World's best hotel pools and baths: 18 most desirable spots to take a dip

If your definition of ​travel heaven is a private plunge pool in a five-star resort or an outdoor bath with a view of the the African savannah, we've go the ultimate bucket list for you.

OUTDOOR BATH AT WILDWATERS LODGE, UGANDA

Outdoor baths are hardly a new concept but Wildwaters Lodge takes it to the next level thanks to its extraordinary location – the entire resort is situated on a remote island in the middle of the White Nile that's only accessible by boat. As a result, all of its 10 luxury suites – and their standalone outdoor bathtubs – have mesmerising views of the river's raging class six rapids. See www.wildwaterslodge.com

INFINITY POOL, MARINA BAY SANDS, SINGAPORE

Even today, eight years after it opened, Marina Bay Sands still looks so audacious it's hard to believe it's not an artist's impression. The hotel's three sloping, 55-storey skyscrapers support a futuristic-looking outdoor recreation area with a restaurant by Wolfgang Puck and the world's largest rooftop infinity pool. Perched 200 metres off the ground, this extraordinary 150-metre-long, cabana-lined pool offers stunning views of Singapore's dazzling skyline. See marinabaysands.com

BATHTUB AT CAPE TOWN'S THE SILO HOTEL

It is as if you are suspended within the sweeping bowl of Cape Town's Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Lion's Head, and the Waterfront. Is this one of the world's most spectacular views from a bath, which sits just inside the metal-ribbed, pillowed-glass, floor-to-ceiling bulging window of your suite in the 28-room Silo Hotel, built ingeniously into the grain elevator of the city's historic grain silo? Even better, there's less guilt in filling up the bath and wallowing happily now the Cape rains have come. See theroyalportfolio.com/the-silo/overview

PLUNGE POOL AT THE AKADEMIE STREET BOUTIQUE HOTEL, FRANSCHHOEK

The summer heat shimmers in Franschhoek's wide valley, perfect for ripening the wine grapes in one of South Africa's most beautiful towns. Did I mention heat? How blissful is it therefore to cool off in your own secluded Moroccan mosaic plunge pool beneath the hazy Franschhoek Mountains. Gelatenheid, meaning acceptance, is a two-storey, Cape-Dutch influenced cottage in the gardens of the five-star Akademie Street Boutique Hotel, which last year won the world's best and most romantic boutique hotel. See aka.co.za

ATRIUM POOL OF THE GAINSBOROUGH BATH SPA, BRITAIN

Occupying a handsome honey-stone former hospital, this is the only hotel in Bath to tap directly into the city's original Roman hot springs. Hit the basement Spa Village, where you can blend your own aromatic oils and plunge into thermal baths and saunas, or book a rejuvenating treatment such as the "Freedom" Aquatic Body Therapy in the gorgeous main atrium pool, which is flanked by Roman-style columns. See thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

BATHTUB AT NIHI SUMBA

Take in expansive views of the Indian Ocean and the sweep of jungle-flanked beach from the private deck of your villa at Nihi Sumba, a remote and luxurious retreat "on the edge of wildness". As you soak in your alfresco copper bath, you may spot locals riding bareback along the long stretch of golden sand. Incredible. See nihi.com

REEF SHOES, BEAN BAGS, AT PEBBLE BEACH, QUALIA

Service at Pebble Beach, Qualia's dreamy waterfront restaurant, infinity pool and private beach overlooking the Coral Sea is next level – and extends to those taking a dip in the sea. Guests are offered a bean bag, complimentary reef shoes, fluffy beach towels, sun screen and chilled water – all delivered to your preferred spot on the sand. It raises the experience of a trip to the beach (where turtles are often spotted) from great to exceptional. See qualia.com.au

PRIVATE POOL, FOUR SEASONS JIMBARAN BAY

Wake to uninterrupted views of Jimbaran Bay – including fishermen in long tail boats – from your private pool villa. Watch as the rising sun bathes your infinity pool and the calm bay beyond in pink and gold, as you sip on an espresso from your private cabana. The perfect way to start the day. See fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay

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SACRED SPRING POOLS, COMO SHAMBHALA

Bali's revered temple of wellness, Como Shambhala's sacred springs are well worth the 300-step ascent and descent. Lie on your sunbed beside the clear green pools, as your pool attendant serves you chilled water and a cold scented towel; the sound of the rushing Ayung River as a backdrop. Butterflies flit and monkeys can be seen in the dense jungle clad valley as you swim in the pool fed by a natural spring. Emerge feeling reborn. See comohotels.com/en

