Winter weather is for skiing, sledding, snowboarding—and soaking up the sun in a steamy outdoor pool. After a round of wintry activities, here are 11 places to take a dip and relax in the coziest way possible.
As the temperature plummets, forget about packing away your bathing suit. Instead, dive into the welcoming, therapeutic waters of a heated pool. Whether it’s to soothe achy muscles after a day on the slopes or to soak in some much-needed winter sunshine under towering snow-capped mountains, head to one of these properties that prove outdoor swimming pools aren’t just for summer.
At over 7,000 feet above sea level, this is Europe’s highest outdoor pool. (Also, with a temperature of a toasty 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it may just be its hottest too.) While you’re on top of the world, the majestic Matterhorn feels close enough to smack with a snowball. This ice-blue pool is the highlight of the Riffelalp Resort’s wellness center, which also includes a steam cave, Finnish sauna, and grotto of saline baths and waterfalls. It’s not easy to reach (getting to the resort takes a mountain railway and a snowmobile), but the views of the 29 Alpine summits are worth the uphill journey.
Residences at The Little Nell
Aspen favorite, The Little Nell, has an impressive outdoor pool, but the stylish rooftop pool of the Residences at The Little Nell—available to rent or own—is unrivaled. Yes, this rooftop pool is sleek and chic with its 360-degree views, but it’s also functional: In the spring and summer, the landscaping is designed to feed bees and butterflies. But we prefer it in the winter when the vapor curls off the pool’s mirrored surface and the snow flurries—straight off the Rockies—twirl overhead.
Ion Adventure Hotel
This design-forward, boutique hideaway is located on the stark, alien-like terrain of Iceland’s volcanic Mount Hengill. Sustainability and the surrounding countryside play heavily on the Ion’s aesthetic, as seen through the use of locally salvaged driftwood throughout the hotel. This minimalistic and modern trend carries over into the partially exposed Lava Spa with a heated soaking pool. While unwinding on what feels like the edge of the Earth, keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Lights dancing across the sky.
Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Ski Portillo is an extreme skier’s dream in the heart of the secluded Chilean Andes. The magic of this uncluttered, raw landscape is best appreciated from the hotel’s pool deck, which overlooks the crystal-colored waters of Laguna del Inca. The wild terrain is legendary, but you don’t even need to venture to the piste when the pool is this good. (Not to mention the hotel is packed with amenities for its 450 guests.) Plus, Portillo is known for its sunny weather during ski season, which—because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere—runs from June through October.
In the fairytale village of Chamonix, this chic chalet hotel has a warm, milky-blue pool with awe-inspiring vistas of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain. With some of the best (and most challenging) skiing in the Alps, winter-sports enthusiasts will appreciate Hôtel Mont-Blanc’s soothing hot tub and snow bunnies will love the lavish Clarins spa.
Set on the shore of a spectacular fjord with views over the Folgefonna glacier, the family-run (and family-friendly) Hotel Ullensvang offers jaw-dropping scenery in every season. But there’s just something special about Scandinavia in the winter, especially when you’re floating in a 288-foot, wrap-around pool channel that connects the indoor pool to an outdoor infinity pool and is heated to the balmy mid-80s.
Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei
Not technically a pool, the Japanese onsen is a communal hot springs bath. (Also, unlike in a pool, an onsen is enjoyed silently and sans swimsuit!) Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei is a peaceful, hot-springs ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), located in the scenic forests around Mount Kuruhi. It has both indoor and outdoor onsens, along with some private dips, should you be feeling shy.
The exclusive Amangani has a refined Wild-West vibe inspired by the surrounding majesty of nearby national parks Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Finished in quartzite and steaming with heat, the outdoor pool and whirlpool are designed for relaxation after a long day of skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, or snowmobiling.
Sierra Nevada, Spain
Snow isn’t the first thing to come to mind when you think of southern Spain, but high in the mountains of Andalusia, you can find this ski-in/ski-out retreat blanketed in white. After taking a dip in El Lodge’s outdoor pool and hot tub fashioned from Finnish timber, après-swim at the outdoor bar, The Sun Deck, where you can dry off in front of the free-standing fire pits with faux-fur blankets and warming cocktails.
Fairmont Banff Springs
Snuggled in an evergreen forest of the Canadian Rockies, the historic Fairmont Banff Springs was built as a grand mountain getaway in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today, this massive hotel, called the “castle of the Rockies,” has an indoor saltwater pool, a spa with waterfalls and mineral pools, and a year-round, 66-foot, outdoor pool.
Boutique Hotel Wachtelhof
It’s easy to hide away from the world at this impeccably appointed Austrian mountain lodge. Boutique Hotel Wachtelhof is tucked into the powdery slopes of the Austrian Alps and fuses Old-World accents (think antlers, timber beams, and roaring fires) with contemporary luxury. Tucked under blankets of snow, the 16th-century-farmer’s-lodge-turned-spa looks like a gingerbread house dripping with icing. The spa boasts three different saunas (Finnish, herbal, and infrared), as well as an outdoor pool lit by lanterns and lampposts under snow-capped pine trees.
This article originally appeared online on January 26, 2018; it was updated on January 2, 2019, to include current information.