How to Sneak Into a Hotel Pool in Philly

It’s going to be wicked hot this weekend. Desperate times call for desperate measures, people.

It is hot, ya’ll. When I woke up and heard rain this morning, I rejoiced and thanked my lucky stars because I thought it might cool things off a bit. Then I heard tell of an EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING (all caps, I swear) hitting town this afternoon and sticking around through the weekend, and I sighed, dreaming of the pool I don’t own and the swim-club membership I’ll never be able to afford.

Which is about when a nefarious little idea popped into my head.

What if …?

No, no, I couldn’t.

Just think about it. What if…?

Stop it, you.

But, listen, stop interrupting me. Wouldn’t it just be so easy to sneak into a pool? Like, a cool, glassy, perfect rooftop hotel pool?

Why yes. Yes, it would.

I know I certainly wouldn’t have the guts to pull it off (everyone who knows me knows I don’t do well breaking rules), but I’ve certainly known people who’ve done this on occasion. So on the off-chance you’re more gutsy than me, I called up a friend of a friend this morning to get her advice for how to best pull off this little subterfuge. (Understandably, she opted to keep her name off this blog post.) This FoF, we’ll call her, is an old hand at the whole sneak-into-a-hotel-pool-without-getting-caught thing. She managed to do it for an entire summer once.

Since desperate times call for desperate measures (I’m only thinking of your health, people!), here are FoF’s tips for pulling it off yourself. Not that I’m condoning trespassing but, well … it’s hot out there.

Be Confident

Confidence is everything. If there’s one thing to learn from the Salahis it’s that if you act like you’re supposed to be there, no one will question you. “Think about how you would act if you were actually staying at the hotel,” says FoF. That means don’t make polite conversation with the doorman (nervous giggles here are a bad idea, too), and walk through the lobby like you know where you’re going. If you were a guest, you’d already know where the elevators are, so don’t ask.

Dress the Parts

Yes, parts, plural, because you have to work in a costume change here. FoF says you should walk in wearing normal sightseeing clothes like any tourist would wear—jeans, sneakers, maybe a Los Angeles Angels hat. Then, find a bathroom; there’s often one near or in the lobby area. You’ll need to change into your pool clothes there. Don’t haul a big beach bag (would you tour a city lugging an oversize tote?), but a big purse will work. Guys could use a backpack. Change into your swim suit the bathroom, then head for the elevator.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Room Cards

It would be a true stroke of luck if you found a room card laying around. Believe it or not, FoF says, this isn’t all that uncommon. She’s found three: one near the Art Museum, which let her into the pool that whole summer; one at the hotel pool itself, which she watched for an hour before snagging it (clearly, no one was coming back for it); and one just the other day inside a book she bought at a thrift store. These cards are helpful, though not 100 percent necessary, she says: “For some pools, you need to swipe your card to get in. If you don’t have one, just hang around and look like you’re not hanging around and wait for someone to open the door naturally.” A little white lie might help: Say you forgot your key if any of the other guests ask (though FoF says they most likely won’t). Sorry, guys, but we ladies have a leg up here—a little eyelash batting can go a long way in getting you in the door. You know, the whole damsel-in-distress thing. “If you’re a girl, look for teenage boys,” says FoF. “They will open the door for you.”

Leave Your Towel at Home

Hotel pools usually provide towels for guests. Besides, bringing your own is a dead giveaway that you don’t belong. When’s the last time you packed a beach towel for a vacation in the city?

While You’re At It, Leave Your Friends at Home, Too

You can probably get away with bringing one other person, but beyond that you’ll likely just draw attention to yourself. FoF always did her hotel-pool forays by herself; she worked a night job and went to the pool during the day, while her friends were working. This is probably the one instance in life when there is not safety in numbers.

Follow Pool Rules

At the risk of getting all first-grade-teacher on you, be sure to follow the pool rules. Don’t dive if it says not to dive. Don’t bring a cooler full of beer. Don’t be a pest to the little kids in the shallow end. Avoid doing anything that might draw attention to yourself.

Don’t Stay All Day

When you travel, do you hang out at the hotel pool for the entire day? No. You swim for maybe an hour, then go on your merry little tourist way. As tempting it as it may be to lounge by the pool for hours on end, that could draw attention to the fact that you don’t belong. So soak up the fun and refreshment for an hour, maybe two at the most, then head back to your air conditioning-less apartment.

Got it? Before you go and ask which pools FoF recommends, I tried—she wouldn’t bite. “I don’t want to ruin my game,” she said. But if you’re looking for a list of Philly hotels with pools, here’s one.

And remember: If you get caught, we never had this conversation.

(Psst! Not willing to risk it? Here’s a handy list of Philly’s public pools.)

>> Have you ever sneaked into a hotel pool? Share your tips for covert aquatics ops in the comments.

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