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10 Great Hotel Pools for Snow-Day Staycations

Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago

Let’s face it: Winter can be a real drag. When temperatures head south of 32 degrees and dip into the single digits, when the snow piles up week after week, when the US is stuck in winter’s icy grip, it’s hard not to dream of running off to Tahiti or the Caribbean. This time of year is particularly bad for city dwellers, who have to trudge through slushy piles of dirty snow on a daily basis. But there’s hope for urban residents yet, thanks to high-end hotel pools that require nothing more than a day pass and a little imagination to live out warm-weather fantasies. With warm water and tons of natural light, here are 10 great city hotel pools for escaping the winter chill.

By Christine Ciarmello

Courtesy of Le Parker Meridien New York
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Le Parker Meridien New York

WHERE: New York City

Welcome to Caribbean water temps right in the heart of Fifth Avenue. On the 42nd floor of Le Parker Meridien is the glass-enclosed rooftop pool, where you can swim alongside views of Central Park and the skyline. A $100 day pass gives access to the pool as well as its whimsically designed 20,000-square-foot health and fitness center located underground. This veritable playground for adults contains a gym, a restaurant, a manicure bar and the highlight: the hidden Moonshine spa, decked out with old barnwood, faux-fur throws, and a house pet–a canary in a cage.

Insider Tip: It’s easy to pick a treatment at Moonshine spa. You have two choices: facial or massage. Every treatment is then tailored by your therapist for you.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, New York
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Mandarin Oriental

WHERE: New York City

One of the city’s best rooftop shorelines is at the well-heeled Mandarin Oriental. Views from the 36th, where the sunlit indoor 75-foot pool is, are of the Hudson River. Despite the ‘I heart NYC’ panoramic, there’s a peace and tranquility in the air that is more Bali-esque. To access these classy Midtown waters, you must buy a full-day at the spa. The weekday $1,320 price tag includes a variety of head-to-toe treatments, a bento box lunch, and various heat experiences. It also includes access to the fitness center and Oriental Tea Lounge.

Insider Tip: Try the Experience shower. Different colors and pressures simulate a tropical rain.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide

Courtesy of InterContinental Boston
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InterContinental Boston

WHERE: Boston

This may be the best deal on the freezing-cold Eastern seaboard: a pool pass for $25 at the InterContinental Boston. The 45-foot lap pool is on the second floor of this waterfront hotel, which happens to be in the exact location where the tea party that set off the American Revolution happened. Contemplate independence as you relax on a cush aqua-colored lounger that is surrounded by giant windows.

Insider Tip: What’s a tropical vacation without rum? The hotel’s RumBa (the Bostonian pronunciation of rum bar) plays Caribbean music and will mix a daiquiri, rum punch, or pour tastes of rums from Anguilla, Nicaragua, and Jamaica, among others.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Boston Guide

Courtesy of the The Langham, Boston
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The Langham Boston

WHERE: Boston

Not to be outdone by neighbor InterContinental Boston, The Langham Boston has also priced a day at the pool for $25. Apparently, Boston likes offering its residents relaxing nooks but not many pools can claim to be in a 1922 Federal Reserve Bank Building. The chic pool mimics a pavilion, with lattice woodwork decorating the windows and walls, and a glass-paneled roof gives views of the buildings of Boston. The hotel’s Chuan Body+Soul Spa is extraordinary.

Insider Tip: Stop in at the hotel’s second-floor Governor’s Room, where there is an impressive display of New England antique maps.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Boston Guide

Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago
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The Peninsula Chicago

WHERE: Chicago

Presto. The freezing temperatures of Lake Michigan are a bad dream. At least from the 20th-floor whirlpool at The Peninsula Chicago. From here, stories above the Magnificent Mile, you’ll still see the lake; you just won’t feel the lake. Besides the whirlpool, the two-level Peninsula Spa has a 75-foot pool, steam room, and gym with fitness classes, including yoga. A two-hour spa treatment, or a one-hour treatment and one-hour personal training session (starting at $255) buys you full-day access to your faux-beach. Room service can be delivered poolside.

Insider Tip: Raise the bar on your swimming skills. The Peninsula Spa offers swimming classes for all levels.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide

Courtesy of The Langham, Chicago
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The Langham Chicago

WHERE: Chicago

The spa and wellness facilities at the The Langham Chicago conceivably could cover the square footage of a small tropical island: 22,000. The feature of interest here, though, is the 67-foot shimmering blue pool on the fourth floor of the Mies van der Rohe-designed skyscraper. Its deck is spare and relaxing, with a heated Hydro-Vitality Jacuzzi. Spa customers get access to the pool (starting at $55) at this recently opened hotel; all treatments kick-off with a transporting bathing ritual that ends in a chamomile-scented Oriental steam room. It’s like winter is happening somewhere else.

Insider Tip: The Chuan Spa specializes in Chinese treatments. Take advantage of one of those rather than a Swedish massage.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide

Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
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Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia

WHERE: Philadelphia

Ready for water temperatures that are nearly the same as Aruba’s? The indoor pool at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia is kept at a pleasure-inducing 84ºF. And to think there are people wearing mittens out there. Located in the lower lobby with a subdued decor, the Spa and pool area are a great escape as the flurries dust Philly’s Logan Square. The tropical ambiance is enhanced by comfortable pool loungers and large potted palms. A day pass is $75 for adults and children available weekdays. Or book a spa treatment and access the facilities any time.

Insider Tip: Hold onto the memory of your faux-escape with a Kissed by the Sun treatment that gives skin the glow of a healthy tan ($150).

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Philadelphia Guide

Courtesy of Patricia Lake Photography
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Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown

WHERE: Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

In a nod to the curing power of the warm tropical waters of the world, the pool at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown is saltwater—less harsh on the skin than chlorine. The mezzanine-level pool is a 50-foot lap pool, part of the locally owned Balance Gym. In addition to the pool and fitness center, Balance has steam rooms, saunas. and a Jacuzzi. Available to non-guests for $20. The Foggy-Bottom hotel was in many scenes from the movie Enemy of the State, and many dignitaries and celebs stay here. It’s the St. Barth’s of the pool scene.

Insider Tip: There are specially allotted family times in the pool area. Call ahead if you want to bring your kids.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Georgetown Guide

Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Montreal
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Hyatt Regency Montreal

WHERE: Montréal

Within the heart of Montréal’s busy arts and entertainment neighborhood, the Quartier des Spectacles, is a respite from winter’s frozen grip: the sixth-floor indoor pool at the Hyatt Regency Montréal. The only reminder of the weather is the view of downtown that circles the pool deck. Book a spa treatment for access to the pool (approximately $55).

Insider Tip: After a swim, it’s feasibly possible to shop at one of the dozens of boutiques at Complexe Desjardins without having to put on a coat or boots. The Hyatt has direct access.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Montréal Guide

Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel
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Shangri-La Toronto

WHERE: Toronto

The fifth-floor pool area at Shangri-La Toronto is soothing in its symmetry. Pops of colorful red cushions brighten the deck—as does the light gleaming in from the glass-domed roof. Purple lights swing over the saltwater 60-foot pool, and beautiful ginger plants bloom from pots. There’s an infrared sauna (heat penetrates the skin more deeply), cabanas with TVs, and a whirlpool with city views. While this area sways sleek, the connected Miraj Hammam leaps back a few centuries to mystical Middle Eastern. Gain access by booking a spa treatment plus $20 (for the pool).

Insider Tip: Recreate the heat of sultry Istanbul with a hammam ritual. A full body exfoliation (known as gommage) is done on Jerusalem gold marble.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Toronto Guide