Mountains are majestic and sweeping plains sublime, but nothing fuels our wanderlust quite like a vast pool of water (especially in the dead of winter). These spectacular bodies of water are found everywhere from the jungles of Bali to the lava fields of Iceland, but they all have one thing in common: the ability to make us marvel.
Grace Santorini Hotel
Set against the azure of the Aegean Sea, the infinity pool at the Grace Santorini hotel, in the quiet and lovely village of Imerovigli, zigzags across a whitewashed cliff overlooking the caldera. While reaching the island’s volcanic black sand beaches requires trekking down steep hillside terrain, this minimalist 21-room hotel is the perfect place for a late-afternoon plunge—and for soaking up views of the sun setting over the Cyclades.
Built in 1918, the bathhouse at Budapest’s Hotel Gellért is the picture of Art Nouveau opulence with its marble columns, domed ceiling, and majolica tiles. Hot springs heat its famous thermal baths, which are believed to have healing powers—and the spa also includes Finnish saunas, massage rooms, and an open-air swimming pool overlooking the banks of the Danube. Hungarian bathing culture dates back to Roman times and is still considered to be one of Budapest’s most vibrant social rituals: Today, the hammams draw everyone from businessmen to families.
Ubud Hanging Gardens
Undulating tiers of infinity pools reach over the dense Balinese rain forest and the rushing Ayung River at the 38-suite Ubud Hanging Gardens. Walled in solidified volcanic ash, the two horizon-edged cantilevers were designed to mimic the rice paddies in nearby Payangan. After your swim, sip a Bali mango mimosa on a waterside lounger at the Bukit Becik bar, or wander through the hotel’s tropical gardens, ornamented with cacao plants, flame trees, and orchids.
So otherworldly is the Blue Lagoon, set in the black lava fields outside the fishing town of Grindavík, that it might feel as if you’re taking a dip on Saturn (its milky, mineral-rich pools form when seawater meets volcanic magma deep underground). Temperatures average 100 degrees year-round, swim-up bars serve ice-cold smoothies, and visitors spend hours soaking in the steamy waters—which are thought to do miracles for the skin. The white silica mud also acts as an exfoliant, and spa products made from the lagoon’s algae can be found at the on-site boutique.
Snaking around a 165-million-year-old sandstone butte, the Amangiri at Canyon Point looks like a dazzling desert mirage: The 600-acre, 34-suite oasis stands in serene isolation against the dramatic contours of southern Utah’s arid landscape. (Tucked in a valley just west of Lake Powell, it’s a 25-minute drive from the nearest town, Page, Arizona.) The resort’s centerpiece is a stone-lined pool that sprawls through a sunken courtyard where outdoor fireplaces, a hot tub, and king-size daybeds hug stretches of rugged canyon rock; at night, it’s the perfect spot for swimming beneath a canopy of stars.
Alila Villas Uluwatu
Wood-slatted cabanas seem to float in midair at the Alila Villas Uluwatu. The hotel, perched 330 feet above Bali’s southern coastline, has breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, and just below lies one of the best surf breaks on earth. The Alila’s 65 sleek villas have private freshwater pools, flat lava-rock roofs, and bamboo ceilings that allow sea breezes to circulate naturally, making it as eco-friendly as it is heavenly.
SOURCE: Condé Nast Traveler