As the weather reaches scorching temperatures, we're dreaming of considerably more exciting weekend activities: picnics in the park, rooftop drinks and, of course, cooling off poolside. With your towel and a summer read packed and ready to go, it's probably time to start thinking about where you're going to show off your front crawl.
Obviously, this is no ordinary summer – after months of working from home and strict lockdown conditions, the desire to go to the lido is stronger than ever but the rules are tighter than you may be used to. Pools and lidos were understandably closed during lockdown and only began to reopen in July (as long as they have plenty of COVID-ready precautions in place). What this means for you, intrepid swimmer, is that they are reducing numbers and spacing out swimmers, and booking a slot is essential.
London is still overflowing with incredible lidos to dip all 10 toes into – whether you're looking for a kid-friendly watering hole or somewhere to hang all day with friends, this city is a treasure trove of outdoor swimming options. From art deco beauties to 1970s restored gems via Bloomsbury-era natural ponds, there's a pool for everyone. All you need to do is make sure you have all the latest information (and have booked ahead) before setting out and diving in!
After a long, hard day of sunbathing on Hampstead Heath, nothing could be more welcome than a dip in Parliament Hill Lido. Right on the edge of the park, this 61-metre lido has plenty of room for everyone, as well as a fantastic café to wind down in afterwards. If you can handle a dip in colder weather, the on-site sauna does a lovely job of heating you up afterwards. Remember, swimming is for life, not just for summer.
Way out west, on the edge of Bushy Park and near Hampton Court, is Hampton pool. The main pool is heated to a balmy 28 degrees, to guarantee you a great swim whatever the weather or time of day (there are nighttime sessions for anyone who fancies swimming under the stars). With an even warmer paddling pool, water slides and a large grassy area, it’s massively popular with families. And it’s more than just a pool: it’s made a name for itself as a concert venue, hosting gigs and theatre productions.
You have to book ahead via the app, which you can find here.
This old-school lido has been in use since 1906 and the architecture alone is worth the visit to south London. Marked by distinctively coloured cubicle doors, it's prime Pantone fodder for Instagrammers. The pool, measuring 90m x 30m, is the largest freshwater open-air swimming pool in the UK and there’s a lovely café, too, for those looking to keep dry.
At 50m by 23m, Park Road Lido is one of the largest in London. It's also heated year-round and has had a major £8 million refurbishment (including the addition of a café and plenty of fun water features), making it a popular destination for family days out.
While a little way out of central London, this heated pool is more than worth the visit. It is located in Richmond's picturesque Old Deer Park and is part of an extensive leisure complex (including an indoor pool). We recommend making a day of it and visiting the nearby Kew Gardens.
You can book a Pay As You Go session up to seven days in advance here.
If you're trying to beat the heat in central London, the solution might be closer than you think. Just a stone's throw from the bright lights of Covent Garden and the treasures of The British Museum, Oasis Sports Centre offers year-round outdoor swimming with a 27.5m outdoor heated swimming pool, as well as a slightly smaller indoor pool. Pop in on your way to work for a water-based weekday workout or take a more leisurely dip over the weekend when the city heat gets too much.
Formerly known as Uxbridge Lido, Hillingdon's outdoor pool is another classic 1930s build (and is even Grade II listed). Recently renovated to its former glory, Hillingdon features a kids' heated shallow splash pool, water fountains, and a café for poolside drinks and snacks.
Feel like a swim in a lake will set you right? You're in luck – if you head south you'll find Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham, which has London's first purpose-built swimming lake and is open again for summer swimming.