Other countries treat swimming pools as everyday, matter-of-fact occurrences. It’s normal in, say, California or Australia to simply have a pool in the garden, just lying there ready to be dived into. A perpetual personal lido bobbing away for your enjoyment. Over here it’s a louche luxury enjoyed by only the richest, and in London even then it’s likely impossible unless you can hollow out a three-storey basement to your Belgravian townhouse.
Which means there’s simply way more mystique, more fun and outright enjoyment to a city pool. Because in London you have to sniff out the greatest pools, they’re not in the garden but they’re underneath luxury hotels, perched on rooftops or even in a church! To help you get sun prepped, we’ve rounded up the best swimming pools in London everyone should visit this summer season.
Swimming pools in London you need to visit
The Royal Automobile Club, or RAC, is the perfect combination of a contemporary London club, with a young and relatively diverse membership, and modern facilities all encased in 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, all underground and hidden from the world.
Lobby a member to take you along, best enjoyed after a game of squash and before dinner.
89 Pall Mall, St James’s, SW1Y 5HS
From nave to positively naval, pews have made way for pools at Repton Park, this Virgin Active leisure centre in East London.
For an immersive baptism in church swimming, head to Woodford Green, where you can also enjoy the prettiest gym roof in the whole of London.
The former chapel really is a place of sanctuary, with physio and spa facilities on site.
Repton Park, Manor Road, Repton Park, IG8 8GN
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
As part of its renovation, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park revitalised its gym with new state-of-the-art facilities, including this sleek, industrial-chic, heated stainless steel 17-metre swimming pool. For good measure, the pool also has a lap timer.
After swimming, chill out in the sauna or steam room, ‘the Rasul water temple’ or the Four Senses lounge.
66 Knightsbridge, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
The Lansdowne Club
On the corner of Berkeley Square, The Landsdowne Club might look like any other West End private members’ club (big, posh, imposing – it’s actually none of those things once you’re inside). But venture down a winding staircase off the front lobby and into the basement and it opens out into a cavernous gym and pool (big, posh, imposing).
The art deco styling, not to mention the unexpected splendour, makes this a must-swim location.
9 Fitzmaurice Place, Mayfair, W1J 5JD
art’otel London Battersea Power Station
London’s coolest pool to open sits atop art’otel London Battersea Power Station. With soaring views over the Power Station, this rooftop infinity pool is one everyone wants to be seen at this summer.
The interiors are this hotel is driven by art, with signature artworks and interiors created by award-winning designer Jamie Hayon. Expect hotel rooms here to be booked up all summer long.
1 Electric Boulevard, Nine Elms, SW11 8BJ
Ever wonder how hipsters keep cool? Probably not. But it’s not hard to see why Shoreditch House remains one of London’s most popular private members’ clubs.
Yes, it has great restaurants, an exclusive membership list and fantastic facilities, but surely the real reason everyone’s obsessed is the rooftop pool.
Heaving in summer, but for good reason. The pool may be shallow and plunge pool-esque but it’s cooling and perfect for the summer sun.
Ebor Street, Shoreditch, E1 6AW
Shangri-La The Shard, London
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 partially submerged on the 52nd floor?
Officially the highest pool in Europe and with one of the capital’s best hotels tagged on.
The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge, SE1 9QU
Beneath the graceful exterior of this crisp Whitehall iceberg lies a subterranean darkness that’s alluring and luxurious in equal parts.
ESPA Life spa offers visitors a gym and thermal floor, an incredible pool, a vitality pool, amphitheatre sauna and steam room. As if that wasn’t enough there’s also an ice fountain as well as relaxation areas and ‘experience showers’.
Whitehall Place, Westminster, SW1A 2BD
A Handbook favourite, The Langham boasts a luxury spa and wellness centre in the heart of Portland Place. A must-visit is the 16m-long indoor pool, home to sultry black stone surrounding and a bonsai tree backdrop at the top of its length.
1C Portland Place, W1B 1JA