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5 hotel pools in Austin with passes or free hours for locals to have fun in the sun

Bad news: Austin might have up to 35 days of 100-degree heat this summer. Good news: A handful of Austin’s hotel pools are accessible for locals and not just guests to cool down in — and, in some cases, they are free for all of us.

Although some hotels, like Hotel San Jose on South Congress and Hotel Van Zandt on Rainey Street, offer locals access to their pool decks for drinks and snacks but not the pools themselves, many of Austin’s other top hotels do give anyone the chance to splash about this summer in an often sophisticated setting.

Here’s the lowdown on each hotel pool.

The Westin Austin’s Azul Rooftop Pool & Bar

Reportedly the tallest hotel rooftop bar in town, Azul boasts glorious views of the downtown skyline and the setting sun, offering a casual hangout by day and a chic lounge by night. (A more family-friendly atmosphere is present in the early hours.)

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Azul offers drinks worthy of such a luxurious setting, everything from cocktails on tap — like the Bubbly Bee’s Knees with gin, lavender honey, lemon and prosecco — to frozen potions like the Raspberry F’rosé with with sparkling rosé, vodka, raspberry, peach and other fresh juices. There are also healthy snack bowls (poke, anyone?).

The pool and bar area is open to and free for locals but with more limited hours than for guests: 2 to 11 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, 2 p.m. to midnight Thursdays, 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays. Relax poolside at 310 E. Fifth St.

More information is at westinaustindowntown.com/austin-rooftop-pool.

Contributed by the Westin. The Westin Austin's Azul Rooftop Pool & Bar offers stunning views of the city during the day and at night.

Hotel Ella’s Pool

How about poolside relaxation in a stately setting? The former Mansion at Judge’s Hill has carved out a secluded outdoor lounge area where you can work on your tan, break in your new swimsuit or chow down on snacks from Goodall’s Parlor Bar.

The snacks can be as light or as filling as you want, from redfish ceviche to a full-on Goodall’s Burger. Pair those with a cocktail such as the bubbly Blunderbuss, containing Ford’s Gin, rosemary simple syrup, lemon and sparkling wine, or the Austin-themed Longhorn Margarita, made of El Jimador Blanco, orange liqueur, lime, strawberry and passion fruit purée.

Locals can join hotel guests at the pool with $20 passes available through Labor Day weekend. The passes get you access to the pool from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, free valet parking, a reserved chair and a pool towel. Book your staycation by emailing fd@hotelella.com.

More information is at hotelella.com/experiences.

W Austin’s Wet Deck

Prepare to feel like you’re vacationing in paradise without leaving the city. In addition to a long, luxurious swimming hole, the trendy pool area features lounge chairs, private cabanas, two outdoor showers to rinse off with after a dip, and even a fireplace for the colder months.

The Wet Bar serves up refreshing beverages for sipping on the outdoor deck, and there is also a food menu with healthy cuisine options. Plus, the $20 popular summer event Soundwave, featuring DJ beats, returns on Sundays and certain weekdays starting this weekend through Sept. 30. The extended dates mark a great expansion of the pool party.

Locals can access the Wet Deck either with $10 day passes 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, an appointment at Away Spa, or — better yet — for free at happy hour starting after 5 p.m. Take a dip at 200 Lavaca St.

More information is at whotelaustin.com/austin-wet.

The W Hotel Austin is bringing back its popular pool party Shock Wave this summer. (Knoxy Knox Photographics/Knoxy Knox Photographics)

South Congress Hotel Pool

Catch some summer rays with a dip in the glimmering pool or some z’s in the cozy lounge chairs around it, each one protected by the sun with rad circular shades. The Michael Hsu-designed hotel has taken care with its rooftop pool.

That attention to detail extends to the cocktails at the Pool Bar, which has designed a menu to deliver quick poolside service to visitors. In the past, the summer sippers have included the South Congress Water, with tequila, Cointreau, grapefruit and soda, and the lower ABV Aperol Spritz, with Aperol, sparkling wine and lemon. There are also canned wines and mostly local beers, with food delivered from Cafe No Se.

The pool is available to locals through Labor Day with $30 pool passes, which give you access 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, as well as a pool towel and free valet parking. Book your dip at 1603 S. Congress Ave. by emailing concierge@southcongresshotel.com.

More information is at southcongresshotel.com/hotel-details/pool.’

Fairmont Austin’s Rules & Regs Pool

Austin’s newest and largest hotel has nearly a half-dozen bars and restaurants within the sprawling space, including the seventh-floor Rules & Regs where the outdoor pool is located. It overlooks the downtown Austin skyline, and nearby is the palm tree-lined Palm Court with plenty of room to relax. In other words? An urban oasis.

The adjacent Rules & Reg bar has a full menu of food and drink designed for al fresco enjoyment, to help you make a day of it. In addition to offering dishes like fresh tuna tartare, Rules & Regs also has refreshing cocktails like the appropriately named Daisy’s Siesta with coconut oil-washed blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime, coconut water and a coconut salt rim. 

Anyone is welcome at the bar, although locals can use the pool only through the purchase of cabana packages. At the moment, weekday cabana rentals start at $100 for two guests and cap at $400 for 10 guests in the Grand Cabana; weekends start at $300 for two guests Friday-Sunday and cap at $800 for 10 guests in the Grand Cabana. Those prices go up on holidays and festival weekends. They might also shift depending on summer demand.

More information is at rulesandregs.com.

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