8 things you need to know about Center Parcs before visiting

So we have just come back from a fun and action-packed week away at Center Parcs in Nottingham.

We have been visiting Sheerwood Forest on and off for about eight years now. The 1st time we visited we had no children and it snowed, the 2nd time we visited we had Ted and we visited at Christmas and the 3rd time we took both Charlie and Ted and we visited in Summer.

I now feel like we have become experts when it comes to holidaying in Center Parcs Nottingham. So should you be vising or at least thinking about it i thought i would be worth sharing with you some of the pearls of wisdom we have picked up in our time. So here you go:

Your Accommodation 

As a young family we have always made sure that when booking our holiday we paid extra to select/guarantee which section of the village we stayed in. The site is based over 400 acres with most of the facilities smack bang in the middle of the site.

When booking your getaway, unless you pay extra to select which location you wish to stay-in then you randomly get places anywhere on site. This is not a huge problem at all for many, but for us we always want to be as close to the center of the village as possible. If you have babies and don't fancy cycling everywhere all the time then i recommend you consider looking at the map and booking into Maple or Ash. Check out the map of Sherwood Forest here:

The Wildlife

You will honestly be amazed at how much wildlife you see around the village. One of the unique things about the holiday destination is that the squirrels, ducks, swans, birds and other animals are very tame and are more than happy to approach you around the park. One thing that might shock you is how ballsy they are... they are more than happy to peck at your windows and doors, as well as coming inside the building should you leave the doors open.

Check-out a video of a brave squirrel paying us a visit on our last visit: 

Booking Activities 

So you might not be aware of the booking system Center Parcs have in place, to enjoy many of the activities on site you need to book on to them using their booking system. What i recommend you doing is booking the activities you want to do on the website before you visit. The reason why i say this is because if you leave it until you arrive what you will find is that most of the most desirable time slots are taken, leaving you to book over lunch or later in the day.

Of course some activities like the activites on the boating lake can be booked on the day and on an ad hoc basis whilst visiting. We like booking our activities in advance so we can plan our days to get the most out of the week.

Booking Restaurants

The same rules apply here, when booking your holiday you will also need to consider what nights you want to eat out. They have some fantastic places to eat like Hucks, Rajinda Pradesh, Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia that i recommend visiting. You might not be aware of the fact that most of the restaurants on campus are very family friendly and most even house softplay areas in the restaurants. So when you book beforehand or online make sure you ask to be seated near the play-area. This way you can keep and eye on your little monsters, giving you peace of mind.

The Bikes

As previously mention the Sherwood Forest is rather large, should you require bikes then i recommend taking your own. To rent two adult bikes, one with a child seat and the other to have one of those awesome baby cages on wheel it was around £80-£100+ for the week. Whilst this it isn't the most expensive thing to rent i do feel that your money could be better spent on their other activities.


When visiting we often like to take half a weeks shop with us as in the cabins they provide all the facilities you need to cook and prepare all your meals. We like to eat out on the nights, have a couple of BBQ's and also eat out at lunch a couple of days. Did you know you can order shopping online and have it delivered to your cabin?

You really shouldn't worry if you don't take food with you, they have an onsite supermarket that is actually reasonably priced and they sell everything you could possibly need from baby milk and food, through to beer and fresh bread.

Bike Locks

Thought the site you are provided with huts that are provided to store prams and bikes. These are located outside the major attractions and facilities. Whilst these huts are protected from the elements they are not protected from thieving hands, so you need to make sure that you take a bike lock with you to lock up your pram/bike. Should you forget to do so you can always buy one for £3 from the bike shack or main shop, but they are very small and can be a pain to fit around larger buggies.

Drying towels

For some reason it is bloody hard to dry towels in the cabins. As we visited in the warmer month the radiators weren't on and we found that there was not really anywhere else to dry towels. We couldn't hang them out the windows as the animals would invade the cabin.

You are provided with a small clothes horse but it wasn't big enough for us to fit everything on. So to solve the problem with used the Sauna to dry the towels, so whilst we were chilling we had our swimming costumes and towels laid all around us.

So that is it folks, eight tips for your next Center Parcs break, should you have any other advice please do let me know by leaving a comment.

Yorkshire Dad

Part-time daddy and lifestyle blogger. Father of 2 boys under 2. Golfer, scare-fan, tea-lover, traveller, squash and poker player. I write on the @HuffPostUK http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/karl-young/


Elevated Excellence said...

Great tips, especially re the location of the Lodges!

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