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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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  • Lady London says:

    Would you consider £90 fair for, say, half a day’s access if it turns out they’re more relaxed about your exit time than they’re letting on?

    Quite apart from the pool issue, I had already crossed the IC O2 off my list due to their unprofessional treatment of multiple posters on here when the IC just.dumped people who’d reserved, often with very little notice, when the hotel took another opporunity. The least they should have done was offer an alternative whilst honouring the price or if that really was impossible a voucher off a future stay.

    Life is simply too short to use hotels with a track record like this.

  • BFT01 says:

    You can save some money and schlep to Charlton Lido, if you like and also have a workout at the gym as well, but it’s not the same as being at the hotel in South East London

  • Billy says:

    There’s an article in todays paper stating that hundreds of swimming pools will close across the country if the government can’t help with escalating fuel costs.

    I wonder if this is IC’s response to these fuel costs.

    • Andrew says:

      That article points out that £8 is the likely workable price for a swim to cover costs.

      It’s right next to the Thames, there should be water source heat pumps to heat the pool.

  • rob keane says:

    suspect that they will be facing a lot of agro at the front desk when those that booked the hotel to because it had a pool find out that the pool is view only unless you pay.

    Needs to be flagged as chargeable at the time of booking if it’s used as part of the advertising of rooms. Its like listing tea making facilities as a room amenity, only to find that the kettle is linked to swipe machine and payment needs to be taken to boil it.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Great idea there!

      Maybe a pressure pad on the luggage stand too, and charge by the kilo?

  • chrism20 says:

    Have to be honest the more I think about this policy it sounds very much like a “We don’t want you in the pool” policy.

    Is the Spa that busy they are trying to restrict the numbers?

    • Lula says:

      Does seem like that. Very few people are going to pay £30 for an hour of pool use.

  • Mutley says:

    Alternatively, pack your trunks and go to the best pool in the country in the London Aquatic Centre (London 2012 Olympic Venue) for minimal cost.

    As an aside, if one had a young child who had an accident in the InterContinental’s pool, would you be liable for the clean up and draining , which I’m guessing would cost more than £90?

  • NorthernLass says:

    So I’m in London and I am going to spend £30 on a frippery (JDB’s Victorian word of the day) – it’s not going to be an hour in a swimming pool. Though it’s hypothetical atm as the cheapest weekend return train ticket is around £100 from Manchester and Preston at the moment (even Andy Burnham has waded in on this one!), so everyone’s paying half as much to travel to Edinburgh or Dublin if they want a city break within 200 miles of home.

    • Nick says:

      A walk-up off-peak return (i.e. largely flexible) between Manchester and London is £98 on the fast train, or £47 return on a slower train. That’s the absolute total maximum any normal passenger not on business expenses would be paying, and less if they get an Advance or have a railcard. Andy Burnham was quite rightly called out for comparing a fully-flex train ticket (that almost no one buys) to a totally-inflexible-lowest-fare-class flight. The Apple to his orange, if you will.

      • NorthernLass says:

        On which dates exactly can you get a direct service to London for £47 return and have a decent length stay in the capital (2 days minimum)?

        • NorthernLass says:

          For the weekend furthest out for booking (mid-July), the cheapest return is £104.

          • Nick says:

            £47 is valid every single day of the week, you just can’t use the Avanti service – it’s a TFW train to Crewe and then the (used to be London Midland) service from there. Not a journey for everyone but it’s widely available (it’s not quota controlled so can’t sell out). And £98 is the fare that you would be charged on Avanti simply by turning up at Piccadilly on the day and asking for an off-peak return to London. There are no quota controls on this ticket, it’s available any day of the week, you can come back any day within a month, and you would only ever need to pay more than this if you wanted a peak service. If you’re looking at £104 return, you’re looking in the wrong place. Note that Avanti have no peak restrictions on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays so the £98 ticket is valid on any train on those days.

      • Ken says:

        £47 return would not be a walk up, would not be an off peak return with flexibility, would involve a change of train, would not be on Avanti and takes the best part of 4 hours.

        Even then you struggle to find fares at that price. And probably not from Manchester.

        • Nick says:

          I don’t know how loud I’d have to shout this. It IS a walk-up, it IS an off-peak return with flexibility, and it IS from Manchester. You’re right about it not being Avanti though, and yes it does require a change of train. 3 hours now, not 4, since it was given a path through Wilton Marina rather than Northampton. I’m not saying this is the most likely option you’d take, but it is one and it’s available every single day (I’ve done it in the past as a walk-up in the other direction, from Euston). £98 is the Avanti equivalent, valid ‘any permitted route’. I don’t know why it’s so hard to understand but there you go.

          The entire rail fares database is available at brfares dot com if you want to check for yourself. Anything marked off-peak return (SVR) or super off peak return (SSR) are flexible walk-up fares – the exact conditions are also available on the same site.

  • ben says:

    I’ve got an O2 IC stay booked for October for the family – hoping that the “free swim if booked before April 25th” will be honoured , because it is madness to pay £120 for a family to swim for an hour!

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