Our town mouse on the best places to swim in London

The news that the Thames could be getting its own outdoor pool—the positively Holmesian-sounding Temple Steps baths, near Blackfriars in EC4—was greeted with cheers and the pinging of swimming caps in the Country Life office. Once a week, a gaggle of us can be found shaking ourselves dry in the open air after a dip.

We’ve done lengths of the Serpentine Lido, conspicuous in polka dots among the wetsuited triathletes, and dodged swans on the approach to the Hampstead Heath ladies’ pond. Whenever we can, we stick together, after one of our number ventured into the Brockwell Park open-air pool solo and ended up almost agreeing to take part in a cross-Channel swim.

But now that the sun has taken his hat off again, we’ve been forced indoors, to the Marshall Street Baths in Soho, W1. The enormous Art Deco pool boasts a barrel-vaulted ceiling and is lined with Sicilian marble (thrillingly smooth underfoot).

For those of us used to picking our way across what Richard Griffiths termed ‘beastly mud and oomska’ in Withnail and I to get to the water, it all feels disconcertingly luxurious.

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* This article was first published in Country Life on August 27 2014