BATHE ON THE DECK, BILLABONG SYDNEY

Soak alfresco in a freestanding tub on the balcony of your private treetop room, looking out over a mist-filled escarpment. Bird calls pierce the silence as steam rises from your Epsom salts bath, and wafts from the natural billabong through fog-shrouded eucalypts. Magic. See billabongretreat.com.au

AN OVER-WATER BUNGALOW

There it stands… right on top of the lagoon. It's not till you're walking across the wooden pathway heading to your over-water bungalow at Sofitel Moorea Ioara that you comprehend this indulgence. A home on the sea, with no fear of seasickness; where you can jump from your backyard into a tropical French Polynesian lagoon. You can even see the water through a glass bottom in your floor. See sofitel-moorea-ioara.com

A LANTERN-LIT BATH BAINES SANCTUARY CAMP, BOTSWANA

With just five suites, Baines Sanctuary Camp is one of Africa's most intimate safari lodges. It is also one of the few to offer a star bath: a tin bath set up on your private deck, lit by lanterns and candles. Soaking amid the bubbles as you listen to hippos roaring in the nearby river is an unforgettable experience. See sanctuaryretreats.com

POST-SKI BATH, THE CHEDI ANDERMATT, SWITZERLAND

Is anything more blissful than the moment you sink your muscle-aching, chilly body into a hot, deep bath after a hard day's skiing? Well yes, when you can also zap on your faux fire and gaze into the flames at this uber-luxe, Asian-influenced hotel, a most unexpected hideaway in a Swiss ski resort. If the tub limits you, an expansive spa and wellness centre awaits. See thechediandermatt.com

PRIVATE-VILLA PLUNGE POOL AT MGALLERY AMARTERRA VILLAS, BALI

Float on your back in the water, listen to the breeze rustle through banana trees, watch pink frangipani petals tumble from a blue sky and you'll be close to heaven in your own little world within this faultless Nusa Dua resort. The vivid turquoise pool is set in a private courtyard beside a thatched pavilion. If you aren't seduced, have your pulse checked. See amarterravilla.com

POOL ON THE EDGE OF THE SAVANNAH, BOTSWANA

You've spent the morning spotting elephants and lions, then devouring a three-course breakfast. Now, you're sinking into the greatest safari indulgence of all: DNA (do nothing at all) by the pool perched on the edge of the savannah at Sanctuary Stanley's Camp, Botswana. The biggest decision you'll make is which craft cocktail to order, and how close you'll let the game get before moving indoors. See sanctuaryretreats.com

CLAWFOOT BATHTUB IN ABODE BOMBAY, MUMBAI

Set in a 110-year-old heritage building in Colaba, the beating, upmarket heart of Mumbai, Abode Bombay is the city's first boutique hotel. The decor features locally handcrafted tiles and restored vintage Indian furniture, but the true stroke of genius is the freestanding clawfoot tubs in the superior luxury rooms. They can be wallowed in for hours, chai in hand and windows open to the delightful chaos in the streets below. See abodeboutiquehotels.com

PLUNGE POOL ONBOARD LE LYRIAL IN ANTARCTICA

Some might call it the cheat's version of the polar plunge, but we'd like to think of it as the luxe version, and one that won't lead to a heart attack. Slipping into the (slightly) heated pool on the deck of Ponant's Le Lyrial, surrounded by icebergs and breaching whales, is an experience enhanced only by the invigorating post-soak dash into the bar for a celebratory hot toddy. See aptouring.com.au

LATE NIGHT ONSEN AT THE GREEN LEAF HOTEL, NISEKO, JAPAN

Niseko's 200-room Green Leaf Hotel is best known for combining a peaceful ambience with a hard to beat ski-in, ski-out location but it's the onsen that's the real standout. Ensconced among snow-dusted pine trees and smooth rocks at the foot of the mountains, it's the ultimate place to soak aching ski legs and clear your mind. And there's just something about being naked and outdoors in the snow that's somehow… liberating. See thegreenleafhotel.com

TAKE A LOOK AT THE 18 MOST DESIRABLE HOTEL POOLS AND BATHS IN THE GALLERY ABOVE

CONTRIBUTORS: BELINDA JACKSON, BRIAN JOHNSTON, UTE JUNKER, NINA KARNIKOWSKI, KRISTIEKELLAHAN, ROB MCFARLAND. STEVE MEACHAM, SHERIDEN RHODES, ALISON STEWART, CRAIG TANSLEY, KERRY VAN DER JAGT, GUY WILKINSON

See also: Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of this natural pool

See also: The world's 10 most amazing places to take a swim
 

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