When Dylan Bushnell, a 20-something software developer with a background in game design, was growing up in Los Angeles, he was surrounded by luxe hotel pools—most of them off-limits.

This was a drag. “Spending time at these pools is such a singular, lovely experience,” says Bushnell. “But there was no clear, easy way to buy a day pass at most hotels.” That’s when it struck him. What if he could convince hotels to let people who weren’t guests pay to use their pools?

Boom! Dip was born.

The free travel app specializes in hotel day passes, enabling non–hotel guests to buy limited access to swimming pools, hot tubs, cabanas, daybeds, spas, gyms, steam rooms, and private beaches, among other exclusive hotel amenities. From a budgeting standpoint, it’s kind of like taking afternoon tea in a fancy hotel—you can experience the high-end ambiance without staying overnight. Participating hotels, meanwhile, generate additional revenue on amenities they’re already offering. 

Original open uri20120910 31291 1wu3ny9?1383796104?ixlib=rails 0.3
21 Insanely Cool Hotel Pools
A hotel that boasts a pool always seems that much more enticing. Whether it's an infinity edge pool 57 stories above Singapore or your own private plunge pool off your room in St. Lucia, you won't want to forget your swimsuit.
Collected by Jen Murphy
  • 1 / 20
    Original open uri20120910 31291 1wu3ny9?1383796104?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
    Save Place
    Instead of the beaches, visit rooftop pools in Rio. If you are looking for a good pool to check out, head to the Marina Palace Hotel in Leblon. The ideal afternoon includes a hike in the Dois Irmaos Park, which is a pretty steep uphill climb but with plenty of stops along the way. There is a beautiful monument to remember the victims of the Air France flight 447 crash half way to the top. Post hike, return to the Marina Palace Hotel for cocktails on the roof - which you can enjoy even if you aren't a guest - swim in the infinity pool and love Rio for everything it offers.
  • 2 / 20
    Original open uri20130515 3190 1acx47m?1438911007?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Big Sur, California
    Save Place
    The oceanview cottages and cliff-edge infinity pools here are the stuff of dream honeymoons. At the Sierra Mar restaurant, chef John Cox recently debuted a Taste of Big Sur menu that celebrates the coast with dishes such as red abalone marinated in kelp. From $675. (831) 667-2200. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
    By Serena Renner, AFAR Contributor
    Kodiak Greenwood
  • 3 / 20
    Original open uri20121026 2693 u42vsm?1383798226?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Soufriere, Saint Lucia
    Save Place
    No disrespect to Virginia, but if there’s one place in the world that’s for lovers, it might just be St. Lucia. This thought first crossed my mind at Sugar Beach, a seaside plantation-turned-resort that’s nestled beneath the Pitons, St. Lucia’s pair of iconic rocky peaks. I was lying on a massage bed, indescribably content, while my therapist kneaded homemade coconut oil into my muscles. A few arm’s lengths away, my girlfriend was getting the same treatment. We’d hiked the larger Piton that morning, and now, for the second time in a day, we were virtually alone together, doing something we wouldn’t soon forget. Dana and I had been dating a few months at this point. But we had already started to worry about how difficult our respective work schedules made it to cross paths in frenetic New York City. On St. Lucia, an island with only one main road, we could travel together without distraction. Left to ourselves by our masseurs, we eased into the heated stone pool next to our thatch-hut treatment room. That evening found us in the water again, this time wearing masks and wet suits. We finned through the cove on the hotel’s property, our flashlights trained on scrambling lobsters and gasping eels. Afterward, we dined on mahimahi and heirloom tomato soup at the hotel’s Bayside restaurant. There was nothing between us and the sea but swaying palms. We grew closer in those four days than we had in the previous four months, because so many things that had been keeping us apart finally just evaporated. Rooms from $640. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
