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InterContinental London The O2 adds a £30 pool fee

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I have a soft spot for InterContinental London The O2. It is a good quality hotel which can be excellent value on certain dates.

I took my family there for a weekend break once when it was £100 per night, even though we live across town, because it has a good pool and we thought we’d show the kids a bit of east London.

I doubt I’ll be doing that again in a hurry though ….

InterContinental London O2

As of yesterday, InterContinental London The O2 added a huge fee for using their swimming pool. It would now cost £90 for my wife and I, plus our two children, to have a dip for an hour. You literally just get a one hour slot for that price.

This is what the hotel website now says:

“From Monday 25th April 2022, we will be inviting guests to use our facilities at The Spa by making a booking with the relevant prices below:

The Swimming Pool, Steam Room, Sauna, Jacuzzi

(All booking slots for the swimming pool are only available for 1 hour of use)

Hotel Guest Prices:

  • Hotel Guests (Adult): £30
  • Hotel Guests (Child 5-18 years old): £15

Children can only be booked at the Kids Swimming Pool Hours:

  • 9:00 – 11:00AM
  • 3:30 – 17:30PM”

There is a £5 discount per person if you a member of the ($200 joining fee) InterContinental Ambassador loyalty scheme. The fee is waived entirely if you are a member of the ‘invitation only’ Royal Ambassador programme.

This pricing is, frankly, madness. It’s certainly a very impressive pool – I called it ‘stunning’ in my 2016 review – but the pool is the only reason that many people stay here if they don’t need to be at the O2. I can’t believe many families being prepared to pay £90 for a one hour slot.

This isn’t the first post-covid money grab we have seen from a London hotel, of course. Many high end hotels – not this one, to be fair – have added a 5% ‘discretionary’ service charge to their room rates as we covered here. Because it is technically ‘discretionary’ it does not need to be shown in the headline price whilst booking.

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Comments (131)

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  • Lula says:

    That is a shame that they’ve introduced such a high charge at the O2. Although I did comment when I was there with my husband last time that the cost of our room for one night including pool/spa access was only very slightly more than the cost of just buying a day pass for the spa.

    I can’t imagine the spa will do enough business to sustain it as an entity in its own right though, given the location.

    Any idea if pool/spa access is then free if you book a treatment? I wonder whether this is a way of encouraging more booking of treatments.

  • Andrew S says:

    Have enjoyed this hotel and the pool on several occasions. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was included in the ‘club’ fee rates so that it’s included with lounge access. But a stand alone additional fee for just an hour makes this hotel AND the Annual Ambassador fee much less attractive now!

  • ed_fly says:

    I’ve stayed at the IC O2 a few times, indeed got a stay upcoming later this year, the pool being the draw to drag me away from central London. At £30 per adult for a one hour slot, I’ve no interest in booking again.

  • Nick G says:

    Bit like the Hilton Syon Park. They started about 18 months ago with a £20 per visit fee for the pool………rip off merchants. Stayed there numerous times and would have booked many more if they didn’t charge. Never stayed at the O2, always fancied it but now no way.

  • SamG says:

    There is a BA flight to Bergerac on a Tuesday (a “W” from London City)

    Presumably this generates enough entries to warrant opening?!

    • ADS says:

      It looks like the Bergerac flight doesn’t start until 14th June – or maybe the first few are sold out ?

      And there’s a KLM departure on Tuesdays at 17:20

      And a fair few CI & domestic flights

      I guess it’s a good way of getting a feel for demand from other flights

  • Matt says:

    Shangri-La email this morning – only 2 days left to convert points to restaurant vouchers. Is that benefit disappearing then? Hadn’t heard anything before this mornings email.

  • JDB says:

    As a way of managing use and the fairness of pool users paying some of their share (rather than the cost being apportioned across all rooms) this doesn’t seem unreasonable. There’s going to be a lot of this going on with the big staff and energy cost increases that some hotels are finding it difficult to pass on in room rates. A friend whose company operates a large SW1 hotel says they now have to pay £12+/hour for cleaners – that’s £700k/year for them. Plus electricity and heating that adds even more cost. The additional cost of maintaining and heating a pool makes the £30 charge really quite modest.

    • Froggee says:

      Indeed. You can make a logical case for it but where does it end? There is a significant cost to providing internet capability but it is mostly free in hotels nowadays. My wife has allergies and tends to use a lot of tissues. Many people use none. 5p per tissue? A bill for the electricity you consumed in your room on checking out?

      At the end of the day, hotels offer lots of facilities and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

      Obviously I’d love it if the hotel gym/pool/spa I’m a member of started charging guests as it would then be quieter for me!

    • Mirp says:

      JDB £30 modest? You must be joking. I have used the pool at the O2 it is nice but it is £30 an hour worth of nice.

