Wim Hof, swim your heart out. With the open water swimming movement more popular than ever, discover the health benefits of this exhilarating sport with our pick of the UK’s best properties to book for both a pampering stay (and a pleasant swim) this summer
1 The Swan at Streatley, Berkshire
Ideal for combining the great outdoors with a dose of chicness, The Swan at Streatley in Berkshire is running a number of Introduction to Cold Water Swimming sessions this summer. Ideal for those looking to take the plunge for the first time or feeling nervous about potential risks, you’ll be in expert safe hands as this class teaches you not only the mental and health benefits of the sport but also how to do so safely.
Find how to find a safe swim spot, practise entry & exit, technique, learn kit recommendations, swim etiquette, water safety, how to prepare for a cold dip and how to warm afterwards. Post-dip, head back to the picturesque country house hotel (complete with 47 recently revamped bedrooms) and enjoy a night of steamy relaxation in the sauna – or just a plate of seriously delicious food in the restaurant.
Where: Streatley – On – Thames Nr, Reading RG8 9HR
How: Find out more and book a spot via eventbrite.co.uk
2 The Samling, Lake District
Grab a towel and lap up luxury at The Samling, one of the Lake District’s finest hotels sitting cradled in a bowl of Lakeland fellside, looking out over panoramic lake views, south along Windermere and west towards the Coniston Old Man mountain range. Offering exceptional hospitality and comfort, with award winning fine dining, this property is ideal for really ‘splashing out’.
Nestled in 67 acres of meadows, ancient woodlands teeming with wildlife, gardens and rolling hills, The Samling has breath-taking views across Lake Windermere – a must-try for anyone with a wild swimming passion. Probably the most famous lake in the Lake District, Windermere is one the first places people associate with open water swimming, thanks to events like the Great North Swim.
This is the longest natural lake in England and ideal for a rejuvenating session. Organised through The Samling, swimthelakes.co.uk offer guests the chance to try everything from short wild swims to full open water courses. Plus, the property has recently launched its brand new jetty – ideal for jumping straight into the adventure.
Where: The Samling Hotel, Ambleside Rd, Windermere LA23 1LR, United Kingdom
How: Find out more and make a booking via thesamlinghotel.co.u
3 Mendham Mill, Norfolk
With over 1,000 years of history to discover and tucked away in perfect harmony with its surroundings, Mendham Mill has often been described as Narnia. The enormous watermill and slow moving river transports its guests to a world of relaxation and adventure, where the worries of everyday life are simply non-existent.
Ideal for those with more experience, delve into the thrill of wild swimming in a river with both deep and shallow sections (popularised by author Roger Deakin in ‘Waterlogged’ who particularly loved the waters around Mendham Mill). Alternatively, the river can be explored using the property’s three canoes and rowing boat and kids can see wildlife up close, including otters, kingfishers and other birds.
Post-swim, Mendham Mill is ideally placed to explore Norfolk. The neighbouring Harleston offers a mixture of both high street and independent shops – especially for anyone with a sweet tooth when it comes to visiting the nearby award-winning chocolatier.
Where: Mendham Mill, Mendham, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0NN
How: A seven-night summer stay in Mendham Mill’s The Miller’s House for eight guests and North Meadow Cottage for six starts from £1500 and a three night weekend from £1125. Cottages sleeping two and four are also available. Find out more via premiercottages.co.uk or phoning 01379 855282)
4 Lainston House, Hampshire
Ideal for a day trip adventure, book a room at the beautiful Lainston House in Hampshire for a weekend of fun and frivolity. This 17th Century luxury hotel offers indulgent stays, award-winning dining and its own Season cookery school with award-winning chefs and renowned external experts. After all, with all that swimming, you’re bound to work up an appetite.
Tucked away in 63 acres of rural Hampshire countryside, enjoy both a remote and relaxing escape – nearby, Frensham Great Pond in Surrey makes a superb wild outing, surrounded by a large swathe of protected heathland near Farnham. This popular spot has its own sandy slopes right down to the water’s edge where you can layout your towel and lounge the day away in true Surrey style.
Where: Woodman Ln, Sparsholt, Winchester SO21 2LT
How: Find out more and make a booking via exclusive.co.uk/lainston-house/
5 Airds Hotel & Restaurant, Port Appin, Scotland
One for the wilderness worshippers. With just 11 rooms, this is one of the loveliest small luxury hotels in Scotland, perched on the West coast right in the mesmerising Scottish Highlands. Wake up, limber up and head to nearby Loch Linnhe for a swim around Castle Stalker.
No ordinary paddle, experience the imposing 15th-century castle sitting on an island immaculately reflected in millpond-still waters. Set in a shallow, icy-clear bay, its surroundings are ideal for a proper, athletic open-water swim with incredible visibility (remember, this is Scotland – pack those wetsuits and swimming hats).
Post-swim, sink your tooth into sustenance at the 3 Rosette restaurant (Michelin recommended) for some truly scrumptious Scottish seafood.
Where: Port Appin, Appin PA38 4DF
How: Find out more and make a booking via airds-hotel.com