Kristina McQuirk for Better Homes & Gardens on the pros and cons of a cocktail pool.
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These space-savvy water features bring both fun and relaxation to small backyards.
If you’re looking for something more stylish and substantial than an inflatable pool, but you don’t want the massive footprint of a traditional pool, consider a cocktail pool. Cocktail pools are bigger than a hot tub but smaller than a regular pool, and they’re just deep enough to submerge a portion of your body underwater. It’s a little oasis that fits easily into many urban backyards. And the shape, size, design, and installation can all be customized to meet the needs of your space and style.
Cocktail pools took off during the first summer of the pandemic as people looked for ways to do more with the space in and around their homes. With a cocktail pool, you can slip into the water when it’s too hot to sit around. But instead of standing or treading water like a traditional pool, cocktail pools feature in-water seating, like benches, around some or all of the perimeter. They can also include add-ons like heaters, spa jets, and lighting, which is great for enjoying the space day or night throughout the year.
How Big Is a Cocktail Pool?
On average, cocktail pools are less than 400 square feet (which is length x width x depth). According to HomeAdvisor, cocktail pools are typically 168-300 square feet. They usually measure smaller than 12 x14 feet and are only 3 to 4 feet deep. However, pool companies often stretch the size of these shallow pools up to 700 square feet and 5 feet deep (so tall people can cool off, too!).
Pros of Cocktail Pools
While their size makes cocktail pools a smart choice for tightly-packed neighborhoods with smaller yards, they aren’t just a small-space solution. They’re also practical, especially if you want the relaxing qualities or gather-around nature of a pool but don’t need the full size. Plus, they require less time and money spent on cleaning. Although the care and maintenance of cocktail pools is the same as a traditional pool, it’s on a smaller scale that’s easier to manage.
The compact nature of a cocktail pool also means you don’t have to sacrifice other outdoor living amenities, like a kitchen or dining area, she shed, or fire pit. Working with smaller-scale features does more with the space you have—even if you have a large yard!
Cons of Cocktail Pools
While cocktail pools work for small, informal gatherings, they aren’t ideal for hosting standard pool parties, as there’s little room for games like volleyball or Marco Polo. Plus, they don’t supply much for exercise, either. If you’re looking for a design that allows for laps or large parties, a standard pool will be a better bet. But for a spa-like pool experience at home, a cocktail pool with jets and heaters is certainly up to the job.
Cost of Cocktail Pools
HomeAdvisor prices an average cocktail pool at $22,650, but this can vary from about $5,500 to $50,000 depending on factors like size, material, add-ons like lighting, and whether it is installed above- or in-ground. A deck or pool surround will increase the cost as well.
Types of Small Pools
There are many types of pools and some are quite similar to cocktail pools. Related terms include the portmanteau “spool”, which represents a combination of “small” and “pool” or “spa” and “pool.” Although these spa-inspired models are shallower, cocktail pools with heaters and jets become almost indistinguishable from “spools.” Phrases like “compact pool” or “plunge pool” might also be used adjacently to cocktail pool, and though those designs have a similarly small surface area, they are typically deeper.