Lido London: The Most Picturesque Outdoor Swims

Luxury London

2 March 2021

Immerse yourself in the Luxury London edit of the capital's prettiest al fresco swimming pools, from hotel rooftops to historic lidos, set against views of the city's iconic skyline 

2 March 2021 Luxury London

Shoreditch House and White City House 

White City House
Shoreditch 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, sky-high escape from the heat of the urban jungle. At 16 and 17-metres respectively, each rooftop pool is more than large enough for non-Olympians, surrounded by scintillating views of London's skyline. Get down early to nab one of the covetable sun loungers and keep those signature Picante cocktails flowing.

Update: White City House – 15 people allowed at any one time; members are encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible as limited changing room space will be available, but no shower or locker facilities. Shoreditch House – limited changing rooms and towels are available with no shower facilities. 

White City House, Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR; Shoreditch House, Ebor Street, Hackney, E1 6AW, sohohouse.com

The Ned, The City 

The City has become a ghost town since the pandemic, which is perhaps even more of a reason to visit whilst quiet. Beat the crowds at The Ned, a gargantuan bank-turned-members' club and hotel, owned by the Soho House group. It boasts nine restaurants, a gym, spa and hammam (not yet open), as well as indoor and outdoor pools. The members' only rooftop pool boasts one of the best views on this list, with St Paul's Cathedral and the Gherkin both in scope. 

27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ, thened.com

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. 

Update: swimming sessions must be booked in advance and there are a limited number of sessions per day. Guests may only book up to three sessions in any seven day period. 

Hampstead Heath Ponds, NW5 1QR, hampsteadheath.net

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. Right on the edge of Hampstead Heath, the 61-metre lido has plenty of room for everyone to enjoy. 

Update: sessions are available to book online and by phone one week in advance, with a maximum of three sessions per individual per week. No under 16s allowed at this time, but there are up to two family sessions per day. 

Parliament Hill Fields, Gospel Oak, NW5 1LT, parliamenthilllido.org

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, royalparks.org.uk

The Lido at The Curtain, Shoreditch 

It may be small but it certainly has character. Found atop The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch, this Moroccan-style heated pool offers a dip with a sweeping view of London's skyline. Open to hotel guests and Curtain members only, the pool is housed in the plant-filled conservatory with a retractable roof, which caters to London's unpredictable weather. A modern Mediterranean menu offers light and indulgent options for both lunch and dinner, after your small but essential paddle. 

45 Curtain Road, Hackney, EC2A 3PT, thecurtain.com