    By Darrell Hartman, AFAR Contributor
    Sugar Beach
  • 4 / 20
    Original open uri20140520 25245 19d43gc?1400619713?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Kalkan, Turkey
    Save Place
    Stylish, secluded Likya Gardens is a hideaway amid the cliffs of Kalkan, a humble old fishing town on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. Each of the seven suites has its own pool and a patio set on stilts, offering views of a crystal-blue bay and brightly colored fishing boats. Guests can sun on nearby beaches such as Patara or Kaputaş, or enjoy the privacy of the hotel’s beach club, where Moroccan-style cabanas are tricked out with minibars, laptops, and Wi-Fi. Personal butlers can deliver breakfast and book tables at the town’s rooftop restaurants; they’ll even arrange day trips to the Hidden Canyon, with its Indiana Jones–style swinging bridge. From $450. This appeared in the June/July 2014 issue.
    Elixir Holidays
  • 5 / 20
    Original open uri20131220 21297 1jjefpo?1387579744?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Save Place
    The Shoppes at MBS feature outposts of practically every major designer label from Armani to Versace. The Shoppes are also home to a number of celebrity chef restaurants. Here you'll find Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck's Cut, Mario Batali's Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza and, my personal favorite, Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne. Be sure to call ahead to book a table. When you're done, stretch your legs with a stroll down the Marina where you can check out the fountain show up close.
    By Arwen Joyce, AFAR Local Expert
    ThisNameFits/Flickr
  • 6 / 20
    Original open uri20120925 26984 rodr08?1438766266?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Venice, Italy
    Save Place
    In Venice, it's hard to get a moment alone with a loved one or even with the city herself. The crowds of tourists reaching over your shoulder to snap shaky photos of the aged Rialto can become a nuisance as you try to realize the historical importance and sheer magic of the lagoon city for yourself. Here are my Top 5 ways to escape from the crowds and see the subdued elegance of the city. 1) Museo Correr: It is unfathomable why more people do not visit this charming and historic museum conveniently situated in the Piazza San Marco, opposite San Marco Basilica. While the Palazzo Ducale is not to be missed, there are no long lineups here. Museo Correr is a great way to see historic Venice without having to elbow your way from room to room. 2) The Hilton Molino-Stucky: For views of the Venetian island take a quick Vaporetto ride to La Giudecca (Dorsoduro) where many Venetians and artists live. The hotel itself is a restored flour mill with a rooftop pool and bar. Enjoy an afternoon beer or prosecco and be sure to bring your camera for the 360° views. 3) Scuola Grande di San Rocco: A confraternity that housed the most influential Venetian Renaissance painters the interior is entirely painted with works by Tintoretto. 4) The Rialto After 7pm: As most restaurants open at 7-7:30 most tourists are scrambling for seats. Have the bridge to yourself and a few passersby. 5) Get Lost!: Put away your map, be adventurous and wander the city. You'll be sure to find locals.
    By Murissa Shalapata, AFAR Local Expert
  • 7 / 20
    Original open uri20130513 28264 1crk8g2?1383813218?ixlib=rails 0.3
    New York, New York
    Save Place

