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For quite some time when traveling I was happy when I had access to a shower with non-freezing water, when my bed was not part of a shaky triple bunk bed in a basement and noise-level was low enough to be cancelled out with ear plugs.
Then recently I ended up in a rather posh five star hotel and it was a nice experience as well. The hotel also featured an indoor and an outdoor pool and I ended up not using them, also because I was not sure about proper etiquette. So my questions is

How do I use the hotel pool in a luxury hotel?

I.e.

  • Do I get changed into pool clothes in my room and go to the pool in the hotel bathrobe? Or can I expect changing facilities there and am expected to use those?
  • Can I expect lockers for my stuff in the pool area or am I supposed to carry that around?
  • What should I bring and what can I expect to find there? (referring to towels, Shampoo, ...)
  • I am sure the pool use is included in my stay but are there other services that I would likely pay for and if so would that be added to my room bill or should I bring cash/cards/traveler cheques/gold/... ?
  • How do I find out about the pool dress code? (Bathing cap or not, tight swimwear only or the opposite, ...)

I do know how to swim and have no qualms about going to the beach / lake / public pool, so no need to delve into that, I am really concerned about the etiquette of using a hotel pool in a luxury hotel.

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    One slight problem with this question - I don't think you can generalise. I've seen hotel pools with and without changing rooms, and certainly what clothing is acceptable varies from country to country. – CMaster Jul 13 '16 at 12:34
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    Note a duplicate, but somewhat related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/37696/… – CMaster Jul 13 '16 at 12:35
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    Did you not get answers to your questions by calling the front desk? – FreeMan Jul 13 '16 at 14:07
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    I always check the hotel information directory thingy in the room for information on changing facilities at the pool, and if not clear ring guest services or reception to ask. It varies so much between hotel you can't generalise! – Gagravarr Jul 13 '16 at 14:27
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    If its a 5* hotel there will likely be staff at the pool to help and serve you. Better ask them than the front desk. – Qwerky Jul 13 '16 at 15:33
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I stay in quite a lot of hotels (more than I realised when I added up the nights last year!), many of which have pools. All I can say in general is... There is no general rule!

So, what I do first is to grab the guest information directory thingy in the room (normally a binder or little booklet), and check in there under leisure or facilities or spa. Around half the time, the information will be in there. Though, not always where you'd expect - sometimes one section will say "pool on level 2" while another (maybe spa, maybe gym) will tell you about changing areas and lockers!

If that doesn't cover it, then I ring Guest Services or Reception, and ask them. I normally say something like "I'm planning to go for a swim in the pool, and I was wondering if there are changing facilities there, or if I should change in my room first". Sometimes they answer, sometimes they put me through to the pool / gym / spa to ask them. Generally have the full details within a minute of picking up the phone, so not bad.

If the hotel tells you to change in your room, there normally (at nicer hotels) will be a bathrobe in the room. Get changed, put that on top, take a towel if needed, and head on down.

If the hotel says there's changing areas at/near the pool, ask about lockers. Some you may need to bring a coin, others they'll swap for a room key. Others still offer somewhere to change at the pool, but no lockers, so either you then leave your stuff on a lounger / chair where you can see it, or you change in your room anyway!

Most hotels have towels on pool side, or just by where you go out. A handful don't, but they generally make that clear. If the pool isn't the hotel's only (eg it's shared with the hotel next door, or a gym that's open to the public), it's much more likely that you need to take one from your room.

If there's no changing at the pool, and no bathrobe, I'll either leave a tshirt on as I walk to/from the pool, or wrap a towel around myself.

You do sometimes get odd looks in hotel lifts when heading down to the pool fully changed, but more often than not it's followed by someone asking "oh, is there a pool in this hotel?" or "what's the pool like?"

.

Oh, and tackling one other bit of your question about facilities - again it depends! Some hotels may have a bar at the pool, others a bar in the pool area, some may have a restauranty thing there, some may do pool-side food or drink service, some may have sunbeds / loungers / cabanas etc which you can use, all varies from hotel to hotel. Food stuff should be covered in the guest information, others may or may not, but if you ring and ask they'll know. Most paid-for services would let you charge things to your room, provided you met the hotel's requirements for that (eg had your key envelope with room number on), so you may not need cash even if there are extras at the pool. One exception is in countries with strong tipping cultures (eg the USA), where you might need to bring a bit of cash to tip staff, especially if they're sorting out "free" things for you (eg sorting you out the use of a poolside cabana, or keeping any eye on your stuff while you swim if there's no locker)

