Whether you want to swim in a pool fit for an Olympian, a pond or an exclusive club, London is the place in which to make a splash. Kohinoor Sahota dives right in
Discover the places to splash around, from open-air ponds to Olympic-sized swimming pools.
There is something quite exciting about going for a swim in a cool, calming pool in the middle of a big, bustling city. Whether it is outdoors, on a rooftop or even a former Olympic one, London has a surprising mix.
Swimming outdoors in the capital is definitely for the brave, as the temperatures are often cold. One of the most popular swimming pools is Hampstead Heath’s Ponds (Highgate Rd, NW5 1QR). The surrounding woodland is a magical setting: when you stumble upon the lakes, which are hidden by trees, it feels like you have found a secret spot. The men’s, women’s and mixed pools are the only public pools in London that are open every day. Other outdoor pools include King’s Cross Pond Club ( Tapper Walk, N1C 4BE) and Serpentine
Lido in Hyde Park (Hyde Park, W2 2UH). Who knows who you might bump into at the Bamford Haybarn Spa in The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge (p. 77)? The spa has always been in fashion. One of its regulars was the late designer Alexander McQueen, and the original Cotswolds branch, Bamford Haybarn Spa, is popular with the likes of model Kate Moss. What the pool lacks in size – it is only 10m long – it makes up for with a postcard-worthy view over the Royal Parks.
On warmer days the rooftop opens up, so you can sunbathe. Perch on one of the poolside loungers, and enjoy food and drink that includes healthy smoothies and salads. While you are there, enjoy a massage treatment or take advantage of the gym. If you fancy exclusivity, The Club on Park
Lane (140 Park Lane, W1K 7AA) in the Marriott London Park Lane boasts one of London’s most luxurious pools. Dimly-lit, blue hues give the impression that this 12.5m-long heated pool is infinite. Recently renovated, it includes steam rooms, a gym and treatment rooms for massages. The pool is available to hotel guests with a membership. Let out your inner Olympian at the London
Aquatics Centre inside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (p. 27). It was here that the American swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian, and diver Tom Daley won a bronze medal for Britain. The late Dame Zaha Hadid’s undulating building can fit up to 2,500 spectators and has several pools, including the competition pool that is of heroic proportions – it is 50m long and 3m deep. The more adventurous can also try diving classes, as part of Tom Daley’s Diving Academy, which are available for adults and children. It’s time to dive into London!
Clockwise from top left: Bamford Haybarn Spa; King’s Cross Pond Club; London Aquatics Centre Bottom left and inset: The Club on Park Lane