The most famous pool in Austin isn't at a hotel. It’s Barton Springs Pool— fed from underground springs—in Central Austin’s Zilker Park. Maybe the city’s hotels were inspired by Austin’s iconic natural oasis to create their own memorable pools. After all, you just can't have too many cool refuges during our hot Texas summers, when the average high is 95 degrees, and the record is 112. Warmer weather can start early in the spring and stretch far into the autumn, too, making Austin's pool season a long one most years. So it's a good thing you have lots of choices on how to take the plunge here. You can choose among hip and stylish downtown hotel pools, or breathtaking pools that are removed from all the city's bustle, or pools that have lots of room for the whole family to make a splash. Here are my five favorites for overnight stays and even day passes:
W Hotel Austin
The fourth-floor pool is just one of the amenities that draws guests to this hip, downtown hotel. But non-guests can experience it, too: Day passes are available seasonally, and clients of the W's Away Spa also get access. The modern hotel features 251 rooms, each with picture-perfect views of the skyline. Escape your room's Sonoro sound system for company in the Living Room bar downstairs, where every weekend a DJ sets up in the Records Room and takes use of the space's 8,000 vinyl records.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa
About 25 miles from downtown Austin, the family-friendly Hyatt resort is known for its Crooked River pool area. It features, among other things, a kid-magnet water slide and a crowd-pleasing, 1,000-foot lazy river. When you need a break, have drinks and snacks served at your poolside lounge chair.
You can have all kinds of experiences at this Hill Country resort, from learning to salsa dance to going horseback riding, but when you're ready to relax, grab a spot to lounge around the saline infinity pool. If you're not staying at Travaasa, you can still enjoy the pool if you book a day package.
Hotel Saint Cecilia
Rock ’n’ roll is one of the inspirations behind the décor and mood at this small boutique hotel, and you may feel like a rock star yourself at the heated, 24-hour lap pool. You can indulge in poolside dining or even settle inside a poolside bungalow. Opened in 2008, every room has a turntable, and you can borrow albums from the lobby. It also boasts a certain celebrity cachet; recent guests include Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, and the Foo Fighters—the latter of whom recorded their latest EP on site while they were in town for Austin City Limits.
Four Seasons Austin
This downtown oasis has hosted Austin's most notable visitors, from the Dalai Lama to Sally Field. Like most of the properties in the Four Seasons family, it boasts a heated, saltwater pool and a reputation for great poolside pampering. Taking a cue from its locale, however, public spaces are distinctly Southwestern (hide-covered sofas, native limestone, and leather chairs). Perhaps the hotel’s best asset is its prime location: unobstructed views over Lady Bird Lake, and close proximity to downtown businesses and nightlife.