The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

All the dos and don’ts to follow when rooftop season hits full swing

Tuesday 4 April 2023 By Samuel Muston Illustrations by Michael Parkin

There are certain things that are just not done in life. It’s not a great idea, for instance, to take a bath in close proximity with a three-bar electric fire. Nor is it sensible to go tap dancing on a frozen lake, or for that matter is it smart to eat week-old Chinese takeaway that never got to meet the fridge. These are immutable laws of life, as indeed are the rules of our many and varied rooftop pools.

Still, we’re not your mum and we want you to have as much fun as legally and safely possible, while not slipping below the waters like a battleship hit by a torpedo. Remember: safety first – take precautions. 

So, as the weather gets balmier and rooftop season hits full swing, we present a Soho House guide to poolside dos and don’ts.


Soak up the sunrise/ sunset
There’s a reason why people endlessly seem to be getting engaged by bodies of water at sunset or, for that matter, sunrise. It is the goldest of golden hours when the water becomes, well, like a mirror of gold. Plus, you’re more likely to bag a lounger when the sun’s on its way in or on the way out – and that’s a top tip for you.

This might come as a surprise to a few of us, but it is actually possible to exercise in our pools and not just bob about flirting with someone on a seat at the side. Work up an appetite and treat yourself to a buffalo mozzarella pizza after. That way you can forget that old adage: a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Appreciate the unique views
There’s a reason we like to put our pools high up, and that reason is simple: the view. If you’re going to be engaging in half an hour of backstroke, we want you to have something to look at. So, get high – and get looking.

Order (multiple) cocktail jugs
We know we don’t speak for everyone on this, but one cocktail is never enough for us in the summer. So, order a jug to your lounger. This saves the barman’s legs, your time – and will make your wallet happier. Just don’t take it in the pool.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Remember a friend is for life, so why not spend Saturday splashing around
There’s a temptation in life to be all work and no play but, as we know, that makes one rather dull. So, put down the MacBook and have some fun on a weekend with your pals. You won’t regret not filling in that spreadsheet when you’re on your deathbed.

Take a cooling plunge
Sometimes in the summer our rooftops can feel hotter than the centre of the sun. We can’t help that, alas, but you can do something about it. Don’t overheat, take the plunge and go for a refreshing dip.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Meet new friends
As your granny used to say, strangers are just friends you don’t know yet. And this is all the more so after a couple of glasses of Lady A. So, spread your net wide and have a chat with your pool mates.

Stay for the DJ sets
It’s not all about roasting yourself in the midday sun – in the evening, our rooftops come to life. When night falls, head to where the sweet music is and dance to our DJ sets. We’d recommend not doing it in your Speedos, though.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Make the most of your membership
This summer, as the mercury begins to rise, get your money’s worth and make the most of your membership. There is, well, just so much to do…


Snog in the pool – save it for later
At the risk of sounding like your maiden aunt, we do think it’s a bit much to be getting hot and heavy in the pool. Just think of the germs – and your fellow partygoers who are trying to eat their chopped salad. Keep it clean… until you get home.

Try and have a three-course meal while half-submerged
We understand the temptation to stay in cool waters during a hot sticky day, but that said, we don’t think it’s very wise to try and eat your roasted eel sushi while splish-splashing around. The eel is long gone – there’s no point trying to release it into its natural habitat.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Push your mate (or the staff) in
We all know how it goes. You have a few Picantes, the sun goes to your head, and you suddenly feel like you’re a more playful version of Evander Holyfield. But resist the urge to make a bigger splash. You don’t want to be paying for a replacement iPhone.

Bring your inflatable lilo 
We get it – you want to bring your brand-new inflatable unicorn and command the waters like a fabulous Blackbeard. But we only have so much space, and if everyone had an inflatable the whole place would resemble a local leisure centre on the weekend.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Use the pool as an ashtray
Try as you might to avoid it, you’re likely at some point to get a mouthful of pool water. It happens, after all. Now, no one wants a side of cigarette butts with their helping of chlorine. Don’t smoke and swim, kids.

Save sunbeds 
Even the best of us can experience the itch to bag a sunbed early doors (sunglasses you won’t mind losing and a never-read novel at the ready). But there’s only so many to go around. So, play it cool and wait your turn. Good karma will see you right.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House

Swim after multiple Picantes
In the same way you wouldn’t drive a car after a heavy session, we really recommend staying out of the pool if you’ve had one too many. We don’t want to have to fish you out with a net like a prize salmon.

Imagine that jumping in with your clothes on is funny
Hey, you might have the world’s largest collection of Prada trainers and you might not care about your Gucci shirt, but it’s just not hygienic to throw yourself in while you’re dressed to party. Honestly, you’ll regret it in the Uber home.

Think the poolside is a good place to use your laptop
Accidents can happen, but they’re far more likely to happen if you use your laptop by the pool. Electricity and water just don’t mix. You don’t want to zap your fellow members. They might not take too kindly to it.

The Soho House guide to poolside etiquette | Soho House
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