London’s five best outdoor pools

Keep your cool at one of these bathing hot spots – perfect for a post-work dip

Travel 27 Jul 2018

Tooting Bec Lido; Alamy
Tooting Bec Lido; Alamy
Oasis Sports Centre
Serpentine Lido; Alamy

With no sign of the mercury dropping any time soon, beating the heat by the pool is a perfect excuse to swap business suit for swimsuit. Even if you don’t arrive early to miss the queues, the water will still be worth the wait:

1. Oasis Sports Centre

A refreshing antidote to the sweltering Central line commute, this hidden West End gem just off Shaftesbury Avenue is Central London’s only heated outdoor swimming spot. Enjoy a dip in the 27.5m three-lane pool, then sun yourself on the surrounding patio area and sun deck, or jump in the neighbouring sauna.

£6.05 for non-members; 32 Endell St, London WC2H 9AG; better.org.uk

2. London Fields Lido

Opened in 1932 during the golden era of lidos (169 were built by councils across the UK in the 30s as demand for outdoor swimming boomed), Hackney’s London Fields Lido is the capital’s first floodlit outdoor pool. At 50m it qualifies as Olympic size, and heated water means you can enjoy some well-lit evening lengths.

From £5 for non-members; London Fields West Side, Hackney E8 3EU; better.org.uk

3. Tooting Bec Lido

What better way to cool off than with a splash in the largest outdoor freshwater pool in the country? This 91m chlorine-free lido is unheated, so expect a crisp entry, but that’s nothing a lap or two won’t solve. Cheery wooden changing rooms in primary colours add a vintage seaside feel. Grab an ice cream at the café for the full holiday effect.

Adult £7.50 (£4.60 after 6pm); Tooting Bec Rd, London SW16 1RU; placesforpeopleleisure.org

4. Brockwell Lido

Set in a corner of south London’s historic Brockwell Park, this Grade II-listed local landmark opened in 1937 and those feeling the heat have been enjoying the 50m outdoor pool and its Art Deco surrounds ever since. Wander over to Herne Hill or the bustle of Brixton to refuel post-swim.

Adults from £3.20; Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road SE24 0PA; fusion-lifestyle.com 

5. Serpentine Lido

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not cool off in the wild waters of Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lido – where swimmers vie for a space alongside a selection of feathered neighbours in leafy surrounds. The open-water swimming area has its water tested weekly, so no risk of nasties. Dry off with a slow ride around the lake on a paddleboat or admire the view from a waterside table at the Lido Cafe Bar, cooling Pimm’s and lemonade in hand.

Adults from £4.10; Open until early September, every day until 6pm; Hyde Park London W2 3XA; royalparks.org.uk