FOR SWIMMING: RENAISSANCE
The largest pool in Palm Springs is obviously your best bet to put in some proper lengths. The Renaissance’s main pool is 5000 square feet and heated, and comes with your standard chaise lounges and cabanas (for rent) plus fire pits at the Patio Lounge, just beside it. There’s also a heated kid’s pool and sandbox (hey parents, how about you stick to that bit), and a whirlpool too, to treat swimmed-out limbs.
HONORABLE MENTION: CALIENTE TROPICS
A massive pool (the third largest in town) and a ‘lanai’ lawn, in keeping with the tiki theme; plus a hot tub, straw cabanas (free – first come, first served) and BBQ grills. Plenty of room to stretch out.
FOR CHILLING: THE PARKER
It’s my favorite hotel so of course it’s going to feature, but the reason I love the Parker’s pool scene is that, despite the monied clientele, it’s relatively laid back. There are two pools – a smaller one (above), that’s open to kids and has a hot tub, beside the North building (patio rooms open directly onto the pool area), and a big, oval-shaped saltwater lagoon of a pool (main photo) hidden away in the undergrowth at the far end of the property. That one is adults-only, and is actually quite quiet – as is the Lemonade Stand bar beside it. It’s a little more rundown than you’d expect (rusty loungers with mouldy cushions), but that doesn’t matter, because it’s open 24 hours – and there’s nothing like going for a secret sunrise swim or midnight dip. (Friendly request: No shenanigans in my pool, please.)
HONORABLE MENTION: DESERT RIVIERA
One of Palm Springs’ teeny midcentury gems, the Desert Riviera’s pool may be in the middle of the property, but its adults-only, no personal music, no guests, quietness-encouraged rulebook means it’s a haven of calm. Extra points for the lights in the surrounding trees at night.
FOR SOCIALIZING: ACE PALM SPRINGS
The Ace describes its Swim Club pool as “a deep, cool, people-made sea”, and that should tell you whether you’re
pretentious an Ace type of person. If you are, it’s perfect – a big zigzag of a pool with plenty of hipster reflector-style sunshades (it’s fairly exposed) and a bar serving cocktails – or “housemade Rx”, as they say at the Ace. There are weekend DJs, regular concerts and events, and the last Saturday of the month sees Reggae Sol parties (in the photo).
There’s also another, smaller pool (the Commune) and the nearby Amigo Room bar hosts things like bingo and crafting nights. Yes, it’s very… Ace. But if you like that, this is the perfect pool for you.
HONORABLE MENTION: SAGUARO
FOR SHENANIGANS: RIVIERA PALM SPRINGS
There are three heated pools at old Ratpack haunt, the Riviera: the gorgeous main, cloud-shaped Bikini, and two smaller ones. Pool parties take place every Saturday, and though the hotel aims for a more high end vibe, when I stayed (2011), it was full on Vegas-style debauchery, and by the looks of recent reviews, not much has changed (this is on weekends, of course; midweek is probably different). If you’re ready to partayyy, start early to nab a chaise lounge; otherwise, cabanas fit 10 and start at $120 midweek, $900 weekend.
HONORABLE MENTION: SKYLARK
FOR PEOPLE-WATCHING: COLONY PALMS
I had dinner at the Colony Palms last week, at the poolside restaurant, Purple Palm. The backdrop to my meal was the pool - and, inside it, a couple who were snogging for our appetizers, indulging in light frottage over our entrées, and getting as close to full-on penetration as is possible in your swimpants by the time coffee came around.
The Colony Palms pool is for those who like a scene to their pool. It’s intimate – small, the chaise lounges clustered tightly round it (apparently you sometimes have to reserve seats, though this wasn’t the case when I stayed a couple of years ago), hemmed in by exotic foliage (the gardens are a mini version of the Parkers) – and the restaurant sits along one side. It’s also overwhelmingly couply. If you’re an exhibitionist, or a people-watcher (the people are all beautiful LA types), or just want a couples pool, this is the one for you.
HONORABLE MENTION: VICEROY
Like Colony Palms, the main Viceroy pool is intimate, tightly packed and the restaurant, Citron, backs onto it. Not the place if you want some space, but perfect for grabbing a cabana and watching the beautiful people. (There’s another pool that’s the same size, but not by the restaurant.)
Got your own favorite pools? Feel strongly about in-pool frottage? Drop your comments in below!