In my last post about Center Parcs, I told you about my CP holidays when I was a girl which gave me positive, memorable and magical experiences.
As a review, I’ll be looking at whether my memory lives up to my most recent experience. In this post about Center Parcs, I’ll go over the booking in process, the plaza, restaurants and accommodation… there’s just too much for me to talk about to mention it all in one post! In my next posts I’ll go through the pool, baby friendliness and other aspects.
We visited Longleat Center Parcs from 21st to 25th September 2015 and stayed in a 3 bed physiotherm executive lodge in the Fir area.
Let’s start at the beginning – booking in. We arrived at Longleat Center Parcs at about 1pm and we were met with a fair queue for the check in huts. However, the queue moved through fairly quickly, so it wasn’t too tedious.
As we booked in online, check in for us just involved rolling up to a window, stating our booking reference and being handed our keys and maps. It could not have been simpler!
We arrived early so headed straight for the plaza to get our bearings… and some lunch. When arriving early, it’s not possible to head straight to your lodge to unpack until 3pm – unless you pay the early charge to beat the queues at 2pm. However, we weren’t in any rush to unpack so were happy to mooch around the plaza.
As soon as we entered the plaza I was transported back to my childhood. I always remember the subtropical vibe, with a meandering river that trickles through the plaza, filled with giant fish and terrapins in touching distance. Although there were no terrapins in sight, everything else was just as I remember it.
The path in the plaza hugs the edge creating a wide and gentle slope covering two floors, making all areas accessible with a pushchair… there’s also a staircase for those that don’t fancy the meander!
A forest of tropical trees cleverly disguise the fact that you’re in a very big dome and immediately transports you to a distant place, readying you for an adventure.
As well as providing that holiday vibe, the plaza is also fit for purpose including restaurants, a variety of shops, the pool entrance tucked away at the bottom and even a bowling alley.
Eating is always high on my agenda and there’s a variety of restaurants available in Center Parcs, of which we visited Hawton’s, Strada, Café Rouge, the Pancake House and Dine in (which is delivered to your lodge).
The restaurants in Center Parcs are a little pricey as compared to normal, but I think it’s important when in Center Parcs to remember that you’re on holiday and not at home. They have a completely captive audience, so there’s a microcosm of pricing. But it isn’t ridiculously priced, just on the upper-end of highstreet prices.
Saying that, we found a great way to save money while still dining out. By taking advantage of lunchtime deals, we were able to have fantastic meals out while then retreating to our lodge for a light tea later on in the day using food that we took with us.
Eating at lunch also gave us more space as they aren’t as busy through the daytime, which meant that we were always able to grab a table on a whim without having to pre-book (apart from the Pancake house!).
Eating out for lunch suited us as we needed to get back to the lodge for 6pm ready for Georgia’s bedtime routine.
On one night we also ordered in, choosing an Indian which was delicious – apart from the naan bread which tasted a little rubbery.
The Pancake House
Okay, so this should technically fit under my review of ‘restaurants’, but I can’t help but shout about it. The Pancake house is an institution in Center Parcs. With a menu filled with savoury and sweet pancakes and waffles, I could have ordered everything on the menu. Price wise, it’s also very reasonable in comparison with other restaurants available.
It’s on the ‘MUST’ list of things to do in Center Parcs as both of my courses were delicious.
Our accommodation was just how I remember it as a child, although with a very much updated décor! With the 3 bed executive lodges, we had two double bedrooms and a twin room – each with an en-suite. We also had a physiotherm room… which was basically a sauna but using infrared heat rather than coals.
Our open plan living room overlooked a very big downward hill and gorgeous rustic red wood tree (pictured). We regularly saw squirrels running their routes through our patio to hunt for nuts too which just added to the atmosphere. They were great to watch as the sun went down in the evening, or in the morning with a steaming mug of tea.
Overall, the accommodation was very comfortable and each room also had its own TV – allowing me to retreat to our bedroom when I felt the need to curl up in bed and watch a bit of telly!
The kitchen was also well equipped with a dishwasher and wine cooler (let’s face it… a must for holidays right?!), although I would have appreciated a washing machine. I can understand why they don’t have them as they are only short-term holidays… although I was very much in need of one!
The only negatives I can say about our accommodation is that some of our plates had leaves and debris on them (who knows how they got there!) which made us distrust the cleanliness of utensils. However, with a dishwasher, it wasn’t difficult for us to clean up before we used things – but it is a point in principle. Our room also felt a little damp/humid, which didn’t go away when opening the window. All of the other rooms were fine, so we were unsure whether this was an issue with our en-suite. It didn’t distract away from our experience, but was a mild annoyance.
In all, the facilities at Center Parcs went above and beyond my expectations and helped to provide a relaxing atmosphere where we could really unwind and enjoy ourselves.
In my next Center Parcs post I’ll go over the subtropical swimming pool, activities and baby friendliness.