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      It’s £30 per adult and £15 per child over 4, rather than per room though JDB. As Rob’s article states, this equates to £90 for a family of four for only one hour of use! This is clearly a disproportionate charge. I suspect that your comment says more about your financial position than the fairness of the charge.

    • Thegasman says:

      Ever the Devil’s advocate JDB! I understand the premise of your argument but £30 reasonable?!

      The only reason you would choose the O2 for a stay in that part of town is the amenities. If you just want a room to sleep in then you may as well go to The Moxy or any of the many other perfectly acceptable options in the vicinity.

      If they’re essentially going for the Ryanair unbundling tactic then the price for the room needs to fall to equivalent to a local 4*. There’s also been other reports on here recently of this place penny pinching so for me it’s now a definite no.

      • Gordon says:

        There’s a new very large premier inn in the vicinity….

      • JDB says:

        The hotel room rates are quite modest and the pool is a frippery probably not used (even when free) by 80% of customers, so extra luxuries being chargeable makes sense, like luggage on cheap air tickets. While I am not surprised by the outrage and the cheap jibe re my financial position, I am totally gobsmacked by all the talk on here of trips to the US where they charge you for every little extra whether it be parking, resort fee etc. and the cost of eating well there is extortionate, yet people are staying up to get Avios flights at T-355. Yes, I am very comfortably off, but I am not willing to pay (and my wife even less so) the absurd US prices. We prefer quieter places where we get huge, luxurious five star accommodation and service, including spas at a fraction of prices (£12/massages) reported here and that’s forgetting the nonsense of the Maldives. Mexico, Argentina currently and pre Covid, China are examples. So I find suggesting £30 is a lot quite ridiculous in that context.

        The same friend tells me that they hate providing 24hr room service, but are obliged to. They keep putting the price and minimum charge up to discourage use, but it doesn’t work…

        • Ken says:

          Doesn’t actually answer the point though.
          The room costs are what they are because of the location, but still £200+

          People put up with Ryanair unbundling as the headline price is so low and you can adapt your behaviour (don’t worry about seat selection, take less luggage etc) to suit.

          I’d suggest enough peoples behaviour adaption here would be stay somewhere else.
          Comparisons with USA completely specious.

        • Rob says:

          It is well known in the industry that adding a pool encourages people to book. Ironically, 75% of those extra bookers will never use it, but they book and pack their trunks in hope. It pays for itself.

          • Save East Coast Rewards says:

            The Hilton T4 closed their pool during COVID, I thought it might have been a covid related decision but it looks like it had been planned before that as the area where the pool is has already been converted to a nice looking meeting area. I was the last one to use the pool there as I was staying there the week before lockdown and I was asked to leave the pool as they decided to close the area as a precaution.

            I guess airport hotels are different.

          • Mark says:

            I suppose it’s a bit like people paying for unnecessarily generous mobile phone plans that they never really benefit from. A lot of people do because they don’t think about what they really need, and they end up subsidising others as a result.

        • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

          Sorry but it was NOT a cheap shot. I too would consider myself comfortably off but I am not so detached from economic reality as to call a £30 charge to use a swimming pool for one hour ‘modest’. That would be steep for a family but remember this is a per person charge. Unless they expect the pool only to be utilised by members of Middle Eastern royal families (and you JDB) then they have got this very wrong…

          • Rob says:

            I wouldn’t pay £90 for my gang for an hour.

            That said, overall covid has worked out quite well for pool use. In Jersey in 2020 they let us book (for free) the entire pool for a one hour slot at The Atlantic – and it’s a big pool. Kids could go totally crazy …. At Center Parcs last year the requirement to prebook and heavily restrict slots at the water park meant there was zero queues, ever, for any of the slides.

    • jj says:

      I wonder how many hours a cleaner on less that £12/he has to work before their rent is paid in SW1? Or, more realistically, what their hourly rate falls to once commuting time and costs are taken into account.

      As I see it, the bigger problem is that, for decades, people like me have been able to enjoy nice things on the cheap while the people who serve me don’t earn enough to live a decent life.

      This is just the start of a long-overdue adjustment.

    • Luke says:

      Fairness doesn’t come to it. The issue for the hotel is whether it hits bookings or not.

      By the sounds of it the loss of room revenue will exceed the cash generated from pool usage.

    • J says:

      The argument holds for services where use increases cost – e.g. food service. But whether the pool is used or not, the costs will be moreorless the same. They won’t turn off the pool heating because no one has signed in.

      Far fewer guests will use the pool, and I doubt the £30s they pull in will make much of a dent in the cost. My guess is they highlight this charge as part of the advertising of spa memberships to local residents.

  • Freddy says:

    Absolutely bonkers price for a dip in a pool.

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