Yes folks, it's our 2024 comparison of Saver v Bronze v Silver v Gold v Signature models of Haven caravan
**Since we wrote this guide, Haven has created its own detailed PDF accommodation comparison table.
You can download it from this page on Haven's website**
There’s a significant difference in price between the different types of Haven accommodation –particularly during peak season. So, what are you getting for upgrading?
The grading for Haven caravans changed in 2021. The old system of standard, deluxe, prestige, platinum and platinum plus has been replaced with a new grading system. Personally, I think the new system is easier to understand.
The current system looks like this. From cheapest to most expensive:
For anyone who has been to Haven before, the new 'Saver' caravans are similar to the 'Standard - older model' caravans whilst the 'Bronze' caravans are similar to the 'Standard - newer model' caravans. Gold is similar to the old 'Platinum plus' models. If you haven't been to a Haven before, check out our guides to the 10 best Haven holiday parks and our guide to saving money on a Haven holiday.
You'll find that some Haven parks don't have every grade of caravan, and some have extra options such as lodges, chalets, apartments, glamping or beach houses. This guide will start by focusing on caravans but there's a bit about lodges further down.
Here's our table showing some key differences, along with further explanation below. Details are correct at the time of writing - it may well change over time.
Summary of what you do and don't get in each grade of Haven caravan
Saver Haven caravans
The Saver Haven caravans are the cheapest. They are the narrowest and they don't have a freezer or a dishwasher. You don't get outside decking and you don't have a pull out bed in the lounge. However, you get an oven, microwave, hobs and one modestly sized TV. You don't get towels as standard but you do get bedding.
You don't get central heating or double glazing but you do get heating in the lounge.
They are similar to the older 'standard' models of caravan, for the benefit of anyone who was familiar with Haven's old grading system.
Some of these caravans are dog friendly at most Haven parks.
Bronze Haven caravans
Silver Haven caravans
The Silver Haven caravans are quite a big step up in facilities from the Bronze models.
They are the same width as a Bronze caravan, but you get a fridge/freezer rather than just a fridge which you get in the Saver and Bronze caravans. You get a larger TV in the lounge and an extra TV in a bedroom.
You also get towels provided, unlike Saver and Bronze. The only downgrade is that you don't get a spare pull out bed in the lounge.
For me, the most significant upgrade is that you get a bit of decking or a balcony. I love sitting outside in a summer's evening whilst sipping on a can of Lilt. If you have young children, it's much nicer than just sitting in the lounge with the TV turned down low.
If you're bringing a dog, then this is the highest grade of accommodation that you will be able to book.
Gold Haven caravans
The Gold Haven caravans have just a couple of key upgrades compared to a Silver caravan.
The main upgrade is that they are a couple of feet wider. That makes them feel a lot more spacious if you've got a caravan full of children. You also get a slightly bigger freezer and a dishwasher which are both useful additions for a big group.
I probably wouldn't bother upgrading from Silver to Gold if you're a couple who plan to eat out all week.
None of the Gold accommodation at Haven is dog friendly.
Signature Haven caravans
The Signature Haven caravans are pretty much the same as the Gold caravans.
The major difference is that they offer better views.
However, they are actually a couple of feet narrower (about 60cm) than the Gold models.
You get everything else that you get on cheaper models including outside decking/veranda and two TVs. Curiously, you don't seem to get a dishwasher - presumably because they are not quite as wide.
Again, you don't get a spare pull out bed in the lounge.
If you are bringing a dog, then you won't be able to book a Signature caravan.
So, which grade of caravan should I choose?
That's a good question.
For me, a Silver caravan or a higher grade is ideal, but it really depends on what's important to you.
For me, the most important differences between the cheaper caravans and the more expensive Haven caravans are a) the fridge/freezer b) the dishwasher and c) the outside decking/veranda.
However, that's because we like to self-cater on a caravan holiday or a lodge holiday and it is very limiting if you don't have a decent freezer. We find that it's less of a holiday if you have to wash up all the time.
I also love sitting outside on a summer's evening, so a bit of decking is worth it for me. A sea view is something I'll pay for as long as it's not extortionate, but I don't want a lakeside view as I prefer to keep the children away from lakes!
I'm less bothered about towels, hair dryers and bluetooth speakers because I can bring my own. I'm also not bothered about how big the TV is.
I would certainly want central heating and double glazing during the colder months but Haven close their parks in winter, so I could probably live without that if I had to. A slightly wider caravan is certainly more spacious, but we tend to get out and explore a lot anyway so it's not essential.
