Clifton Lido is one of Bristol’s best kept secrets, nestled between a row of housing you’d be forgiven for walking past it completely unaware. But this restored 1850 Victorian swimming pool is a true oasis in a concrete jungle.
Where should I park?
Clifton Lido sits within a residential area, meaning the parking spaces are narrow and few and far between. So owing to its location, there is no formal parking however if visiting on a weekend it’s recommended to park on Oakfield Road (in front of Six Agency) that’s a three-minute walk to the lido. Parking here is free on the weekend, however, you will still need to print a free ticket using the pay machine as it’s a maximum stay of four hours – more than enough time to enjoy your time at Clifton Lido.
2023 update: Bristol has now introduced a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) throughout the city, however much of Clifton sits outside the boundary depending on how you arrive, it’s worth checking just to be sure. You can check your vehicle here and check the boundary map here. You do not need to pay before you drive in it, you can pay up to 6 days after here.
How much does it cost?
As a non-member, you can pre-book a 2-hour session (swim, sauna, steam, and hot tub) for £25, but the best way to experience Clifton Lido in my opinion is with a swim-and-eat package. You’re given two hours to use the facilities before dining in the relaxed poolside restaurant.
There are four packages available (prices correct as of July 2023);
- Swim and Massage £90pp
- Swim and Breakfast £40pp
- Swim and Lunch £50pp
- Swim and Dine (Evening) £50pp
Towel and robe hire are available and charged extra for the majority of packages between £3 and £5. Drinks in the restaurant are also charged extra for the majority of packages.
How does it work?
The main facilities at Clifton Lido are open-air and open-plan, featuring an open-air swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and hot tub. If you’re expecting high-end luxury and innovation, then you’ve come to the wrong place as the main charm is its back-to-basics outdoor showers and changing facilities. If you’re feeling brave, they also have cold water buckets!
On arrival, you can use the indoor or outdoor changing area. However, if you came prepared in your swimming costume, you’ll simply use the free lockers located near the entrance. No change or petty cash is needed, you simply follow the easy-to-follow instructions to input a code. The reception desk is immediately opposite should you have any difficulty.
It’s recommended to take your towel with you, there’s a small cubby to store your towel and flip flops whilst you’re swimming or hooks if you prefer.
As the restaurant runs as a separate entity, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to reserve a table whilst you’re using the facilities, but I have seen guests sitting in their robes enjoying a coffee if you can get a table. The restaurant overlooks the pool so, if you’re a little shy then this perhaps isn’t the place.
For me personally, the changing facilities are incredibly charming, however I was thrown a little during my first visit. There are indoor and outdoor showers and changing facilities. The indoor facilities are dimly lit, with individual cubicles that contain a toilet and a shower. Outdoor, you’ll need to locate a changing room with a barrel attached – this is the shower and it’s operated using a pull lever. In all of the changing facilities and showers, are free to use body and hair washes.
Once dressed, it’s recommended to head upstairs to the Boudoir. Here you’ll find a plush room with hairdryers, straighteners, and mirrors with a view of the pool. It has great natural light and is the best place to apply your makeup if you’re heading elsewhere.
The award-winning restaurant is worth a visit on its own, its informal vibe is perfect for the location. The floor-to-ceiling doors offer an up-close-and-personal view of the pool. The food is seasonally sourced and utterly delicious. My advice would be that even if you don’t know what anything on the menu is, just go for it – you won’t be disappointed.
If the on-site restaurant isn’t taking your fancy, Clifton has many other wonderful food options for you to try, here are some of my favourites.
And if it’s cocktail bars you’re after, check out my Bristol cocktail bar guide and head to the Clifton section.