Lidos are a bit of a British tradition. These outdoor pools, beloved during the Victorian era, have experienced a new wave of popularity recently. Understandably so, because there’s nothing quite as refreshing as an outdoor swim after work or a sunny Sunday by the pool.
Dating back to 1849, the Bristol Lido was one of the first open-air pools in the UK. Built to cater for the Victorians’ love of bathing and spas, it was popular for over a century. After a period of disuse, a successful local campaign, ‘Save the Lido’, resulted in its restoration and reopening in 2008. It’s now one of the oldest surviving lidos in the UK.
The Lido is tucked away in the Clifton suburb of Bristol. Its Grade II listed exterior blends in with the terraced houses, concealing the fact that there’s an oasis inside. But as soon as I walked into the reception area, with its wooden lockers and glass doors opening out onto the pool, I knew the Lido was special.
Swimming at the Lido
The Lido in Bristol takes a refreshingly natural approach to things. The pool is heated to a temperature of about 24 °C. So it’s warm enough to be comfortable in winter but cool enough to make a swim feel invigorating. The coolness of the water also makes it even more energising after a sauna session. Over 500 solar collectors on the roof of the Lido help to heat the pool and the showers.
There are also very low levels of chlorine in the water, so there’s no lingering chemical scent to scrub off afterwards. To keep the pool clean with minimal chlorine, the Lido has a strict ‘wash naked’ policy. But there’s no need to panic – there are individual shower cubicles and they’re stocked with the Lido’s own range of natural body washes. You can also pick up a comfy robe from reception, along with flip-flops and a towel.
From the colourful stripes on the changing room curtains to the Mediterranean-blue tiles in the pool, the Lido has a lot of charm. Members and non-members wander around in robes, alternating between the sauna, the hot tub, and the pool. Even on the chilly February afternoon of my visit, everyone looked blissed out. And when it started to rain, raindrops disturbing the glassy surface of the pool, the swimmers continued with their lengths.
The Lido Spa
For days when a swim seems like too much effort, the Lido Spa offers all kinds of relaxing treatments. The spa is open seven days and treatments range from the Classic Lido Massage to a hot stones massage. All massages last for one hour and cost £65. For a real treat, you can book a whole spa day. Spa days include a treatment plus use of the pool, sauna, steam room, and hot tub.
The Lido Restaurant & Tapas Bar
Aside from the great food and relaxed atmosphere, the most fun thing about the Lido Restaurant is that you get to watch people swim while you eat. During the restoration, the former viewing gallery of the old Clifton Baths was transformed into a restaurant. Now, it’s an airy space that serves colourful and flavourful food.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and the Lido also offers ‘swim and eat packages’. The packages include use of the pool and facilities, followed by a meal. If you’re in the mood for something even more relaxed, tapas is served in the bar. There are lots of delicious veggie options – the wood roast vegetables are incredible and I can’t recommend the tortilla highly enough.
Planning a visit?
- For non-members, adult afternoon passes (£20) are available Monday – Friday from 1pm – 4pm.
- With a swim pass, you can use the pool, sauna, steam room, and hot tub for three hours.
- You can book spa treatments and ‘swim & eat’ packages ahead of your visit.
- Children can only use the pool if accompanied by an adult. Child-friendly times are 2pm- 4pm on weekdays.
- From Bristol city centre, you can take the train or bus to the Lido. But it’s also walkable.
Thank you to the Lido Bristol for hosting me. As always, all opinions are my own.Wellness Weekend in Bath