During the hottest days of summer, few of us will say no to borrowing someone else’s swimming pool, even if only for a couple hours. Who needs crowded beaches or public pools when you can have a private swimming spot all to yourself?
Thanks to an Airbnb-like platform for pool sharing called Swimply, you can rent access to someone’s backyard pool by the hour. Described as the “first ever online marketplace for pool sharing,” Swimply is the brainchild of Bunim Laskin, an entrepreneur from New Jersey. Laskin created the app, which launched with a pilot program in summer 2018, to “democratize the pool experience so that everyone can enjoy an instant escape from reality.”
Homeowners can sign up to list their underused pools to make some extra cash at Swimply (all hosts are provided a $1 million insurance policy), while non–pool owners can browse through the 25,000+ listings on the online platform in all 50 states. There are also pools available to rent across Canada and Australia.
How Swimply works
Each owner sets an hourly rate based on details such as pool size, timing, and amenities like bathroom, barbecue, and pool toy access—but the average rental is $45 per hour. For example, you can rent a spacious, palm-lined pool (complete with playground) for $85 an hour on your next family getaway in Miami. Or if you find yourself at your parent’s pool-less house back in Los Angeles over the holidays, you can channel your inner celebrity and invite everyone over to an 1960s-themed pool for $100 an hour.
It is also up to the owners to decide whether or not they will be home while you use their pool, so the amount of privacy differs with each rental.
As for sanitation, Swimply’s COVID safety protocols require hosts to allow 30 minutes between bookings to ensure time to clean and sanitize. Additionally, each pool is inspected by a local pool service company for hygiene and safety before it can be listed on the app.
Swimply review: What it was like to rent a pool
It sounds nice in theory, but what is it actually like to rent a pool through Swimply? On a recent trip to Napa, AFAR’s senior SEO manager, Jessie Beck, tested the platform and rented a private pool for her group of 10. “Overall, the app experience was seamless and easy to use,” she says. “We originally booked the pool for five people, but when more friends wanted to join, we had no problem updating the reservation in the app to include (and pay for) the additional guests. Our pool was $60 per hour for five people, but an additional $10 per person, per hour after that. At roughly $33 per person, it was comparable to (even cheaper than) a day pass at a hotel pool in the area.
“The host was responsive in our communications leading up, especially when we had a question about whether or not our friend’s 9-month-old baby could come. He was allowed on the property, but not in the pool, which (for liability and sanitary reasons) isn’t totally uncommon. If you’re bringing kids who want to swim, be sure to check whether or not it’s kid friendly under the pool description before you book. (Although you can refine your pool search to only include pools that are ADA-accessible or pet-friendly, kid-friendly is not a filter at this time.)
“Like Airbnb, the experience will vary by property. We lucked out and had a welcoming host, clean pool, and private bathroom to use during our time there—even though our host and her kids were home, we very much felt like we had the place to ourselves. However, I can see how it might be awkward if you felt like you were in your host’s way or had to waddle through their kitchen in a wet swimsuit to use the restroom.”
“Overall, yes, I would use the platform again and recommend it to friends. But, just like Airbnb, check the listing and read reviews to make sure it meets your group’s requirements and read the reviews before you book.”
This article was originally published in 2019; it was updated on August 8, 2022, with additional information.