Natalie French

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When the sun (finally) shines over blighty, outdoor swimming pools come into their own. Luckily for us, UK hotels are home to some absolute beauties, from natural swimming ponds in the South Downs to those perched high upon the North Devon cliffs, with glistening ocean views. Natalie French shares the best hotel pools to dip your toe in this summer. 

Set within 125 acres of Cornish coastline, with its own stretch of white-sand Blue Flag beach, the heated 20-metre infinity pool at Carbis Bay is hard to beat. With pinch-me views over St Ives Bay, you quickly understand why it is often voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Throw in the palm-dotted subtropical garden and, when the sun shines, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Med. Done dipping? Retreat to the tiled sun deck to soak in yet more of those ocean views; keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and seals who occasionally frolic in the bay. 

This Victorian red-brick beauty is set in 66-acres of manicured gardens in the Hampshire countryside. No stranger to the ‘coolest pools in Britain’ listicles, those in the know head to the heated outdoor pool tucked away in its own walled courtyard behind the mansion house. Open during the summer months, sun worshippers flock to this quintessentially British hotel pool for some serious relaxation. Pool-side butlers take care of refreshments, so you can just kick back and top up the vitamin d supplies in style. 

If it’s Atlantic views you’re after, look no further than Saunton Sands Hotel. The outdoor swimming pool is set high atop the cliffs overlooking the breathtakingly beautiful Saunton Sands Beach. Heated from May to October, the pool is lined with loungers to relax between laps; cold water dippers can get their fix the rest of the year. If you’re staying at the hotel, don’t miss the spa’s Vitality Pool located inside Source Spa; filled with mineral-rich Dead Sea salt water – heated to a balmy 38.C - you can bubble away while starring at the ocean through the floor-to-ceiling glass. 

Located in the West Sussex countryside, five-star South Lodge is home to not one but three pools: a 22-metre infinity-edge indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling glass over the South Downs; a hot and bubbly outdoor hydrotherapy pool and an 18-metre wild swimming pond. The latter gets our vote for on a hot summer’s day, complete with reeds and surrounded by greenery, you can cool off while getting your nature fix. Post-dip, retreat to the terraced sun decks; drinks, gelatos and light bites can be ordered at The Watershed. 

No one loves a pool more than Ragdale Hall, with a grand total of six pools to choose from, including a 25-metre indoor pool, an indoor/outdoor waterfall pool and a candle pool in a cave. The multi-million-pound roof-top infinity pool is pick of the bunch; this 12-metre stainless steel and glass beauty is located high above the walls of the red-brick Victorian manor house. Bubble away in a toasty 35 degrees while soaking in the views of the rolling Leicestershire countryside

The 18-metre heated open-air pool at Pennyhill Park has summer written all over it. Set within the 45,000 square foot spa, in a natural valley between the hotel and the spa, the pool is perfect for swimming laps before getting horizontal on one of the comfy pool-side loungers, complete with white parasol and sails for sunny days. Mediterranean-inspired plants and The Pool View Bar give holiday vibes. Don’t miss a bubble in one black marble Canadian hot tubs or the outdoor hydrotherapy pool. 

Fancy taking a dip in the charming UNESCO World Heritage city centre of Edinburgh? Look no further than Sheraton Grand Hotel & One Spa, a honey-coloured stone building set on Edinburgh’s Festival Square, opposite Beaux Arts Usher Hall. The rooftop hydro pool promises both pummelling water jets, underwater loungers and plenty of fresh air as you soak in those city views. If you’re staying overnight, make sure you ask for a room with a castle view. 

Located in North Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Woolacombe Bay Hotel peers out over three miles of soul-stirring coastline. It’s also home to The Bay Lido – a Mediterranean-style outdoor pool, gently heated to 22 degrees. Here, distinguished-looking poolside butlers (think: leather aprons and handlebar moustaches) will deliver Aperol Spritz directly to your wooden pergola. Despite being hidden behind a wind-breaking wall, you can steal glimpses of Woolacombe Bay from the comfort of your lounger. 

The five-star luxury country house hotel is located on the Hampshire/Dorset border in the serene New Forest. While the newly refurbished spa is popular, it’s the 10-metre heated outdoor pool that steals the show in the summer months. Set within the 130-acre grounds and surrounded by greenery, the pretty pool is exclusive to hotel residents and offers a delightful spot to soak in those English country vibes. Bring a book and hole yourself up under an umbrella for some serious me-time. 

So, it’s not an outdoor pool but the 52nd floor location of the Sky Pool at Shrangri-La at The Shard – the highest hotel pool in Western Europe – brings the outside in with epic views of the big smoke through the floor-to-ceiling glass. Prop yourself on the edge of the 10-metre infinity Sky and soak in the London skyline and every day life unravelling beneath you, seemingly in miniature. With capacity for just 23 people, it’s best to book your one-hour slot in advance. Evening dippers can end the day with sunset cocktails in the adjoining GŎNG bar.