Center Parcs Longleat Forest Review
*I am not affiliated with Center Parcs Longleat Forest or Longleat Safari Park and have not been compensated in any way for this review.*
As a child, most of my holidays were spent in places like Butlins or Pontins holiday parks. With my mum being a single parent working nights to make ends meet, Butlins and Pontins were a cheap stay-cation destination we could just about afford.
I’ve always thought of Center Parcs as being one of those expensive, snobby places only richer families could afford. Probably because it was easier to think of it that way than just admit that it was something else we couldn’t afford.
Now I’m older and have a family of my own, life is not so financially tough, making Center Parcs well within budget.
Although during the school holidays I still find Center Parcs to be quite expensive, you could even say over-priced. Out of the school holiday period however, prices do drop considerably, making Center Parcs much more affordable.
This is the second year we have spent a weekend in Center Parcs Longleat Forest. On both occasions, we stayed at the Longleat park, mainly because it’s the closest one to us.
We enjoyed both stays with another family, friends of ours who we’ve known for around 10 years now and who have a daughter the same age as our teen. Going with another family makes the accommodation slightly cheaper. We all share a 3-bed lodge and therefore split the cost between the two families.
About Center Parcs Longleat Forest
Center Parcs Longleat Forest is located within the beautiful Longleat Estate and is practically next door to the Longleat Safari Park. This means, if you wanted to, you could enjoy a stay at Center Parcs while also paying a visit to the Safari Park.
We’ve visited Longleat Safari Park many times and we love it. As we get closer to the festive season, Longleat Safari Park host an apparently incredible event called the Festival of Light. I say ‘apparently’ as I’ve not yet seen it myself but everyone I know who have say it’s an amazing experience. We’re hoping to go along this year.
Getting back to Center Parcs. As far as landscapes go, it’s a far cry from Butlins and Pontins in pretty much every sense. Set within a 400 acre Village, it features landscapes of rolling hills and valleys, a truly stunning place to stay with incredible views and wildlife all around.
At Center Parcs, there is a variety of lodges to choose from. Each lodge is positioned within a wooded area, giving you a slice of nature to wake up to every morning.
From the more basic Woodland Lodges, which are a home from home base with open plan living, log burner and private patio. To the more luxurious Exclusive Lodges, which give you much more in the way of luxury with your own sauna, steam room and hot tub. They even have a games room and dedicated parking.
If you wanted to push it that one step further you could opt for a Tree House Lodge. These babies are top of the tree (excuse the pun) when it comes to Center Parcs accommodation. Featuring a private outdoor hot tub, a games den and even your own Treehouse Host. They’re located in the heart of the forest and look absolutely stunning. They are also priced accordingly and far too rich for my blood. Maybe one day I’ll try one of these beauties for myself.
Our Center Parcs Executive Lodge review
This year we chose to book a 3 bed Executive Lodge which was spread over two floors. It included living spaces to the ground floor and bedrooms, each with their own en-suite to the first floor. Open plan living gave us plenty of room to all move around freely without stepping on each other.
As we had a toddler with us, it was nice to have the bedrooms upstairs as it meant we could put her to bed at night and not have to be extra quiet to avoid waking her. The addition of safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs was a great touch, something a lot of holiday groups don’t think about.
A great feature was the Sauna which was used by myself and the other mum in our group every evening. After having a full day of activities, putting the toddler to bed and settling the teenage girls down for the evening, we looked forward to unwinding (basically having a good natter) in the sauna.
One evening we even cracked open a bottle of Prosecco and enjoyed a little tipple when stepping out of the sauna and into the cold air of our private patio area to cool off. *I’m absolutely not encouraging drinking while using a Sauna. Consuming a lot of alcohol while using a sauna can be dangerous.* Although having the odd glass is fine and helps with the whole ‘relaxing’ process. Or so I thought anyway.
Executive Lodge in Pictures
The Executive Lodge was decorated to a high standard. The clean and comfy furniture and woodland wall mural all helped to bring the outdoors in. We’d heard Center Parcs had recently refurbed some of their lodges and this certainly seemed to be one of them.
Here are some of the pictures I took before chaos descended in the form of one toddler, two teens and four adults.
Last year we stayed in a lodge which was spread over just one floor. Having now stayed in a two-storey lodge, I must say, the two storeys were definitely better for us. Maybe because we were two families sharing the space but it just felt roomier. We all said, if we return next year we would definitely go for a two-story lodge again.
A Review of Things to do at Center Parcs
There is something for everyone. Choose from a whopping list of 200 different activities, both indoor and outdoor.
I’ve listed some of the activities we tried during our visits below but if you want to see the full list of what they have to offer, follow the link – Center Parcs Activities list
I will say most of the activities have to be booked before your stay, which you can do through your login on the Center Parcs website. They are also all priced individually.
Aqua Sana Spa
During our recent visit to Center Parcs, myself and the other mum of the group took our teenage girls to the Spa on the Saturday morning. We left the toddler with the dad’s, who headed to the Sports Bar.
I won’t deny, having a toddler free morning was bliss enough for me, but the Spa made it a whole lot better.
We find the treatments quite pricey and with us having the teens with us we didn’t bother with any of the treatments. But honestly, there is enough on offer by way of steam rooms, saunas & relaxation areas to not need treatments.
This time around the Aqua Sana Spa was having some renovation works done. Taking a look at their website, it looks like when works are complete they will have 5 new spa zones and a total of 24 different Spa experience.
