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If you’re looking to be part of the staycation boom this summer, Centre Parcs holiday resorts (or villages) are well worth a look. These holidays are famed for offering something a little different to the typical British beach break. That’s because Centre Parcs are about woodland settings and an abundance of activities to take part in.
When you start to explore Centre Parcs in the UK, you’ll find that there are 5 of these to choose from, along with another resort across the water in Ireland. Each of the Centre Parcs locations are based on the same, winning formula so you’ll find that they have much in common with each other.
Having arrived in the UK back in 1987, its origins go even further back. It was 1968 when the company first launched with the original operation based in the Netherlands. It’s fair to say that a lot will have changed over the last 50 years, but Center Parcs still seeks to offer the best holiday experience with an array of activities to take part in.
So, which is the best Center Parcs? If you’re looking to book, where should you be heading if you want the best holiday possible? That’s what we’re going to look at now. As you read on, you’ll find that we’ve done the hard work for you.
We’ve taken a look at the parks by considering the locations, reviews and facilities. By the end, you’ll have a great idea when it comes to the best Center Parcs UK, and you’ll be all set to book your break.
Center Parcs locations – which is the best?
When considering which Center Parcs is best, a significant part of this is considering the location. Those behind this company have been clever when it comes to choosing sites and have spread them out across the country in an almost perfect way.
Here’s a look at the Center Parcs locations that you can choose from:
Whinfell Forest, Cumbria:
This site is perfectly placed for those in both the north of England and over the border in Scotland.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire:
This was the first Center Parcs in the UK and is ideal for those in the East Midlands, the West Midlands and Yorkshire.
Longleat Forest, Wiltshire:
A great location for those in the Westcountry.
Elveden Forest Suffolk:
Best for those in East Anglia.
Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire:
Suits those in London and the home counties.
Which Center Parcs is the best according to reviews?
When looking at the best Center Parcs, or indeed the best anything, it’s always worth taking the time to take a look at customer reviews. No matter what a company may have to say for itself, the real truth can be found by considering what guests have had to say. Genuine reviews, where there’s no incentive to be other than honest, really are the best way of looking at anything.
With all that being said, this poses a bit of a problem when it comes to looking at Center Parcs in the UK. That’s because there is hardly anything to pick between the reviews that have been left for any of the Parcs.
Let’s take TripAdvisor for instance. If you look at all of the Center Parcs locations there are literally thousands of reviews for each of them. They all come away with an average score of 4/5 meaning that there is nothing between them.
Further reviews can be found over at Google. Here, 3 of the sites come away with a score of 4.5/5. Longleat Forest and Whinfell Forest fair a little better, both achieving a rating of 4.6/5. Let’s be honest, such a minute difference is unlikely to have an impact and you’re unlikely to choose your location based on that 0.1 extra score.
These consistent scores are a testament to what Center Parcs has achieved over the years. The fact that Woburn Forest opened in 2014, while the other sites all opened in the 80s and 90s, shows that the company follows a strict schedule when it comes to refurbishments and keeps all of its Parcs well maintained.
If you want to look at the full scores, here they are in order:
- First place Whinfell Forest – TripAdvisor 4/5, Google 4.6/5
- Joint first Longleat Forest – TripAdvisor 4/5, Google 4.6/5
- Second Place Elveden Forest – TripAdvisor 4/5, Google 4.5/5
- Joint second Sherwood Forest – TripAdvisor 4/5, Google 4.5/5
- Joint second Woburn Forest – TripAdvisor 4/5, Google 4.5/5
So, with all that, reviews have hardly proven overly useful when trying to choose the best Center Parcs.
- Did you know you can save money by booking a Center Parcs Holiday in Europe? Learn More about the Europe Center Parc Resorts here.
The Best Center Parcs according to price
Now, we’re not suggesting that cheaper is always better. In fact, in many areas of life that’s certainly not the case at all. However, when you consider that the Centre Parcs locations all have similar reviews, it’s worth looking at how the prices compare.
Here’s a look at how the locations perform:
- The Cheapest – Whinfell Forest
- Second cheapest – Elveden Forest
- Third cheapest – Sherwood Forest
- Second most expensive – Woburn Forest
- Most expensive – Longleat Forest
It’s worth bearing in mind that we’ve looked at the pricing based on the cheapest accommodation (2-bed woodland lodges) and no extras are included.
On the same basis, here’s a snapshot of what you’d expect to pay at each of the parks with a family of 4:
One week away during August 2023
- Longleat Forest – £2,298
- Woburn Forest – £2,228
- Sherwood Forest – £2,158
- Elveden Forest – £2208
- Whinfell Forest – £1,928
Friday to Monday breaks from late April into early May
- Woburn Forest – £879
- Sherwood Forest – £829
- Longleat Forest – £799
- Elveden Forest – £799
- Whinfell Forest – £729
Midweek break – October half-term 2023
- Longleat Forest – £1,399
- Woburn Forest – £1,299
- Sherwood Forest – £1,299
- Elveden Forest – £1,199
- Whinfell Forest – £1,119
Center Parcs in the UK and the facilities
When trying to decide which is the best Center Parcs, you can’t avoid taking a look at the facilities that are on offer. When it comes to what Centre Parcs is known for, it has to be said that it’s famed for the great range of activities that are on offer. Yes, people choose these types of holidays because they love the locations, but people are also drawn to the sense of adventure and the new experiences that you can enjoy.
It’s worth remembering that most of the activities at Center Parcs aren’t free. You need to factor this in when trying to budget and establish just how much your holiday will cost. The best way of finding what’s on offer at each location is to head over to the Center Parcs website. Certainly, if there is something that you specifically want to try, you need to check that your chosen location actually offers it.
