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Into the blue! 15 fabulous UK hotels with outdoor pools

Hallelujah, the heat is (finally) here! Get stuck into the great British summer at these stays with alfresco swimming, says Alicia Miller

<p>The Nici  </p>

The Nici

/ The Nici
14 June 2023

f you’re anything like us, chances are “does it have a swimming pool?” is top priority when booking a hotel. Now, with temperatures rising, it’s far more appealing to spend lazy, hazy, summer days with an outdoor dip. Thankfully, there’s a roster of options to bookmark for your next British weekender, whether in the city or looking further afield. From chic Mayfair delights to family-friendly pool parties — here’s some of our absolute favourites to discover this season.

Art’otel Battersea Power Station, London

The capital’s finest new outdoor pool, at art’otel Battersea

/ Matthew Shaw

You don’t need to leave the city to get a prime alfresco swim - just head to this recently opened infinity pool overlooking the iconic twin chimneys of Battersea Power Station. Suspended above the urban jumble on the 16th-floor rooftop of the art’otel, the sublime splash-with-a-view is strictly for hotel guests, accessed via a special booking system (yep, it’s that popular). Pack that new designer cossie for your stay, as this is one swimming event you’ll want to Instagram the heck out of.

From £400,

Cliveden House, Berkshire

A swim with real pedigree at Cliveden House

/ Cliveden House

At some hotels, the outdoor pool is an afterthought. At stately Cliveden House, built in 1666, it is a historic attraction. The only listed pool in Britain, it’s set within a lavender and rose-scented walled garden in 375 acres of manicured National Trust grounds. It’s in these watery depths that infamous 1960s sex-and-Russian-spy scandal the Profumo Affair kicked off, following one of the estate’s famously lively pool parties. Brush up on your history poolside while draining a glass of chilled rosé.

From £445,

The Nici, Bournemouth

The pool at The Nici is a stunner

/ The Nici

Bournemouth has long had brilliant beachfront, but lacked in stylish places to stay. The Nici changed all that when it opened last summer, setting a new tone for retro Miami-style chic on Dorset’s golden shores. Now the place to be isn’t packed like a sardine down on the sands, but on a parasol-shaded lounger by the hotel’s 30m heated outdoor pool. The turquoise lengths are open to Nici Club members as well as hotel guests, so if you think you might be a regular visitor consider signing up.

From £230,

The Scarlet, Cornwall

Looking out to The Scarlet’s natural pool

/ The Scarlet

The outdoor pool at eco-stay The Scarlet isn’t conventional. More akin to a wild swimming experience than a chlorinated lido, it’s naturally cleansed by a living reed bed, unheated and a draw for local wildlife. Dips can initially feel bracing, but you’ll quickly warm up stroking past the spectacular rambling view: over dramatic coastal cliffs and creamy Mawgan Porth beach. And there’s always the onsite cedar barrel sauna and alfresco hot tubs to help things along, too.

From £250,

Lympstone Manor, Devon

Slick Michelin-starred pool set up at Lympstone Manor

/ Lympstone Manor

Beach or pool? You don’t have to decide at this Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, set on the Exe Estuary strolling distance from the lovely sands at Exmouth. You can pack up towels to head for the Blue Flag coast - or keep things tranquil, kicking back onsite at the recently installed suntrap pool terrace. A restaurant serving the likes of truffle fries and grilled plaice is on hand so you needn’t budge, and with chef-patron Michael Caines at the helm every bite is first-rate.

From £356,

Manor House Alsager, Cheshire

Say hello to the swim-up pool bar at Manor House

/ Manor House Alsager

Flanking a 17th-century farmhouse, the newly opened ‘spa garden’ at this Cheshire stay goes in for full English countryside romance, with wafting blooms and swaying grasses dotting the scene. The centrepiece is the outdoor pool, heated to a balmy 38C and complete with its very own swim up bar (see, who needs Ibiza?). Spend the day drifting between its inviting shallows and the other spa amenities, including sunken hydrotherapy tub, Himalayan salt shed and relaxation lounge.

From £120,

CABÜ by the Sea, Kent

Slick design meets family-friendly practicalities at CABÜ by the Sea

/ CABÜ by the Sea

Families love this collection of chic Scandi-inspired cabins set metres from the Kentish coast - and in no small part thanks to its central suntrap pool. Steps from an outdoor kitchen equipped with barbecues and pizza oven, it comes with a laidback communal vibe that’s (whisper it) a bit like a very glam holiday park. Ask staff to whip you up a spritz for poolside refreshment, and let the kiddos run wild.

