Us Londoners are an adventurous bunch, we love our city with its fascinating corners and curios, but when it comes to pools we’re happy to do our lengths in humdrum leisure centres. No more! Here are a selection of the most interesting pools in the capital!
The Royal Automobile Club, or RAC, is the perfect combination of contemporary London club, with a young and relatively diverse membership and modern facilities but with an old-school traditional clubland look and vibe. Housed in a magnificent clubhouse on Pall Mall, the club also has one of London’s grandest pools, with Romanesque columns and marble floors and walls.
Where: 89 Pall Mall, St James's, SW1Y 5HS
State of the Art
As part of its renovation, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has revitalised its gym with new state of the art facilities, including this sleek, industrial-chic, heated stainless steel 17 metre swimming pool. After swimming, chill out in the sauna or steam room and the Four Senses lounge area.
Where: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, Knightsbridge, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Knightsbridge (0.1 miles)
Everyone loves a rooftop pool, and The Berekely delivers in spades (or buckets, given it’s water). With its retractable roof, the Knightsbridge hotel boasts one of London’s most glamorous pools. The views across Hyde Park are special, but given it’s one of London’s smartest hotels everything here is.
Where: Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RL, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner (0.3 miles)
Evangelical about swimming?
For pure curiosity it’s worth heading way out East to Repton Park for one of the most unusual gyms in the country. Set in a former church, the congregation has made way for swimmers and the pool dominates the nave.
Where: Repton Park, Manor Road, Repton Park, IG8 8GN
On the corner of Berkeley Square, The Landsdowne club might look like any other West End private members’ club. But venture down a winding staircase off the front lobby and into the basement and it opens out into a cavernous gym and pool. The art deco styling, not to mention the unexpected splendour, make this a must-swim location. Afterwards, perhaps a spot of fencing in London’s smartest fencing salles, or pop upstairs for a slap up dinner.
Where: 9 Fitzmaurice Place, Mayfair, W1J 5JD
Gluttons for punishment will be breaking the ice and diving into The Serpentine on even the coldest of days, but fair-weather swimmers are welcome too at this Hyde Park institution. Unlike traditional lidos, The Serpentine is a man-made lake, with birds and fishes and so on, and the location, right in the middle of central London, is unbeatable.
Where: The Serpentine, Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Exclusive in the East
One of the capital’s most exclusive pools sits atop Shoreditch House. The East London private members’ club is famously picky when it comes to members, but those lucky enough to make the cut (and pay the subs) can enjoy weekend pool parties overlooking Canary Wharf.
Where: Ebor Street, Shoreditch, E1 6AW
Swim in the sky
Take in one of the most spectacular skylines in the world from the top of one of the city’s most iconic buildings. After all, where better to gaze at St Pauls or The Gherkin from than fully submerged on the 52nd floor? Officially the highest pool in Europe and with one of the capital’s best hotels tagged on.
Where: The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge, SE1 9QU
The dark and alluring pool at The Corinthia Hotel is the height of luxury in the depths of the hotel’s Spa. The hotel might have Tom Kerridge’s latest restaurant, and be the perfect staging post for an evening in the theatre, but the real draw has got to be the unmissable basement pool.
Where: Whitehall Place, Westminster, SW1A 2BD
Nearest station: London Charing Cross (0.1 miles)