We recently returned from a stay at Center Parcs Longleat and I wanted to write all about our time there. I was a CP virgin before this trip but had always wanted to go and I had so many questions that I found myself asking the CP team on twitter a million questions as well as bugging friends on Instagram that I knew had been. Since returning, I too, have been asked lots of lovely questions on Instagram so thought I’d try and answer as many of them here with a detailed review of our time there. So to include all the things you need to know, what to take and what to expect!
I should start off by saying I paid for this trip with my hard-earned money! CP didn’t invite me to stay or pay me to write a review, but like I said, I had such a great time I felt to share it with you all!
We booked around January time to stay in April over the Easter holidays. Just four days from a Friday to Monday but we 100% could’ve stayed longer. We stayed in a woodland lodge and having not been before I spent an extra £40 to choose my own lodge and location. I wanted to make sure we weren’t right in the centre of the village but not so far out that a walk would be too much with a five year old. The CP at Longleat has a land train, so you’re never far away from anything anyway. Next time I don’t think i’ll need to do that as even the furthest lodge isn’t too far with the train.
We booked a three bedroom lodge as we were coming along with Nanny too. The cost for the lodge was just over £1,000 which for four days, feels a lot when it’s just accommodation and pool access not including any meals out or activities. But we’ve always wanted to go and have seen and heard great things. What with moving house this year and a few more UK breaks lined up we probably won’t be able to squeeze in a holiday abroad so we went with it. What’s included in the lodge is bedding, towels, basic kitchen equipment like sponges, a couple dishwasher tablets, utensils, pans, bowls, cups and a kettle etc. We didn’t have to bring anything like that which was good. I was a diva and took my Nespresso machine though…! Depending on your family size you might want to take loo roll as I think there were only a couple in the bathroom and second toilet. We had washing up liquid and sponges supplied which I think is standard across CP but it’s worth checking for sure. There is a local shop (which is basically a co-op) in case you do need any supplies. There were ample bath towels but you can’t take them to the pool so we packed beach towels. They dried overnight with the heating on so no worries there.
Our lodge was spotless, modern and so toasty. It’s hard to believe it now with the mini heatwave we had over the bank holiday but it was really cold when we went a couple weeks ago. But I loved it, we got to wrap up and return to a toasty lodge at the end of the day. I reckon it’d be an amazing place to spend Christmas.
So let me start at the beginning of the trip. You can arrive from 10am and park up and use all the facilities the park has to offer (so you can book stuff for that first day). The main centre is called The Plaza at the Longleat CP (I think it might be called that at all the parks?) and it was like entering a tropical dome with shops, a stream filled with fish, arcades. It felt really, really well put together and I think that’s why CP is the price it is. It’s beautiful and very well thought out for families and kids. It was all so clean and kept that way the whole time we were there. In The Plaza you have all the restaurants and shops including a bowling alley and entrance to the swimming pool. The swimming pool was like nothing we’ve seen before. It was like the Eden Project with a pool! So many different areas for different aged kids and adults alike. I could go on about it forever with the different amount of pools, slides and activities for kids but trust me, you could spend a whole day there. There’s even rapids which take you outside which we didn’t brave with Kai as he was too young to go down them, but wow. It looked amazing (and it is heated!). We headed straight to the pool on our second day around 11:30am and managed to get some seats, which surprised me as it was really busy. You can hire a cabana for £90 for a morning or afternoon. That is pricey especially as it’s not for the whole day but if you’re feeling lavish and want to stay at the pool a good amount of time and get comfortable (they have sofas and TVs in there) I say go for it. I considered it but then we found a little hidden section with beds that was empty so we nabbed it and it felt like we had our own little area overlooking it all. The café in the pool is good for snacks and drinks. It’s honestly so warm in there you’ll need to stay hydrated. It was like we were in Ibiza, no lie. We had so much fun we spent our third morning there as well and got there for when it opened at 10am and managed to bag a great spot again. I wonder if it was full during Easter as we didn’t have trouble getting seats/beds? You can also hire pool towels but I think taking your own (if you can fit them in the suitcase/car) works just fine.
Sorry, I digressed onto the pool, let me go back. So you can’t get into your lodge til 3pm. Fridays and Mondays are busy, it’s check in and check out days for all the breaks you can book (Mon – Fri, Mon – Mon, Fri – Mon and Fri – Fri). I was glad we got there at 10am despite not being able to go in the lodge as we had the chance to explore and managed to find all the outdoor play parks (there’s a few and they are all big, spacious and safe) and see the lake, the mini beach and the restaurants. We went back to the car at 2:45pm and got in the queue to head to the lodge. It gets really busy come check in time so I recommend getting to the car 2:30pm-2:45pm for sure.
