It has been almost a year since I shared a travel experience on my blog. Due to the pandemic it has been impossible to travel internationally, so “Staycations” are the new thing. Last Summer I visited Looe in Cornwall for the first time, I loved it so much that I was able to grab another trip in December before travel restrictions were reintroduced. Since then, I’ve been at home and haven’t had a break from work in month’s.
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to book a trip to Center Parcs Sherwood Forest. It was our first trip just the two of us since our holiday from hell to Florida last year. We have visited Sherwood Forest Center Parcs about 2 years ago and throughly enjoyed the experience. It was before I started blogging seriously so I didn’t document the occasion. This time, I thought I’d share a Center Parcs Sherwood Forest review, combining my most recent (covid-world) experience, with my pre-covid trip.
Day 1 – Arrival Day
My boyfriend and I live in Liverpool, so the journey took us around 2hrs total. On arrival day, we drove into Sherwood Forest and were directed to a booth (in the car) to begin our check-in. We made sure we had our booking reference number to hand (this is provided via email in the booking confirmation), which made the check-in process run really smoothly. A map of Centre Parcs was given to us, along with a leaflet containing QR codes for each of the operating restaurants to order food to our lodge, or for collection. Waterproof wrist bands were also provided, this is the key to the lodge.
After collecting our bikes, we decided to go on a little cycle around Sherwood Forest to get our bearings. We ended up in the pub and enjoyed a drink in the gorgeous sunshine. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was, I expected us to have to wait for a table, but we walked straight in and sat down. The pub was very COVID secure, we were asked to santise our hands upon entry to the beer garden and to scan the NHS Track and Trace QR code. If you don’t have the app, the staff will be happy to take down your contact details. All ordering is done via a QR code on the table, this takes you to the pubs website to place your food/drink order.
By the time we had finished our drinks, it was time to check into our lodge. We headed down on our bikes for a quick nose, before heading to the car. For the duration of the trip, cars are not allowed to drive around the site, unless they are Center Parcs vehicles. Arrival day and departure day are the only day personal veichles are permitted. We drove our car outside the lodge to unpack our belongings. You wouldn’t have thought were only visiting for 3 nights due to the amount of stuff we took with us. After unpacking the car, we drove back to the car park where we left our car for the duration of the weekend.
When booking our stay at Centre Parcs, we made sure to pre-book mountain bikes for use around the forest. If you don’t have your own bike, I would highly recommend you hire one for the duration of your trip. Bicycles make travelling from place to place so much easier, although it can be tough at times on the hillier sections! When checking-in, we were provided with a ticket to collect our bikes from the Cycle Center inside the forest. Collecting the bikes was also very easy, we took our voucher to the center and was then showed our bikes. Due to COVID restrictions, the staff were unable to alter the height of the seat etc., however this was not a problem as clear instructions were given. Bike locks are also provided to secure the bike at the parking stations located around the site. Each lodge has bike parking located outside too.
Our first full day in Center Parcs Sherwood was met with more glorious sunshine. For dinner , we ordered a sandwich from the Sports bar and rode down on our bikes to collect. We used the QR code system I mentioned earlier and picked a time which suited us. Liverpool were playing Newcastle this day, so we collected at half-time and rode back to our lodge to eat in front of the TV.
We didn’t have much planned for the rest of the day, however we had pre-booked to play American Pool at Jardin Des Sports (Sports Centre). Pre-covid, pool tables were on a first come, first served basis, however it was a requirement to book a slot this time. We pre-booked before we arrived, but it would have been possible to ask at the booking counter, due to how empty it was.
In the evening, we decided to go to Huck’s American Bar and Grill for a bite to eat. We sat outside, in the sunniest spot we could find, and ordered the meal online to our table. I opted for the Grilled Chicken Cheeseburger and it was really tasty. After a while, the weather started to cool down, so we headed back to the warmth of our lodge and to light a fire (our lodge was fitted with a log burner btw).
Our last full day arrived so quickly, time really does fly when you’re having fun. Whenever we visit Center Parcs, we always book to play bandminton. I’d suggest booking as many activities before your trip, to avoid disappointment if the resort is busy. Center Parcs provided us with our own bats and shuttlecocks, and the staff gave use clear instructions on which court we could play at.