Some of the rooms I remember from our last visit were not open and because of this, we were all offered a £10 voucher upon checking in to use anywhere in Center Parcs as compensation. I thought this was a lovely touch. It’s those sorts of things that you remember about a place.
They actually could have gotten away with not offering the compensation. Except for some of the rooms not being available, we hardly noticed the renovation works. New areas/rooms had been opened so it didn’t seem like you were missing out.
The Aqua Sana Spa has taken on a Nordic theme which fits in really well to the surroundings. I especially liked the Forest Glade steam room. With little tree stump style seating and a tropical climate, it’s a little slice of heaven. We all had a little giggle when the cooling mist kicked in as it was quite unexpected.
The AquaParc is basically huge inflatables in the middle of the lake. In different sections, there are obstacles to navigate as well as slides and a large ball to swing off and into the lake. Our two teens were the ones to try this one. Sporting wet suites and floatation aid off they went, bouncing around and falling into the lake. It looked knackering but so much fun.
This is an indoor activity that’s held in the Sports Plaza. Once again, the girls were the ones to try this one. Fully equipped with the jackets (I don’t know the proper name – sorry), masks and swords, the instructors teach the basics of fencing. The girls seemed to really enjoy themselves and I must say, the instructor was really lovely.
We got there slightly earlier than everyone else and the instructor was outside the room waiting for people to arrive. She was so friendly and chatty and asked us all sorts of questions about our stay and if we’d tried fencing before. The girls had not been overly bothered about trying this one but as soon as they got chatting to the instructor, she really changed their attitude towards it and they couldn’t wait to get started.
I didn’t catch instructors name and I’m sorry I didn’t as she is an absolute credit to the Center Parcs team.
Stand Up Paddle Board Tuition
I wish I had given this one a go, it looked like great fun. But once again, the teens were the ones to try this. The paddleboard tuition is an hour-long (which includes the time it takes to get changed into wet suits).
They start at the beach, where the instructor demonstrates the basics before they take to the water. They start off on knees and gradually progress into a standing position. All the while using the paddle to propel themselves forward. The girls really enjoyed this activity, even though they were knackered afterwards from using muscles to balance they don’t usually use.
Us mums waited for the girls at the beach where the toddler made friends with the resident ducks.
The mums of the group decided to book this one for the dad’s and the teens. We sent them out on the lake for 30 minutes while we did what the guys had done the day before and took the toddler to the sports bar (great planning on our part).
This activity is a little slower pace. One of the dads decided to have a little nap while the two teens steered and navigated the boat.
It got them all out of our hair for a bit while we sampled a cheeky cocktail. I thoroughly recommend the Sports Bar Berry Bakewell cocktail (which was on a 2 for £10 deal).
Subtropical Swimming Paradise at Center Parcs
A Center Parcs Review wouldn’t be the same without talking about The Subtropical Swimming Paradise.
You will find a huge swimming complex at every Center Parcs location and it has to be said, they’re pretty amazing. And, unlike many of the activities that have to be pre-booked and paid for separately, the swimming complex is included in the cost of your break.
From a wave pool, lazy river and children’s section to wild water rapids and huge flumes. The Subtropical Swimming Paradise has it all. You can spend hours in this place, going around on different sections.
Not being one for big flumes, the teens managed to drag me on the Tropical Cyclone (kicking and screaming). Seated in a large four-seater rubber ring, you select from one of four audio-visual themes. Then your sent heading down the flume through twists turns and a gravity-defying drop. I screamed nearly the whole way round, but it was so much fun.
The open-air wild water rapids is a huge favourite of ours and many of the other guests.
Eat and drink at The Subtropical Swimming Paradise
If you’re not one for swimming but you want to see the rest of the family splashing about, there is The Canopy Cafe and Bar. Here you can sit, relax and enjoy some food or coffee.
Places to eat
There are many places to eat but sadly this is where you will find my review lacking.
During our visit, we didn’t really eat out much. The lodge kitchen is so well equipped you don’t really need to eat out unless you want to.
We did try two places which I will tell you about. But, if you want to know more you’ll just have to check it out for yourself.
The Sports Cafe is located at the Sports Plaza. They have a great menu, from full English breakfasts and stacked burgers to classics like scampi & chips or steak and chips.
Our group ordered a variety of bits from the menu and there were no complaints. The portion sizes were perfect and everything tasted great.
This is also where we enjoyed our lovely cocktails.
The service was great. Staff are very chatty and friendly, it makes you think Center Parcs must be great employers as the staff all seem to be so happy.
The Pancake House
We visited the pancake house on the Monday before coming home and I’m so glad we did.
The menu is vast. They have pancakes of pretty much every flavour, whether you prefer savoury or sweet, they have it all.
You can even split a pancake in half and have two different flavours which is exactly what we did.
The best part of being in Center Parcs is not any one thing, it’s everything together. The fab accommodation, the huge list of activities, the food and the great service from friendly staff.
It’s also about its location. I’ve never been one for camping outdoors or creepy crawlies but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt to appreciate nature so much more. I can see the beauty in the things that once would have creeped me out.
There’s something about being surrounded by tall trees and nature that creates a peaceful calm for me. Center Parcs provides this, while also allowing you to keep the home comforts you love so much. It couldn’t be further from my earlier thoughts. You have to pay a visit yourself to really appreciate it.
To the whole Center Parcs team, thank you for yet another great weekend. We hope to see you again next year.
There’s so much more detail I could go into but I’m sure you’ll agree this post is long enough as it is. So I’ll leave it there and hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Center Parcs Longleat Forest.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of Center Parcs.