Of course, the amount that you are paying extra is a big consideration. As an example, we searched for a week's holiday for a family of four in early October 2024 (off peak) at Haven Kent Coast in Kent (previously called Haven Allhallows). Prices looked like this:
So, in this instance it would only cost £36 to upgrade from Saver to Bronze. I'd certainly pay that for a wider caravan with central heating in October. In fact, I'd probably pay £90 to jump from the lowest grade to the Silver grade. I probably wouldn't pay for the top grade as I'm not likely to spend much time sat outside looking at the view in October.
The difference between the highest and lowest grade is around £400 for this week.
We then looked for a week's holiday at Haven Perran Sands in Cornwall in early August 2024 (peak season). Prices were:
So, in this instance there is a difference of about £1800 between the cheapest and most expensive grade of caravan. Upgrading from Saver to Bronze is about £140, which I don't think is worth paying as you won't use the heating in summer. It will be a little cramped, but we would spend most of our time out and about in summer.
In this instance, I'd be much less keen to upgrade from Saver to Gold. I'd rather save myself about £1200 and make do without a dishwasher and a freezer. With the money I'd saved I could take the family out for dinner every night.
What about Haven's lodges? Should I go for Emerald, Diamond or Signature?
Let's move on to lodges, since Haven now offers quite a lot of these as an upgrade to a caravan.
The most appealing thing about a lodge over a caravan is its width. Haven lodges range from 16-20 foot wide whilst caravans range from 10-14 foot wide. To put it another way - the largest lodges are twice as wide as Haven's smallest caravans.
Lodges are currently an upgrade option at 11 Haven resorts, which is about a third of their parks. The Haven parks with lodges include:
The grading system for Haven's lodges
Haven's lodges have three main grades including
The Signature grades have a name like 'Signature Sea View' or 'Signature Lake View' depending on what you can see out the window.
As with the caravans, Haven has produced an excellent comparison document, which you can download on this page.
We started to produce our own massive comparison chart until we realised that the differences between the lodge grades are actually very simple. Here's the summary:
Here's a simple table explaining the differences:
Everything else is the same. In all three grades of Haven lodge you get:
So, is it worth upgrading from a Haven caravan to a Haven lodge?
It depends! The 'upgrade' isn't necessarily better, it really depends on what's important to you and what time of year you are visiting.
How much will it cost me to upgrade from a caravan to a lodge with Haven?
As with our caravan price comparison, it really depends when you visit. We looked at an off-peak holiday at Haven Devon Cliffs, which is one of their biggest holiday parks (or perhaps the biggest, depending on what you read). Here are the prices we found for a family of four staying in early October 2024 for a week:
(Note: they didn't have any Emerald Lodges for our comparison).
So, upgrading for an off peak week would cost us:
So, upgrading for an off peak week would cost us:
Get the Guru's weekly deals from Haven + exclusive £20 off Butlins discount code
We first wrote this blogpost in 2021 when there was a flurry of excitable news reports about the demand for UK staycations. A lot of the cheapest grade of caravans and lodges were getting booked up quicker, meaning prices went higher than in previous years.
We hoped it would help people who had written off getting a good deal at a UK caravan holiday park or UK lodge park.
We've updated it for 2024 holiday as there are plenty of tips, tricks and loopholes to save yourself hundreds of pounds on a holiday park.
1. Book a holiday park in the last week in August
Most people avoid holidays during the last week of the school summer holidays because they want to buy a new pencil case and sew names into their jumpers.
That means that there’s a big drop off in demand for the last week in August/first few days of September - and much better prices. We looked at Haven's Perran Sands in Cornwall and found a difference of about £600 between the first and last week in August for a family holiday.
The downside is darker evenings and a slightly reduced chance of good weather.
2. Head North for the cheapest holiday parks
In our price comparisons, Yorkshire, Northumberland and Scotland’s holiday parks are generally cheaper for something similar in Cornwall and Dorset. The saving during the peak season can be pretty significant – in some cases similar parks run by the same company cost nearly twice as much in Cornwall as they do in Scotland.
For example, the three cheapest Haven holiday parks in our top 10 guide were all in the north of England or in Scotland.
Highly rated Haven holiday parks in the north of England and Scotland include:
It's a similar story with Parkdean Resorts.
We did a price comparison of a week's holiday at all 66 Parkdean Resorts and found that five of the ten cheapest Parkdean Resorts are in Scotland. Overall, prices for a holiday in August ranged from £599 to £1689 (based on the cheapest accommodation available when we searched).
Resorts in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire were also good value. There were no Westcountry holiday parks in the top 20 cheapest Parkdean Resorts.
The cheapest Parkdean Resorts include:
If you live in southern England and want a cheap Parkdean Resorts then take a look at:
3. Fill up a caravan
You could save yourself hundreds of pounds by sharing an eight-person caravan with friends or relatives.
