Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that cold water plunge pools are having a moment right now.
Not only have the icy baths seen a recent surge of people searching for information on the icy baths via Google, but they’ve also become a firm favourite with celebrities all over the shop – and the fast-growing garden trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Why, though, are they proving so very popular? And how can we embrace the Danish wellbeing trend of cold water therapy in our own gardens?
Cold water plunge pools
From Angela Scanlon to Holly Willoughby, Joe Wicks to Sophie Robinson, cold water plunge pools are beloved by athletes, fitness fanatics and celebrities alike – and more and more are shunning the very best hot tubs around in favour of installing an icy bath in their own garden.
When the weather is as cold as it is right now, it’s difficult to imagine what the appeal is – until you learn that the Danish have long used cold water therapy as a way to invigorate the senses, give themselves a jolt of energy, and combat their winter blues.
And, while most of the evidence around the benefits of cold water therapy are anecdotal, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix docuseries, The Goop Lab, sent the concept mainstream in 2020 when it introduced Wim Hof, aka the Iceman, to the masses.
‘Cold water is a great way to learn to deal with stress,’ the Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete explained in the series. ‘If you learn how to breathe deep, you can go into the cold water and adapt. And with that, you become the alchemist of life itself.’
Since then, plenty of people have braved the icy climes of a cold water bath (or shower) – and Angela Scanlon, for one, has proven herself a convert: she even has a Skinny Dipper ice bath from The Ice Bath Co nestled in a sunny spot in her garden.
‘[It feeds] my soul like a stinking Big Mac but without the pretend meat and weird sauce,’ she writes about the process on Instagram.
‘Thanks to Wim Hof and his cold water training for good health, plunge pools and cold water baths are popping up in gardens now in many forms,’ says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.
Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.
While a cold water plunge pool is absolutely a luxury item (it’s not top of our list of things every winter garden needs), Morris goes on to explain that it’s surprisingly easy to incorporate one into your own outdoor space – which is good news for anyone who’s hooked on Scandi garden design ideas.
‘From small portable ice tubs just about big enough for one person to dip in to reclaimed baths filled with cold water, there’s many ways to enjoy the health benefits of cold water therapy – even on a balcony!’ he says.
Just be sure to borrow from our favourite cosy garden ideas, he adds, and ‘surround the pool or bath with trees, shrubs and other plants before you take the plunge’.
Rebecca Knight, Ideal Home‘s deputy editor, isn’t at all surprised that cold water plunge pools are coming through at this time – although she does advise that anyone seeking to begin the practice consult with a professional coach or expert first.
‘They will be able to tell you how to make the most out of it and keep you safe,’ she says, revealing that she recently took the plunge herself in a portable tin bath.
‘The water is usually about 2° Celsius, and you stay in for a maximum of 2 minutes.’
Shop the trend
The Skinny Dipper Ice Bath
The very same cold water plunge pool used by Angela Scanlon, this compact little beauty comes with a built-in seat to help you relax.
This bargainous plunge pool is a multitasker, which means it’s good for ice baths and normal hot water soaks, too.
Speaking from her own chilly experience, Rebecca adds that ‘a portable tub is perfect’ for anyone hoping to try the cold water plunge pool trend for themselves.
‘Alternatively, you can try a more luxe look with a full outdoor bath, although it takes more bravery as you have to sit down. So, if you’re short on space (and courage!) opt for a plunge pool-style option.’
Garden designer Matthew Childs, meanwhile, has a far grander option: a natural swimming pond!
Matthew is an award-winning garden designer and has designed a diverse range of exciting landscapes both in the UK and internationally. He believes in the power of gardens to have huge benefits for mental and physical wellbeing, but also as having an important role to play in tackling climate change and providing habitat for wildlife.
‘If I were you I would go more down the natural swimming pond route as a way of those in pursuit of cold water therapy,’ he says, noting that it’s one of those modern garden ideas that’s guaranteed to create a beautiful outdoor space.
And, while he adds that a natural swimming pool can be an expensive option, costing much the same as a traditional swimming pool to build into your yard, Matthew says the running costs are minimal, as they don’t need to be heated, covered, or artificially filtered.
All you really need to worry about is safety (make sure the area is fenced off, especially if you have young children), and keeping on top of the leaf fall and vegetation decomposing in the water.
So, there we have it: there are plenty of ways to (ahem) dip your toe into the cold water plunge pool trend that’s taking over our gardens. Just be sure to have a warm fluffy towel on standby – and a mug of hot chocolate to hand, too.