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    This would be my approach too. I want to know exactly what the situation is in advance even if it means visiting the pool first to check – Berwyn Jul 13 '16 at 15:01
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    I normally go by the pool at some point before using it to check. Fairly frequently in the UK, they're part of an attached health club, so there is somebody there to ask. – CMaster Jul 13 '16 at 15:26
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    As a former hotel worker, I can say that not only will the front desk/pool attendant be glad to rattle off the rules and regulations for you, but they will truly appreciate you asking. It's much more uncomfortable to have to ask a guest to "cut that out" than to explain it to them up front. – Will Jul 13 '16 at 16:04
  • @Will great to have feedback from an insider! You'd be welcome to be around on Travel SE, we do get hotel questions every once in a while :) – mts Jul 13 '16 at 16:37
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    @mts Glad to lend what experience I can! My only problem with being on Travel.SE is I get SO JEALOUS of everyone's awesome adventures. – Will Jul 13 '16 at 18:19
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To answer your questions :

Do I get changed into pool clothes in my room and go to the pool in the hotel bathrobe? Or can I expect changing facilities there and am expected to use those?

  • It all depends of the hotel. I would say that generally speaking, it isn't an issue to go to the pool with the bathrobe but you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation if you are with a bathrobe in the elevator with ladies in nice evening dresses... Most luxury hotels will have a changing facility next to the pool (but not all!).

Can I expect lockers for my stuff in the pool area or am I supposed to carry that around?

  • Lockers are usually provided in very luxury hotels but again you'll find some exceptions where no lockers are available and you need to carry your stuff with you.

What should I bring and what can I expect to find there? (referring to towels, Shampoo, ...)

  • I always found towels. For shampoo, it is pretty random. Then, the shampoo provided is rarely high grade so you might want to bring yours.

I am sure the pool use is included in my stay but are there other services that I would likely pay for and if so would that be added to my room bill or should I bring cash/cards/traveler cheques/gold/... ?

  • This is right, pool access is usually complimentary but not always. I have seen hotels charging for the sun bed. Meaning, you could use the pool but you had to pay for the sun bed. Some will charge you for the sun shade. On the other side, in Las Vegas, I had the very pleasant experience to get free refreshments (water, ice cream) at the Four Seasons pool! You usually don't need to bring cash with you. Most luxury hotels have the possibility to charge to your room.

How do I find out about the pool dress code? (Bathing cap or not, tight swimwear only or the opposite, ...)

  • You will find those details in the hotel directory as well as next to the pool. If there are some restrictions, they will be clearly highlighted. Bathing cap is less and less a requirement nowadays.
  • +1 thanks. Funny enough I encountered the bathing cap thing mostly in French public pools. Hope you don't mind my formatting edit, feel free to roll back if you disagree. – mts Jul 13 '16 at 13:02
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    Ah yes, in French public pools, for cleanness reasons, you need to have a bathing cap but your question was referring to hotel pool and this is less a requirement there from what I have seen :) – Olielo Jul 13 '16 at 13:04
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    I find that it is usually only suitable to get changed in your room if it's a resort type hotel, like on a beach. If it's a city hotel, I would always expect to go to the pool dressed and change there – Berwyn Jul 13 '16 at 13:12
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    @Berwyn Yet I've stayed in urban hotels with no facilities at the pool several times. – CMaster Jul 13 '16 at 13:18
  • @CMaster Well, I guess it depends how upscale it is. – Berwyn Jul 13 '16 at 13:22
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  1. It is most common to don your bathing attire in your room then cover up on the walk from the room to the pool area. For men, this can be just a shirt/t-shirt if the swim suite is trunks or boardshorts. If you're wearing a Speedo, cover that with shorts as well. Women would normally wear a Sundress or Sarong.

  2. I would not expect Lockers at a 5-Star Resort. You would leave any valuables in your room. It is very common, and safe, to leave items on you chair or in a bag under you chair. The risk of theft is minimal.

  3. Bring what you need to enjoy time by the pool. A book, phone, sunscreen. A 5-Star Resort would likely provide towels for use by the pool. You would not bring shampoo or anything like that.
  4. Use of the pool is included but may have been separated into a Resort Fee. Any upcharge items, drinks, spa treatments, food can either be charged to your room or paid on the spot with a credit card or cash.
  5. Look for a sign near the entrance to the pool area. The same may also be in the hotel guide in you room. You can also look at the other people at the pool to determine what is appropriate.
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I have had one experience where we got changed in our rooms and went to the spa in robes and slippers. On the way back the only way to the room is to go through the bar area which was now in full swing with a wedding party - very embarrassing :)

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