In some cases, we’ve found it is more than £1000 cheaper than hiring two caravans for four people. It’s certainly cosy in a caravan’s kitchen but you’ll be able to afford to eat out more often.
4. Arrive on a Friday or Monday
Lots of holiday parks let you choose which day you arrive and bump up prices for Saturday to Saturday holidays.
A Monday to Monday or Friday to Friday holiday during the summer holidays is often about £100 cheaper with the big name holiday park companies.
Policies vary - Away Resorts let you arrive on any day of the week whilst Haven and Park Holidays both offer arrivals on Monday, Friday and Saturday.
If you've got your heart set on Center Parcs then you can expect to pay a serious whack during the school summer holidays.
However, you might like to look at Center Parcs in France, Germany and the Netherlands. They are run as a separate company but have a lot in common with the UK resorts, such as excellent swimming pools/waterparks and lots of onsite activities.
There's also a neat trick where you can save an extra few pounds by booking via the French version of the Center Parcs website rather than 'CenterParcs.eu'. For some reason, the prices vary depending on which site you use, even though the holiday is the same.
The quality of Center Parcs in Europe is inconsistent, so do some research such as reading our guides to the best Centers Parcs in France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.
To get you started, check out these four Center Parcs in Europe which score well with customers:
6. Check the holiday park offers pages and last minute deals pages
Most big holiday park chains have an offers page where they have some last minute bargains and other discount codes to entice you in.
Check out the offers pages for:
7. Discover hidden holiday homes
So, you've decided which holiday park you want to stay at and your dates are fixed thanks to the August school holidays and other inconveniences. Unfortunately, the cheapest caravan left is showing as £2000, even though it's just a 'standard' caravan rather than anything fancy.
Before weeping in a corner or selling the children's toys, try this trick.
First, go onto Airbnb and search for the nearest town to the holiday park. You can't search for the exact holiday park, but if I was searching for Haven's very popular and highly rated Devon Cliffs holiday park I would search for Exmouth which is the nearest town.
Second, choose the 'map' option on Airbnb and move it over the area of Devon Cliffs. You might need to do a bit of detective work to find smaller resorts but big holiday parks are quite obvious from above.
You'll find that there are several caravans and lodges available for hire which aren't listed on the official websites (click here to see what I mean, or see the screenshot below)
These are caravans and lodges which have been sold off to private owners who then rent them out. At a big holiday park there will be several to choose from and owners set their own prices so it’s often much cheaper than going through the official website.
You can also see the exact location of the caravan you are booking as well as photos and reviews.
In some cases, I've seen privately owned caravans available for hundreds of pounds less than those on the 'official' website. Of course, you are booking with an individual rather than a big company so read the smallprint carefully.
8. Don’t pay for facilities you won’t use
Some holiday parks are jam packed with facilities such as swimming pools, sports courts, fishing lakes and even ski slopes. But others just offer cheap accommodation and a small shop for buying your cornflakes. If you just want a base for exploring or won’t use shared facilities (which will probably have restricted numbers this summer) then look for the more basic resorts and head down the beach.
Meanwhile, Haven give you the choose of a simple 'Haven Hideaway' holiday if you just want accommodation or a 'Haven' holiday if you want to use all the facilities.
Check out our guide to the cheapest caravan holiday parks in the UK for starters.
9. Read your cancellation rights
Finally, I feel I should include something about cancellation policies as it's hardly a bargain if you end losing your money.
You might assume that every holiday park works to the same rules and cancellations. Unfortunately that's not the case, so read the small print to find out what happens if can't make your holiday.
To give you an idea of what some of the bigger holiday parks are offering, have a look at Haven's Holiday Protection and Park Holidays' Cancellation Protection Plan.
Images are from Haven, Away Resorts and Center Parcs Europe
Short on time? Here's the summary: Big Bus Tour gets the best reviews. It's also the best value if you want a one day hop-on hop-off bus and river cruise bundle. However, Golden Tours is cheaper if you just want a simple two hour bus tour. Read on for the full guide.
There are four main companies competing to offer the best London Bus Tour. They offer open top tours of all the big tourist attractions including Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the British Museum.
Some London Bus Tours also include a free river cruise as part of the deal. Some are hop-on-hop-off whilst others just offer a straightforward tour for a couple of hours.
But which is the best London Bus Tour?
We've compared all four based on customer reviews and cost. It's worth noting that you can often beat the 'official' prices by booking via a third party such as Wowcher, Groupon or Living Social.
Which London Bus Tour gets the best reviews?
We looked for the review score on TripAdvisor for the main London Bus Tour operators. As of November 2023, the ranking looks like this.
Please note: there are other specialist tours, which offer things like Harry Potter tours. We've just included London Bus Tours which cover a general route of the whole city. Of course, there are also buses operated by Transport for London which go past a lot of attractions - the number 11 bus is a good one for visiting several popular spots.
