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  • Writer's pictureRichard Hammond

Hotels with natural swimming pools

My selection of hotels, gîtes, treehouses, agriturismos and other lovely places to stay with natural swimming pools in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Austria.

[This featured was originally posted in 2013 and has been updated in 2022]

Compared with a chlorinated swimming pool, a dip in a natural pool can feel much more refreshing. Designs vary, but they generally all work on the same premise: a wall separates a foil- or rubber-lined swimming area from an aquatic plant garden, whose marsh plants and sand act as a natural filter for oxygenising and cleaning the water. Because they are designed in tune with the natural environment, they are wildlife-friendly, so don't be surprised if, while you're relaxing poolside, you see dragonflies and butterflies flittering across the water. Thankfully, hoteliers are increasingly installing these natural, eco-friendly alternatives. Here are some of my favourites:

Jump in, the water's lovely!

Il Paluffo, Tuscany, Italy

A collection of small villas and B&Bs in a 15th Century historic building in the Chianti hills in Tuscany, not far from Florence and Siena. Along with the wonderful natural swimming pool, the buildings are managed in an eco-sensitive manner: electricity is produced by a 12kWatt photovoltaic system; heating and cooling systems use renewable energy: there are heat pumps powered by photovoltaic panels, hot water heating using thermal solar panel and pellet boilers in addition to the heating system; rainwater is collected and used for irrigation, while waste water is regenerated through herbal purification methods.

Agroturismo Can Marti, Ibiza, Spain

The natural swimming pool at the fabulously relaxing Can Marti farm, Ibiza. Photo: Can Marti

A beautiful, authentic and organic farmhouse in a quiet and idyllic spot in the unspoilt north of the island. This has long been a favourite of mine, a wonderfully peacefully part of the island, far from the crowds of Ibiza Town and near some great beaches. See our full review in our Green Places to Stay section: Review of Can Marti

Le Camp, Southwest France

The smart interior of one of the yurts at Le Camp. Photos: Le Camp

A luxury six-tented camp in an oak woodland overlooking the green valley of the Aveyron, an hour northwest of Toulouse. Each tent is on a raised wooden platform and every pitch has been carefully chosen "for its views, privacy and mood". The 45m² Giant Yurt is great for larger families or groups. Pride of place is the glorious 20m-long natural swimming pool. Expect a large buffet breakfast which includes locally sourced fruit, jams, saucisson, honeys, and cheeses. Owners will also help book and plan the journey of anyone who wishes to arrive by train and offer a free transfer to and from the local train stations.  They also provide bicycles for guests to borrow free of charge, including trailers and tagalongs for kids.

Orion B&B & Treehouses, Saint-Paul de Vence, France

The natural pool at Orion B&B. Photo: Orion

Close to the stunning medieval fortified village of St Paul de Vence inland from the French Riviera, Orion's tree houses are one of the most stylish we've visited. The stand-alone tree-houses are built among oak and pine trees, 30m-high, and are reached via an outer wooden staircase where you climb up to a large double bedroom and ensuite bathroom. The treehouses come in all shapes and sizes, from the double-decker Colonel Hathi to the family-friendly combination of King Louis and Mowgli, where kids can have their own little adventure. There's also an additional cottage for those looking to keep their feet on solid ground. Back on terra firma, you can relax by a gorgeous natural outdoor pool and there is also an eco-friendly sauna where you can treat yourself to a Turkish Bath. See our full review of Orion in our Green Places to Stay section: Review of Orion B&B

Chaumarty, French Pyrenees

The 42-square metre pool has wonderful views of the French countryside. Photo: François Depuis, provided by Chaumarty.

An eco-gîte south of Toulouse, southwest France. Irises, waterlilies, and papyrus line the water’s edge of the 42 square metre natural pool “bassin de baignade” (below), plus there’s a diving board and a smaller pool for children. Adjacent to the pools is a large terrace where you can lay your towels and admire the mountain panorama all day long.

The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall, England

water and couple holding glasses while looking out to sea
The organic pool at Scarlet overlooking the sea. Photo: Scarlet

A lovely, smart hotel built to high eco standards, overlooking the sea on the Cornish coast. Be pampered in the luxurious Ayurvedic spa, sample delicious locally sourced food or take some time out to reflect and enjoy the views from the outdoor natural swimming pool.

La Jument Verte, Aix-les-Bains, France

La Jument Verte is above the spa town of Aix-Les-Bains. Photo: La Jument Verte.

A guesthouse /country inn on a 17th Century Farm, above the spa town of Aix-Les-Bains, and the beautiful Lake du Bourget, in the Regional Natural Park of the Bauges.

Mas Ardèvol, Falset, Costa Daurada, Catalonia, Spain

The natural swimming pool in the hills above Porrera, Catalonia. Photo: Richard Hammond

An idyllic rural house amid ten hectares of land in the green hills above Porrera. It specialises in traditional Priorat food, including fresh produce from their own vegetable garden, oil, and wine. There are two rooms inside the main house while outside there are three spacious thick-walled rooms and a natural swimming pool - perfect for a plunge on a hot day. Indulge in a variety of treatments, including a massage and body moisturising using natural ingredients, such as organic olives and hazelnuts. If you can tear yourself aware from the tranquility, nearby are the sundial route in Porrera and the Montsant mountain range.

Muxima, Algarve, Portugal

Making a splash: the large natural pool is popular with guests at Muxima, southwest Portugal. Photo: Rhiannon Batten

A single storey farmstead that Jelle and his wife, Paula, have turned into a splendid rural guesthouse. About an hour's drive north-west of Faro, Muxima is technically in the Algarve but, according to Jorge, the lifestyle here is more like that in the Alentejo, so he calls it the "Alengarve".

Yoga at Moses, Oleiros, Portugal

Cool off in a dozen natural pools in 2 rivers that flow through Vale de Moses Photo: Vale de Moses

Spend a week here on the edge of wilderness, in the beautifully restored home of the Winter family, beneath the village of Amieira, Oleiros. Practice yoga daily, walk in forests, swim and mud bathe in rivers, breath mountain air, eat deliciously, sleep deeply. Retreat.

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