Dive into our edit of London's best swimming pools, from rooftop retreats in Knightsbridge to hip hangouts in Shoreditch
25 July 2019
Shoreditch House and White City House
What swimming pool round-up would be complete without including the aqua-based offerings from the globally-renowned Soho House chain? Members'-club-cum-place-to-be-seen, both venues offer a wonderful escape from the heat of the urban jungle (and the prying eyes of the paparazzi). Away from the pool, enjoy a cocktail and clubhouse-style food, as you don your Wayfarers and indulge in people-watching. The 17-metre pool at White City House is more than enough for non-Olympians, and with otherworldy views over the great city, combined with the chic interiors, one could be forgiven for feeling like you're in that palm-lined city far, far west of London...
White City House; Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR
Shoreditch House; Ebor Street, Hackney, E1 6AW
La Dolce Vita Rooftop Pool & Garden at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge
Enjoy a slice of the good life atop The Berkeley this summer. The rooftop terrace has been transformed into a limoncello-hued haven, which takes its cue from La Dolce Vita and Italy's lemon tree-lined coast. Found on the seventh floor of the five-star hotel, natural light floods in through arched windows, which frame the city skyline and Hyde Park treetops. The rooftop is open to hotel guests and also those who book the La Dolce Vita experience, which includes four hours' access to the garden and pool, a glass of Aperol Spritz and an indulgent spa treatment (£75-£195 per person).
Berkeley Hotel; Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL
Hampstead Heath Ponds
Not to be confused with Parliament Hill Lido (more on that shortly), Hampstead Heath Ponds are amongst the most picturesque in the country, and worthy of a painting by Monet. The three pools remain open to ladies, men and mixed groups (including accompanied children aged eight-15, at the lifeguards’ discretion) respectively. The Ladies' and Men's Ponds are the UK's only lifeguarded open water swimming facilities open to the public every day of the year. Probably the closest thing to swimming in the wild in London. Also, don't be surprised by the nudists at some specific spots.
Hampstead Heath Ponds, NW5 1QR
Parliament Hill Lido
Built in 1938 and Grade II-listed, this Art Deco, stainless-steel-lined outdoor pool is the only one of its kind in the country. Diving into it is like entering a giant shiny metal bowl. A north London classic (and marginally warmer alternative to the wild ponds) Parliament Hill Lido is available for three swimming sessions each day. Enjoy a flat white and chewy brownies at the café adjacent to the huge pool.
Parliament Hill Lido; Parliament Hill Fields, Gospel Oak, NW5 1LT
Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
Is there any other city in the world where you can swim in the capital's main park, right next to swans owned by Her Majesty the Queen? We think not. The Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool are great for both adults and children. A little bit of history: The Serpentine Swimming Club is the oldest swimming club in Britain, and its members swim every day in the Lido area between 6:00am and 9:30am, and also during the famous (and chilly) race on Christmas Day... We'll stick to the summertime option, thanks!
Serpentine Lido; Hyde Park, W2 2UH
The Lido at The Curtain, Shoreditch
It may be small but boy does it have character. The Moroccan-style heated pool offers a dip with a sweeping view, thanks to its Shoreditch location. The modern Mediterranean menu offers light and indulgent options for both lunch and dinner, after your small but essential paddle. It seems these days all the best places to be found are high up in the sky. Elton, you listening?
The Curtain; 45 Curtain Road, Hackney, EC2A 3PT