Which is the cheapest London Bus Tour?
This is where it gets a little bit complicated, as there are endless offers and packages which all provide slightly different things. We did three price comparisons to get a general idea of which London Bus Tour is best value for a family ticket.
Price Comparison #1: a simple two hour tour of London by bus
For a very rough price comparison, we looked for a two-hour (ish) tour of London with the five bus companies above, on a Tuesday, booked a week in advance. We searched for the price on their official website for two adults and two children and found these results:
Golden Tours is the winner here, and it is second in our review comparison.
The advantage of a non-stop tour is that you can settle in rather than risk losing your seat every time you get off the bus. However, two hours on a bus is a long time, particularly with children. The downside is that you can't get off to spend time at the attractions which interest you most.
Also worth mentioning (again) is that you can do a DIY London bus tour by using the official Transport for London buses. By my calculations, it will cost a family of four £15.60 for unlimited bus travel for a day.
You'll still get a good view but the buses aren't open top. You don't get a commentary and the buses won't follow the ideal route. Start with the number 11 bus.
Price Comparison #2: a 24 hour hop-on-hop-off tour of London
Next, we looked for a one day ticket where you can hop-on and hop-off at your leisure. The downside of this option is that you might end up stood in the rain waiting for a bus to come along (several reviewers suffered such an ordeal).
The plus side is that you can pop into an attraction, jump off to see the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace or stop for lunch.
Again, we searched for a family ticket for two adults and two children. From cheapest to most expensive at the time of searching.
So, Golden Tours and Toot Bus appear to be the cheapest for a 24 hour ticket. The Big Bus Tour also includes a River Cruise. A typical river cruise for a family costs about £30-£40 so it depends on the discounts on the day as to whether this ticket is good value.
Price Comparison #3: a 48 hour hop-on-hop-off ticket with a river cruise
Finally, we searched for the cost of a two day hop-on and hop-off London bus tour with a river cruise. This is a commonly offered bundle and it can work out good value if you don't to cram everything into one day.
We searched for the price for a family of four:
Again, Golden Tours was the cheapest by £16.
Conclusion - which is the best London Bus Tour?
But wait! Booking direct isn't always the cheapest way to get a London Bus Tour
We found that the cheapest option for a London Bus Tour isn't always booking direct.
Deals come and go, but we searched on Wowcher during Black Friday and found these deals for a family of four:
We also searched on Groupon and Expedia but didn't find they were cheaper than going direct. Of course, they might be cheaper when you do your searches.
Good luck and happy travelling!
March 2022 update: We've removed the 'Megabus Megasightseeing London Bus Tour' from this guide as it's no longer operating.
**Parkdean Resorts Black Friday: 1000s of holidays from £69 + up to 30% off 7 night holidays**
This seems like a good moment to look at Parkdean Resort's Cornwall holiday parks. Parkdean is doing a couple of decent Black Friday offers including '1000s of holidays from £69' as well as 'up to 30% off 7 night holidays'.
Black Friday can be an excellent time to book a holiday for 2024. Most people are distracted by the search for a Christmas present for Aunt Maude, so holiday companies offer some good deals. There's also loads of availability so you can usually get your pick of the accommodation.
We've already got a guide to Cornwall that covers all the different holiday park companies, but this one will just focus on the eight Parkdean Resorts.
There isn't an outright winner but here's our summary:
Anyway, here are the full details!
Which Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall gets the best reviews?
Last year, we did a mammoth rundown of every Parkdean Resorts and ranked them from 1st to 66th, based on their review score on TripAdvisor and Google Reviews (there wasn't much on telly that week).
Here's how they rank out of every Parkdean Resorts in the UK:
(The equals sign means that they had the same score as another Parkdean Resorts holiday park).
We also did a quick search to check if any of those scores had changed since we did our original comparison, about 18 months ago.
There had been a couple of changes, so the ranking for Cornwall now looks like this
So, there have been a couple of changes. Crantock Beach has lost half a point on TripAdvisor whilst Lizard Point Holiday Park has gained half a point. Honestly, I wouldn't obsess over this too much. TripAdvisor ratings are only given in halves, so it is quite common for a resort to jump between ratings.
The general conclusion is that there are three Cornish Parkdean Resorts that are leading the way with their review scores: Crantock Beach Holiday Park, Sea Acres Holiday Park and St Minver Holiday Park.
Which Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall has the best facilities?
There is a significant range in the size of Parkdean Resorts around the UK. Some are massive resorts with enough to occupy you for a week or more - others offer accommodation in a nice location but not much else. A small and simple resort isn't necessarily a bad thing - you may be the sort of family that prefers to explore the local area rather than spending all your time onsite.
