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Truly British Holiday
Center Parcs (England)
Member Name: abbadabbado
Center Parcs (England)
Advantages: loads of stuff to do
Disadvantages: can be expensive
We recently came back from Centre Parcs in Longleat. Choosing to go over a long weekend as opposed to our last visit to Nottingham being a midweek break, we decided last time we were too tired by the last day to appreciate it.
Nottingham and Longleat are similar and different in so many different ways and it's a shame they couldn't combine the best bits out of the two to make a brilliant break.
This review will primarily be about Longleat, but with references to Nottingham.
Longleat is based in Southern England in Wiltshire. It's easily accessible from the M5 in the North, M4 from South Wales, London using the M3, South west using the A303.
We booked basic accommodation, as we had all decided we didn't want too much luxury, as long as it was clean and tidy. Our two bed roomed villa consisted of a double bedroom, twin room, toilet, bathroom with shower and bath, along with an open plan kitchen, living room, dining area. We had all the equipment we could need, toaster, kettle, oven, ironing board, TV stereo, cot, highchair etc all comes as standard in the basic accommodation. If you choose to upgrade and pay higher prices, there are more facilities available to you such as DVD players etc. Again we decided we weren't going on holiday to sit in our villa day in day out so we wouldn't need these extras.
Bed linen was clean and fresh, as was the toilet and bathroom. We had complimentary tea towel, teas, coffees and milk etc so should you forget your bits it wasn't too bad.
The price for this was £555 for a long weekend in peak August. This is expensive, but based on five of us (one being a baby), so worked out per person it wasn't too bad. However you can easily travel abroad for nearly the same price with a late deal, so it doesn't necessarily work out good value.
Nottingham - Price £275 midweek March. The accommodation was identical to Longleat and standards were the same.
Booking of Centre Parcs is all done through their website and you pre register your car and activities to make life easier and less stressful when we arrived. On our basic package we were allowed in the park at 10am, however couldn't swim until 2pm and access out accommodation until 3pm. For this reason we decided to take a slow drive stopping for lunch, and only arrived around the 2pm mark.
Nottingham - Exactly the same rules
It can be purely pot luck where your accommodation is in relevance to all the activities. As they are dotted about all over the campus, you can be lucky to be close to one, but ages away from the other. We were about a 30 minute walk away from the swimming dome in Longleat; however as it's a hilly park, Longleat put on Land trains which run round and round the park all day and evening.
Nottingham - Don't provide a land train, however it's a much flatter surface so cycling is a lot easier, and a good way to get around.
The swimming complex is free at all Centre Parcs sites, and they consist of slides, wave machines, plunge pools, toddler areas, baby areas etc.
Longleat's pool is much smaller than Nottingham; however Longleat offered more slides than Nottingham.
Longleats pool area consisted of a food area, bar serving drinks etc, large shop area for extras and lifeguards, lazy river, plunge pool outside, hot tub inside and out, toddler pool, baby pool , outside pool, 2 short steep slides, 2 tube slides, rapids ride, wave machine.
Nottingham however has food area, bar serving drinks, small areas for lifeguards, one toddler and baby pool combined, much bigger swimming area, hot tub inside, adults only hot tub, wave machine, water fountain in the much larger pool, separate lane pool, outside pool, plunge pool, rapids, slide, dinghy slide.
I preferred Nottingham's pool overall, but what let it down was that it has to be accessed from the outside, and the buggy park is outside so if it's raining, you can get even wetter. Longleat has everything undercover.
There are plenty of places to eat at both parks. The central village in Longleat which is home to swimming, restaurant and shops are all under one big dome, however in Nottingham it's set out in a little village style with bridges etc. It's a lovely setting in Nottingham however you are open to the weather.
There is plenty of choice to eat at both sites including Spanish, American, French, English, as well as a supermarket if you choose to go self catering. The prices at all of these places are slightly higher than average, but nothing more than what you would expect to pay whilst on holiday.
Overall I prefer Longleat for this area as it can be accessed all under one roof.
There are plenty of activities to do whilst at Centre Parcs. This can be anything from Archery to T-shirt design, to toddler clubs. There really is something for everyone and the activities stay the same from site to site. All these activities are fairly high in price but it's the point of being on holiday so people pay it.
An example would be the Archery - £17 for 45 minutes.
All of this information is available in brochure format before you arrive at centre parcs so you can choose, book and pay before you arrive.
As cars are only allowed on site on arrival and departure day, you will need to decide whether you're going to cycle or walk. Bikes can be hired or you can take your own. Hire prices are approx £20 for a weekend. We found it easier to hire them in Nottingham, however didn't miss them and used the train in longleat.
Both sites we found to be fun and entertaining. You can fit as much or as little into your holiday as you want. They do have babysitting services available; however we chose to keep our kids with us as that's what we saw the holiday being about.
There is a mountain of wildlife to see at all Centre Parcs. More recently at Longleat we had a family of deer right outside our villa door, it was amazing.
Overall I recommend a visit to Centre Parcs if you're holidaying in the UK. It's almost like an upmarket holiday camp without the evening entertainment. I would prefer this to any Butlins etc any time and will continue to re visit as long as we can find a good price for the holiday.
Summary: a great time away
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