Summer, sunshine and lidos. Ah, is there anywhere better in London to spend your summer than the lido.
Sorry, what? You don’t know what a lido is? Well you must be new around here. You think it sounds a bit odd? Yes, it does sound rather strange but have no fear, a lido is simply an outdoor public pool.
It might seem odd, the idea of a public pool in the UK, is it warm enough? Surely it does nothing but rain? Well in London at least there is some sense, London after all has its own climate, and gets less rain a year than Paris or Rome.
So, with summer it’s time to head to lidos. There are a few different ones to travel too, so while you can turn up to any on a sunny day and find them teeming, there is plenty of room for the whole of London to find somewhere to go.
The most famous, yet not famous Lido is the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. People have heard whisperings of its existence, on foggy winter days people strolling through the park may be heard to say, “I am pretty sure you can go swimming somewhere around here? Wouldn’t want to though, don’t even know where.”
Well the good news is that if you do fancy a swim in one of London’s most iconic spots, and don’t mind the swans, for under £5, you can jump into the cool crisp water of the Serpentine.
For a semi-famous pool, not that fame really needs to come into it but anyway, head to the Parliament Hill Lido at the bottom of Hampstead Heath. What contributes to the fame of this lido, a popular teen chick-flick, what else? Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging filmed a scene here, and it’s very recognisable. Or at least recognisable enough that when you go with friends you will have three separate conversations about whether or not this is that lido. Until one of you finally googles it, and confirms what you thought you knew.
Expect every Instagram post following your trip to reference the movie.
If you are looking for the iconic, picture perfect, colourful dressing room doors then Tooting Lido is the place to go. With its red, yellow, green, and blue doors, you’ll want to find a vintage swimsuit to make you feel perfectly at home.
But for a bit of magic, a moment of nymph-like freedom, there is only one place to go. The Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds. If you are expecting clear, chlorinated water these are not the places to go. Grassy banks lead into freshwater pools, with trees surrounding them, and hiding them away.
There are three different pools. One for women, another for men, and a third for mixes.
As one swimmer said who recently attended the women’s only pool. “It was like entering a fairy garden, everyone was calm and peaceful, and just swimming or walking, I felt like a fairy.”