Parkdean Resorts has a useful system where it labels its larger and busier resorts as 'Action Packed Parks'. There are currently 10 of these in the UK including two in Cornwall - Lizard Point Holiday Park and Newquay Holiday Park.
At these parks, you can expect to find loads to do including a mix of free activities and things you pay extra for.
At Lizard Point, there is an indoor swimming pool, two outdoor swimming pools, an adventure playground, soft play, nature trails, kids' clubs, a sports court, outdoor table tennis and a 'woof park', which is a dog agility course. There are also paid extras such as high ropes, bungee trampolines, battle blaster (a bit like NERF), archery, kayaking, laser tag, Adventure Bugz and mini golf.
Meanwhile, Parkdean Resorts Newquay Holiday Park doesn't have an indoor swimming pool but it has three outdoors pools - one of which has a massive great waterslide. There are also four playgrounds, soft play and paid activities such as minigolf, archery, high ropes, hoverboards, arts and craft and so on.
You can find more details on which activities cost extra here.
There are also some Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall that promote themselves as being 'relaxed'. This generally means that there aren't lots of activities onsite but they are often in good locations.
These 'relaxed' parks include:
Finally, there are three Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall that fall somewhere in the middle. They aren't quite as jam-packed with entertainment as Lizard Point Holiday Park or Newquay Holiday park but they have a bit more to do than Crantock Beach Holiday Park, Sea Acres Holiday Park and St Minver Holiday Park.
These three resorts are Holywell Bay Holiday Park, Looe Bay Holiday Park and White Acres Holiday Park.
Which Parkdean Resorts holiday park in Cornwall is cheapest?
Here's the juicy part!
Next up, we carried out a price comparison for one set of dates for a peak-season 2024 holiday. You may find different results for your holiday, but it's an interesting exercise if nothing else.
We looked for a family for four people in early August 2024. We just looked for the cheapest accommodation available at the time of searching. You might find that prices creep up nearer the time because the lower grades of accommodation get booked up quicker. See our guide to Parkdean Resorts grading of caravans for more advice. (As an aside, we usually advise people to book early if they can rather than hoping for a last minute discount. The best prices are usually available to the early birds).
From cheapest to most expensive
So, there's a difference of £350 between the cheapest - Looe Bay Holiday Park and the most expensive - Newquay Holiday Park. It's interesting to note that Sea Acres and St Minver are two of the cheapest despite getting some of the best reviews (or perhaps the low prices help encourage high review scores!)
Which Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall is easiest to reach by car?
Convenience is a big factor for me. Let's look at driving distance from London. I'm aware that not everyone lives in London, but the difference in travel time is likely to be about the same for most visitors.
So, you will spend more than two and half hours extra in the car for a return journey to Sea Acres Holiday Park or Lizard Point Holiday Park compared to Looe Bay Holiday Park or White Acres Holiday Park.
That's a notable factor for me as one of my children isn't a great car traveller!
Another thing to consider is that Cornwall is a large county. If you want to cover the whole of Cornwall in a week then you are better to stay somewhere around the middle such as Newquay Holiday Park. It's an hour's drive from Lizard Point Holiday Park to Tintagel on the North Cornish coast. You may not fancy two hours in the car after driving all the way to Cornwall!
Which Parkdean Resorts Holiday Park in Cornwall is near to a beach?
Easy access to a beach is another big factor for us. Walking distance is preferable so that a beach trip doesn't require loading everyone and everything into the car. Plus, you don't have to find and pay for parking if it's not far away.
Here's how the Cornish Parkdean Resorts rank, based on how close they are to the nearest beach
(Note that these times will vary a bit depending on where you are on the site and whether you go for the closest beach or a nicer one with more sand!)
So, we have three winners in this category. Sea Acres Holiday Park, Crantock Beach Holiday Park and Holywell Bay Holiday Park are all close enough to walk to the beach without too much complaining from the rest of your family.
Conclusion - pros and cons of each Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall
Let's round up with a summary of each Parkdean Resorts in Cornwall. There isn't a clear winner in every category, so a pros and cons list is in order!
Haven is probably the best-known name in the UK caravan holiday park market. Their 40 parks are ideal for families looking for a busy holiday with indoor swimming pools, places to eat onsite and easy access to beaches.
Many of their parks get better reviews than their rivals, but they can also be a bit more expensive (based on the price comparisons we've done).
Here are 6 ways to save money on Haven holiday parks (plus an extra one we added later!)
1. Don’t arrive on a Saturday
Unsurprisingly, most of us want to arrive on Saturday for a week’s holiday. However, if you can avoid their busiest changeover day then you can make a decent saving.
