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Swim. Eat. Spa.

The Bristol Lido: the closest you'll get to the Med in the city.

A lazy swim in a turquoise infinity pool,  followed by an alfresco glass of cool white wine and some delish tapas. Sound good to you? Thought so. Then pop yourself over to Bristol’s quirky, fabulous Bristol Lido, hidden in amongst the pastel coloured houses of Clifton – and the closest you’ll get to the Med in the city.

Enter through the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom Egyptian-style doorway into the little oasis beyond.

One of the oldest lidos in the UK opened in 1850 as  ‘private baths for the convenience of ladies and gentlemen, a medicated bath for the use of invalids, and a spacious plunging and swimming bath’. After falling into disrepair and on the brink of demolition in the 1990s, it was rescued, restored and reopened in its present glory in 2008.

What are you waiting for? Get your kit off in one of the little changing rooms, each with its own private shower,  in the main building or in one of these original poolside cubicles.

Put your clothes into one of the hanging clothes and shoe bags and hand it in at the main desk; handbags etc can be locked away in a big communal cupboard. I said it was quirky. Then pop on your blue robe,  flip flops and take your towel and step outside.

SWIM, SAUNA, STEAM & RELAX

With an award-winning glass-fronted, two-storey restaurant and poolside bar to the right, the Terrace Room with wood-burning stove at the end – and a hot tub hidden away in the corner – it’s not too onerous to while away a few hours here, eh?

Just jump in – you know you want to. Swim lazy laps or laze around.

Chill out with your pals or a book in the bubbling Clifton Pool hot tub.

Sweat it out in the sauna and steam room.

…and then brace yourself for your own private ice bucket challenge – just pull the chain to get the cascade. Repeat if you dare.

Mirrors and hairdryers up in The Boudoir for afterwards. Or treat yourself to one of their relaxing massages – individual spa treatments or as part of a spa day – using their bespoke Lidospa oils.

SCOFF AND QUAFF

When I was a kid, after-swim nosh at my local pool was usually a packet of Bovril crisps and a carton of juice. Here, award-winning chef Freddy Bird is in charge of the kitchen, creating a menu with mmmmm-Moorish and Mediterranean influences. Come for coffee and cake, breakfast, lunch, tapas or dinner (you can just drop in to eat, you don’t even have to swim – but why wouldn’t you?).  Their Swim & Eat packages are brilliant value – our Swim, Tapas & Wine package included swim, sauna, steam and hot tub with three generously sized tapas dishes and glass of wine for £40.

It’s an anything goes sort of place, with couples, friends and solo diners lunching in towelling robes,  mums with pushchairs, people working on laptops. Sit upstairs or downstairs in what was once the Victorian pool’s viewing gallery, down in the Terrace Room or poolside in the sun. In the warm weather, all the glass doors slide open *sigh*.

No need to dress for lunch

Upstairs in the restaurant

The ground floor bar

The Terrace Room

So, time for tapas. Sitting outside in the sun at one of the poolside tables enjoying our tapas, life felt pretty darned good.

Clockwise, from top left: wood roast vegetables with salsa mojo, garlic puree and almonds; houmous, Syrian lentils, zaalouk with flatbread; langoustines de Sanlucar; charcoal grilled quail with quince alioli; puntillita (crispy fried baby squid) and wood-baked goat’s cheese with honey, thyme and walnuts. You likey?

This is an idyllic afternoon out in the heart of the city; the perfect place to relax and recharge, for a girly get together, with a friend or partner.  It’s a hard place to leave – and you can take your time but when you do, don’t forget to:

WHEN TO COME – AND COSTS

Just rock up to the Lido 1pm-4pm weekdays and £20 will get you three hours in the pool, sauna, steam and hot tub. Open to men and women; children are welcome between 2pm-4pm; there are no lifeguards so one child per adult, please.  It’s first come first served so on a hot day it’s best to book a Swim & Eat package from £35.  We enjoyed a Swim & Tapas but you can also Swim & Breakfast/Lunch/Afternoon Tea/Dine/Spa & Dine. Spa packages cost from £95 also includes the swim, etc.  If you’re going to come a lot, consider taking out a membership (monthly £59) which gives access 7am-10pm seven days a week plus various discounts.

The restaurant/bar are open to everyone and open seven days a week. Breakfast from the poolside bar from 8am-11.30 am Mon-Sat and 9am-11.30am Sun; set or a la carte lunch everyday from 12 noon (last sitting 2.45pm); dinner from 6pm (last sitting 9.45pm). Daily changing tapas menu from the bar, 12pm-10pm.

The Bristol Lido, Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ. Tel 0117 933 9530;  0117 332 3970 (restaurant). lidobristol.com

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