Surprised by the sudden onslaught of real summer weather? Need a cool dip in the pool after a long hot day on the city streets? Luckily, London has a variety of brilliant outdoor pools and lidos…
Words: Phoebe Gould
1 Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting
Visiting South London’s Tooting Bec Lido is perfect for a refreshing dip–and for crossing an item off your bucket list. Tooting Bec Lido in south London is the largest outdoor fresh-water pool in the United Kingdom. The pool measures 91.44 metres long and 30.18 metres wide. Visitors to the pool can relax in the sunbathing area, splash around in the paddling pool, strap on goggles and swim laps, or grab an ice-cream cone at the café.
Tooting Bec Road, Tooting SW16 1RU; placesforpeopleleisure.co.uk
2 Charlton Lido, Greenwich
Located in Hornfair Park, the Lido at Charlton Lido & Lifestyle Club is the Capital’s second 50-metre heated outdoor pool after London Fields. It reopened in early 2013 after an extensive £2 million refurbishment. Whether you want to improve your freestyle technique, get fit, compete, meet fellow swimmers or have some family fun, you’re sure to love splashing about in the Charlton Lido. Fitness lane swimming is always available, but water games and fun with noodles are also encouraged.
Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, Charlton SE18 4LX; better.org.uk
3 London Fields Lido, Hackney
The London Fields Lido in Hackney reopened in 2006 on the site of the original 1930s pool after locals fought for the facility’s return. The lido can get packed on hot sunny days, but the pool is open all year round and it’s heated—so you don’t need a heatwave to enjoy the swim. London Fields introduced floodlights to the pool in 2014, so the lido is open from 6.30am to 9pm, all year round.
London Fields West Side, Hackney E8 3EU; better.org.uk
4 Park Road Pools & Fitness, Crouch End
One of London’s largest lidos, the Park Road Pool underwent an £8 million redevelopment project in 2016. The Olympic-sized main pool is just one of five swimming pools at the Park Road location. There is also a play area and fitness facilities, changing areas, sun loungers and fun water features. Park Road’s lido has some good ol’ London tradition tied to it too—Londoners have been flocking to the swimming spot since 1926.
Park Road, Crouch End N8 8JN; fusion-lifestyle.com
5 Parliament Hill, Hampstead
Built in 1938 and Grade II-listed, the Parliament Hill Lido is the only stainless steel lined outdoor pool in the UK. The shiny metal lining makes the whole pool shimmer with a deep royal blue hue. The pool is unheated and is one of a number of open-air swimming areas in Hampstead Heath. The Ladies’ Pond, Men’s Pond and the Mixed Pond are just steps away—and so are a number of splash pools, sports facilities, playgrounds and gardens for a whole afternoon of fun.
Parliament Hill Mansions, Lissenden Gardens NW5 1NA; cityoflondon.gov.uk
6 Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill
Nestled in the corner of Brockwell Park, the Brockwell Lido is a gem of south London and features an award winning café in an art deco style building. Brockwell Lido has set times for general swimming and lap swimming, so make sure you check before you make the trek. But once you’re there, you’ll love all the Brockwell Lido has to offer, especially the lovely poolside Lido Cafe. No wonder locals call it Brixton’s Beach.
Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill SE24 0PA; fusion-lifestyle.com
7 Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
The Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool is located in the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park and open to the public during the summer months. It is home to the Serpentine Swimming Club which is the oldest swimming club in Britian. Members of the club may swim all year round at the lido and are famous for their crazy Christmas day race. The Lido is full of nature, so you may find yourself sharing a lane with local swans or ducks. There is gated family area with a chlorinated paddling pool and swings, as well as a private sunbathing area for ultimate relaxation.
Hyde Park W2 2UH; serpentinelido.com
8 Hampton Pool, Hampton Court
Hampton Pool, otherwise known as South West London’s biggest secret, is a 36-metre long open-air pool. The lido is heated to provide for 365 days of outdoor swimming. The Hampton Pool has an even warmer paddling pool for beginners in addition to two water slides and a large grassy area for picnics or lazing in the sunshine. Once inside, you can stay all day, or follow your swim with a walk or cycle ride at Bushy Park next door.
High Street, Hampton TW12 2ST; hamptonpool.co.uk
9 Thames Baths
Thames Baths is a proposal to launch a series of natural swimming baths. Specifically the group aims to reintroduce swimming in the River Thames to reclaim the river for swimming and increased public use by Londoners. The idea was launched in 2014 as part of a London As It Could Be Now programme. A recent Kickstarter campaign helped raised £142,000 for a Pre-Planning Report to assess the various sites along the River Thames. Sure, this one doesn’t exist yet, but we’re excited to see where this project goes and, for now, the nine other London lidos should keep us cool for the summer.