What Is a Cocktail Pool? Designs, Dimensions, Cost, and More
If you’re looking for a cozy spot to add fresh life to your home and backyard, you might want to consider installing a cocktail pool. They’re typically quite a bit smaller than a standard full-sized pool, but that’s just part of their charm and appeal.
A well-designed cocktail pool can bring all the bells and whistles of a full-sized pool in a more compact space, which makes them perfect for homes with smaller backyards.
Cocktail pools have lots of upsides: they’re ideal for entertaining in small spaces, their smaller footprints make them more affordable than supersized pools, and they're often better for the environment than larger pools.
But are cocktail pools really worth the money?
We specialize in fiberglass swimming pools here at River Pools, but we're going to give you some real talk about what you can expect when you buy any type of cocktail pool, no matter what type of material you use to construct it.
Now, let’s get right into the basic details about cocktail pools...
What Is A Cocktail Pool?
Cocktail pools are sometimes called compact pools (for their size) or spools (for their combination spa/pool function). Cocktail pools, most simply, just look like scaled-down swimming pools, but they can be so much more than just "Swimming Pool, Jr."
You can add elements such as spa or hot tub features (such as seating, jets, and heaters) to your cocktail pool. You can also spice up a cocktail pool with other water features.
The adaptability of these compact pools makes them every bit as versatile as larger pools. You can still cool off, warm up, or just kick back with the same comfort and fun factor you'd get out of an Olympic-sized monster pool... if you plan your pool design properly!
Cocktail pools can be constructed as inground or above ground pools, installed indoors or outdoors, and should fit in small yards -- they will, of course, fit in big backyards, too.
Cocktail Pool Designs
Cocktail pool designs are just as wide-ranging as their uses. Some look like miniaturized swimming pools. Others are round and spa-like.
Your opportunities for customization are nearly limitless when it comes to adding a cocktail pool to your yard. Want a Grecian-style pool? That's easy. Want ample seating around the edge of the pool? Plenty of cocktail pools feature ample bench seating. Want in-pool lighting and fancy fountains? Get 'em! There’s no wrong way to go about it.
Your pool can be made from various materials as well including concrete, fiberglass, cedar, copper, and vinyl liner. The different cocktail pool costs vary, but these options make it possible to create a pool that fits your budget and design preferences. You can even use smaller cocktail pools as a starting point to create unique infinity pool designs in smaller backyards.
And if you're still trying to decide on the best type of material for your dream pool, why not take our Pool Type quiz? It'll give you some clarity after just a few clicks. Tap the button below to start your personalized quiz:
Typical dimensions for cocktail pools
Cocktail pools typically encompass to a maximum volume of 400 to 700 cubic feet, which is a calculation based on length times width times depth.
Most cocktail pools will be smaller than the rough diagram shown above, but you can expect them to max out around 12 feet by 14 feet, which is about as big as 25 standard-sized bathtubs. Cocktail pools are usually no more than four feet deep, which means there’s no real deep end.
You can get an extra-small pool for yourself, or a larger one for small gatherings. Most cocktail pools aren’t designed to host more than 10 people, and even then you’ll be kind of crowded.
A one-person pool with a bit more than four feet of depth is often called a plunge pool, because it's compact but deep enough to "plunge" into for water aerobics or just cooling off on a hot day.
How much do cocktail pools cost?
Small cocktails pool might cost you $5,000 or more, but only if you do most of the construction work yourself and use cheaper materials. High-end cocktail pool costs can run closer to $50,000, which is the price at which most full-sized concrete pools will start for professional installations.
You may be able to get a full-sized fiberglass pool for less than $50,000, and you can definitely get a vinyl liner pool for less, but you also have to consider long-term maintenance costs and resale values, because that pool will be with you for a long time.
On average, expect to pay at least $25,000 for a done-for-you cocktail pool installation. That’s about half (or less than half) of what you'd pay to install a high-quality full-size pool, but you’re also getting something that's less than half the size.
Like all pools, the cost depends on your preferences. The more you want to add to the project, the higher the cost will be.
The final price also depends on the materials involved in making your pool. Copper pools will be at the top end of that price range while cedar materials are at the cheaper end. It’s also a little more expensive to install your pool indoors.
And don’t forget about the cost of maintenance! Actually, you’ll spend much less to keep your cocktail pool clean because of its small size. You’ll also use less water and electricity with a compact pool.
To give you a general idea, upkeep can cost up to $1,600 per year but can be as low as $900.
Keep in mind that the exact cost of a cocktail pool varies, so it’s a good idea to ask around for a custom estimate. You can get a rough idea of the costs to install a cocktail pool (or any other type of pool) with our easy-to-use Design and Price Tool. Just click below to try it out:
7 Cocktail Pool Ideas To Try
There are a variety of things you can do with a compact pool, regardless of its limited size:
- Install jets and heaters. These are great if you want to have your cocktail pool function like a spa and use it beyond the summer months.
- Install it indoors. Since these pools are so small, they’re a lot easier to install indoors than regular sized pools. With an indoor pool, you can use it year round and get more bang for your buck.
- Include water features. Try adding waterfalls, fountains, and bubblers to create a unique look.
- Create an outdoor theater. Who says the fun has to be limited to the boundaries of the pool? Make a theater around the pool area so that you can watch movies and shows from the water. Just don’t get any electric equipment too close to the pool!
- Make a fire pit. What’s better than relaxing by the pool with the warmth of a fire? This is a great idea to bring family and friends together for an evening (and it can really go with that outdoor theater).
- Install a swimming machine. You can actually swim miles in your tiny pool if you install one of these machines. These provide a current for swimming in place (like swimming upstream in a river).
- Get an underwater treadmill or bicycle. If you want to use your pool to exercise, you can also install an underwater treadmill or bicycle. Why not? There are a lot of health advantages to exercising in the water.
Cocktail pool disadvantages to consider
While cocktail pools are pretty neat, there are a few things that you might not like about going with such a small pool:
- Lack of play space. No room for games, racing, or floating in a pool this size.
- No free swimming. Sure you can spend thousands of dollars on a swimming machine, but you can't just swim around at your own pace from one end of the pool to the other like you can with a regular pool.
- Forget about big pool parties. Although you can invite people into the pool, there just isn’t enough space to throw a traditional pool party
Remember, you can add a spa, water features, a swimming machine, exercise equipment, and more to a full sized pool. You can also build a theater and a firepit around any swimming pool.
Basically, there is nothing that you can do with a cocktail pool that you can’t do with a full sized one.
Our honest review of cocktail pools
Cocktail pools are versatile and can add life to your home. If you have your heart set on a small pool for relaxing and hanging out with friends, a compact pool would be ideal for you.
If what you really want is a full sized pool suitable for swimming, games, and everything else, why settle? A cocktail pool can cost as much as (or even more than) a full sized pool, so there's no real reason to get a small pool if space is what you need.
At River Pools, most of our swimming pools are full sized, but we do offer a 10x20 R Series pool that's only slightly bigger than an average cocktail pool.
Not sure if a cocktail pool is right for you? Why not take a look at our other models while you’re here, check out our pricing guide, or request a quote from an independent installer to learn how much a fiberglass pool will cost you?
Before you go, make sure to download our free ebook below to learn the key differences between fiberglass, vinyl liner, and concrete swimming pools.
Edit: This article was updated on January 18, 2024.