Where to stay for rural romance, relaxation and overseas feelings

Kick back and relax by the swimming pools at these UK hotels (Carbis Bay)

Kick back and relax by the swimming pools at these UK hotels (Carbis Bay)

When a British heatwave hits, there’s only one thing for it – you have to head to the nearest swimming pool. And Britain’s hotels are blessed with some absolute beauties. Some sparkle on rooftops, others splash over endless edges towards sea views, while some lie in delightful English country gardens.

Whether you’re a fan of bathing, swimming, dipping or laps, a lovely pool can be the icing on the cake when it comes to a brilliant hotel holiday. From those with healing thermal waters to help loosen your muscles after a day’s walking to al-fresco numbers with panoramas of dramatic landscapes and coastline, the UK has many fantastic hotel pools to choose from.

Here’s our pick of the best hotels in the UK that offer spectacular swimming pools as part of a stylish holiday.

The best hotels with swimming pools in the UK are:

The Roman and Georgian inspiration is visible in The Gainsborough Bath Spa (The Gainsborough Bath Spa)

The Roman and Georgian inspiration is visible in The Gainsborough Bath Spa (The Gainsborough Bath Spa)

Location: Bathroom

For a truly transformative bathroom, add The Gainsborough Bath Spa’s cobalt blue pool with mosaic tiles. Directly fed by the town’s mineral-rich thermal waters, known for their healing properties since ancient times, the 35C pool is framed by Romanesque columns and sits beneath a striking glass atrium inside the hotel’s small but beautiful Spa Village. Combined with two smaller soaking pools, an ice cove, saunas, steam room and relaxation terrace, it forms part of an hour-long self-guided bathing circuit. After “taking the water”, there are 99 bedrooms – modern, with riffs on the property’s Georgian heritage – to relax in, and special spa bedrooms channel thermal water directly into roll top baths. The spa offers ELEMIS treatments, and you can sip Georgian-style cups of hot chocolate between sips.

Price: Doubles from £290

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Best for tranquility: The Scarlet

Immerse yourself in nature at The Scarlet's natural outdoor pool (The Scarlet)

Immerse yourself in nature at The Scarlet’s natural outdoor pool (The Scarlet)

Place: Newquay

For a swim back to nature, The Scarlet’s natural, reed-filtered outdoor pool, overlooking the golden Mawgan Porth beach on the Cornish coast, is hard to beat. Enjoy catching the Atlantic sea breeze as you soak, then hit the wooden sauna, steam room and wood-fired hot tubs to warm up afterwards. Noted for its eco-credentials, this smart adults-only boutique hotel also boasts a solar panel-heated indoor pool, 37 rooms with a beachcomber-chic vibe and excellent Ayurvedic spa treatments. Whether you drift in hanging cocoon capsules after a massage, or enjoy a quiet good dinner while looking out at the sea from the restaurant, a visit here is guaranteed to be a spiritual treat.

Price: Doubles from £255, B&B

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Take a dip in heaven!  (Shangri-La The Shard)

Take a dip in heaven! (Shangri-La The Shard)

Location: London Bridge

At 182 meters above ground level, the Sky Pool at Shangri-La The Shard has to be seen to be believed. This 10m infinity pool on the 52nd floor of the Renzo Piano-designed Shard is the highest swimming pool in Western Europe and offers phenomenal views of the London skyline as you swim. Stand poolside for a bird’s-eye view of the city, marveling at trains whizzing along railroad tracks that look so small they look like toys. With a capacity of just 23 people, and hourly slots, it’s best to book before check-in, and while swimming hours run from 06:00 to 18:00, comfortable seating by the pool is the ideal spot for sunsets from the adjacent GÅŽNG bar after hours. In addition to the fact that all 202 bedrooms have a sensational view and service here is always on point, the hotel is ideally located for excursions to the foodie haven Borough Market.

Price: Doubles from £700

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Best for rural romance: The Tawny

What The Tawny's pool lacks in size, it makes up for in character (Andrew Billington Photography)

What The Tawny’s pool lacks in size, it makes up for in character (Andrew Billington Photography)

Location: Staffordshire

Surrounded by stone arches on one side and with sweeping views of the Consall Valley on the other, The Tawny’s outdoor pool may be small, but it’s hugely atmospheric. It’s heated year-round, tucked away on a terrace that flows down from the tropical-maximal Plumicorn restaurant, yet manages to feel hidden and intimate. On sunny days you can watch flocks of birds swoop overhead from the sunbeds by the pool, while on colder days warm up in steaming water before calling a buggy to take you back to your room. A true rural romp, there’s a 70-acre estate of follies and lakes to discover, and quirky accommodation includes luxury treehouses, Shepherd’s Huts and Naust. It’s worth swapping your swim gear for happy rags for cocktails in the Feathers Bar under gilded plumage-look lampshades and supper in The Plumicorn, and donning your walking boots for bird watching in neighboring RSPB Consall Woods.

