We’re off to Longleat Center Parcs again this month and I’m so looking forward to our 4 night family break. It’s been a big year for us all so the idea of some family time out is very welcome right now.
If you are able to go term time it is possible to get a break at a reasonable price as well – we booked in January for a September break which came to £299 for a 2 bed standard woodland lodge. For a 5 day break this works out at around £75 per night which isn’t bad for self catering accommodation.
It’s possible to spend a fortune there and ram pack your days but we try to do no more than 1 or 2 activities a day and make the most of the free swimming, lakeside walks and bike rides. Last year I managed to get an early morning run in and while it was much much more hilly than my usual routes it was lovely to run around the lake in the morning.
Here are my top tips for your Center Parcs Longleat break.
Pre-book your activities
It is possible to book activities on site but if you want to make sure you can do things on the day you want to you should use the online booking system. This is a great way to keep an eye on your itinerary to make sure you aren’t booking too much in but also a good way to keep an eye on costs. You might not be able to get into your accommodation until 2pm or 3pm but you can book activities from 10am so you can get full use of your days. This goes the same for your checkout day – you have to leave your accommodation in the morning but you can book right up to the afternoon and evening of the day you check out so book your activities to make full use of your time.
A sneaky restaurant in the corner or the main plaza that does a really lovely childrens menu and they’ll get to watch the fish swim past. They do an ace breakfast as well – my favourite is the freshly cooked bread with jam, butter and a cup of tea and hubby loves the granola. Many of the restaurants at Longleat can be very busy and full of stimulation for the tiny humans but Cafe Rouge is always very chilled out and a good place to spend some quiet time. The Grand Cafe is good for somewhere quieter than the sports bar as well.
Asda in Frome
There is a shop on site and it’s a really good little store but it isn’t the cheapest – I’d compare it to Sainsburys prices but without any of the deals. For us we find doing a click and collect shop from the big Asda in Frome is really helpful. You can order it all online before you leave and just drive in to collect it without any of the actual stresses of having to do a proper shop with the family in tow! Doing an online shop is also a good way of meal planning and keeping your meal costs under control – we usually plan for lunch out but dinner at home. Do bear in mind though that firewood and BBQ’s have to be brought from the onsite shop for safety purposes.
Bikes and trailers
The Longleat site is huge and there is a tractor train to get you around and about but for a bit of independance I’d recommend hiring or bringing your own bikes. They can be a bit of a slog – especially the hill up from the lake – but the site is well laid out with cycle paths and clear routes for you to use. We’ve always hired one of the trailers as well to make it easier to get around and about although now Miss MIP is 4 years old I’m not sure how easy it’ll actually be! Either way the trailers are fab for transporting swimming kit, shopping and stroppy children who refuse to walk another step…….
A family holiday is a holiday for all of us but we do enjoy some time to ourselves as well. Each year Miss MIP has gone to the Pirates and Princesses party at the Creche which gives us 2 hours to enjoy breakfast together or to go for a swim while she plays with her new found friends. The childminders at Centre Parcs are just fab – they are experienced and Ofsted registered and were able to deal with Miss MIP’s speech delay issues without any problems.
Wifi and phones
If, like me, you pretty much always have your phone in your hand Centre Parcs can be a challenge due to its almost impossible to find enough signal to make a call. The good news is you can pick up Wifi in most places but be prepared to be uncontactable for most of your stay.
When you book your stay you’ll be offered a range of accommodation – we’ve stayed in standard and executive and rate both. For the three of us the standard is fine but if having a second bathroom would be useful to you then the executive rooms are good for a treat. I haven’t stayed in the the tree house accommodation but if someone at Center Parcs wants to upgrade our stay I’ll be happy to review it ;-) I’d particularly like the look of the treehouses and they could be amazing for special occasions or group hire.
I hope these tips help you enjoy your break and I’ll update it when we get back with any new ones we come across.