For example, a week staying at Haven’s Seaview Holiday Park in Dorset in August 2024 in a Saver caravan was £899 when we checked, if you arrived on a Saturday. However, if you arrived on the Friday before it was only £769, a saving of £130.
You’ll still get a seven-day holiday, it’s just not as convenient for people working Monday to Friday.
2. Travel to a Haven holiday park up north
In our (limited) price comparison, we found that Haven’s best holiday parks in the north of England and in Scotland are generally cheaper than their best holiday parks in the South of England. Location seems to be more of a factor than facilities and reviews.
There are exceptions of course, but we picked out 10 of the best Haven holiday parks for our guide and found that two of the three cheapest were Thornwick Bay in Yorkshire and Lakeland Leisure Park in the Lake District.
Meanwhile, Devon Cliffs in Devon and Perran Sands in Cornwall were both amongst the more expensive Haven resorts.
During August the difference between the cheapest and most expensive was almost £700 for a family of four. That's just the minimum saving - if you start looking at more luxurious accommodation then the price difference is even greater.
3. Cosy up and fill up a caravan
This one is not for everyone, but a family of four will make a significant saving if they share an eight berth caravan rather than booking two caravans for four people.
For example, you’ll pay £1538 for two Saver caravans for four people at Haven’s Seaview Holiday Park in Dorset in August 2024. An eight-berth Bronze caravan meanwhile will cost you £1158 for the same week (searches carried out in November 2023). Bronze is one grade higher than Saver in the Haven accommodation grading system.
That means each family will pay £579 for a week rather than £769, a saving of £190.
But is it practical?
Well, in the example above, a four-person caravan has two bedrooms whilst a four-berth caravan has three bedrooms meaning that a couple of people will end up sleeping in the lounge. I guess you’d need to know people pretty well to avoid a week of awkward situations. Also bear in mind that an eight-berth caravan only has one shower, so you might not get everyone ready until about lunchtime.
One slightly more practical option is to invite a couple of grandparents, as the difference between a two-bedroom and three-bedroom caravan is generally only a couple of hundred pounds.
4. Book Haven early for the best choice and price
Generally, you’ll find the best deals are available if you book long in advance, rather than if you wait for a ‘last minute bargain’. The cheaper accommodation at popular Haven parks is sometimes sold-out months in advance.
For example, when we searched Lydstep Beach Holiday Park in November 2023 for holidays in August 2024, we found that the cheapest ‘Saver’ caravans were already sold out for some weeks. As a result, you’re left with the ‘gold’ and ‘signature’ options which are more expensive.
Presumably quite a lot of people are booking their holidays before they’ve even got home and unpacked.
Haven also doing a price promise, which is along the lines of: 'When you book your 2024 holiday early, we’ll beat any prices cheaper after that. If you stumble across your break at lower price after you’ve booked...we’ll give you the difference back (full details here).
5. Check Haven's offers page regularly
Always take a quick look at Haven's offers pages before you book. These aren't generally discount codes and promo codes, but are discounted rates around certain dates. You'll find they offer things like 25% or 50% off standard prices, or fixed price deals for midweek breaks.
Most of the deals are aimed at getting people to book outside of the school holidays but it's always worth a look, even if you are fixed to certain dates.
There is also a last-minute offers page which has some really good prices for people who are flexible enough (yoga teachers, for example).
6. Try camping and touring at a Haven holiday park
OK, I know what you're thinking...but bear with me.
About half of Haven's holiday parks offer touring and camping, which means you can bring a tent or your own caravan. The advantage is that you still get to use all the onsite facilities, including swimming pools, kids' clubs and so on.
When we checked, a week at Littlesea Holiday Park in Dorset in August 2024 was £1010 for 2 adults and 2 children in the cheapest caravan available. Meanwhile, a week in a tent at Littlesea for four people was £504, a saving of £506.
It's one to consider during peak summer season when the weather is better and the difference in price is most significant.
See our guide to Haven's touring and camping sites.
In 2022, Haven introduced a new option on the booking form called Haven Hideaway (it was called Haven Stay/Haven Stay + Play for a while).
The idea is that you can pick whether or not you want to pay to use the onsite facilities.
We've written a whole blog post on this but the gist of it is that if you are visiting on peak and are just looking for a seaside base for exploring the local area then I would go for a Haven Hideaway holiday.
If you are likely to use the swimming pool, kids' clubs or entertainment then you'll need to pay for a standard Haven holiday (previously called Haven Stay + Play).
The saving varies significantly depending on the time of year.
When we searched for week long holidays in August 2024, we found that a family of four saved between £100 and £210 by going for Haven Hideaway (previously called Haven Stay). We looked at prices at five of the best Haven resorts (Hafan y Môr Holiday Park, Hopton Holiday Village, Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, Lydstep Beach Holiday Park and Perran Sands Holiday Park).
