You’re never too old for a paddling pool! The kids’ summer favourite has been refashioned for grown-ups, too. ANTONIA HOYLE tests the best
By Antonia Hoyle for the Daily Mail
Music is playing in my garden as I bring out a cocktail and dip my toe into the crystal-clear water shimmering gently on the lawn.
The sun is shining, my book is waiting and my brain is switched firmly to holiday mode. There is only one thing missing as I begin to bathe outdoors: the sound of my two rambunctious children. And thank heavens for that, I think, because today is all about me.
I am testing paddling pools, but with a twist — they are designed to appeal to adults. And while the idea of bringing a plastic tub of water into your back garden for anyone other than tiny offspring might sound like an anomaly, grown-up pools are actually this summer’s hottest trend.
Driven by the vexed question of whether we will be allowed to fly to any even vaguely exotic waters this year, and compounded by our compulsion to post holiday pictures on social media regardless, internet searches for paddling pools reportedly soared by 21 per cent in the two weeks after lockdown-easing measures were announced this spring.
Antonia Hoyle (pictured) puts a selection of the latest pools designed to appeal to adults to the test
And the pools are no longer solely the bog-standard blue ones that most of us remember from our youth. An array of luxury lines have been designed, to tempt those of us who long since outgrew armbands.
At the forefront of the movement is Mylle, a brand set up by American fashion stylist Kris Myllenbeck in 2016 when she realised she couldn’t find a fashionable inflatable pool for her townhouse roof garden.
Mylle’s pattern-printed, limitededition pools, costing an eye-watering £125, are stocked by upmarket stores Selfridges and the Conran Shop.Share
Alma Ocean is another lifestyle brand incorporating high-end design into its inflatables. Founded by entrepreneur Danielle Hodge to ‘give artists a place where they could make their art float’, its £56 Culture Addict Inflatable Pool, on sale later this month, is patterned with a Ghanaian kente print.
And if sitting still while half-submerged doesn’t float your boat, you’re in luck, because many of these bijou pools are bumper-sized. Sales of pools up to 15ft long are soaring, with John Lewis recording a 240 per cent rise in purchases of its largest 12ft-diameter pool (£99.99) since 2019.
So which grown-up pool will make the biggest splash this summer?
FOR FUN-LOVING FASHIONISTAS
Mylle Shapes printed vinyl pool inflatable, £125, selfridges.com
Antonia said Mylle Shapes printed vinyl pool inflatable (pictured) took just 46 seconds to inflate and less than two hours to fill up
One of seven designs in Mylle’s 2021 collection, the Shapes inflatable I’ve ordered arrives as if it’s an item of designer clothing — wrapped in delicate tissue paper and encased in a super-sized envelope in the same pattern.
At 1.65m (5ft 5in) in diameter when inflated, it holds a maximum of 454 litres and, with its understated earthy tones and leaf-like patterns, it certainly looks swish in my garden — as it jolly well should for £125.
The company justifies its exorbitant prices by explaining that the pools are made in small batches rather than mass-produced — indeed, two of this season’s styles have already sold out on Mylle’s website, which will only heighten their exclusive appeal to the ‘can’t-stand-to-miss-out’ set.
They are also apparently made out of heavyweight vinyl, which means they are more durable than PVC equivalents (although a puncture repair kit is also included). A must-have for the style-conscious with money to burn or, indeed, blow up.
TIME TAKEN TO INFLATE (WITH ELECTRIC PUMP): 46 seconds
TIME TAKEN TO FILL UP: 1 hour 40 mins
POOLSIDE STYLE: 5/5
PEACHY NUMBER FOR GROWN-UP POSING
Automatic Inflatable Pool, £79.99, jaswill plains.com
Antonia said Automatic Inflatable Pool (pictured) took less than four minutes to inflate
The high- tech pool of the paddling world, this inflatable has a built-in pump that makes blowing it up a breeze. The automatic pump requires eight AA batteries that are encased in a waterproof compartment in the lowest of the three chambers. Once I have switched it on, it inflates effortlessly. Also included is a rectangular fabric canopy that covers about a quarter of the pool’s length, to shield bathers from the effects of the sun (or, indeed, rain).
The canopy has tube-shaped holes on each side through which to push tent pole-type frames, which you keep in position by anchoring them on either side of the pool.
At 2.6m (8ft 6in) long and 1.6m (5ft 5in) wide, the pool took a long time to fill using my garden hose. But you could easily fit six friends in it for some aquatic alfresco entertaining, and the colour makes a pretty pop in my garden.
