As the heat cranks up, so too does the appeal of a spa with a pool. The trouble is, pick the wrong waters for your personality type and you could end up sulking in the experience shower. If, for example, you like to burn up the fast lane, you may be easily enraged by the idle wallowers, breast-stroking broods and the chatting with chums crowd, while holding their perfect hairdos aloft.
If it’s a peaceful lounger for meditative draping or reading you crave, an echoey pool full of splashing children or - worse still - hen parties, might have you reaching for your earplugs and a large Aperol spritz (and there go the good intentions).
With your wellbeing in mind, as always, we have compiled a (by no means finite) list of pool types and some suggestions as to which spas may tick the proverbial box. So, without further ado, which one are you?
The Insta Bore
You may remember the cautionary tale of Narcissus, who spent so long gazing at his reflection in a pool he starved to death. It’s not our fault we have to pout before every pretty pool, stunning view or colourful superfood salad – indeed spa aesthetics and a business need for a social media following positively encourage such posturing. It is annoying for everyone else though - just so you know.
As we said, Alpha swimmers can be irritated by the slow-moving islands of friends having a chat as wide ranging, leisurely and meandering as their strokes. However, you could argue that they are primal spa-ing as our Roman ancestors intended: putting the world to rights, plotting the downfall of the empire, then having a facial. And in this disconnected age, we should celebrate - not deride - the art of conversation.
The Spa at Pennyhill Park - with its many and various pools including multi-hot tubs and indoor and outdoor swimming pools - has it all. Plus, a poolside butler to oil the conversational wheels.
Think Diane Keaton, or Grace from Grace and Frankie – or anyone of any age who likes being draped in natural fibres and has their own personal yogi. Yes, one must never underestimate the CG – alpha types disguised in a soft beige. Withering stares and cutting remarks will procure them prime lounger real estate poolside, and have the spa butler attending to their every whim. They are eco prima donnas. Don’t mess.
Bamford Wellness Spa, spiritual Mecca for the CG and all her acolytes. It now boasts a spa pool, hopefully with cashmere loungers.
Some of us come to a spa to lie down and relax. Getting into a pool is too much effort, or maybe we are a little bit shy or self-conscious – besides we might lose our lounger if we dare to move. Whether you are on the brink of burnout, a literary queen, an exhausted new parent, a poseur, a poet, a people watcher or an awkward misfit, there’s no need to ever leave your lounger. Sometimes nothing beats dozing dreamily to the tinkle of lapping water and distant voices, just like a holiday.
Aquarias Spa at Whatley Manor with its luxuriously comfy loungers and roar of the enormous hydro-pool can make you feel like you’re dozing by a waterfall.
Hot Tub Hoggers
Quick dip in the hot tub? Oh, darn. Someone already got there before you – and they ain’t leaving. Whether it’s a man-spreader reaching his arms so wide it would be impossible to avoid his unwanted embrace, loved up couples doing unseemly things below bubble-level or intimidating types squinting at you like territorial terriers, you just need to let it go. Ask yourself: would you sit next to these people on the bus? Naked? Then move along to the cleaner pool option.
Motto: If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not swimming. True wild swimmers would probably get bored at a spa. They need to connect with nature and the elements. They like the unpredictable; the possibility of encounters with eels and jellyfish and yucky things. However, you may enjoy being the only one brave enough to dip in the chilly reed-filtered natural pools in some of the more sustainable spas springing up around the UK. Wild Swimmers like nothing more than being applauded for their bravery-slash-eccentricity.
A natural born critic – imagine Charlie Brooker or Ru Paul on an off-day. Sometimes you get a running commentary about the absurdity of everything, which would be funny, except you are trying to relax and enjoy yourself. Other times it’s a raised eyebrow and a pout. Nothing will ever be perfect because nothing ever is. But always remember the disapprover is happy disapproving. Let them get on with it and try to see the funny side.
15th August 2022
Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse.
Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps.
Behind the scenes