Last weekend (22nd – 25th September), myself, my girlfriend, my brother and our friend went to Centre Parcs in Elveden for a long weekend.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been. In-fact, I think it’s the 3rd time in as many years! It is however the first time I’ve blogged about it.
Getting to Elveden Forest takes less than an hour from Norwich, making it the ideal long-weekend destination.
For me, one of the best things about Center Parcs is that despite being just a 30-mile trip down the A11, it feels like you could be anywhere in the UK (or world if the weather is right).
Leading up to the weekend, we’ve had about 2 weeks of consistent rain in Norwich. However, as has become the trend the last few times we’ve been, the weather really perked up for the time we were there.
There was a little bit of rain on the Saturday morning, but once this cleared, we were blessed with 20° sunshine.
Day One – Friday
We decided to pay a little bit extra for early check in at 2pm to help avoid rush that happens at between 4 and 6pm when most people arrive.
This proved to be a good choice as we were settled in to the lodge within 30 minutes of arrival. The member of staff we spoke to upon arrival was friendly, helpful and efficient.
The accommodation we chose was the basic-level woodland lodge.
Whilst it was certainly clean enough, it was a little dated in some areas and there was some evident signs of wear and tear.
The paintwork was chipped in places. The TV was something out of 2005 and the remote was programmed properly so it was impossible to access some of the features.
Nonetheless, for the price we paid I’d say it was good value for money. In hindsight, it may have been worthwhile paying a bit extra for a newly refurbished lodge, but no big deal.
For the amount of time we planned to spend in the lodge itself, a few marks on the wall and a dated TV were hardly going to ruin our experience.
Upon checking in to the lodge and dumping out bags, the first stop was the subtropical swimming paradise.
If you’ve never been to Centre Parcs before, the swimming area is really the main attraction for most guests. Not only does it provide huge amounts of fun to both adults and kids, but it’s one of the free excursions that are included in the price of your visit.
At Elveden, a large swimming pool is surrounded by a variety of cabanas, slides, flumes, outdoor sprudel and plunge pool, the white-water rapids and the infamous Cyclone.
Upon entering the pool area, you quickly find yourself doing laps of the various slides, flumes and rapids.
For us, the rapids were by far the main attraction. The strange hilarity of crashing into a complete stranger as you slide down the course just never seemed to get old!
I took an underwater action camera along and strapped it to a headband so we could get some footage of the trip. I made a quick video using iMovie and uploaded it to Youtube, here it is:
Having spent a few hours in the pool, we retreated back to the lodge for some food and a film. We decided to pick up some Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the way back to enjoy with the film.
We watch The Conjuring 2 which was pretty jumpy in places! Shortly after, we turned in for the night, for what was destined to be a pretty poor night’s sleep!
Day 2 – Saturday
On Saturday we got up fairly early to have some breakfast and attack the day.
We waited for the rain to subside before heading over to the mini golf course for some adventure golf.
The course itself was loosely pirate themed. The holes were creative and reasonably challenging. At £6.75 per person, this is one of the cheaper activities available. It provided a good hour’s worth of entertainment and competitiveness.
I finished 3rd after some dodgy putting on the fifth hole that let me down dearly!
We then popped to Starbucks for a takeaway coffee, returned to the lodge, ate another doughnut and planned out our afternoon.
After checking the available badminton court times (a keen favourite over the years), and finding that we couldn’t book one until later that afternoon, we decided to head back to the subtropical swimming area for round two.
More fun was had – even despite requiring some first aid (a plaster) from some rapids-based antics!
We then got changed and headed to the sports hall for an hour’s worth of badminton.
As has become the theme over the years, we start of with a game of doubles (myself and Ellie vs. Jeff and Brendan) and then follow it up with some winner stays on games of singles.
This year Jeff and Brendan were victorious in the ever-competitive game of doubles!
At this point we were all pretty tired so we went back to the lodge for some dinner and chill time.
I cooked Nandos style peri-peri chicken with rice and vegetables. We then gorged on a variety of cheesecakes, home-made cakes (thanks Mum) and sweets.
I spent some time editing the footage we got from earlier at the pool whilst the others watched TV and eventually went to bed for a much better night’s sleep – funny that, given our choice of film on Friday night!
Day 3 – Sunday
Having had such a busy Saturday, we didn’t really have any plans for Sunday.
We decided to hire bikes and spend some time cycling around the forest. The bike hire was pretty expensive, at £19 for 24 hours. Nonetheless, the bikes were reasonably new and well maintained.
There are no cycle trails, as such. Instead, you can kind-of circle the forest, lakes and lodges. On the way, we experienced plenty of the extremely tame wildlife that you almost become accustomed to after spending a few days in the forest.
That evening we had a table booked at Hucks, an American-style diner based in the main plaza.
The menu was largely based around burgers, wings, hotdogs and grill.
We shared some Nachos to start, I then went for the fajitas for main, both of which were very tasty. We passed up on dessert as we’d planned to head to the pool for one last ‘twilight session’!
I also can’t fault the service. Previously we’ve experienced some pretty sub-par service at Café Rouge and the Pancake House, however Hucks was a breath of fresh-air.
Upon entering the pool for round three, it was clear we weren’t the only ones who were taking advantage of the last opportunity to hit the pool before checking out!
The rapids were pretty busy which made for some pretty hefty collisions.
There really is something strangely euphoric about spending time in an outdoor pool on a cool British evening!
We then returned the lodge for one last time. Myself and my brother did our best to hoover up the remaining sweet treats that were lying around before settling down to watch Suicide Squad – WHAT A FILM!
The following morning, we got up, had some breakfast and returned the bikes to the cycle centre.
We checked out just before 10am and embarked on the short trip back to Norwich.
Overall, a very enjoyable weekend.
My recommendations to anyone looking to visit Center Parcs Elveden:
- Pay a little extra for the newly-refurbished lodges if you care about that sort of thing
- Take your own bicycles along if you’ve got them
- Choose Hucks over Café Rouge or The Pancake House.
- Plan your excursions before going so that you don’t spend hours procrastinating
- Be prepared to pay over the odds for activities – it is Center Parcs after all!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog. Have you been to Center Parcs before? Maybe you’re thinking of going? Let me know in the comments section below – I’d love to hear from you!