For October half term we fancied something local that involved lots of outdoor activities and family movie time. I came across this little place Thorpe Forest Norfolk with Forest Holidays and it looked perfect.. A cheaper alternative to Centre Parcs, less than 2 hours drive from home and a hot tub.
You can check out 10 more alternatives to Center Parcs here!
Now, I’m probably against the masses here, but I’m not a fan of Centre Parcs. I find it hugely overpriced for what it is and the cabins very basic and dated. Also the check in process drives me nuts with the drop off of stuff and re-parking of the car. I always feel it is overcrowded and we end up paying out extortionate prices in the blinking dome for food and drink.
I was a little worried that the Forest Holidays might be similar but worse, as is considerably cheaper but the website looked inviting and unless you try somewhere , how will you know?
We arrived about 3 pm as we always assume we will be able to check in early despite it being very clear on websites about timings. We queued for a short time and checked in but no keys until the dedicated 4 pm check in time. We had a wander and a drink in the reception hut and played some crazy eights while we waited. It would have been helpful to have a few more staff available during this busy time as families checking in delayed me purchasing my first wine of the holiday at the bar.
The cabin did not disappoint. We could park at and LEAVE our car just outside and the accommodation was modern and spacious with a Scandinavian feel. The boys have done a little video of the cabin, focusing mainly on plugs which they appear to find appealing
The hot tub was hot and ready to go and we were unpacked and chilling in under ten minutes!
The property was impeccably clean with towels, toiletries and a eco friendly pack of kitchen essentials including dishwasher tablets. Craig gets very cross with me if we turn up somewhere and have failed to pack the obvious, like washing up liquid and toilet roll and then have to fork out at extortionate prices in the only shop in a ten mile radius.
We had an entertainment package which kept us occupied in between woodland adventures. Great WiFi , a selection of Box Office films( we made it thru 6!) along with Sky Sports.
We got our bikes first thing but officially the hire hut opens at 10am. The staff were really helpful ensuring we were happy with the bikes and that there were no issues.
The weather during our stay was sub optimal. But that didn’t stop us riding our bikes every day and getting wet and muddy. Somehow when you have a hot tub to go home to , it doesn’t seem so trying. There are lots of activities on site including forest ranger experiences and there is an adventure centre just next to the cabins. Similar to GoApe but this year we are GoAped and high wired out and I think one more zip wire would finish me off so we gave this a miss. There were guided walks and pumpkin carving available as our stay was over Halloween.
The surrounding forests were beautiful even when we were frozen, and soaked thru and covered in mud. Cycling and me don’t mix well. I dislike gears, seats, wheels, brakes and traffic. James very kindly pointed out the reason I had difficulty being extracted from the bike was that I needed a lady bottom seat, aka extra wide. Apologies to anyone who witnessed a middle aged mother in her threadbare M and S vest cycling thru a muddy forest in torrential rain. I wasn’t cold despite many comments from well wrapped up passers by in coats, scarfs and hats. It’s called the peri menopause.
One of the highlights was a canoeing expedition I did with the boys. Who knew 90 minutes of arguing with twins paddling in opposite directions could be so much fun. ( in the freezing rain). We only had one major fall out when we got stuck in a swamp but they both loved it and thoroughly enjoyed crashing into trees and fellow boats. Craig was happy to miss out on this one and felt some payback for him undergoing the 24 hour Bear Grylls experience.
We are all agreed that we are hooked on Forest Holidays and it’s likely we will book to stay at another location again. With 10 locations to choose from and fabulous reasonably priced accommodation , it’s a no brainer. Why not check them out.
NB: Thanks to Alex who organised a complimentary entertainment package and bike hire for the family, but the accommodation was booked and paid for by them.