If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that last week I spent a few days Center Parcs Longleat Forest. We booked this holiday last November so that we had something to look forward to, not knowing that we were going to be moving into our first home.
I have been to Center Parcs a couple of times before and completely loved it and have usually visited over a weekend, so we thought this time we would try a Monday to Friday break instead. We only live about 2.5 hours away from where this particular Center Parcs is, so it was easy enough to get to. So, I have put together this little guide to share my experience and some tips if you are thinking of visiting.
What We Did
We had a little plan for what we would be doing before heading there as we booked a couple of activities to do during our stay. Most of the activities are mainly aimed at families with younger children, so the only thing we fancied doing was playing badminton on the Wednesday and Thursday morning.
One of the main attractions of Center Parcs is their huge indoor and outdoor pool as well as the rapids. After a little cycle around on the Tuesday morning, we spent the afternoon being big kids at the swimming pool. They have loads of indoor water slides as well as new additions of the Tropical Cyclone and Typhoon which are all great fun, especially after a few drinks…
The outdoor rapids are great fun and even more so when they speed up later in the afternoon! We spent our time swimming and drinking; probably pretty frowned upon, but hey, we were on holiday!
As I said above, we spent the other mornings playing badminton and cycling around, but after that, we got pretty bored until it was dinner time. The Plaza and Sports Plaza of the park are not very big at all, and even though everything was decorated for Christmas, it was maybe a bit boring? Unless you pay for the pricey activities or are travelling there with children, you may end up being a bit bored.
What I love about this type of holiday is the fact you stay in these cosy little lodges in the forest. There is something really relaxing about being surrounded by the trees, it takes your mind out of the real world for a moment. We opted for an executive 1-bedroom lodge the central area, which was nice. The only comment I have about this, as they may look modern, but there is a lot of wear and tear, although pretty clean (apart from the random pair of socks we found under the bed), I think some of these lodges could do with a little touch-up.
Food and Drink
We ate out every night except our last as I was too tired to get ready and ordered from the onsite takeaway place. Everything we ate there was delicious, from the Italian on the Monday night, the Indian on the Tuesday night and the Amercian-style restaurant on the Wednesday. All of the food was honestly delicious and don’t really have any complaints about that. Additionally, we had breakfast and lunch at the Sports Cafe and that was equally as good, as well as the Chinese takeaway we had on our last night.
If you are travelling as a couple, evenings may get a little bit boring as the nightlife isn’t exactly “booming”. I luckily packed my laptop and an HDMI cable so that we could watch a couple of films in the evening.
Drinks are pretty pricey, so maybe bring some wine and a crate of beer with you, as if you want a pint of beer or a large glass of wine it can set you back!
I would also advise avoiding the onsite supermarket because it is extremely overpriced. I ran out of makeup wipes and found some in the shop which were £5; erm, no thanks hun!
We paid £60 for us both to hire bikes for the duration of our stay which was pretty pricey, so I would suggest maybe bringing your own. Also, if you are staying in a central area, you don’t really need them!
Firstly, if you don’t enjoy being around children then this place isn’t for you! We went during school time thinking it would be a bit quieter, but there were hundreds of kids about; not like I mind, but if you were planning on a quiet, romantic holiday somewhere else might be a bit better! The only thing that annoyed be with this is, is when we were eating in a restaurant, and we were sat on a table next to a big group, and the parents just letting their kids run around, grab the backs of our chairs and were screaming, this isn’t Center Parcs fault but still annoying.
All in all, we did have a nice time as it was nice to get away for a few days, but I think the lack of things for couples to do, puts me off a little bit. I would also probably opt for a shorter break instead as I think you could probably fit everything you wanted to do in this time. If you are looking to travel with a large group and have children, this would definitely be a good place for you to go as there is so much on offer; just make sure you save up before you go.
As I said above, we visited last week and they had put all of the decorations up for the festive period which really was lovely, and it really felt like Christmas time; so that was a great touch.
Have you had the chance to visit Center Parcs? Let me know how you found it in the comments below!