THE BEST OUTDOOR POOLS + LIDOS IN LONDON
BY KERRY DOLAN
There’s no better way to escape the pressures of city life than relaxing by an outdoor pool. If you thought swimming alfresco was reserved for when you’re on holiday overseas, think again.
London has an abundance outdoor pools and lidos to choose from, so all you need to do is grab your towel and head down to your nearest one.
Here are our favourite outdoor swimming facilities across the city:
Charlton Lido. After recent a £2million refurbishment, this 50-metre outdoor pool in South East London had to extend its opening hours to cope with the extra visitors. Heated year round with casual swimming always available. Booking for private sessions is available online.
Hampstead Heath Ponds. Swimming at the Hampstead Heath ponds is a London fave and very popular in the summer months, although these freshwater bathing pools are open to the public every day. There are 3 ponds
and be prepared to share your swimming experience with the local ducks and swans.
Brockwell Lido. Situated in the corner of Brockwell Park, the 1930’s-built Art Deco Brockwell Lido is a much loved local landmark. With an award-winning café and a health and fitness centre on site, it’s a good choice for those looking for a large open space with a family feel and facilities to match.
London Fields in Hackney is perfect for those who don’t like their swim to be chilly. The 50-metre Olympic sized pool is heated year-round and open every day. With sun terraces and a café, it’s a popular venue and often gets crowded on warm days.
Oasis Sports Centre. Convenient for shoppers and people with desk jobs, an outdoor oasis awaits in Covent Garden. It a small outdoor pool, but it’s heated and has a sun terrace and café on site. Perfect for cooling off after a shopping trip, although this place is better for a quick dip rather than a serious swim.
Parliament Hill Lido. A grade II listed Art Deco classic, originally built in 1938, but a refurbishment in 2005 brought an unusual stainless-steel liner being added to give the water some extra shimmer. A large pool that is popular with families, it has good hot showers and a café for after swim snacks.
Tooting Bec Lido. The largest freshwater open-air swimming pool in the UK, this lido has been popular with families and stern swimmers since 1906. Its characterful multi-coloured changing room doors are welcoming and fresh and the café here is good too.
Serpentine Lido. The Serpentine and accompanying paddling pool offer unchlorinated swimming areas carved from the main pond in Hyde Park. There are deck chairs, changing facilities, a kiosk selling drinks and snacks and a playground nearby. Local wildlife will be sharing these waters with you too.
Finchley Lido. Part of a complex which includes an indoor pool, cinema and bowling alley, the outdoor pool is small and unheated and surrounded by grassy terraces for sunbathing. You can’t swim alfresco here if it’s less than 20 degrees outside, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied inside if it is.
Hampton Pool TW12. Heated throughout the year, this open-air pool is situated in 2 acres of woodland close to Bushy Park. A 36-metre-long pool with a dedicated learner pool for children, the surrounding grass areas are ideal for soaking up the summer rays.
Park Road Leisure Centre. Crouch End’s 50m heated lido dates back to 1926 and although currently closed for refurbishment, they are hoping to reopen the lido again in time for swimming season, on 1st May 2018. Check the website for details. The centre also houses an indoor pool, exercise studios and therapy rooms.
Pools on the Park, Richmond. Part of a fitness complex built in the 1960’s, the lido is open in early May although check website for exact opening times before you visit.