Miami’s 13 Best Hotel Swimming Pools
There’s way more than Hyde Beach.
For Miami locals, hotel pools are a little like LIV and Ocean Drive, places we only go when people are here from out of town and invite us along. But unlike overpriced nightclubs and crowded tourist streets, Miami’s hotel pools are a fantastic escape, and a fun way to feel like a tourist in your own city. Sipping expensive drinks in a warm bath of chlorine, surrounded by palm trees and beautiful people is never a bad way to spend a Sunday. Or any day, really. So read on for the best hotel pools in Miami, and get a little taste of what the tourists are always raving about.
1 Hotel South Beach
The view from the top of the ecocentric 1 Hotel isn’t just one of the best hotel pool views in Miami, it could stand window-to-window with any hotel pool in the world. Gazing in one direction, guests have an elevated view over the turquoise waters of the Atlantic. Look in the other, and it’s the colorful Miami skyline, with Biscayne Bay in between. It’s a perfect place for sunset cocktails at Watr at the 1, one of the top rooftop bars in Miami, especially when views from the bathrooms are just as spectacular.
W South Beach
The W pool does a spectacular job of making its exclusive guests feel secluded, surrounding the deck in thick, tropical foliage giving it the ambience of a wild, secret swimming hole—with waiter service and a live DJ. Still, the surroundings make an ideal place for poolside movies and cookouts from local chefs, both parts of the frequent public programming you’ll find at the W. It’s not hard to hang out here either, as grabbing a drink at the bar or lunch at Irma’s is open to anyone.
Novotel Miami Brickell
No hotel on the mainland does more with its pool deck than Brickell’s Novotel, where every Thursday you can catch a movie under the stars—with full bar and food specials—for $10. The panoramic city view makes an ideal backdrop for Saturday yoga sessions, though the noon start times often mean they’re effectively hot yoga classes. Sunday brings one of Miami’s most relaxing pool parties, where live music complements the pastel South Florida sunset.
The Goodtime Hotel
The Goodtime pool deck is a pink-and-pinstripe Miami dream, quickly making it the most sought after pool invite in Miami. Painstaking design detail from Ken Fulk makes the place almost campy, where palm tree fountains and shallow selfie spots create an Instagrammer’s mecca. The pool parties are among the best in Miami, often headlined by top DJs and frequented by visiting celebs. Nothing is cheap, but good times rarely are.
The Gabriel South Beach
The Ocean Drive hotel pool scene has been historically lacking, save maybe for the day rager at the Clevelander that doesn’t exactly invite swimming. Enter the Gabriel, whose splashy new rooftop offers stunning front row views of the Atlantic and the street below. The view gets even better, though, when swimmers look down, as the glass bottom allows them to peer down into the atrium that stands over the hotel’s common areas.
Often forgotten in the world of glam South Beach pool scenes is the venerable Biltmore. That’s partly because getting in is nearly impossible if you’re not a guest or member. But also because the old-world Mediterranean elegance is kept fairly secluded so it’s not plastered all over social media. Still, the vibe here is pure luxury, where Greek statues and marble columns surround the 600,000-gallon lagoon. The pool also boasts as much history as any Miami swimming spot not called the Fontainebleau, once visited by the likes of FDR and Judy Garland, and former workplace of Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller back in his lifeguarding days.
Laying on your back in the W Miami’s long 15th floor swimming pool creates a hypnotizing sense of place, where the gargantuan towers of the hotel and Icon condominiums spin above you and serve as a reminder you’re squarely in the Magic City. While this experience is mostly the providence of hotel guests, the WET deck is also sometimes open to the public, offering a pool party with a view and everything from exercise classes to special events.
The retro-glam standard might boast the best ground floor pool view in Miami, where sunbathers hover just above Biscayne Bay and can gaze in all directions at Downtown, Midtown, and all points north. It also scores points for being mostly accessible to the public, as lazy, cocktail-laden lunches here are a local tradition. The hotel also added some new amenities in the past year to sweeten the deal, and stopping in for classic cocktails in the mid century-inspired Monterrey Bar is a perfect way to cool off, if you’re not one to actually get in the water.
For chilled-out pool days in Miami Beach, it’s hard to top the Confidante, who boasts a pair of massive pools with spacious decks, and an abundance of pool floaties to boot. The pool area is dubbed the “Backyard,” which makes sense when you find yourself spending more time on the oversized chess board and the lawn than you do in the actual water. It’s also a great spot to cool off with their special “love potion” cocktails, served in a corked bottle inside a seashell.
Freehand’s pool might be the only one in Miami better known for its adjacent cocktail bar and restaurant than the pool itself, as Broken Shaker and 27, respectively, are top tier destinations in their own right. But the garden-fresh cocktails taste extra refreshing when enjoyed from the banks of Miami’s top hostel pool, a gathering place for those who want to take a dip away from the South Beach scene. The best part of sharing a pool deck with a popular bar and restaurant is that the water is rarely crowded, so you can backstroke to your heart’s content while patrons lounging under the jungle scape look on.
Mondrian South Beach
Skyline views at hotel pools are hard to come by in Miami, with the bulk of the city’s most sought after pools sitting on the ocean side of South Beach. The grand exception is the Mondrian, whose weekly pool parties end with spectacular sunsets over Biscayne Bay and the steel and glass towers of downtown. Even before the sun goes down, the Baia Beach Club is an ideal spot for a lazy Sunday brunch. Just make sure to wear a swimsuit, as the endless rose can sometimes lead to impromptu cannonballs into the pool.
No discussion of Miami’s best pools is complete without a nod to the venerable Fontainebleau, perhaps the most famous and photographed hotel swimming pool in America. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to the guys from Scarface have made it a South Florida icon, and even today its frequent concerts and poolside DJ sets make it one of the beach’s top destinations. Typically, you’ll need to get a room here to score a lounge chair, towel, and rights to order $20 drinks. But grab weekend lunch at La Cote, stroll around with your cocktail, and you’ll probably fit right in.
SLS South Beach
If your idea of a great hotel pool involves getting sprayed with champagne while you float in a giant purple unicorn, look no further than the SLS. The home of Hyde Beach and Miami’s best pool party is a weekend dayclub, where you’ll find A-list EDM artists performing almost every week. It’s not quite the scale you’ll find in Vegas, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in intensity. The action also goes well after sundown, so you can stay in the pool until dinner if you’re not up for leaving.