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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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  • Lucas says:

    £30 an hour is insane, even for what is a lovely pool and hotel. Stayed here a few times previously, and that will be the last. A nominal charge and including it in club rooms I can agree with, but not this.

  • Jamie says:

    If you booked your stay before monday 25th April 2022, you can still use the pool for free. I called them yesterday as we are checking in today. The Spa staff confirmed this.

    • @mkcol says:

      Thank you for checking & posting this as I booked last week for Thurs & Fri.

  • Spurs drive me mad says:

    This is just a resort fee under a different guise, I believe resort fees are banned from being charged in the UK. Don’t book hotel don’t pay ridiculous charges or they will all be at it.

    • ChrisC says:

      Is not a resort fee though.

      Resort / destination fees get charged to you whether you use any, all or none of the items included as part of the fee.

      This is a pay per use of a facility charge so avoided by not using it.

  • tony says:

    This is very common practice in Japan, where many 4/5* hotels would charge you significantly more than this to use their pools. It’s all terribly complex however as I couldn’t find a pattern as to which properties played this card.

    • Talay says:

      Yes, even when staying in the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku, they sought to add a pool charge.

      They relented as I have been using the hotel for decades, since it opened but it is a charge not many expect.

  • chrism20 says:

    We stayed at the O2 back in February and on the flight back home we both agreed that penny pinching and money gouging was in full swing at the property so the fact that they have started charging for these facilities doesn’t surprise me, the amount they are charging though is outrageous.

  • Thywillbedone says:

    Speaking of penny (or rather pound) pinching (and completely O/T), can I tap the collective for a view on builders and building costs? Planning a house renovation in London – quotes coming in very high and potentially make some of the project uneconomic (we may sell on in a few years). In the one economics class I didn’t fall asleep in, I learned that supply usually increases to meet rising demand …any thoughts on the likelihood of the same project being less expensive to do at this time next year? Easing labour market? Supply chains less broken than now. Energy costs lower… etc etc

    • ken says:

      “any thoughts on the likelihood of the same project being less expensive to do at this time next year?”

      Slim to none I would say.

      Where is the increased supply of skilled building labour going to come from ?
      Why should supply chains improve ? Unless China does a complete about turn and ends lockdowns, and Putin decides to withdraw all troops.

      Even in Liverpool decent builders booked up for at least 6 months (for extensions / loft conversions say).
      Would you actually get a start date this year if you are only at quote stage ?

      • CamFlyer says:

        I’m getting quotes for some work, and have had builders increase their prices 20% in a week. By the time one goes back to them to fine tune parameters after getting a few other comparison quotes, the price is already up (not to mention timing being pushed out).

    • Thom says:

      Unlikely to change soon.

      Costs right now are very high and a result of a shift in supply curve not demand. it is driven by two things: 1) good labour is now very expensive, and 2) cost of raw materials has increased significantly.

      Whilst there might be some easing of cost pressure on materials in the future, I wouldn’t hold out hope of any prices dropping in the near term.

    • Thegasman says:

      When considering supply & price of workmen now vs the last decade (particularly in the SE) then there’s a big elephant in the room (born in May 2016).

      The price of raw materials is currently sky high & will probably soften a bit over next 18 months but I don’t see a huge pipeline of homegrown sparkies/brickies/chippies to bring the price of labour down significantly. I’d also consider the fact that to get someone decent vs a bodger then you’ll be looking at a 12 month wait for any significant project.

      • Thywillbedone says:

        Yes, not expecting labour costs to soften at all. More focused on the materials side (which is around 60-65% of project cost for various reasons) – hearing horror stories of prices substantially increasing post quote/supplier delays mid build which have knock-on costs for the project …

        • Spurs drive me mad says:

          I’m in middle of a renovation and looking to build another property. My builders say zero chance of prices coming down significantly. The suppliers have got away with charging outrageous prices for goods that’s not going to stop. As for wages good trades can charge top money. In my family plaster £350 a day plus materials electrician and chippy £250/300 a day. Building works are approx £2200 a square meter.

          • Charles Martel says:

            Many of the material price increases are genuine, virtually every building material requires significant energy inputs to produce – think 1000C brick kilns, 230C timber drying kilns, steel furnaces at 1800C; and the greenies have been lobbying for reduced energy extraction investment for a decade. Not to mention shipping costs up 400% with most materials produced in Asia.

            We’re reaping what we sow.

