Love Your Lidos

By Londonist Last edited 95 months ago
Love Your Lidos

lido_310510.jpg
By Herschell Hershey via the Londonist Flickrpool
Throughout the winter months, many Londoners may have been labouring under the impression that dry land is the place to be. It might seem sensible enough, but as summer approaches, it's an illusion that becomes increasingly hard to maintain with any degree of credibility.

When temperatures soar, the tube becomes sweltering and tackling the capital's busy streets is a task that you'd rather not have to face up to. Rather than panicking, however, and fleeing for the countryside, canny residents realise there are few finer places than the capital's lidos in which to cool off and chill out.

London led the way in the lido boom of the 1930s and the city is still blessed with an abundance of the country's finest specimens, offering a calm and exotic retreat from the daily urban grind: sunlight, space and water in the beating heart of the city.

And it's not just swimming that's on offer. The sunbathing areas and cafes at lidos mean that you could easily while away the best part of a day there, forgetting entirely about the existence of the outside world. In fact, lidos can seem to offer an entire alternative way of life to the rushed, unthinking consumerism we tend to be bombarded with elsewhere. It's extraordinary how dramatically the mood changes once you pass the threshold. And once you leave, you're sure to feel restored both physically and mentally.

There is no better time to go than now. In the past decade many London lidos have been renovated or reopened, and no two provide the same experience. Many are classic examples of art deco architecture and would be worth visiting on that ground alone.

This summer, Londonist will visit all of London's lidos, from the tropically heated Hampton pool, to the gleaming stainless steel Parliament Hill, to the breathtaking expanse of Tooting Bec, in order to give you the comprehensive lowdown on where best to go for swimming and sun in the city. Artist Tracey Emin said she loved visiting the lido in her youth because it "made Margate seem like the Mediterranean". So if you want to make Wandsworth feel like Waikiki and Crouch End like the Copacabana, then we suggest that you follow suit.

We will be reviewing every London lido over the summer. In the meantime, www.lidos.org.uk is the definitive resource for lido information.

By Jonathan Knott

Last Updated 31 May 2010