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Deep History

7 Historic Hotel Pools
  • The Hollywood Roosevelt

    The Hollywood Roosevelt

  • Masseria Torre Maizza

    Masseria Torre Maizza

  • Hotel 1898

    Hotel 1898

  • The Berkeley

    The Berkeley

  • Hotel Le Bristol

    Hotel Le Bristol

  • Audubon Cottages

    Audubon Cottages

  • Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas

    Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas

June, 2013

Not to knock the underwater sound systems and aquatic light shows of the pool-partying world, but for a little atmosphere, sometimes all that’s needed is a good backstory. These classic hotel pools prove that a history lesson need not be dry.

1.

The Hollywood Roosevelt
Los Angeles — The diving board where Marilyn Monroe posed for her first photo shoot may be long gone, but there’s still a lingering air of old Hollywood glamour hanging around the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt. Today the poolside Tropicana Bar remains a local staple, and the iconic underwater mural by David Hockney should never go out of style.
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2.

Masseria Torre Maizza
Puglia, Italy — Flanked by an antique colonnade, the pool at Masseria Torre Maizza looks like a relic of ancient Rome given a luxury-hotel makeover. It’s not the first thing you’d expect to find at a traditional Puglian farmhouse, but then neither are 600-thread sheets and spa-quality bathrooms.
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3.

Hotel 1898
Barcelona — You’d hardly know it now, but the space that houses the heated pool at Hotel 1898 used to hold lumps of coal, then piles of cash, in its days as a storage cellar for the Philippines Tobacco Company. Today it serves as the hotel’s pristine subterranean spa, a cool, tranquil alternative to their sunny second pool up on the roof.
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4.

The Berkeley
London — A fixture on the local hotel scene since 1897, the Berkeley moved to its current location in Knightsbridge in 1972. In the process, it acquired a rooftop pool, a fleetingly rare hotel feature in London. Though of newer vintage than the hotel itself, the pool exudes an easy, old-world charm, helped along by timeless views of Hyde Park.
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5.

Hotel Le Bristol
Paris — Modeled after the bow of a ship, with a matching trompe l’oeil boating scene painted onto the walls, the solid teak pool at Paris’s historic Hotel Le Bristol almost makes you feel like you’re sailing along the Riviera, circa 1925 — or, given the views of Montmartre, more likely cruising down the Seine.
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6.

Audubon Cottages
New Orleans — The courtyard-pool that serves as the centerpiece of this genteel New Orleans oasis is said to be the oldest in the French Quarter, and the hotel’s history doesn’t stop there. The Audubon Cottages take their name from John James Audubon, who lived there while writing his seminal Birds of America series, and two of the cottages are said to be haunted by ghosts.
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7.

Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas
Shimla, India — At Wildflower Hall, you can gaze at the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas just as Lord Kitchener himself did back when this was his residence as India’s British Commander-in-Chief. Lord Kitchener didn’t get to enjoy the heated pool that now occupies one of the building’s most scenic vantage points, but we think he’d approve of its old-school opulence, with mosaic-tiled floors underfoot and elaborate chandeliers dangling above.
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