The sports centre offers a variety of activities including badminton, tennis, rock climbing, footbool pool plus many more. On a previous visit to Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, we played Football Pool, the court was a lot smaller than I expected, but we still had fun all the same.
After playing Badminton, we decided to hire a pedalo boat. We walked around to the Boathouse at the beach to check availability, and were lucky enough to get the last boat of the day. We knew using a pedalo would be difficult, but we didn’t anticipate how hard it would actually be! After riding around on our bikes for the majority of the trip, hiring a pedalo probably wasn’t the best idea, but we did have fun all the same. We had both worked up a bit of an appetite, so went to the sweet shop and picked up an ice cream. I opted for Eton Mess and my boyfriend had Mint Choc Chip! Once we had eaten our Ice Creams, we ambled over to the Sports Cafe and enjoyed a couple of glasses of Pimms and Lemonade in the setting sun.
Sunday is Line of Duty night, so we went back to the lodge, cooked some burgers and enjoyed the penultimate episode, with the fire crackling away. It was such a relaxing evening.
Day 4 – Departure Day
Departure day’s are always rather hectic. The evening before I layed out my clothes for the day, and packed as much as I could, so we didn’t have to rush as much. The bikes had to be returned by 10:00am, so before collecting our car, we made sure to return the bikes. Once we got the car and drove back to the lodge, we packed up all of our belongings before leaving the lodge for the last time. We grabbed a Starbucks and walked around the lake, to enjoy our last moments of bliss before heading home. We desperately wanted to play a game of golf at the Family Putting area, but sadly it was closed. Instead, we walked through the woods before deciding to go home.
Center Parcs FAQ’s
What to take to Center Parcs? What to pack for Center Parcs?
Food – If you don’t want to splash the cash, I’d recommend taking enough food and drink for the trip. However this may be more difficult if you have a large family or are staying for longer than a weekend. The Parc Market onsite can be VERY expensive, want a disposible BBQ? £7!! The restaurants and bars are quiet expensive too, so this won’t be a cheap holiday. Although not a food item, make sure to take some washing up liquid. Center Parcs do provide a small sachet but this won’t be enough if you plan to eat at your lodge during your holiday.
Clothing – We are in the UK so the weather is always unpredictible. Make sure to pack a warm coat as the evenings can get quite cool. You may also want to take some wellies, if you plan to stray from the paths, it’s a forest so can get quite muddy. When we visited Center Parcs the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise was closed due to COVID, however if this is open during your trip, make sure to take your swimming costume so you don’t miss out. Pack some sturdy/comfortable shoes or trainers because you will do ALOT of walking or cycling on this trip.
Toiletries – Center Parcs don’t always provide toiletries, so make sure to pack your own. I also took some toilet roll with us in case we ran out of the one’s provided at the start of the trip. Some lodges do offer maid service during your break, however this was suspended due to COVID.
What time can you arrive at Center Parcs? What time do you have to leave Center Parcs?
Center Parcs allows you to arrive from 14:00 to use all of the facilities and activities on site, however you cannot get inside your lodge until 16:00.
You must check out of your lodge by 10:00 on departure day and return bikes by 10:00 if you hired them. Center Parcs allow you to stay on site for the remainder of the day until 16:00. You can still particpate in activities and use the facilities.
My boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed our entire trip to Center Parcs Sherwood Forest. It’s our second time here and I would love to visit again. We actually looked at re-booking on our last night, but it’s now fully booked until the end of August! Center Parcs isn’t a cheap break, the prices of lodges can be extortionate at times. We managed to get this weekend break quite reasonable, but when I say ‘reasonable’ I mean reasonable for Center Parcs standards. Due to COVID, they had given over a £100 discount because the Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise was closed. From the end of May, this will reopen so prices have shot up again. Although I love Center Parcs, it’s not somewhere I could justify going to a few times per year, purely from a financial perspective. Having done some research, it’s actually cheaper to fly to a Center Parcs Europe park and fly there, than it is to visit a UK Center Parcs, how crazy is that!!
I cannot recommend Center Parcs Sherwood Forest enough. It truly does have something for all of the family. It’s perfect for couples and families of all ages. Center Parcs also offer accessbile lodges for those with disabilities, so they are very accomodating. The staff are always super friendly and helpful, and will always go out of their way to make your holiday special.
Have you ever visited Center Parcs, or are you planning to go in the future? I’d love to know!
Until Another Day x