Before we knew it we were at the lodge. We unpacked and instantly were greeted by wildlife at our windows. It all felt so lovely and the animals were really tame, especially the duck and the cat (who even came and sat on our rug one morning!)
I think they like you to unload and drive the car back ASAP however there isn’t the land train running on Mondays and Fridays due to the cars on check ins and check outs. I didn’t fancy driving back straight away to then have to walk back, so we left the car at the lodge til 5ish when we had dinner booked in Foresters Inn for 5:30pm. No one complained or told us off! If you kept your car there after 6pm (when the train starts again) then you may have been asked to move it back to the car park. I really did like that it was a no car zone for the majority of the time there, Kai was able to roam safely which was so important for him as he loves the forest, let alone living in it!
Onto food! We packed a food shop in the car so had all the essentials. We had breakfasts at home in the lodge each morning and made packed lunches for lunch. We ate out a few times in the evening and also had breakfast at Foresters Inn on our last day. We ate at Foresters actually the first night we got there and it was amazing food, such great quality and I didn’t feel it was over priced like I had heard. Every restaurant is catered for kids too with colouring packs and kids menus. Hucks Diner was a stand out for us. I don’t know if all CPs have this but wow, they had a great soft play for little ones and a sort of indoor play area for older kids like Kai. He ran off on his own and was happily playing with the others kids. I, of course, kept checking in on him before dinner was ready but he was so happy and do you know what? I felt this about the whole trip, that it was so safe. Everything and everywhere felt very safe which is such a positive.
Hucks is a combo of great food, service and play all in one. It didn’t feel ‘soft play like’. You know, with chips and beans on the floor... it was a really nice adult dining space, but catered to kids on the side. And the kids buffet menu? PERFECT! Kai is often fussy so he got to try some nice alternatives. This place may have been a bit pricier? I don’t know. I usually pay a good £10-£11 for a burger when out in my home town and this was around £13 I think. It’s like an airport I guess, they always hike it up a little bit. But the food here (I had a burger, Danny had fish and chips and Nanny had a pasta dish) was all so delicious.
I had heard so much buzz around The Pancake House. This was located outside of The Plaza (like Foresters Inn is) just a short five minute walk to The Village where there is another big park for kids. We attempted to get a space at The Pancake House but there was an hours wait time… not ideal. I’d heard it gets nuts so we parked that idea. But on our last day we got there as it opened and managed to get a ten minute waiting time, so we went for it and it was alright. I wouldn’t go mad and say it’s the best experience of my life so much so i’d wait an hour for the pancakes. But they were nice pancakes with naughty toppings. There was so much choice there which is great, savoury, sweet… Kai was very happy with this ice cream filled pancake stack!
Onto the activities. Simply, there is so much to do. Whatever you want from your break, you have plenty of choice. We really aren’t the activity kind of family (well not yet anyway, Kai might have other ideas as he gets older) but there are loads of things you could take a go at. There’s Go Ape style treetop adventures, archery, canoeing in a lake… all sorts. The list seems endless (just see what you can book on their website). But we didn’t need any of that this time round. Only staying for four days and having a five year old who is happy roaming the woods was enough. But that’s not to say next time we won’t try these some of the activities. We would take our own bikes next time as the hire price is crazy for a bike. I think a tandem was £90 for four days? Take your own if you can! These are all add on’s so this is where I guess it gets it’s expensive reputation. We did bowling which was so fun and I think only £20 odd for a 45min game. Kai loved it and it was right up his street.
Danny had booked me a massage on our second day which was the best surprise! The spa, Aqua Sana, was just as beautiful as you’d expect. I was only in there for a couple hours max but the vibe was so relaxing and the staff I cannot compliment enough. If you can escape the fam for a little bit of alone time I can’t recommend booking a treatment enough. The masseur was fantastic and the only negative was I wanted it to last longer…!
The train was a great addition to the forest, helping us get from one end of the park to the other. For short walks you didn’t need it but it was great for after dinner when you want to get back to the lodge and not walk the whole way. They run every twenty minutes and there was always room and they were always on time. This was Easter though and I don’t know if the park was full or not, it could be different in the summer months.
Re: booking food, I don’t think you need to. Again though, it could’ve been down it not being at full capacity? We needn’t have booked as there was room in every restaurant every night but it was nice to know we had it in case it was packed. You pay a deposit online and that is taken off your bill at the end of the meal.
We had a blast, honestly. From being surrounded by beautiful nature, to spending tropical days in a pool and feeding animals that visited our lodge. It felt relaxing and I don’t think i’ve ever had a relaxing break since becoming a dad so that is saying something! Oh, and take your own fire logs for the fire, they sell them but it’s £10 for 3. You can get them a lot cheaper in supermarkets.
We’re already considering booking up for may half term 2020…!
We’re sold. Center Parcs fans through and through.