Price: Wildwood Huts from £230, B&B

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Only water, as far as the eye can see (Carbis Bay Hotel)

Only water, as far as the eye can see (Carbis Bay Hotel)

Location: St Ives, Cornwall

A combination of palm-fringed subtropical gardens and vistas with the fine white sands of Carbis Bay, regularly voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, will make you think you’re in the Mediterranean rather than West Cornwall as you paddle the Elm. – fresco infinity pool here. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the seals and dolphins that sometimes appear in the bay. As well as decked areas to maximize sunbathing, a hydrotherapy pool and barrel sauna, there is a peaceful private 25-acre Blue Flag Beach and direct access to the South West Coast Path, with artificial St Ives a 25-minute walk away. There’s a sports club for active types, VOYA seaweed wraps and lava shell massages in the spa, and accommodation options include 36 rooms in the grand, chandelier-filled main house and self-catering cottages for modern coastal chill. Head to Adam Handling’s zero-waste restaurant Ugly Butterfly, or Walters on the Beach for relaxed seafood dining.

Price: Doubles from £280, B&B

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The Jacuzzi Spa at Corinthia London (Corinthia London)

The Jacuzzi Spa at Corinthia London (Corinthia London)

Location: Whitehall, London

Black tiles, Italian marble and steel liners give the sultry 9m pool at The Corinthia’s underground ESPA Life spa plenty of James Bond allure, while a mirrored ceiling that reflects water movement adds an extra layer of tranquility. When you’re done swimming, the four-story spa spans a whopping 3,300 square meters and there’s plenty to keep you occupied, from a glass amphitheater and steam room to 17 swish treatment rooms where everything from hydrolift facials to percussive therapies from theragun is an offer. Close to Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, this elegant hotel has a pomp of its own – head to The Northall for the best of British food, or The Bassoon Bar for old-fashioned coconuts and live music.

Price: Doubles from £918

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Take in the historic surroundings of Cliveden House while taking a dip (Cliveden House)

Take in the historic surroundings of Cliveden House while taking a dip (Cliveden House)

Location: Berkshire

While Cliveden’s outdoor pool is perhaps best known as the scandalous setting that started the Profumo affair – with John Profumo first catching a glimpse of Christine Keeler when she climbed out of the pool after an impromptu moonlight dip – this listed swimming pool inside a walled garden is equally pretty as it is historic. Surrounded by roses and lavender beds, enjoy views of a 19th-century gilded bell tower as you slide through the 17.9m heated pool, long enough for laps. Children are allowed to swim all day, plus an indoor pool has two sessions a day for little ones too. The spa also has an aroma steam room, outdoor hot tub and treatments by OSKIA and Sarah Chapman. Forty-eight lavish bedrooms in a multi-style Italianate mansion are named after past guests, and the Cliveden estate has 376 hectares of National Trust gardens to wander.

Price: Doubles from £495, B&B

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The Vitality Pool at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort (Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort)

The Vitality Pool at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort (Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort)

Location: Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort is surrounded by 132 hectares of parkland in Ballymena and has three glorious pools. Rotate between a garden pool with hydrotherapy jets, a 20-foot-long indoor case ideal for laps, which has a polished pebble edge designed to give your feet a mini-massage, and a wilder, outdoor vitality pool at the edge of the rushing Maine River (watch out for the resident heron rooting along the river bank). In addition to the award-winning Thermal Spa, which includes a hot tub with dramatic waterfall views, a Celtic sauna, salt room and snow hut, Galgorm has 125 rooms licked in river and wood colours, 17 Scandinavian-style cabins, log cabins and Shepherd’s Huts to sleep in. When it comes to drinking and dining, there’s a 550-strong Gin library set in an Art Deco-inspired conservatory and traditional pizza on offer at Italian joint Fratelli’s.

Price: Doubles from £195, B&B

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Watch the sunset while relaxing in the outdoor pool (Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa)

Watch the sunset while relaxing in the outdoor pool (Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa)

Location: Borrowdale, Lake District

Taking advantage of its picturesque Lake District surroundings, the 16m outdoor pool at Lodore Falls Hotel’s spa offers stunning views of Derwentwater Lake and the Catbells Mountains. The hydrotherapy pool cleverly blends into a continuous hot tub with an infinity edge, and is also layered with underwater bubble beds and powerful neck jets with hydromassage – ideal after days of hiking. While it will set you back an extra £30/£35 (weekday/end) per person to take a dip here – unless you’ve splashed out on a suite-level room category or higher – it’s well worth it, with a glass – Finnish sauna, indoor thermal suites and beautiful spa gardens to explore too.

The bedrooms are comfortable and practical, and ideally located for sightseeing, as popular Keswick is around a 10-minute drive away.

Price: Doubles from £198, B&B, plus £30/£35 for four hours spa access (weekday/weekend)

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