When choosing a hotel, we often do it based on location, in-room creature comforts, or free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Sometimes, though, the smartest thing we can do is to seek out a fabulous indoor pool. I remember when my husband surprised me with a ski trip to Andorra: After an overnight flight to Barcelona, followed by a four-hour drive to the Pyrenees and almost to the Spain-Andorra border, I was thrilled to find out we’d be spending the first night of our trip at a hotel with a decadent indoor pool with a panoramic view of the snowy mountains, at El Castell de Ciutat. It’s one of those pools you can reinvigorate yourself in and sightsee from simultaneously—and that’s a boon when you’re in a new place you’re excited to see yet you’re stiff and cranky from all those cramped hours on a plane and in a car.
Here are five travel situations where, I’ve found, a hotel with a fabulous indoor pool can be well worth the splurge:
1. When you need to recover from a long flight.
When you know you or your travel companions will be arriving at your destination sleep-deprived, jet-lagged, and irritable, consider how you’re going to soothe your body and soul. A refreshing swim and a hot tub—maybe even a massage—can be just what the doctor ordered.
2. When you’ll arrive at your hotel hours before check-in time.
When your hotel room isn’t ready yet, instead of waiting around the lobby or in a local chain restaurant, you can grab your swimsuit, head to the pool, and jump-start your vacation.
3. When you’re headed to a wintry locale.
That’s when you want an indoor pool with views of dramatic nature. Think Grand Hotel Kronenhof in the Swiss Alps. There’s something heady about getting to savor the scenery of a freezing-cold destination without getting the least bit chilly yourself, or while wearing only slightly more than what you were born with.
4. When you’ve got an overnight layover.
Say you’ve got a night in an airport hotel between long-haul flights: A pool for exercise and a hot tub for relaxation may be every bit as welcome as a good night’s sleep. When I had an overnight layover in Geneva, Switzerland, I left the airport and zipped into town to the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, partly for its rooftop indoor pool complete with underwater music.
5. When you’ve got kids you need to exhaust.
Families on road trips know how critical a motel pool can be: Squirmy kids need to work off all that pent-up energy—and an indoor pool means you needn’t worry about rain or lathering everyone up with sunscreen.