However, for a week long holiday in early October the saving was only £40-£90 for a family of four at those five resorts. So, you're only really saving about £1.50-£3 per person, per day.
It's worth realising that a standard Haven holiday doesn't mean you get to use everything for free. You still have to pay extra for some activities.
Center Parcs Europe Top tip: CenterParcs.fr is nearly always cheaper than CenterParcs.eu for exactly the same holiday. The saving can be more than €100 for a week's summer holiday. Your browser will translate CenterParcs.fr to English if you don't speak French!
**Center Parcs Europe 2024 Offer: 25% off your first stay + free activities**
Center Parcs Europe can cost half the price of a similar break at a Center Parcs in the UK* - but how far will you have to drive? Is it worth the extra effort and travel costs?
Here are the five Center Parcs in Europe which are quickest to reach from the UK by car via the Eurotunnel at Folkestone:
1. Center Parcs Park de Haan, Belgium - 1 hour 24 minutes from Calais (3/5 on TripAdvisor)
You might assume that the closest European Center Parcs to the UK is in France, but it's actually in Belgium. Take your car on the 35 minute Eurotunnel and a couple of hours later you could be arriving at Center Parcs Park de Haan (assuming you don't get stuck behind a Belgian tractor).
In our price comparisons, we found a week's holiday in August 2024 at Center Parcs Park de Haan for £1712. That was based on the cheapest accommodation for a family of four and doesn't include travel costs.
You usually get the best prices by booking through the French version of the Center Parcs Europe website (we concluded this after a lot of price checking!).
There are more than 60 activities listed on the Center Parcs Europe website at Park de Haan, including 27 free activities. That is mid-table compared to other similar sites around Europe. It's got the sort of large swimming pool which you associate with a Center Parcs holiday. Unusually for Center Parcs, Park de Haan is also close to a beach.
The bad news is that Center Parcs Park de Haan isn't the best Center Parcs in Belgium according to customers. It used to be a Sun Parks resort but it was rebranded in 2020. The resort only scores 3/5 on TripAdvisor. Reviews on Google reviews are a little better at 3.8/5.
The main languages in Belgium are Flemish (similar to Dutch) and French. However, you can get a long way speaking English in Belgium.
See our guide to the best Center Parcs resorts in Belgium for the full comparisons.
2. Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette, France - 2 hours 35 minutes drive from Calais (3/5 on TripAdvisor)
Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette is the second closest Center Parcs to the UK, assuming you are arriving in Calais by car. It's in a nice lakeside location and it performs well in price comparisons (see our full guide to Center Parcs in France).
Again though, it isn't the highest-rated French Center Parcs with customers. That honour belongs to Le Bois Aux Daims which is a much more testing drive of about six hours from Calais.
Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette gets scores similar review scores to Center Parcs Park de Haan (see above) - 3/5 on TripAdvisor and 3.8/5 on Google reviews. That is some way behind the 4/5 and 4.1/5 awarded to Le Bois Aux Daims.
In our price comparisons, Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette was the cheapest (or thereabouts) of all the French Center Parcs. We found that a week in August 2024 starts at £1404, which is £300 less than Center Parcs Park de Haan.
The good news is Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette has 92 facilities and activities, which is about 30 more than Center Parcs Park de Haan. It is worth mentioning the caveat here that Center Parcs lists similar activities as separate things on their website. For example, each feature within the swimming pool counts as a different activity.
Another bit of good news is that Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette is relatively new, having opened in 2007. Center Parcs Park de Haan is much older, having originally opened in 1987 before its revamp and rebrand as Center Parcs in 2020.
Personally, I would feel a little more comfortable at a French Center Parcs than a Dutch or Belgian one as I can stumble along with my GCSE French. I got an A but I'm very humble so I don't like to mention it or make a big thing of it (Ed: er, I think you just did).
3. Center Parcs Vossemeren, Belgium - 3 hours 18 minutes from Calais (4/5 on TripAdvisor)
Center Parcs Vossemeren in Belgium is an excellent choice for a European Center Parcs which is near to the UK.
It achieves the best review scores of the five featured in this guide - currently 4/5 on TripAdvisor or 4.3/5 on Google Reviews. The swimming pool ('Aqua Mundo') is reviewed separately and is given an admirable score of 4.4/5.
Prices are competitive. We found a week in August 2024 for £1306 for a family of four, which puts it roughly on a par with Center Parcs Lac d'Ailette. The cheapest price for a similar holiday at Center Parcs in the UK was £2128, although you would likely save on travel costs.
The range of activities is excellent, with 115 different things listed on the Center Parcs website including 32 free things to do.