    Sporting a façade shinier than the top of the Chrysler Building, Hôtel Americano makes a striking statement. A multinational love child of Mexican architecture, Manhattan modernism and Japanese serenity, the boutique hotel manages to create a refreshingly natural feel. Located in Chelsea’s gallery district within feet of the High Line, it’s a favourite for the fashion set, who love to sun themselves by the rooftop pool, or be seen on the back terrace nibbling on the restaurant’s French-meets-Latin-American cuisine.

    No frumpy robes here. Kick off your clothes and try on Loden Dager’s soft, slightly distressed denim bathrobe, and a pair of felt wool slippers. Even the striped Imabari washcloths add to the bath appeal.
    In partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith
  • 8 / 20
    Original open uri20131212 31363 ewhcms?1386896196?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Sayulita, Mexico
    Save Place
    Up the hill from town stands Casa Dos Chicos a four-bedroom residence of two structures connected by a rooftop bridge. Upstairs, under a thatched roof, the outdoor kitchen, living room, and soaking pool offer endless panoramas. From $570. casadoschicos.com. This appeared in the January/February 2014 issue.
    By Meghan McEwen, AFAR Contributor
    Casa Dos Chicos
  • 9 / 20
    Original 8c0bfafd2489a8b116521d45598bd509?1383790035?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
    Save Place
    Antigua is chockablock full of beautiful and intimate posadas. We stayed at Posada del Angel. The staff is so friendly and willing to take care of your every need. The bathrooms are large and well done. The best part about our stay was breakfast on the rooftop terrace overlooking two volcanoes--Fuego y Agua. Definitely the highlight of our stay. Gotta love the lap pool as well and kept at 22 Celsius.
    By Joseph Diaz, AFAR Founder
  • 10 / 20
    Original open uri20140515 31175 uots11?1400171161?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Cape Town, South Africa
    Save Place
    “I send visitors to the Cape Royale," says resident Rashiq Fataar. "The hotel has a sophisticated old-world feel. Guests have access to a rooftop pool that overlooks the city.” 47 Main Rd., Green Point, 27/(0) 21-430-0500. This appeared in the June/July 2014 issue. Read more about Rashiq Fataar's Cape Town neighborhood
    Dook
  • 11 / 20
    Original open uri20120901 27284 1yvjin1?1383795728?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Munich, Germany
    Save Place
    Stop by Munich's most luxurious hotel and spend some time at their Blue Spa. Swim in the rooftop pool (the roof is open on nice days), sip a Hugo while relaxing in one of the lounge chairs, and enjoy the sauna. Remember to toss your prudishness aside and get naked like the Germans do when in the steam or dry saunas!
  • 12 / 20
    Original 9b6138497714b0cef45dc8fe56c9d691?1383790468?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Toronto, Canada
    Save Place
    The Thompson Toronto’s rooftop lounge and pool both offer a broad view of the skyline and Lake Ontario. The lobby welcomes with modern furnishings. The Counter, a 24-hour diner, serves poutine, the Canadian greasy-spoon favorite made of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. —Charlene Rooke From $180. 550 Wellington St. W., (416) 640-7778, thompsonhotels.com.
    By Afar Magazine, AFAR Staff
  • 13 / 20
    Original 8e43f5ae52ca01cc187abb58050281b3?1383790716?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Santiago, Chile
    Save Place
    The 196-room W Santiago, which opened in 2009, was designed to emphasize the surrounding landscape. That applies especially to the 21st-floor rooftop pool area, where guests can enjoy views of Santiago and the Andes while slurping oysters and sipping pisco sours served in champagne glasses. W Santiago. From $329. Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 56/(0) 2-770-0000. This appeared in the May/June 2012 issue.
    By Rocky Casale, AFAR Local Expert
  • 14 / 20
    Original soho house berlin lofts 13.jpg?1415754915?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Berlin, Germany
    Save Place
    Looming over one of central Berlin's most vibrant intersections, this restored Bauhaus building, with its distinctive 1920s curved facade, was transformed in 2010 into the Berlin outpost of the glamorous Soho House hotel and private members brand. The building has heaps of history, having started out as a Jewish-owned department store before being taken over by the Nazis and then occupied by the Communist regime (for archival purposes).
     
