As a keen swimmer, my top priority when arriving at any destination is finding out where to take a dip.
And although I’ve waded into waterfalls in Costa Rica and taken a running jump into the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, as winter drags on I look out for something less wild and more relaxing.
These spectacular indoor pools fit the bill perfectly. From those with breathtaking views to spas dedicated to soothing aching joints after a long day on the mountain slopes, here is my pick of the world’s best places for an indoor swim.
With its Art Deco and Art Nouveau flourishes, vaulted ceiling and winding staircases, Amalienbad, pictured, is one of the most spectacular public pools in the world
With its Art Deco and Art Nouveau flourishes, vaulted ceiling and winding staircases, Amalienbad is one of the most spectacular public pools in the world. Opened in 1926 at the height of the so-called Red Vienna urban renewal programme, the 110ft pool was part of a movement to offer workers better living and leisure conditions.
Today, it’s a fabulous (and warm) alternative to the winter sports so adored in these parts. Be sure to linger in the sauna and take a look at its impressive wall mosaics.
Jump in for: Europe’s finest indoor pool. Pool and sauna access costs £13 (wien.info).
Ultima Gstaad, Switzerland
A slow and steady swim is the ideal way to unwind after hurtling down the pistes all day. And Ultima Gstaad, in the upmarket Swiss resort, has the best pool for the job. The opulent decor, all black marble and perforated bronze, is more akin to that on board a luxury super-yacht.
There is a juice bar for the health-conscious but the hotel restaurant’s exceptional wine list means you’ll want to opt for a more traditional approach to apres-ski.
Jump in for: An ultra-luxury dip. A junior suite costs from £679 a night (ultimagstaad.com/en).
Tierra Patagonia, Chile
Soaking up the views: The pool at Tierra Patagonia looks out towards the snow-capped Torres del Paine mountains
They say its pool offers ‘all the wonder of the outdoors, from the beauty and comfort of indoors’. And they’re not wrong. This is one of the best places to swim on the planet.
The pool overlooks Lake Sarmiento, with the jagged peaks of Torres del Paine forming an unbeatable backdrop.
Wildlife, including hares and the llama-like guanacos, can be seen scurrying outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. Swim to the far end and drink in the view as the sun sets. There is no better way to ease the aches of a long day in this magical corner of South America.
Jump in for: The best views in Latin America. Three nights’ all-inclusive in a double room costs from £1,949pp (tierrahotels.com/patagonia/spa-wellness).
The pool inside Parister, the French capital’s hippest hotel. It is a single-lane, 18 metre pool with a surrounding hangout
The French capital’s hippest hotel is home to its coolest pool. The single-lane, 18-metre pool and its surrounding hangout is designed to resemble a beach, with all the relaxing trappings you’d expect to find on the sand.
Sunlight beams down through the glass ceiling, and there is a hammam if you want to take relaxation to the next level.
The cocktail bar is the perfect spot to head to after a dip, before exploring the 9th Arrondissement’s restaurant scene.
Jump in for: Beach vibes and refined Parisian elegance. Rooms cost from £183 a night (paristerhotel.com).
Palace Hotel, Tokyo
With sweeping views of the city’s skyscrapers and the neighbouring Imperial Palace gardens, the Palace Hotel pool is the ultimate place to ease your jet-lag or to unwind after a frantic day exploring the Japanese capital. On clear days, you can even see Mount Fuji.
With the Tokyo Olympics just a few months away, the hotel is offering guests a two-hour training session with top Japanese swimmer Hanae Ito. Her expertise will mean you’ll finish your trip doing tumble-turns like a pro.
Jump in for: A five-star swim like no other. A two-night package, based on two people sharing and including a swimming lesson and spa treatment, costs from £1,375 (palacehoteltokyo.com).
Grantley Hall, Yorkshire
Restorative: Grantley Hall is a Grade II listed mansion near Harrogate in Yorkshire. The pool here, pictured, is 18 metres long
A restored Grade II listed mansion near Harrogate, Grantley Hall has much to recommend it for anyone in search of a restorative weekend break.
And while the beautiful, English Heritage-protected Japanese garden and Palladian home are alluring, it’s the pool that really makes this stunning property.
