At this time of year everyone seems to be either on holiday, leaving for, or coming back from 10 days of sun, sea and sand somewhere hot. Although everyone’s idea of holiday heaven is different, my perfect getaway consists of great company, beautiful weather and a gorgeous swimming pool to lie by all day long, while I catch up on a year’s worth of reading and relaxation. So, if you are anything like me, getting back to the daily grind, i.e. life without your own outdoor swimming pool, can be a bit of a reality check. Therefore, to help you combat the post holiday blues, I’ve put together a list of my favourite hotel swimming pools available in London. I can’t promise you eternal sunshine, al fresco dinners or that you’ll be able to recreate that carefree holiday state of mind, but hopefully a visit to some of these perfect pools will put the spring back in your step as we head into autumn…
1. The Bulgari
Without a doubt, the subterranean swimming pool at The Bulgari is one of London’s most sensational swimming experiences. Arriving by the poolside after a lift ride down into the heart of the hotel, you’ll feel a million miles away from the busy streets of Knightsbridge and real life above. Its opulent cabanas, reminiscent of a tropical luxury resort, green and gold leaf glass mosaic tiles and pearly-white columns combine to create something straight out of your wildest dreams, especially when it’s a cold and miserable afternoon outside. Make use of the pool’s 25 metres to swim your lengths uninterrupted, take a dip in the vitality pool, cosy up to one of the inviting open fires at the far end of the poolside in your top of the range toweling gown, or, if this all sounds too taxing, make the most of the hotel’s fantastic spa. To find out more about becoming a member take a look here.
2. Aman Spa at The Connaught
The epitome of monochrome chic, the swimming pool at The Connaught’s (the world’s only stand alone) Aman Spa gets the prize for sexiest swimming pool in the capital. As you descend into the hotel’s spa the seductive hushed silence, signature Aman service and warm fragrant air will transport you to a parallel universe where your worries float away and a sense of calm immediately envelops you. With a crystal steam room, sleek and understated relaxation area, fresh fruit and a range of health drinks surrounding the swimming pool, this is the place to while away a rainy afternoon – whatever the weather outside, you’ll stay blissfully unaware as you soak in the pool’s dark and inviting waters. For more information on my favourite Aman Resorts worldwide, see here.
3. The Berkeley
The Berkeley is home to one of the very few rooftop swimming pool in London – something to be aware of when the sun comes out and the capital’s temperature rises. Well prepared for all weather, the pool is either left open to the elements or covered by its transparent glass roof; either way, your swim will be bathed in natural light. On top of views of the sky above, as they laze about on your sunbed, sun-seekers will be spoilt with panoramic views of Hyde Park beyond and below. While you’re up there you may wish to indulge in some of the hotel’s Bamford treatments and Oskia facials. Unlike a lot of hotel swimming pools and spas, membership at The Berkeley comes with daily or yearly options. Find out more here.
4. ESPA Life at Corinthia
Part of Corinthia’s unbelievable ESPA Life spa, this is the swimming pool for stylish sybarites and those who love doing everything, including lengths, in style. Surrounded by minimalist white couches, the stainless steel swimming pool has been sunk into a mould of black marble – something you’ll see a lot of spread over the spa’s four floors. With its moody ceiling and serene sense of calm, I think of nowhere better to escape to after a bad day or a prolonged bout of London weather. But then, I am an incredible fan of the Corinthia brand (read what I love about Corinthia here). If you are a fan of the ESPA brand (and why wouldn’t you be?), my other favourite outposts are those found at The Leela Palace, Delhi and The Leela Palace, Udaipur.
5. Shoreditch House
If you’re lucky enough to be a member of ever-so-cool East London member’s club, Shoreditch House, then there is no need to read on, as this will be old news to you. For the rest of us normal folks, get ready for some serious rooftop pool envy. Shoreditch House is set over three floors in a converted 1930s factory building (sooo trendy!) and boasts gardens, a gym, restaurants, rooms, library, games room, a Cow Shed spa and one seriously sexy swimming pool which are all sparkly fresh from a recent refurb. Open to the elements and heated all year round, swim to you heart’s content until 10 o’clock every evening. The rooftop restaurant is a beautiful space covered in green creepers with killer views over the city and is the perfect place to build up your strength for all those lengths… that’s if there’s anytime left after all that partying with the cool crew.
