Beat the heat! Airconditioned buildings where YOU can seek refuge from soaring temperatures – from the local supermarket to the cinema

  • Britain is sweltering as it prepares to endure its hottest day on record
  • There are fully airconditioned buildings where you can escape the heat
  • Gyms, supermarkets and cinemas can all provide welcome relief 

Much of Britain is already sweltering as the country prepares to endure its hottest day on record with temperatures expected to hit 106F (41C). 

From hastly bought fans to paddling pools in the back garden, people are doing all they can to stay cool as the mercury rises. 

The scorching heat means the UK will be warmer than Nassau in the Bahamas (32C), Kingston in Jamaica (33C), Malaga in Spain (28C), Athens in Greece (35C) and Albufeira in Portugal (28C).

But unlike many of those sun-soaked destinations, buildings in Britain are simply not built to withstand intense heat. It means any length of time inside can soon become oppressive.

While installing air-con at home is expensive – and not environmentally friendly – there are some public buildings that will have the cool air blasting so you can escape the heat for a few precious hours.

Here, FEMAIL shares some of the unexpected air-con retreats…  

THE CINEMA

Stay cool in the cinema: Treat yourself to a cold drink and an ice cream as you luxuriate in the airconditioned oasis of the local cinema

It might sound counterintuitive to give up a day in the sunshine to sit in a dark room, but a trip to the cinema will also buy you two (or three) hours of deliciously cold air-con.

Maximise your time out of the heat by arriving well in advance of the scheduled start time (the lobby is also cold) and treat yourself to cold drinks and an ice cream.

Crucially, it is also a way to keep the children busy. Minions: The Rise of Gru and The Railway Children are ideal for little ones but clever enough to keep adults entertained, too. 

Planning a kid-free outing? The latest Marvel installment Thor: Love and Thunder is currently showing, and Top Gun: Maverick is lingering at certain screens.

THE SUPERMARKET

Cheap and cheerful: A trip to the supermarket is far from glamorous but it is a way to escape the heat without spending a penny (unless you want to stop and do the weekly shop)

Glamorous? No. Cold? Yes. Some supermarkets are so chilly that a stroll down the freezer aisle can feel like a brief Arctic blast. 

Break from routine and do your weekly shop today, making sure to take the time to look at the items on every single shelf to maximise your time in the icy air. 

Or, if you’re really struggling for something to do, you can even go to the supermarket without buying anything.

Children might struggle to get excited by rows of vegetables or frozen peas but maybe it is a chance to play a family version of Supermarket Sweep. Or simply force them to follow you around then reward them with an ice cream on the way out. 

GYMS

Less is more: Pop in for a relaxed walk on the treadmill and feel virtuous knowing you’re getting your steps in without exposing yourself to the risk of heatstroke. Stock image 

This is definitely the week to make the most of that gym membership you haven’t touched since January. 

Pop in for a relaxed walk on the treadmill and feel virtuous knowing you’re getting your steps in without exposing yourself to the risk of heatstroke. 

Hardcore gym-goers might opt for a more intense workout, just remember to hydrate properly afterwards. 

Remember to take advantage of any facilities and treat yourself to a refreshing shower before heading back out into the heat. 

No gym membership? It might be worth seeing if there is an introductory offer that is worth signing up for, even if it’s just for the next month. Or try your local leisure centre. 

SHOPPING CENTRES

Window shopping: Take your time and amble around the shops at your local airconditioned shopping centre. If you have a few hours to kill then tag on a trip to the cinema

If ever there was a day to amble aimlessly around the shops at your local shopping centre, today is it. 

Start by picking up any summer essentials that might still be missing from your wardrobe, then branch out to window shopping high-end pieces just to pass the time.

If you have several hours to kill then why not make a day of it and grab lunch at an indoor restaurrant before taking in a film at the cinema (see above). 

Or, save money by bringing your own packed lunch then slyly eat it at a quiet spot. 

MUSEUMS

Step back in time: Many of the bigger museums have airconditioning to protect their exhibits. There are plenty of free museums and galleries to choose from, like the V&A (above)

Museums can be hit-and-miss when it comes to airconditioning so be sure to check before planning a visit, but many institutions will be pleasantly cool in order to protect the exhibits.

Londoners have the most choice and can easily fill a day bouncing between different galleries and museums (although you then have to contend with getting between them). 

The British Museum is particularly cool and free to visit, just like all UK’s national museums including the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery. 

The V&A Dundee, The National Railway Museum in York and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry are all worth exploring.

SEA LIFE LONDON AQUARIUM 

Cool customers: Spend some time with the colony of Gentoo Penguins at the Sea Life London Aquarium and it will be difficult to remember just how hot it is outside

Spend some time with the colony of Gentoo Penguins at the Sea Life London Aquarium and it will be difficult to remember just how hot it is outside. 

The penguins are just one of more than 500 species housed across 14 themed zones in exhibits that teach visitors about the animals and the importance of preserving their natural habitats.  

The entire aquarium is airconditioned and out of the sun, providing an ideal escape from the heat. 

But be warned: it’s not a cheap day out. Prices for a standard adult ticket start at £28.

RESTAURANTS AND COFFEE SHOPS

Once again it will be hit-and-miss on airconditioning in your favourite eateries but bigger coffee shop chains like Starbucks and Costa will almost certainly have it. 

Take your work laptop to give yourself a break from the heat of your home office – even if it’s just for a few hours – or treat yourself and eat lunch at somewhere with airconditioning. 

Opt for an iced coffee for extra chill, or keep things simple with a refreshing sparkling water. 

HOTELS

Have you been looking for a chance to treat yourself to a little staycation? This might be the perfect night to do it. 

Many hotels, even the cheaper ones, have airconditioned rooms, which will give you a night away from the stifling heat of your own bed. 

Try searching last-minute websites to get the best deals. You might even be lucky enough to find one with a swimming pool if you’re willing to spend a little more.

BOOKSHOPS

Support local business: Browse books and escape the heat in a local bookshop where you can happily while away the hours. Pictured, Daunt Books in London

Support your local book shop and pop in for a browse in the airconditioning. 

Unlike other retailers, book shops often encourage customers to spend time relaxing – and even reading – in store, so you don’t need to feel under pressure to leave. 

Check out the new releases, or pick up a title from your favourite author and spend a few relaxed minutes flicking through the pages before buying. 

If you’re really concerned about airconditioning then it’s worth phoning ahead because smaller independent shops might not have it. 

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