Whether it is indoors or outdoors, one of the best things about holiday cottages with a swimming pool is that you can happily spend all day 'at home' in them simply relaxing 'poolside.' They are also very effective in tempting the children away from their i-Pads and mobiles for an hour or so. Whether for exercise, wallowing around on something inflatable under a sunny sky, or keeping the kids entertained, pools can provide hours of calorie burning fun without having to leave your accommodation.

There’s nothing quite like coming home after a hard day’s sightseeing or sandcastle building for a rejuvenating dip in the pool. It also means you don’t have to go to the beach every day for a swim and makes a great venue for poolside BBQs (just remember the difference between chicken wings and water wings before taking the plunge).

Five great things about having your own pool on holiday:

  • With your own pool in the garden, there’s no need to be right on the beach for a swim
  • A holiday cottage with Indoor pool makes a great wet weather alternative (and where kids are concerned, this probably applies to outdoor pools as well)
  • Exercise – perfect for early morning or evening dips
  • Poolside BBQs!
  • It impresses your friends and colleagues at work

So, when looking for a holiday cottage this year, why not go for one with a swimming pool? Here are some guidelines to ensure that the pool lives up to your expectations together with our recommendations for some UK self catering cottages that have their own swimming pool.

Pools for every occasion

Swimming pools come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t book a cottage simply because the advert says it has a pool as it may not be exactly what you have in mind. Here is a list of the usual options:

What type of pool is it? This will determine whether it is likely to be usable. Cottages with non-heated outdoor pools, for example, are usually only in use between mid-June to early September. Beginning with the smallest option:

  1. Swim spa - More than a hot tub: A longish trough in which water is pumped from one end to the other allowing you to ‘swim against the tide’ without actually going anywhere. Great for fitness fanatics- but not so good if you want to float round on an airbed!
  2. Plunge Pool – like an overlarge bath - strictly for wallowing – usually with room for 2-4 people to wallow together with a glass or two of Chablis.
  3. Outdoor – heated or non-heated. If you are holidaying in June or September, a heated or non-heated pool can make a big difference to the water temparature. Just remember to check.
  4. Indoor – heated or non heated. Perfect for holidays out of season such as at Christmas or for weekend breaks

Is the pool private or communal?

A private pool is all yours. A communal one gives you or your children the chance to make and play with friends staying in other cottages on the same site. It’s also worth checking the size of the pool. Some owners will have negotiated free access to a local leisure pool, such as Pudding Cottage in Cumbria where guests can enjoy access to the amazing swimming complex in the town (see photo below).

As for size, if you’re someone who likes to plough up and down clocking up laps, then you’ll need at least an 8x4m pool to keep you happy. Communal pools tend to be larger.

Before you book your cottage, do make sure the pool will be available during your bookings. Some outdoor pools could be ‘winterised’ until May and as early as September.

Tip: When booking a holiday cottage with an outdoor pool with young children, take 'shortie' wetsuits for them – kids will spend a lot more time in the pool when wearing one of those. They look cool too. Also, don’t forget to bring buoyancy aids.

Are there Roman steps or ladders or is it a case of diving in and heaving yourself out? Something to take into account if you have young children or elderly people in your party. Roman steps where you just walk down underwater terraced steps are increasingly popular.

Privacy

Outdoor pools can be as much about lounging around on a sunbed with a glass of Pimms as they are for swimming. If you’re planning on using it to sun bathe, is it sufficiently private? Outdoor pools frequently have deck chairs and sun loungers – but don’t take this for granted- look at the photos, check it out on Google Maps or just ask the owner. That’s the advantage of sites like My Favourite Holiday Cottages – you can call the owner and ask these questions. If you’re going through an agency, the chances are that if the information isn’t in the literature, they won’t be able to answer your question if you do call.

Pool Health and Safety Considerations

Is the swimming pool secure? For families with young children, you’ll want to be sure that they cannot access the pool on their own. Outdoor pools should really be fenced off with a self-closing gate to keep little ones away from the water’s edge until you are ready to accompany them The terms and conditions fo rental for your holiday cottage will probably stiulate (amongst other do's and don'ts) that children under a certain age should never be allowed to use the pool without parental supervision or alone. Some cottages may have pool alarms. These float on the water and are set off when it is disturbed by someone entering the pool.

It is also a good idea to show young childen how to get out of the pool - either by using the pool steps (check photos beforehand to make sure these have suitable handrails) or to make their way to the shallow end. Is their a diving board? These can be fun, but again, it is worth making sure that your children know how to use it safely.

Go Find Your Perfect Pool!

Using these simple guidelines to help you choose a suitable cottage will help to ensure that you can add some memorable features to your holiday and – if you use your pool regularly - burn off oodles of calories and avoid adding on the pounds while on holiday. What can be better than that?