Watering holes: the 9 best pools in Miami to dip your toes into

With its year-round sunshine and bone-warming heat, you have to wonder why anyone in Miami would ever spend anytime indoors. For the hotels in town, this observation explains the proliferation of outdoor swimming pools. So much so that, despite the fact that most of the bold-faced named brands jostle for prime beachfront space along Collins Avenue, at least one on-site pool is de rigueur and, as the piscines featured here demonstrate, the larger the better. 

Pool with loungers & day beds overlooking the sea
(Image credit: TBC)

1 Hotel South Beach

With 600 feet of beachfront stretching along its length, it’s only natural that the 426-room 1 Hotel South Beach takes every opportunity to lure its guests out towards the water. On offer are four outdoor swimming pools, several of which are strategically aligned for front-row panoramas of the setting sun. Ruggedly built timber framed daybeds and peek-a-boo cabanas fan out under towering palm trees, whilst more retiring types may prefer to retreat to the relative privacy of South Beach’s only rooftop pool and lounge.

2341 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; Tel: 1.305 604 1000; www.1hotels.com/south-beach 

3 pools separated by palm trees

(Image credit: TBC)

The Setai

Grandeur suffuses the Jean Michel Gathy and Jaya Ibrahim-designed Setai, whether the looming bulk of its main tower block which houses the 139 rooms and suites, or the serenity of the trio of infinity pools. The latter, carved out of recycled glass, stretch out along the hotel’s central axis almost like a triumphal march, flanked on both ends by slender palm trees. Their east-west orientation yield year-round sunrise and sunset views, but the greatest achievement, if not spectacular indulgence, is that each pool is set to a different temperature – 75, 85 and 95 degrees, a thoughtful touch that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘something for everyone’. 

2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; Tel: 1.305 520 6000; www.thesetaihotel.com

Long pool with astroturf surrounding

(Image credit: TBC)

W Miami

The W brand has always traded in playful superlatives, but the claim by its Brickell outpost of having Florida’s highest rooftop pool is a literal boast; though, in keeping with the brand’s preference for euphemisms, its purpose is artfully obscured by its name: WET Deck. From this height, the sunrise and sunset views are, of course, spectacular, made even more inviting by delicious frose offerings available for guests. Alternatively, guests suffering a little from vertigo may prefer to visit sister hotel W South Beach, where two ground-floor beachside pools – one warmed to 85 degrees and the other at 91 - await.

485 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL, 33131; Tel: 1.305 503 4400; 

Rooftop pool with white skyscrapers surrounding

(Image credit: TBC)

The Gale

Built in 1941 originally as two hotels, The Gale gently telegraphs its period mood with timber floors, oak panels and marble window frames. The quiet art deco touches extend to the outdoor infinity lap pool, its blue tiles quietly offset by a raised lip of black marble, black lined steps and a timber deck that looks out through a gap between neighbouring hotels to the sea. And if the siren call of the beach should prove too irresistible, exclusive access to the Shelborne Beach Club on 18th Street, next to the life guard station, checks all the boxes for a productive day out in the sun.

1690 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; Tel: 1.305 673 0199; www.galehotel.com

Pool surrounded by palm trees & day beds

(Image credit: TBC)

The Raleigh

Of all the hotels stretched out along Collins Avenue, The Raleigh easily trumps the rest for its grand art deco design and the sheer blue-chip calibre of its guests. Despite several renovations down the decades, Laurence Murray Dixon’s original design remains a charming throwback. The swimming pool, especially, is a landmark – the lines of its curlicued symmetry, so memorably graced by Esther Williams for whom, apparently, it was designed, are still anchored by the original cylindrical pool-house and the remarkable nub of its diving platform.

1775 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; Tel: 1.305 534 6300; www.raleighhotel.com 

Long pool with white buildings & palm trees surrounding

(Image credit: TBC)

Delano South Beach

Has it really been 23 years since Philippe Starck unveiled his fantastical recreation of architect Robert Swartburg’s 1947 Delano? Amidst the theatricality of the interiors, the Beach Club, accessed by a garden trail, has stood the test of time remarkably well. The regimental ranks of daybeds, manicured trees and swaying palms are nicely foiled by the much sought-after white-tented cabanas, which offer spa treatments and, for TV addicts, wall-mounted screens. Regulars swear by the pool-side menu of barbecued chicken wings, and tuna tartare with citrus wasabi ponzu.

1685 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; Tel: 1.305 672 2000; www.morganshotelgroup.com

Group of small pools with orange furniture surrounding

(Image credit: TBC)

East Miami

The Swire group may have set its first North American outpost in the thick of downtown Miami’s Brickell neighbourhood, but that doesn’t mean the water is ever too far away – most of the 352 rooms feature balconies looking out over the city’s skyline and Biscayne Bay. Furnished with basket-woven, kidney-shaped lounges, weathered and grey stone, the roof-top pool deck is a particular set-piece. The 20,000 sq ft space, partially sheltered by a sinuous glass and steel canopy, comes with lap pool, spa pool, cold plunge and hot tub.

788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, FL 33131; Tel: 1.305 712 7000, www.east-miami.com

Large pool next to sea

(Image credit: TBC)

The Standard

Whilst the big-hitters stick close to the Collins Avenue stretch, The Standard stays true to its trademark DNA of non-conformism with a location on the other side of town on Belle Isle. The setting of this 100-room cocoon imparts an unusual sense of remoteness, a feature seen to best effect in the sprawling sweep of its pool area, here refashioned as a lido, except this version comes equipped with a lavish side-serving of a massive Turkish hammam, waterfall hot tub, Finnish sauna, cold plunge, mud lounge and aroma steam room. The actual pool, meanwhile, is a vast expanse of blue that leads directly onto the waterfront and jetty.

40 Island Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; Tel: 1.305 673 1717; www.standardhotels.com

Pool in hotel garden

(Image credit: TBC)

The Miami Beach Edition

The intersection of Ian Schrager’s ambitions and Yabu Pushelberg’s imagination has always produced ground-breaking projects. Case in point is the duo’s collaboration on the 294-room Miami Beach Edition (formerly Melvin Grossman’s 1955 Seville Hotel), a sprawling pleasure dome spiked with fantasy and grown-up humour. The original swimming pool is still here, fully restored with its period diving board, alongside a concrete lap-pool lined with teak lounges, cabanas stocked with mini-fridges and TV sets, and communal picnic tables – the tableau enveloped in Madison Cox’s lush landscaping of screw pines, green island ficus and sea grapes. 

2901 Collins Avenue, Miami, FL 33131; Tel: 1.786 257 4500; www.editionhotels.com

Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.