If you want an overview of the Center Parcs in the UK and the number of activities you can choose from, here’s just that:
- Woburn Forest – 169 activities
- Longleat Forest – 171 activities
- Sherwood Forest – 174 activities
- Whinfell Forest – 174 activities
- Elveden Forest – 181 activities
When you start to look at these factors as a whole, something jumps out. That is that Woburn Forest is one of the most expensive Center Parcs locations but it comes with the fewest activities to choose from. That being said, it’s not all clear-cut. That’s down to the way that the activities are listed. Take golf as an example. Three locations list this activity twice. Once with a 9-hole course and again as an 18-hole one.
Something else to consider when using the number of activities to decide which Center Parcs is best is that all we have looked at are the numbers. There is nothing that tells you how the quality may vary from location to location. That being said, if there were huge variations in terms of quality, you’d expect this to be reflected in the customer reviews.
What we’re really trying to say is that this is another area where there is little to choose between the parks.
- Want a Center Alternative to Center Parcs? We’ve got you covered with 20 Cheaper Alternatives to Center Parcs!
The Best Center Parcs UK by Swimming pool
Can you really judge the best Centre Parcs based on just the swimming pool? Well, we believe that it certainly plays a significant part. That’s mainly down to the fact that it’s one of the only activities that are covered by the accommodation price. This makes the Subtropical Swimming Paradise a big deal for those who visit.
Things that the pools across Center Parcs locations have in common are:
- They all have wave pools
- You’ll find flumes as a feature
- There are rapids for those who are stronger swimmers
- You’ll also find hot tubs and Jacuzzis to enjoy
One downside of the pools being free is that they can get exceptionally busy. Certainly, during the day, good-sized crowds are trying to make the most of what’s on offer. If you can go in the evening, you’ll find that the environment is quieter and much more relaxed.
If you want other people’s opinions on the swimming pools at Center Parcs, you can find these on Google reviews.
Here’s a look at the order that they’ve been ranked:
- Longleat – 4.8/5
- Whinfell – 4.7/5
- Elveden – 4.6/5
- Sherwood – 4.6/5
- Woburn – 4.6/5
Again, these reviews aren’t overly useful when it comes to identifying the best Center Parcs. The scores are so close again, but this should be seen as a real positive: you know regardless of the location you choose you can expect the same great quality.
Is there anything else that should be considered with Center Parcs locations?
So, we’ve now taken a look at the top considerations when it comes to trying to answer, “Which Center Parcs is best?”. However, there are a few other points to take a look at before trying to come to a final decision. While you’ll find that Center Parcs locations have much in common with each other, there are certain, subtle differences, that may appeal to some people.
While it’s common for people to choose a Center Parcs based on how close it is, there are other things to bear in mind with location choice too. Each site is set within 400 acres of woodland, but it’s not identical. Take Longleat Forest as an example. Here, you’ll find rising terrain that leads to some simply stunning views. There is also a land train that can be used to explore the village.
Over at Whinfell Forest, you’re in a location where you can take in all that’s beautiful about the Lake District. Views of this national park are second to none. Then there’s Elveden Forest where you’ll find the only waterfront apartments that Center Parcs has to offer.
Other minor variations include:
- Due to being so steep, Longleat Forest has fewer lodges than other sites
- Whinfell Forest offers accommodation that is a little different and resembles two-storey Scandinavian lodges
- Elveden Forest and Sherwood Forest come with country clubs
- The smallest of the locations is Woburn Forest
Center Parcs in the UK and beyond
It comes as a surprise to many in the UK that Center Parcs are not a British invention. The holiday villages originated in the Netherlands and are popular across Europe. You’ll find that the continent is home to 25 Center Parcs and these feature in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany.
Interestingly, a Center Parcs break in France will set you back around £100 less than it does in the UK. Of course, that saving hardly justifies the additional travel but it does make you wonder why. Here’s an overview of the prices that you can expect across Europe for a week away in August 2023:
- The Netherlands, Center Parcs Het Meerdal – £970 –
- Germany, Park Bostalsee – £1,095
- Belgium, De Vosemeren – £1,111
- France Le Bois Aux Daims – £1,551
If you want something a little different to the typical Center Parcs experience, it may be worth taking a look at Center Parcs Les Villages Nature Paris. This is joined with Disneyland Paris and means that you can add the magic of Disney to your holiday too.
So, which Center Parcs is best?
Back over to Center Parcs UK, and there’s still the question of which is the best to consider. Well, while much will be down to personal preference, here’s our take on the top 3:
1) Whinfell Forest
We believe that, by the slimmest of margins, Whinfell Forest is the best Center Parcs in the UK. It performs on par with the other locations when it comes to reviews and activities, but it beats others when it comes to the price. No, price isn’t everything but there was very little else to use to conclude with an actual winner.
2) Elveden Forest
This is the second cheapest Center Parcs option and it comes with the greatest number of activities. Its location means that it works well for those in South East England who may not want to travel to Whinfell Forest. Again, any differences here were minimal. All we can really compare are the price and the number of activities.
3) Longleat Forest
Longleat Forest comes in at number 3 as Google reviews show us that it comes with the best Subtropical Swimming Paradise experience. There is a need to factor in the whole pool experience because, as we’ve said, it’s one of the few things that’s free during a holiday and it attracts a great number of people. That being said, all Center Parcs locations offer a great experience when it comes to swimming pools and the review scores were only marginally higher here.
So, what’s the final takeaway here? The reality is that Center Parcs in the UK all have a great deal to offer. When it comes to deciding which one you want to stay at it’s hard to say that one has a significant draw over the other. That’s perhaps why most people choose the location based on the proximity to their home. Being closer saves fuel and travel time while providing the same outstanding experience.