6. Jumeirah Carlton Tower
Probably the sportiest swimming pool in my selection, the Peak Swimming Pool at Jumeirah Carlton Tower has been designed with doing lengths in mind. However, for those of you who are more interested in trying to recreate that holiday feeling, there is a large and inviting jacuzzi that looks out over a small forest of exotic palm trees down onto the pool below. In addition to a glass roof that allows light to stream in all day long, this 9th floor oasis also boasts fantastic views over on the smartest parts of town. If you’re feeling peckish and are looking for a post-swim snack, I would recommend the hotel’s Club Room. Decorated in a girly pink, with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Sloane Street below (all the way to the iconic Battersea Power Station), the Club Room serves healthy and refreshing snacks and drinks.
7. Four Seasons Canary Wharf
Set in London’s Manhatten-esque Canary Wharf, the infinity-edge swimming pool at The Four Seasons takes some beating. Part of the hotel’s Virgin Active Health Club, visitors can look out though the floor to ceiling windows over the surrounding River Thames and the glittering skyscrapers as they swim lengths in the 20 metre pool. So sexy is the view that the swimming pool recently featured in the latest Bond film, Skyfall, doubling up for scenes set in Shanghai. You may remember it as one of the scenes were film-goers were treated to some eye-candy of the famous Daniel Craig; read more about the filming process here. Although many of the hotel’s guest tend to visit for business reasons, this is a good place to rest your head after a concert at the nearby O2 Arena.
8. The Haymarket Hotel
Part of the super-cool Firmdale Collection, the Haymarket Hotel is located just off Piccadilly Circus. Discreet, laid back, stylish and every so cool (everything you would expect from husband and wife duo Kit & Tim Kemp), the real gem of this hotel is their secret (not anymore!) and very sexy swimming pool. With its large bar, mood lighting and gigantic sound system, this is much more than just a pool – it’s the perfect place to hold a party. Guests at Firmdale Hotels are usually young, creative and, most importantly, looking to have fun so it’s no surprise that this hotel has played host to some legendary events. All Firmdale fans look out for the arrival of the company’s new flagship property in London, Ham Yard, opening in April 2014.
9. The Chuan Health Club, The Langham
Located on the site of a former bank vault, the 16 metre pool at The Langham, one of London’s grand dame hotels that dates from 1865, is a calm and relaxing haven below the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street above. However, more that the actual pool itself, I am a huge fan of the Chuan Health Club’s lavender fringed vitality pool (pictured below). Set with atmospheric mood lighting, this is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate after a couple of lengths or a tough session in the salt sauna. Getting room service in your robe wouldn’t be quite right at The Langham; in fact, just upstairs you’ll find Roux at The Landau, one of London’s finest restaurants, headed up the unbeatable father and son combination that is Albert & Michel Roux.
10. One to watch…. Cafe Royal
One of the best things about living in London is that there is always something up and coming to get excited about – the hotel industry being no exception. A hotel that has been creating buzz for a very long time now is Cafe Royal, located just off Regent Street. Part of luxury hotel group The Set (more on that another time), this legendary site, patronized by Oscar Wilde in his absinthe days, amongst other celebrities, reopened its doors as a luxury hotel in December 2012. The Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre is due to open any day now and from the proofs that have been released it looks fantastic. Following on from the hotel bathroom’s effective use of beautiful Italian Carrara marble, this swimming pool had to make the list.
Have I missed out any of your favourite swimming pools in London? If so, let me know!
Many of the swimming pools featured above are only open to hotel guests or dedicated spa/fitness club members. Therefore, please make sure to check the details before going.