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It was a hot day somewhere in the Roman Empire when Ovid exclaimed, “There is no small pleasure in sweet water.” Things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years. These days, summer temperatures still send us seeking submersion in the soothing sanctuary of a swimming hole. And while any pool will do, some are better than others. These are among our favorite watering holes. 


Most Voyeuristic
Who knew the best place to be discovered in a bikini would be at an indoor pool in New York? The Hotel QT’s low-lit, in-your-face, not-meant-for-lap-swimming pool is abuzz with underwater music and located right in the lobby. In fact, it flows right up to aquarium-like windows in the bar. Rooms from $175. www.hotelqt.com

Most Artsy
Have you ever dreamed of immersing yourself in a David Hockney painting? Then take a plunge into the cooling waters of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s sexy, palm-tree-lined pool, the bottom of which Hockney himself painted. From $285. www.hollywoodroosevelt.com

Best Aquarium Swim
Join 4,000 fish, representing 40 species, including three Spotted Eagle Rays, when you snorkel in the King’s Pond at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu on Hawaii’s Big Island. The lava-lined, spring- and ocean-fed pool, located just off the beach, will appeal to your inner marine biologist. From $625. www.fourseasons.com

Most Fun for Families
The cabanas are free at the Pointe South Mountain Resort and the Oasis water park in Phoenix. But it’s the cooldown factor of the 10,000-square-foot wave pool, 950-foot-long active river, dive-in movie screen, and two eight-story slides that keeps kids — and their parents — coming back. Summer specials from $129, plus $16 resort fee. www.pointesouthmtn.com

Best for Multitasking
If you’re worried about making your flight but still want a workout, dive into the three-lane mechanized pool in the spa of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel. The pool’s current can be adjusted so swimmers can stroke upstream (as it were) for maximum aerobic benefit. From $135 (C$150), or you can buy a day pass for $15. www.fairmont.com/vancouverairport

Most Chic Sunning Retreat
Conceived by Philippe Starck and Ian Schrager to recall the ancient Roman baths, the “water salon” (as the pool is called) at the Delano in Miami is long, lean, and luminous. Divided into four areas defined by use (floating, meditating, sleeping, and eating), this infinity pool boasts furniture in the water and classical music. From $415. www.delano-hotel.com

Most Whimsical
The Lagoon pool at Orlando’s Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn has a 400-gallon dump tank that fills up with water and surprises unsuspecting guests every three minutes, all to the sounds of Nickelodeon-themed entertainment. The pool also has slides, flumes, a multilevel basketball court, and mini golf. From $281. www.nickhotel.com