You know the deal—as temperatures begin to rise (and seemingly never stop) in the concrete jungle, city dwellers must hunt for the perfect poolside escape. And while there are many, many, glamorous reasons to spend the summer in NYC, it can be hard to fathom with old Gotham’s reputation for dirty, overcrowded swimming holes being on that list.
For those who can’t manage to make it to the Hamptons for the “perfect” summer retreat, it can more difficult than rolling a Backwood to escape the heat and crowds that occupy nearly every corner of the five boroughs. Lucky for you, finding the perfect escape has just gotten a whole lot easier, as we’ve laid out your best bets for some poolside fun. Whether you’re looking for a rooftop to get some sun with a fancy cocktail, the perfect location for “sneaky vaping,” or somewhere to pound out endurance-building laps, the poolside options in NYC are about as diverse as the city itself.
Check out the Emerald’s guide to the best pools for every type of swimmer
THE BOURGIE SWIMMER
If you’ve got cash to blow and are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets without actually leaving town, check out some of the best hotel pools that the city has to offer—for those who can afford them.
The rooftop pool at The William Vale Hotel is guaranteed to impress every swimmer with its luxurious amenities and spectacular views of Brooklyn. Take a dip in their glittering, vacation-worthy pool Monday through Thursday with a $99 day pass or Friday through Sunday for $149.
Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the fourth-floor pool is always heated to a ripe 80 degrees, perfect for avoiding that initial toe-dip-shock. If you’d rather stay out of the water and work on your tan, from full bar service to outdoor games, the pool at William Vale offers all the necessary amenities for the perfect stay-cation. If you can’t get enough of the Vale Pool and want to lock in access throughout the summer, be sure to splurge on a membership pass, ranging from $999 to $2,399. Sure, it’s a bit pricey, but what do you expect for the longest outdoor hotel pool in Brooklyn, which is 60 feet long?
The Beach at Dream Downtown
Coming in at 4,8000 square feet, you won’t want to miss out on a chance to swim in NYC’s largest hotel pool. Elevated in the courtyard at the famous Dream Downtown is a glass-bottom swimming pool peeking directly into the hotel lobby. As long as you’re planning to start your pool day past 11 a.m., The Beach at The Dream Downtown will let you take a dip in their famous swimming pool as a non-guest with a $65 day pass.
Equipped with cabanas, flatscreens and real sand, The Dream Downtown is the perfect place to pretend you’re at the beach, but make sure to get their early if you’re hoping to find an empty pool chair.
With absolutely breathtaking lounge areas, spas, pools, restaurants and more, Soho House has always been an “it” spot for creative young city-dwellers to hangout.
Here’s exactly why it should be on the top of your list for pools to check out this summer:
The rooftop pool is open year-round, featuring views of downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River. Kick back and enjoy the 15-by-30-foot heated pool with food and drinks less than a lounge chair away. Notorious for its exclusivity and celebrity sightings, though, getting into Soho House is not going to be easy or cheap.
Not only will you need membership for this spot, the lengthy application requires recommendations, proof of employment and valid reasoning for approval. Coming in at $1,080 a year for those under 27, and $1,650 for those over 27, Soho House members have access to not only the rooftop pool, but all the other creative spaces as well. Is it all worth it? “It’s a cool, very exclusive spot where creative people can get together and brainstorm, but overall it’s just fun and chill. It’s where rich kids of Soho meet rooftop pool,” said Carly Piazza, a student at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM College) and a regular at Soho House.
THE LAP SWIMMER
With New Yorkers finding themselves in a constant scramble for places to partake of their favorite sports and outdoor activities, athletes have fewer options that swimmers. While there are many options for places to splash around or sunbathe, there is a huge lack of facilities for lap-swimmers. No need to worry, though—we’ve found the best of the best.
McCarren Park Pool
Holding almost 1.1 million gallons of water, The McCarren pool is one of the biggest in the city. Located at McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this pool is a hotspot for swimmers of every caliber. Free and open to the public, McCarren has been around since 1936 as a center for year-round recreation. While the number of lap lanes varies based on demand, there are specific hours reserved from 7 to 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to dusk for those looking to take an exercise-based dip. Don’t forget to visit NY Parks’ website (www.nycgovparks.org), though, as registration is required for all swimmers planning to stop by in the first and last session of the day.
The Bronx House
Regardless of its small size featuring four 25-yard lanes, The Bronx House proves itself to be the perfect location for anyone looking to escape the sun and break an exercised-induced sweat. Lap swimming is available during any of their varying adult swim sessions, with the full schedule available on their website. With adult day passes coming in at just $10, and monthly at around $45, The Bronx House ranks as the most affordable private pool on our list. Not to mention, its indoor location leaves no excuses for a weather-permitted off-day.
THE BUDGET SWIMMER
For anyone looking to escape the city heat without breaking the bank, you’re probably used to wincing in defeat at your options. If your vision of public pools is clouded by crowds and questionable cleanliness, you’ve come to the right place. Here are two not-so-yucky, and what we would even go as far to call beautiful, spots.
Measuring nearly 55,000 square feet, Astoria Pool is the biggest in the city. Known for its enticing size, location and price entry, this monsoon-sized public pool trumps nearly every expensive, overcrowded spot in Manhattan. If you’re looking for a quieter vibe, its Queens location makes it the perfect spot to relax and read a book alongside postcard-worthy views of Triborough Bridge. Not to mention, the two fountains and artwork detailing the pavilion make this spot all the more aesthetically pleasing for the New Yorker who will die for an insta-worthy day trip. Make sure to bring a lock when venturing to Astoria Pool, though, as you won’t be allowed in without one, and be prepared to shower before entering!
Jimmy at the James New York
A rooftop spot? Open to the public? For … free? That’s right, this luxurious SoHo spot is open to the public, cover-free after 5 p.m. during the week and after 3 p.m. on weekends for Jimmy Summer Pool Parties. “Not only do you get an amazing view of the west side for sunset, but there’s great music and even great people. Oh! And did I mention the frosé? Best I’ve ever had,” said Courtney McComas, a frequent go-er at Jimmy’s. While you shouldn’t expect any room to play Marco Polo, you’ll definitely want to grab a buddy, your favorite vape and a cocktail from their extensive menu to relax poolside with a view of the Manhattan skyline. If you follow these simple steps you’re sure to have a fun evening at Jimmy Soho.
THE STONER SWIMMER
You didn’t really think we’d forget about our most important pool-goers, did you? Of course not. Here’s the lowdown on our top pick for stoner-friendly pools.
If you’re looking for a chill place to relax with your favorite smoking buddies, one of our editors recommends you check out the pool at Sixty LES. Sporting an Andy Warhol filmstrip on it’s bottom, this Lower East Side pool is certain to keep your post-sesh creative juices flowing, all the while catching some rays. While the pool is typically only accessible to hotel guests and day-pass holders, summer months call for some of the most poppin’ pool parties known to woman, so keep a look out for their events page. Day passes for this sneaky smoker’s hotspot will run you $65 on weekdays and $95 on weekends.
Yes, all these spots are great. Yes, all these spots would be even greater with a doobie. With cannabis already recreationally legal in 11 states, the future of poolside culture could change for the better if those states begin to take advantage. Imagine, a rooftop spot with more than just a pretty pool and expensive drinks. Rather, a rooftop spot with artistic opportunity, a bud bar, and of course, the pool, too.