TIME TAKEN TO INFLATE: Three minutes 29 seconds
TIME TAKEN TO FILL UP: 2.5 hours
POOLSIDE STYLE: 4/5
DYED AND GONE TO HEAVEN
Inflatable Backyard Paddling Pool, Tie Dye, £45, uk.sunnylife.com
Antonia said Inflatable Backyard Paddling Pool, Tie Dye (pictured) took just 55 minutes to fill up
Small but unquestionably stylish, this tie-dyed, pastel-toned, 270-litre circular pool by Australian company Sunnylife would suit city roof gardens or anywhere else where space is an issue.
It is just 1.3m (4ft 3in) in diameter, so fitting more than one adult in at a time would be a bit of a squash — but that’s no bad thing, I decide, as I settle myself in with a cuppa and admire my flowers in blissful silence. At 39cm (1ft 3in)tall, it is comparatively high, so my back gets support even though I can’t stretch my legs out, and has an comfortable inflatable base.
Each of its three chambers needs separate inflating, which makes blowing it up more of a faff than its diminutive size might suggest. But, in terms of water needed, it’s less wasteful than the others.
TIME TAKEN TO INFLATE: Two minutes, 44 seconds
TIME TAKEN TO FILL UP: 55 minutes
POOLSIDE STYLE: 4/5
A FINE SIGHT FOR STYLISH EYES
Sunnylife Blue Greek Eye Paddling Pool, £49, next.co.uk
Antonia said Sunnylife Blue Greek Eye Paddling Pool (pictured) is big enough to hold three adults and took just 1 hour, 15 mins to fill up
Yes, it’s blue — but there the similarity with the paddling pools of your youth end. This unusual inflatable made in the shape of a Greek Eye — a Grecian charm rumoured to ward off evil — has an eyeball at its centre and four inflatable gold eyelashes along one side, and adds an unmistakeable aura of holiday glamour to my grass.
Measuring 160cm (5ft 3in) from one side of the eye to the other, it’s big enough to hold three adults but fits just one rather nicely, I think, as I stretch out. There are three independent chambers to inflate again, though, making the process more time-consuming.
TIME TAKEN TO BLOW UP: 2 mins 30 seconds
TIME TAKEN TO FILL UP: 1 hour, 15 mins
POOLSIDE STYLE: 4/5
WATER FUN FOR FOUR FRIENDS
Inflatable Swim Center Family Lounge, £45.23, amazon.co.uk
Antonia said Inflatable Swim Center Family Lounge (pictured) took three hours to fill up
Although it’s marketed as a ‘family lounge’, I decide this pool is wasted on children and rename it my ‘friends forum’.
A generous 2.29m (7ft 6in) square, it has a separate inflatable seat in each corner, complete with back rest, so you can bathe in comfort for hours without risking a numb bum.
There are even two drinks holders built into the sides — though why two people must stay parched is a mystery. With a capacity of 882 litres, this isn’t a pool to prepare in a hurry, especially as each chair has to be inflated individually. But in terms of space per pound, it’s the most reasonably priced.
TIME TAKEN TO BLOW UP: Seven minutes, two seconds (1 min 50 seconds for main body, 1 min 18 seconds per seat)
TIME TAKEN TO FILL UP: 3 hours
POOLSIDE STYLE: 3/5
BIG ENOUGH FOR A SWIM
Intex Prisma Frame round detachable pool, £175, amazon.co.uk
Antonia said Intex Prisma Frame round detachable pool (pictured) took 18 hours to fill up
Made from triple-layer grey tarpaulin and a detachable steel frame, this pool is 3.05m (10ft) in diameter and 76 cm (2ft 6in) deep, so you can a lie on your back and float.
It is straightforward to assemble — push steel beams horizontally around the tarpaulin frame, then fit vertical beams to hold the pool up, then attach the accompanying electric pump which filters the water to keep it clean.
It holds a whopping 4,485 litres and wouldn’t be practical to refill regularly. It takes 18 hours to fill, after which I keep leaves out with a cover (bought separately).
It is wide enough to cross with two strokes of front crawl: if I close my eyes, I can almost pretend I’m somewhere exotic.
TIME TAKEN TO CONSTRUCT: 90 minutes
TIME TAKEN TO FILL UP: 18 hours
POOLSIDE STYLE: 5/5
Share what you thinkView all
The comments below have not been moderated.View all
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
We are no longer accepting comments on this article.Advertisement AdvertisementAdvertisement NEW ARTICLESHomeTopShareSitemapArchiveVideo ArchiveTopics IndexMobile AppsScreensaverRSSText-based siteReader PrintsOur PapersTop of pageDaily MailMail onSundayThis is MoneyMetroJobsiteMail TravelZoopla.co.ukPrime Location
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd