1. Hotel Ohla Barcelona
Narrow but long enough at 13m for its downtown location, the Ohla’s eighth-floor water feature is as much a human aquarium as it is a swimming pool, with glass walls on two of its sides. Bring goggles to admire the underwater view of the city between cocktail drinkers seated by the railing. Like the giant white masks gurning on the black walls of the lobby lounge, it’s an eccentric touch for this luxury venue on the edge of Barri Gotic.
Details B&B doubles in May from £225 (ohlabarcelona.com)
Sun loungers by the pool at the Grand Hotel Central
2. Grand Hotel Central
While the classic columns of this five-star hotel‘s entrance and lobby recall a 1920s New York bank, and the rooms themselves are smartly toned down gray, cream and dark wood, you will find the holiday spirit at the eight floors at the Sky Bar, with its 10m infinity pool overlooking the rooftops of the bohemian district of El Born to the Gothic turrets of Santa Maria del Mar. It is heated and open even in the middle of winter.
Details B&B doubles in May from £290 (grandhotelcentral.com)
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The swimming pool of the Andante hotel
3. Hotel Andante
An infinity pool for a three-star hotel budget? Yes, and a few steps from the hyper-center of Las Ramblas. Hotel Andante has 134 rooms — some with their own sun terrace — in a modern building towards the harbor on the edge of El Raval. The style is international airport hotel, but if photo prints of Barcelona’s architecture don’t tell you the story, try the views of the historic center from the 11th-floor pool.
Details B&B doubles in May from £150 (andantehotel.com)
The swimming pool of the H10 Casa Mimosa offers a view of Gaudí’s Casa Milà
4. H10 Casa Mimosa
There aren’t really any hotel pools with great up-close views of the Sagrada Familia (probably for the best), but you can laze around while gazing at another Gaudí masterpiece, Casa Milà , aka La Pedrera. Its fantastical fireplaces can be seen from the plunge pool and lounge chairs on the stylish H10 Casa Mimosa’s seventh-floor terrace, which has a second pool in the interior courtyard under its namesake trees.
Details B&B doubles in May from £280 (h10hotels.com)
One of the two swimming pools at Hotel Arts Barcelona
5. Hotel Arts Barcelona
Frank Gehry’s giant lattice-work fish sculpture provides an enigmatic counterpoint to the Hotel Arts’ two large outdoor pools, its steel shimmering in the Mediterranean light. This is glamorous Barcelona after its 1990s boom, not particularly near the central sights but right on Port Olimpic beach. The swimming pools (the one in the lounge/cocktail bar is reserved for those over 18) look towards the sea horizons. For something truly dizzying, book into the spa on the 43rd floor.
Details B&B doubles in May from £350 (hotelartsbarcelona.com)
Deckchairs by the swimming pool of the hotel Rec
6. Hotel Rec
The bold letters REC chosen from the tiles at the bottom of the pool might recall a few from the Spanish horror movie series, but rest assured the hotel’s name comes from the street outside on the corner of El Born, retracing the route of a Roman canal. With room for a dozen loungers, the rooftop terrace is an intimate space at this adults-only hotel, which has employed contemporary artists to design everything from murals to fonts.
Details B&B doubles in May from £120 (hotelrecbarcelona.com)
The public swimming pool on the hill of Montjuic in Barcelona
7. Municipal swimming pool of Montjuic
Doing laps above the rooftops of Barcelona isn’t the preserve of lucky hotel guests. On the hill of Montjuic, the city has its own “rooftop” swimming pool, which gained worldwide fame for the spectacular backdrops of the diving competitions of the 1992 Summer Olympics. June to early September. Facilities can be pretty basic, but it’s often cheaper and less crowded than a day at the beach, and the views are something else entirely.
Details General admission £5.70 (guia.barcelona.cat)