From £325 for two nights,

The Berkeley, London

London’s rooftop treasure: the pool at The Berkeley

/ The Berkeley

Belgravia’s chicest summer dipper for those in the know - The Berkeley’s pool is perched on the hotel’s rooftop, overlooking the rambling expanse of Hyde Park and the panorama of central London. Home to a new Chiara Perano mural, it’s an exclusive delight just for hotel guests, so you’ll have to splurge on one of the classically trim rooms to experience the joy. Poolside service is flawless, with poke bowls and Champagne, or berry smoothies if you’re feeling virtuous.

From £780,

Grantley Hall, Yorkshire

Dusk falls on Grantley Hall’s indoor-outdoor pool

/ Grantley Hall

Strictly speaking the vitality spa pool at Grantley Hall is an indoor-outdoor hybrid - but technicalities go out the window here on a lovely summer’s day. Move from warm and coddling interior - fizzing with a series of hydrotherapy jets - to the garden-wrapped exterior, lined in tables and seating for lazy afternoons. The Three Graces Spa is open to day visitors as well as hotel guests, so join them making the most of rambling facilities, hopping from thermal suites to the separate indoor pool, icy ‘snow room’ to tranquil treatment suites.

From £600,

Birch (Cheshunt), Hertfordshire

Birch (Cheshunt) has regular parties by its lido

/ Lesley Lau

Relive nostalgic summer days at the lido - but with added DJs and margaritas - in this 2023 update from members’ club and hotel Birch (Cheshunt). Just a skip outside of central London, it feels much further afield thanks to the shelter of a bucolic walled garden and surrounding lawn. Regular summer pool parties take the fun up a notch, with entry just £5 including a welcome drink. Kiddos have assigned swimming hours (Fridays and Saturdays after 3pm is adults-only), keeping everyone happy.

From £150,

Ellenborough Park, Gloucestershire

The most Cotswolds of pools, at Ellenborough Park

/ Ellenborough Park

Do pools get any more Cotswolds? Lined by hedge and set alongside honey-hued stone frontage, the watery depths at Ellenborough Park feel every bit the Gloucestershire idyll. The pool’s 30C heated lengths form just one part of this rambling country manor’s comprehensive spa regime, which also features thermal suites, relaxation rooms and on-tap treatments like hot stone massages. After a morning walking the rolling fields of the surrounding countryside, this is exactly the indulgence that’s called for.

From £299,

Armathwaite Hall, Cumbria

Greens and blues set the swimming tone at Armathwaite Hall

/ Armathwaite Hall

If you like your pools with a side of wild swimming, Armathwaite Hall in Cumbria is a prime pick. As well as the 16m outdoor infinity pool overlooking bird-flecked garden and soaring trees, expert-led dips await in the bracing natural waters of the picturesque Lake District. Immerse yourself further in the local wilds on forest-bathing sessions or treks into the fells. Or take in nature the more serene way, through the windows of the refined Lake District restaurant.

From £220,

Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, Hampshire

The Chewton Glen pool is wrapped in greenery

/ Chewton Glen

On the edge of the New Forest, a short stroll from the sea, this classic country house pile puts spa-ing at the forefront - and included in the mix is a lovely 10m outdoor pool. Fringed in grasses and flowers, shaded by umbrellas and with no shortage of nibbles flowing from the terrace bar, it’s the perfect place to unwind when a heatwave hits. There are no set swimming children’s swimming times either, ideal for families craving maximum flexibility.

From £405,

Ye Olde Bell, Nottinghamshire

The pool is just the beginning at Ye Olde Bell

/ Ye Olde Bell

If your main priority is spa-ing, then the indoor-outdoor vitality pool at this pampering hotel in Retford does the trick - because access also comes with around a dozen other thermal experiences, including alpine sauna, herbal laconium and salt inhalation room. You can book into one of the antique-furnished bedrooms (suitably old-world, given Ye Olde Bell dates to the 17th century) or just come for the day, where access to the slick facilities costs from £75.

From £190pp,

The Mole Resort, Devon

Be first-in for a dip at newly opened The Mole

/ The Mole

Just opened this June, this activities-focused resort is all about activity-led family fun - tennis and pickleball, croquet and football, golf and archery. Naturally swimming is part of the mix and as well as a 20m indoor heated version, there is an outdoor pool perfect for practising front crawls on warm days. Book into one of the contemporary window-lined lodges sleeping up to six people, and you’ll also have a private terrace with a frothing outdoor hot tub.

From £75,

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