Courtesy of Riffelalp Resort
Photo by Iriskarightnow / Shutterstock
Beat the chill in your favorite wintry destination by warming up in a heated outdoor pool.
Winter weather isn’t just for skiing, sledding, snowboarding—it can also be for taking long, relaxing dips in steaming hot pools surrounded by wondrous snow-covered scenery.
When the temperature plummets during the winter months, don’t pack away your bathing suit and wait for summer’s return. Instead, dive into the therapeutic waters of a heated outdoor pool. Trust us, enjoying a warm soak while you’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains has its own unique charm. Whether it’s to soothe your achy muscles after a long day on the slopes or just to find your chill while taking in some much-needed warmth, head to one of these majestic properties around the world that prove outdoor swimming pools aren’t only for summer.
At over 7,000 feet above sea level, this is Europe’s highest outdoor pool. (With a temperature of a toasty 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it may just be its hottest too.) The ice-blue pool is the highlight of Spa 2222m at Riffelalp Resort, which also takes the crown as the highest spa in Europe. The open-air pool features a direct view of the majestic Matterhorn, which feels close enough to smack with a snowball. The mountain resort’s wellness center also includes an indoor pool heated to 86 degrees as well as a steam cave, Finnish sauna, and grotto of saline baths and waterfalls. It’s not easy to reach—getting to the Swiss resort takes an alpine railway and a snowmobile—but the panoramic views you’ll enjoy of the Pennine Alps from this heated outdoor pool are worth the uphill journey.
Located in Aspen, Colorado, the Little Nell ski resort is the only five-star hotel that offers ski-in/ski-out access to Aspen Mountain. The luxury hotel has an impressive outdoor swimming pool, but it’s at the Residences at the Little Nell—Airbnb-like condos on the property that are available for visitors to own or rent—where visitors will find a truly unrivaled rooftop pool and hot tub. With 360-degree views of the surrounding Rockies, guests can enjoy a glamorous soak in the heated outdoor pool while snow flurries twirl overhead. Food and drinks are served poolside from June to October, weather permitting. In the spring and summer, the rooftop’s “water garden” landscaping feeds bees and butterflies.
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This eco-friendly boutique hotel in Iceland is located near the volcanic Mount Hengill, about 30 minutes by car from Reykjavík along the popular “Golden Circle” route. The Ion Adventure Hotel’s stark aesthetic takes cues from its surrounding landscape and emphasizes sustainable construction, which is evidenced by the use of locally salvaged driftwood throughout the hotel. It’s nature-inspired, minimalist design carries over to the Lava Spa, which features an open-air soaking pool heated using geothermal energy from the nearby volcanoes. The hotel also sits close to the UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, offering access to plenty of hiking trails that lead to natural hot springs. While you’re soaking up natural warmth from the Earth, keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Lights dancing across the sky.
Located near the border with Argentina, Ski Portillo is a dream mountain resort in the heart of the Chilean Andes. The secluded, mountainous terrain attracts avid skiers and snowboarders from around the world every year. (Portillo is known for its sunny weather during ski season, which—because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere—runs from June through October.) Still, you don’t necessarily need to venture to the slopes to marvel over the area. The Portillo lodge—the oldest ski resort in South America—has a marvelous heated outdoor pool deck. You’ll soak in warmth while overlooking the crystal-colored waters of Laguna del Inca, an alpine lake that’s associated with a significant Incan legend and love story.
This chalet hotel in the fairy-tale village of Chamonix is home to a heated outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi with awe-inspiring vistas of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. With some of the best (and most challenging) skiing in the Alps, winter-sports enthusiasts will appreciate ending each day in the soothing hot tub at the Clarins spa within the lavish Hôtel Mont-Blanc.
Set on the shore of a spectacular fjord in Norway with views over the Folgefonna glacier, the family-run (and family-friendly) Hotel Ullensvang offers jaw-dropping scenery during every season. But there’s something special about Scandinavia during the winter months—especially when you’re floating in the hotel’s 288-foot, wrap-around stream that connects an indoor pool to an outdoor infinity pool and is heated to a balmy mid-80 degrees.
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Not technically a pool, the Japanese onsen is a deeply traditional communal hot springs bath. (However, unlike in most communal pools, onsen etiquette requires soaking silently and sans swimsuit!) About 100 miles northwest of Kyoto in the scenic forests around Mount Kuruhi, Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei is a peaceful, hot-springs ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that has both indoor and outdoor onsens. There are also some areas for private dips, should you be feeling shy.
The exclusive Amangani resort has a refined Wild West vibe inspired by the majesty of nearby national parks Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Finished in quartzite and steaming with heat, the outdoor pool and whirlpool—which are part of the property’s Jackson Hole Spa—are designed for relaxation after a long day of skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, or snowmobiling. The 115-foot long infinity pool is also a glorious place to marvel over astounding views of the Teton and Snake River mountain ranges.
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 alpine retreat blanketed in wintry white. After taking a dip in El Lodge’s outdoor pool and hot tub, which is elegantly fashioned from Finnish timber, enjoy après-swim at the resort’s outdoor bar, the Sun Deck, where you can dry off in front of free-standing firepits with faux-fur blankets and hot cocktails.
Snuggled in an evergreen forest of the Canadian Rockies, the Fairmont Banff Springs was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888. Today, the massive luxury hotel still stands as a grand mountain getaway in the highly visited national park. Nicknamed the “castle of the Rockies,” the historic resort features an indoor saltwater pool, a spa with waterfalls and mineral pools, and a 66-foot-deep outdoor pool that guests can enjoy year-round, sun or snow.
It’s easy to hide away at the impeccably appointed Boutique Hotel Wachtelhof, a cozy, upscale mountain lodge tucked into the powdery slopes of the Austrian Alps. The exceptional European ski resort features a 17th-century farmer’s lodge-turned-spa, which looks like a gingerbread house dripping with icing. The Heurigen Spa fuses Old-World accents (antlers, timber beams, and roaring fires) with contemporary luxury, boasting three different saunas—Finnish, herbal, and infrared—as well as an outdoor pool lit by lanterns under snow-capped pine trees.
This article originally appeared online on January 26, 2018; it was updated on December 3, 2019, to include current information.
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