Choosing a favorite pool in California is a bit like choosing your favorite ski run in Colorado. In the Golden State, lounging poolside is de rigueur, and many hotels have mastered Hockney-esque scenes, whether a serene oasis with stylish loungers and healthy bites, or a pool party with games and cocktails. Many are in drop-dead gorgeous locations, too, from rooftops with mountain views to exotic gardens. Consider splashing your way from one to the next, on a pool-themed road trip through California…
At the Ojai Valley Inn, a century-old Spanish Colonial-style hotel surrounded by orange groves and avocado trees, guests can choose between three distinctly different pool experiences. At the adults-only Indigo Pool, oversized cabanas and daybeds are made for sunbathing. The whole family is welcome at the Pixie Pool, set among vine-covered pergolas and citrus trees. Finally, Spa Ojai’s 60-foot (18m) Tranquility and Energy Pool, with its two lanes and a hot tub, offers a place to relax and rejuvenate before or after a treatment.
Morocco provides the inspiration for historic Hotel Californian’s Tan-Tan pool, named after the Berber town of Tan-Tan where sun worshippers make the pilgrimage each year for a large festival referred to as Morocco’s Burning Man. The pool deck has deep-red day beds that echo the clay color of Morocco’s medinas, coupled with views of Santa Barbara’s red-tiled roofs, palm trees and golden sands. The hotel’s Goat Tree restaurant delivers items from its Mediterranean menu straight to the poolside, like a frittata with piquillo peppers and a wild arugula salad with mimosa vinaigrette.
Located in the heart of San Francisco near Union Square, guests are often stunned when they realize Hotel Nikko has a 10,000-square-foot (930sqm) health club with an indoor/outdoor deck, fire pits, strength training and cardio equipment – even a “pet terrace” with a dog run. The club’s most impressive feature, however, is a 50ft (15m) swimming pool and whirlpool spa. The glass-enclosed space lets in plenty of sun, while keeping out the chilly San Francisco winds. Guests staying in Imperial Floor rooms and suites have free access, while other guests may use the club for a small fee per stay.
This Napa Valley wellness retreat’s vanishing edge hilltop pool is surrounded by calming views of grapevines and rolling hills. The modern farmhouse hotel has a guest-only Spa at Carneros, too, with indoor and outdoor relaxation spaces, immune-boosting massages and hydrating facials. While the hilltop pool is adults-only, the livelier Otto’s pool is where kids are free to splash and swim, and grown-ups can swim laps.
Looking for more accommodation options in Cali? Check into one of the best sustainable stays in the state, bookable now on Culture Trip. Alternately, splash out and book one of the top resorts in Santa Cruz.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.