    Today it’s one of Mitte’s foremost havens of hip, offering quirkily decorated rooms that mix vintage with contemporary design tropes—think Marshall speakers and old-school record players, floral armchairs and art deco bathtubs. The lofts are even more astonishing, both for their capacious size and their industrial-chic aesthetic—some come with grand pianos and foosball tables. The hotel also has a rooftop pool and adjacent bar with views of Alexanderplatz, concept retail area, a private cinema and a library room—with a bar—that host occasional events open to the public, an in-house restaurant, and a Cowshed spa that’s a popular destination in its own right.
    By Paul Sullivan, AFAR Local Expert
  • 15 / 20
    Original open uri20140429 27428 1x12oe5?1398794714?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Save Place
    Sofitel So Hotel in the Silom area of Bangkok impressed me from the moment I entered the building. Not least because it was a sweltering 40ºC outside, but because the friendliness of the staff on the 9th floor lobby convinced me this would be a place I'd easily find comfort in. Then I walked up one more flight of stairs and I saw it: the 10th floor rooftop pool looking out over Lumpini Park. Stunning. The hotel hosts regular pool parties open to the public so even if you're not staying there, it's possible to enjoy a bit of luxury while looking out over Bangkok's impressive skyline.
    By Adam Groffman, AFAR Local Expert
  • 16 / 20
    Original open uri20130820 17199 q0ij0t?1383822583?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Orlando, Florida
    Save Place
    One of Orlando's swankiest hotels, the Grand Bohemian boasts more than just a place to lay your head at night. It's one of my favorite places to soak up the Florida sunshine all while enjoying views of the downtown skyline. Enjoy the lap pool (heated for year-round enjoyment) & whirlpool. Both will give you panoramic views of Downtown Orlando. I just wish I could sip on a cocktail—there's no bar and they have a sign posted that reads "no food or beverages". Bummer. Locals and non-locals can score great deals for spa days, pool access, and free valet parking. Be on the lookout!
  • 17 / 20
    Original 2375e2f61df1289b706b1c4842841510?1383790655?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Miami, Florida
    Save Place
    At the 162-room Viceroy Miami, maximalism rules. The hotel is set in a statement-making downtown skyscraper, and Florida’s longest infinity pool graces the two-acre rooftop.  A sumptuous Philippe Starck–designed spa is tricked out with marble soaking tubs, redwood-lined saunas, tranquil lounging nooks, and an enormous chartreuse Murano chandelier. —Meeghan Truelove From $345. 485 Brickell Ave., (305) 503-4400. This appeared in the November/December 2011 issue.
    By Afar Magazine, AFAR Staff
    Viceroy Miami. 
  • 18 / 20
    Original open uri20131122 8216 mqfptm?1389637623?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Paradise Valley, Arizona
    Save Place
    Confusion. I think that’s what some people feel when they first lay eyes on the Montelucia Resort & Spa. With its ornate entryways and floral squares, the resort looks more like a charming European village than an Arizona resort. But, you know what? It works. Montelucia is downright enchanting. And in case you find yourself slipping and forgetting just where you are, simply look the south for the best possible reminder – Scottsdale’s iconic Camelback Mountain. There’s plenty to keep you busy on property, including five dining spots, but the very best way to pass the time is at Joya Spa. Inspired by the Moroccan desert and Spain’s Andalusian region, Joya is 32,000 square feet of total relaxation. Lavish lounge areas, a rooftop pool and terrace, and a detoxifying hammam are all a part of the experience. The latter improves circulation and balance using time-tested rituals from Northern Africa.
    By Katarina Kovacevic, AFAR Local Expert
  • 19 / 20
    Original 578741b9583a54a7d8d542a2e9c2406b.jpg?1421897764?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Save Place
    Tucked away on a narrow street along the Ljubljanica River, the Vander Urbani Resort is a five-story, 16-room gem of hip comfort. Most rooms are compact, but decked out with just the right touches such as Moroso chairs and big wooden desks. Downstairs guests will find a restaurant and cafe. The killer buffet breakfast is included in the rate and the spread includes Slovenian dishes such as polenta, grains and herb omelets. The central location in Old Town is hard to beat, but my favorite feature was the rooftop with its infinity pool that overlooks the river below and castle above. Drinks and snacks can be served at the handful of rooftop tables and if you ask, the staff can arrange morning yoga too.
  • 20 / 20
    Original bbd962e23f5f371949d300a93edc7bc6?1438663944?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Bariloche, Argentina
    Save Place
    The Bariloche region of Argentina is great for skiing in the winter, and hiking, biking and boating in the summer. A great place to stay in any season is the Llao Llao Hotel, located 25 min or so out of the main town, on the shore of the lake. Hard to beat the views, and they have a great brunch too.
    By Derek Butcher, AFAR Staff

Dip’s first partner was the Hotel Shangri-La  in Santa Monica, where rooms start at $319 per night. The heated outdoor pool—with its multi-level teakwood decks and striped chaise lounge chairs—is the crown jewel. Before Dip existed, a budget traveler or wily local hoping to use such schmancy facilities would have to pose as a hotel guest (which we at AFAR don’t condone). With Dip, they can simply use the platform to buy a pool pass ($25 on weekdays, $45 on weekends)—and not risk the humiliation of being booted out by security.

Although 100,000 users have downloaded the Dip app to date, the startup life is not without its hiccups. Bushnell’s biggest challenge has been convincing legacy hotel brands to open their facilities to outsiders. “The hospitality industry is old and full of inertia, so convincing hoteliers to experiment with new revenue streams is no small task,” Bushnell says.

Since its July 2016 launch, Dip has recruited 30 hotel partners. It continues to broaden its L.A. portfolio and add new properties in Washington, D.C., and New York. Roll-out plans for 2017 include Miami and Las Vegas and a membership model is in the works. Bushnell is particularly excited about broadening access to opulent hotel spas that might otherwise sit empty, particularly in low season. The way he sees it, it’s a win-win for both hotels and the people who used to sneak into them.

>>Next: JetBlue Announces Major Wi-Fi Upgrade