land once owned by actor Peter Sellers and Beatle George Harrison. Should you prefer to dip in private, each villa has its own pool, though the attraction of that infinity affair with its bar and fresh-fruit cocktails may prove hard to resist. Elsewhere, numerous spa options and restaurants vie for your attention
Splash out
Villas from €800 (US$130) plus taxes
KQ flies four times a week to Mahé


Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania

Best for… wildlife watching without leaving the water  (www.fourseasons.com)
The pool
It’s a 25m-long infinity pool, perched on a hillside and backed by a welcoming deck and bar – perfect for sundowners. But if you’re looking at the pool, the deck or the bar, you’re missing the point…
The view
The pool looks down on two natural watering holes that lure thirsty wildlife from the surrounding area – so you’re likely to splash in time with a herd of 30 elephants, regular visitors to the waterholes below, along with resident baboon troops and a host of other animals.
The lodge
Newly revamped, this luxurious lodge in the central Serengeti is based around a substantial two-storey house linked by wooden walkways to a series of villas, suites and rooms, all with views over the surrounding plains.
Splash out
From US$565 per person full board, excluding park fees
KQ flies daily to Kilimanjaro


The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India

Best for… fairytale palace ambience (www.oberoihotels.com)
The pool
If you ever fancied completing lengths in a castle moat, this is as close as you’ll come. Fringing the hotel’s classically Mughal-style walls and domes, the clear water of the infinity pool fronting Udaivilas’ suites is kept at a bath-warm 28°C.
The view
Peer east across Lake Pichola for vistas of the wedding-cake City Palace and famous Lake Palace, floating dreamlike in the mere. The Aravalli Mountains rise blue-grey from the haze above the city.
The hotel
This magnificent hotel, perched on the lakeshore in Rajasthan’s most romantic city, blends cool, crisp Raj-era decor with regal grandeur, evoking the state’s historic forts and palaces. Rooms and suites, set among manicured courtyards and gardens, boast rolltop baths, handcrafted furniture and impeccable service. Some rooms have semi-private pools merging with the main affair, and there are also interior and spa pools.
Splash out
Premier rooms start from Rs41,000 (US$750)
KQ flies four times a week to New Delhi


The Oyster Box, Durban, South Africa

Best for… timeless seaside style (www.oysterboxhotel.com)
The pool
Is it 2013, or 1913? The atmosphere on this oceanside terrace hints at years gone by: square cherry-red parasols shade candystripe loungers in hues matching the adjacent lighthouse, all reflected in the waters of the 20m rim-flow pool.
The view
That lighthouse, and the Indian Ocean rolling in to the KwaZulu-Natal shore.
The hotel
Originally built some six decades back, the Oyster Box was restored and revamped half a dozen years ago, retaining a dash of colonial-era elegance, a smidgeon of contemporary design aesthetic, and a proud dollop of upper-class service. With its ice-cream- toned, Mediterranean-inspired exterior and air of confident luxury, you’d half expect Hercule Poirot to make a grand entrance.
Splash out
Rooms from R4,390 (US$470)
KQ flies daily to Johannesburg


Holiday Inn Shanghai, Pudong Kangqiao

Best for… swimmers with a head for heights (www.holidayinn.com)
The pool
An ingenious cantilevered design means this precarious-looking 30m pool extends out from the side of this sleekly modern high-rise, with a dizzying drop beneath.
The view
Mostly, the bustling street – 24 floors below you. The floor of the pool is clear toughened glass so you can peer straight down to the tarmac, a unique (and unique disconcerting) view. From the more relaxed poolside position you can also enjoy panoramic vistas stretching as far as the monoliths of the Lujiazui peninsula to the northwest.
The hotel
Spacious, modern rooms cater to both tourists and business travellers in the new Pudong district of Shanghai.
Splash out
Rooms from US$120 B&B
KQ flies daily to Bangkok, with codeshare connections to Shanghai with Korean Air


Elsa’s Kopje, Meru National Park, Kenya

Best for… romantic safari sundowners (www.chelipeacock.com)
The pool
Within hailing distance of the bar and melting into the rocky hillside, the infinity pool is the perfect spot for an evening cocktail, bathed in stillness and the unmistakable dusty scent of the African plains.
The view
This is Africa in widescreen: drink in panoramic vistas across Meru National Park, dotted with wildlife – rhinos breed in the reserve, and leopards have been spotted from the pool.
The lodge
Elsa’s Kopje is built into the granite outcrop called Mughwango, above the site of George Adamson’s camp where he raised the lioness after which the lodge is named. Sensitively designed to be virtually invisible from even a short distance away, the elegant, open-sided cottages all boast sweeping views. Game-viewing opportunities, guiding and cuisine are all superb.
Splash out
From US$440 per person (full board, including activities and most drinks)
KQ flies from Nairobi to 50+ destinations worldwide