London's best swimming pools
Great pools? From marble-clad baths dripping in history to modern leisure centres echoing with lifeguards' whistles, London is swimming in them
Bethnal Green's York Hall has a world-wide reputation for its boxing facilities but there's a lot more on offer. The recently refurbished centre also has a great 33.3 metre, eight lane pool and 12 metre training pool providing classes and swimming lessons for all ages. There's a fully equipped gym and studios which offer yoga and Pilates. And it's home to budget spa chain, Spa London, where you can get a massage, facial or body wrap for well under £50. A swim costs from just £3.80 off peak.
- 5-15 Old Ford Rd, E2 9PJ
Until 2007 when Spa London opened in Bethnal Green, there was no such thing as an affordable day spa in in the capital. A second branch has now opened at Swiss Cottage Leisure centre with a long, good-value treatment menu. Still, for a complete spa day package you're best sticking to this East End original where facilities include steam rooms, Turkish hamam and plunge pools.Treatments range from an Escape in the City Salt Scrub (a 25-minute cleansing that should remove all trace of London grime), to the spa's signature Gym & Tonic in which your body is cleansed, body brushed and exfoliated, before being treated to an aromatherapy massage and warm marine mask. Indulgence without the price-tag.
- York Hall Leisure Centre, Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ
A dogged 18-year campaign by the London Fields User Group saved this 50-metre lido from demolition, and it reopened in 2006. Open year-round, it’s now run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd. It’s heated and well used: during busy holiday periods it closes at lunchtime between sessions to make sure as many people as possible can enjoy it. Picnicking is off-limits but there are two cafés.
- London Fields Westside, E8 3EU
Originally opened as a wash house in 1931, the public centre recently underwent a £16.5 million restoration project, which included giving the Turkish hammam in the basement (now operated by Spa London) a lavish facelift. Its trio of hot rooms, two saunas, two steam rooms and an ice-cold plunge pool now feel incongruously luxurious given the cost of a three-hour session here (from £8.75), and the spa’s menu of signature and Elemis beauty treatments are almost absurdly affordable. The chasm between palatial looks and leisure centre prices continues throughout. What’s been preserved in spite of the primping, however, is a sense of the venue’s place in local history.
- 1-11 Ironmonger Row, EC1V 3QF
If you need a break from making money, the 20-metre pool at this Virgin Active club will help bring your blood pressure under control. Perched alongside the Thames, in a building with glass walls, it appears to extend into the river.
- Canary Riverside, Off Westferrry Road, E14
Fancy a bit of fresh air to go with your swim? Visit one of these lovely lidos and outdoor pools for the most refreshing exercise available.
Visit our outdoor swimming pools feature