Hotel Rooftop Pools: Maxin' Relaxin'

Once reserved for cooling towers and restaurants that spin, rooftop pools have become the social epicenter of some of America's top hotels.

City hotels, attempting to one-up one another with infinity pools and designer lounges, are turning to rooftop amenities to draw guests and local residents. What started as a novelty at New York's Hotel Gansevoort and Los Angeles's Standard Hotel Downtown has become an architectural commodity embraced by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide ( HOT) and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts . Here are some of the hotels that have jump on the trend:

Plunge at Gansevoort South is Miami's top rooftop lounge.

W Atlanta - Downtown: This hotel opened less than a month ago, but has already become the it-destination in Atlanta. Located on Allen Plaza and designed by architects Pickard Chilton, the property is home to a 237-room hotel, 74 condominiums and the high-end restaurant BLT Steak. But the real action is on the roof.

The hotel's Wet lounge, on its 16th-floor roof, offers an Aegean-blue pool framed by glass walls that reveal views of the Atlanta skyline. As the sun sets, the nearby Wetbar comes to life as DJs spin house grooves into the night.

Thompson Beverly Hills, Calif.: Three rooftop pool lounges have opened in L.A. in the past year, but ABH (Above Beverly Hills) at the Thompson is the chicest. By day, starving starlets prance among rented cabanas and pint-size palm trees as uber-ripped dudes swim laps in the crystal-encrusted pool.

The pool area at this former Radisson Hotel is open to card-holding members, hotel guests and well-behaved diners. The lounge's fireplace and DJ keep the party going until midnight or 1 a.m.

The Gansevoort South Hotel, Miami: Located atop the massive Gansevoort South, Plunge has become the hottest rooftop pool scene in Miami. Inside, steel doors open to a spectacular deck with a peppy bar and a decadent pool that's surrounded by teak lounge chairs. There are several private cabanas reserved for bottle service, whether you're drinking oversize bottles of Grey Goose or magnums of Cristal.

Well-oiled bodies dance to hip-hop played by DJs all day. The crowd is not for the shy; show-offs must compete with the daily assortment of models who visit from the nearby Wilhelmina modeling agency.

Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego: The Hard Rock's San Diego hotel, located in the city's historic Gaslamp Quarter, offers what you expect: A moody nightclub-themed resort where Rolling Stones and Beatles anthems can be heard throughout. Visitors can check out branches of sushi chain Nobu and Rock Spa inside.

Guests will also find Float, a pool lounge and outdoor music venue, on top of the fourth-floor roof. Sundays serve as "Intervention" day, a spin on Las Vegas's infamous "Rehab Pool Party." The event attracts more than 1,000 people, who come to listen to live music and DJs, sip goblet-size margaritas and nosh on Kobe beef sliders and Baja-style fish tacos.

Soho House New York: Being a member of Soho House is the next best thing to having your own penthouse pool. Fees start at $1,400, or $700 if you're under 27. Guests of the 24-room boutique hotel can also take advantage of the amenities.

Soho House's seventh-floor pool terrace, made famous in Sex and the City, overlooks Manhattan's West Village and the Hudson River. It attracts a posh crowd of locals and London pond-hoppers who trade concrete and traffic for sunbathing and swimming.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.

If you liked this article you might like

China Seizes Waldorf Astoria Owner Anbang in Major Corporate Crackdown

China Seizes Waldorf Astoria Owner Anbang in Major Corporate Crackdown

Trump's Anti-Obama Cuba Policy May Prove Setback for U.S. Businesses

Trump's Anti-Obama Cuba Policy May Prove Setback for U.S. Businesses

Acquisitive Anbang's Chief Detained as China Cracks Down on Risky Finance

Acquisitive Anbang's Chief Detained as China Cracks Down on Risky Finance

Marriott Looks to Quicken Rate of Starwood Brand Expansion

Marriott Looks to Quicken Rate of Starwood Brand Expansion

Earnings to Watch Out for Next Week

Earnings to Watch Out for Next Week