    • SamG says:

      No chance. My dad owns a construction firm and getting labour is just impossible, he is taking on less work now and many others are doing the same. A lot of Polish/Romanian etc guys went home and just haven’t come back and the younger ones go elsewhere due to Brexit. Many older guys are enjoying a last couple of good years and then coming out of the trade altogether (as he is!) so it will get worse not better IMO

      Another issue where we are (Bucks/Oxon so not a million miles from London) is HS2 & EWR and other infra projects sucking up a lot of people on very good day rates for not a hugely difficult days work that is guarenteed for years to come, young guys with families are chosing to do that.

      Materials as others say – unlikely to come down either, the pressures on those aren’t going away

      It does make some projects uneconomic unfortunately unless you’re planning to live in it for a long time, we wanted to do a little extension on our house but just doesn’t make sense at the prices we’d have to pay vs the value it would add and we want to move in a few years. My sister is mid way though hers and already being hit by material price rises causing a not insignificant budget overrun although they’re sticking to the plans with no surprises (yet!)

      • Thywillbedone says:

        Interesting – appreciate the insight. My timing was off on buying something that needed a lot of work – so will likely to have to settle for a more modest refurb.

    • Charles Martel says:

      None, until the government starts encouraging kids/teens to learn a trade the pool of tradies will shrink as the current pool retire, when we hit the next downturn the rate of retirement will accelerate to match the lower demand. Even if we were to recruit the tens of thousands of apprentices needed they wouldn’t be any good for two or three years.

      We can thank Blair and Cameron for this mindless policy of churning out entitled brats with useless humanities degrees rather than people equipped with the skills required to build and maintain the physical fabric of the country.

      • Whitespace says:

        Or rather a whole generation of skilled labour that we have made wholly unwelcome due to an uninformed referendum in 2016.

        • Aston100 says:

          The unwanted gift that keeps on giving 🙁

        • Spurs drive me mad says:

          Or for years you’ve employed cheap Labour from Europe and our own trades people have had artificially low wages for years.

  • D R G says:

    Could it be that the hour timeslot is for exclusive use of the pool? It would make more sense at that price.

    • Rob says:

      It’s Olympic sized ….

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Unlikely I’d say. Maybe they cap the numbers though. Otherwise it’d seem unfair that a solo traveller gets exclusive use of the pool for £30 but a family of 4 needs to pay £90 or a group of 4 adults £120

    • John T says:

      Presumably there is some sort of cap on bookings though and they want allow 100 people at once.

      £10 per person for a two-hour slot would be fair, £30 for one hour is absurd and I hope people avoid this property like the plague.

      • Rob says:

        The bottom line is though … what are you actually paying for in your £222 room rate, to pick the cheapest room for Saturday night?

        Over the years hotels have lost the battle to charge for wi-fi. They won the battle to charge for breakfast, mini bar, laundry etc. I think easyHotels still charges £5 if you want to watch your in-room TV (you pay £5 to get the remote) which ironically would benefit me as I rarely use it. Which side of the equation should the pool be on?

  • Aston100 says:

    Hi Rob, remember the other day when you said something about price vs value when defending the £40pp breakfast at a Paris hotel?
    Does that not apply to the pool charge at this place?

    • ken says:

      I can’t live without some form of breakfast with plenty of decent tea or coffee.
      £40 – sure, not cheap and wouldn’t pay it every day (I’d end up the size of a house), but as a treat, why not.

      Much as I like a swim, I can do without one for £30. Not even as a treat – not when you are on the clock.

    • Rob says:

      The difference here is that there is an expectation that the pool is free. I have, in the past, looked at taking membership of the Carlton Tower spa because it’s arguably the nicest hotel pool in London and walkable from my house – and that would certainly work out at over £30 per swim – but that is a direct transaction where I expect to pay £x for y. On the other hand, if I paid £x,000 per year for a Carlton Tower pool membership and then found they wanted £5 to use the machine that dries your trunks in 10 seconds, I’d be very annoyed.

      If the IC puts up a big ‘impossible to miss’ warning on every booking site where it features to say that the pool is £30 then I’m cool with it. But they won’t.

      • Lady London says:

        Isn’t the Berkeley pool nicer? I have lost touch with if it’s still possible to use via spa as non-guest.

        There are quite a few other pools that aren’t bad at other hotels though – doesn’t the Novotel at Blackfriars have one?

        • Rob says:

          It does. Not as big as the IC. Carlton Tower is probably nicest due to glass roof and views over Chelsea from 8th floor.

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