Remember that ‘I need to go on holiday’ itch that I mentioned a couple of posts back? Well I just scratched it.
But since I’m in the latter stages of maternity leave, budget restraints meant I couldn’t book a fabulous stay at The Rosevine (apparently no amount of persuading was going to work on my husband) and Babington House may be baby-friendly, but I’d quite like to keep that as a baby-free break option for the future.
So, armed with the £500 I won from Dettol, a few weeks ago at the Cybermummy 11 conference (no, not a Dr Who-loving-parents convention, although it does sound like one), I booked a four-night stay at Center Parcs Longleat. It was so good, I felt compelled to write a Center Parcs review. This is why, if you have a baby or kids, you should go:
- The accommodation – certainly the New Woodland Lodge accommodation that we stayed in – is brilliant. Stylish grey corner sofa, sleek modern kitchen, a giant photo wall, flatscreen TV, log fire, patio with BBQ… and huge windows that look out to trees as far as the eye can see. It’s like a trendy open-plan New York loft, but in the middle of a forest.
- Whether you have a little ‘un and (like us) just want to go swimming every day, or have older kids who you want to tire out… it’s amazing. The swimming pool is free, has lots of family changing rooms with pull-down baby change shelf, a lazy river rapid, an outdoor pool with waterfalls, flumes and a wave machine every 30 minutes. Importantly, there are plenty of friendly lifegauards on duty, and they’re not too timid to keep everyone in line. For older kids, there’s almost too much choice. Kayaking? Yes. Bowling? OK. Pottery painting? If you like. Quad biking? Why not. The cost of your holiday could escalate as high as the zip wire, if you did it all.
- You know that typical non-plussed, grunting, going-through-the-motions kind of waiter/waitress that seem to be everywhere these days? We couldn’t find one, in any of the restaurants. Which is just weird. Every single person who served us seemed genuinely happy to be there, engaged us in friendly conversation, cooed away at our baby and were very good at their job. On the subject of restaurants, most (possibly all) we went to had a baby feeding room – such a nice touch for new mums.
- The spaaaaaaa. A visit to Aqua Sana is a must, whether you drop your cherubs off at the Ofsted-monitored creche or take it in turns to go. The only problem is deciding whether to have a treatment or a spa session. I did both (obvs) and after an Elemis Modern Skin facial and three hours of dipping in and out of the Indian Blossom Steam Room, the Japanese Zen Garden and the Zilli cafe, I pretty much floated back to the lodge.
- Most of all, it’s just a very lovely place to spend a few days, chilling out, walking through nature, drinking wine by the log fire & people-watching. Go!
Psst! This isn’t a review that was organised by Center Parcs. I just reaaalllly loved my stay there.