At 18 metres, it’s long enough for a proper workout. And a visit to the in-house Three Graces spa is an ideal way of keeping that feeling of relaxation going after a dip.
Jump in for: English country-house splendour. Rooms cost from £300 a night (grantleyhall.co.uk).
Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland
‘The most opulent in the world’: The pool at Ashford Castle in Ireland features seashell chandeliers and intricate mosaics
Set on the banks of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle is home to perhaps the most opulent hotel pool in the world. Decorated with seashell chandeliers, the pool is also home to a Tree of Life mosaic designed by South African artist Jane du Rand.
The mural includes an oak tree and woodland creatures, central to Celtic mythology.
Guests can choose to sit back and look out across the lough through the high windows, or use the resistance jets to power out front crawl in the most tranquil of settings.
Jump in for: An immersive Celtic experience. B&B rooms cost from £271 a night (ashfordcastle.com)
Four Seasons Philadelphia at Comcast Centre, USA
High rise: The Four Seasons Philadelphia infinity pool on the 57th floor of the building. The pool has endless views across the city
Luxury brand Four Seasons opened this Philadelphia outpost last August. Its standout feature is unquestionably the 57th-floor infinity pool.
With endless views across the historic city, plus an adjacent area for post-swim relaxation, it’s the place to be after spending a day strolling through the Philadelphia Museum of Art and exploring Independence Hall.
Jump in for: Be sure to book a treatment at the adjacent spa. Rooms cost from £449 a night (fourseasons.com/philadelphia).
Manon Les Suites, Copenhagen, Denmark
A spectacular ‘Jungle Pool’ sits at the heart of Manon Les Suites, the glass ceiling giving it the air of a Nordic tropical paradise
In a city blessed with some of the best year-round outdoor swimming spots in the world, Manon Les Suites is a tempting alternative for those who prefer to swim without shivering afterwards.
A spectacular ‘Jungle Pool’ sits at the heart of this hotel, the glass ceiling giving it the air of a Nordic tropical paradise.
Swimmers will soon forget the damp Danish weather thanks to handy cabanas and excellent cocktails. After dark, the poolside turns into an area for live music and DJs.
Jump in for: A slice of the tropics in the cold, cold north. Rooms cost from £78 a night (guldsmedenhotels.com).
Novotel Thalassa Le Touquet, France
The indoor seawater pool at Novotel Thalassa Le Touquet ensures you’ll emerge from a dip with that salty glow that only the ocean affords
Fancy a sea swim without braving the elements? This gem in northern France, set on seven miles of white-sand beach just a short drive from Calais, is unbeatable.
The indoor seawater pool ensures you’ll emerge from a dip with that salty glow that only the ocean affords, while the floor-to-ceiling windows offer ever-changing views out across the Channel.
Take a leisurely swim during a winter storm and watch the wind whip over the waves with no fear that you’ll be swept away.
Jump in for: An indoor sea swim. Rooms cost from £141 a night on a half-board basis (all.accor.com).
Douro41 Hotel and Spa, Portugal
Set between the beautiful city of Porto and the Douro Valley wine region, Douro41’s riverside location makes it the ultimate spot for a weekend of pampering and relaxation.
The pool’s high windows afford swimmers glorious vistas across the water and surrounding hills as they complete a few quiet laps or simply float in the shallow end. A post-dip massage is a must.
Jump in for: Riverside views in one of Portugal’s finest regions. Rooms cost from £110 a night (douro41.com).
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
The pool at Fairmont Banff Springs is designed for ploughing out laps and is a brilliant place to ease aching joints after a day on the slopes
Known as the ‘Castles in the Rockies’, this gorgeous hotel dates back 130 years, and has access to some of the finest nature in Canada.
The skiing in this area is unparalleled, while Banff has excellent galleries and museums if the freezing temperatures get too much.
It’s the pool, though, that sets the hotel apart – a luxury spot with arched ceilings designed for ploughing out laps and a brilliant place to ease aching joints after a day on the slopes.
Jump in for: A peaceful paddle after skiing. Rooms cost from £268 a night (fairmont.com/banff-springs).