Center Parcs Vossemeren is a relatively old resort having opened in the 1980s. However, it has been updated a fair bit since then.
4. Center Parcs De Kempervennen, Netherlands - 3 hours 21 minutes drive from Calais (3.5/5 on TripAdvisor)
The fourth closest European Center Parks resort for UK visitors is actually in the Netherlands. This confuses my understanding of European geography, but I'll get over.
Center Parcs De Kempervennen gets the second best reviews of the five Center Parcs we've featured in this guide - 3.5/5 on TripAdvisor or 4/5 on Google reviews.
It has a good number of activities (88, including 30 free ones) and it has been renovated in recent years. Reviews for its swimming pool can be found separately - it achieves 4.2/5 which is very good.
Week-long holidays in August 2024 for a family of four started at £1208 when we searched. That is cheaper than Park de Haan and Lac d'Ailette.
Here's the thing though.
If you are already driving 3 hours 21 minutes to get to Center Parcs De Kempervennen then I would be tempted to drive an extra 18 minutes to reach Center Parcs Het Meerdal. It gets better reviews, it is usually cheaper and it has a few more activities. Het Meerdal also has better dog-friendly and baby-friendly accommodation.
See our full guide to the best Center Parcs in the Netherlands to see how we reached that conclusion.
5. Center Parcs Villages Nature Paris, France - 3 hours 23 minutes from Calais (3/5 on TripAdvisor)
The fifth closest Center Parcs to Calais is a curiosity.
Center Parcs Villages Nature Paris is a joint venture with Disneyland Paris. The idea is that you spend two or three days at Disneyland Paris, which is 10 minutes down the road. You spend the rest of your time at Center Parcs.
The only snag with this idyllic hybrid holiday is that customer reviews have been disappointing since Centre Parcs Villages Nature Paris opened in 2017. It currently scores 3/5 on TripAdvisor and 3.5/5 on Google reviews. According to the summary of reviews offered by Google reviews, guests said that 'cleanliness & maintenance could be improved'. Lots of guests also mention the lack of air conditioning as a negative in summer.
The good news is that the swimming pool ('Aqua Mundo/Aqualagon') gets very good reviews.
Center Parcs Villages Nature Paris is also one of the more expensive CenterParcs in Europe. In our comparison, it was consistently the most expensive of the seven Center Parcs in France. We found that a week in August for four people starts at £2081, is about £800 more than Center Parcs De Kempervennen.
(Top tip - Book your accommodation through Center Parcs' French website and then book your own Disneyland Paris tickets. We found this was cheaper than getting a bundle of accommodation and tickets from Disneyland Paris).
Read our full guide to Center Parcs Villages Nature Paris which includes advice on saving money.
Please note that the predicted travel time varies a bit depending on when you check on Google maps. Review scores correct at the time of writing.
Our 'less than half price' claim is based on our price comparisons for August 2024. We found the cheapest week's holiday at Center Parcs UK for a family of four was £2128 for the cheapest accommodation available. A similar search at CenterParcs.fr found a week at Center Parcs Les Ardennes in Belgium from £1072. There are a few caveats to this. Firstly, you need to add on travel costs - don't drive across Europe if it will only save you a tenner. Secondly, take a look at our comparison of Center Parcs Europe, as some resorts are better than others. Thirdly, you need to book through CenterParcs.fr for this price - it usually costs more to book through CenterParcs.eu. Fourthly, exchange rates mean that the price of Center Parcs in Europe vary throughout the year. We searched in November 2023.
Bluestone National Park Resort and Center Parcs are both good choices for families who want high quality accommodation and lots of activities. They are both at the more luxurious end of the UK's family holiday market and are aimed at outdoorsy families.
But which is best?
We've compared customer reviews, activities and facilities, accommodation, food and drink, prices and location at Bluestone and Center Parcs.
In summary, Bluestone tends to be a little bit cheaper than Center Parcs and it certainly competes with it on review scores (or perhaps beats it by a whisker). Both resorts have equally good swimming pools, free playgrounds and a similar range of watersports, high ropes and other activities.
Center Parcs is the winner if you want to take the dog or want a hot tub (and don't mind paying a premium for it...). However, Bluestone also has its advantages such as interconnecting lodges and an all-weather high ropes course. For people in England, Center Parcs is better if you don't want a long drive but Bluestone will be closer for most people in Wales.
For the full comparison, read on...
Which gets the best reviews? Bluestone or Center Parcs?
There's barely any difference between review scores for Bluestone National Park Resort and Center Parcs.
On TripAdvisor, all five Center Parcs score 4/5. Bluestone National Park Resort also scores 4/5 after more than 3000 reviews.
On Google reviews, you'll find that Bluestone is tied in joint first with two of the Center Parcs resorts.
Result: There's very little difference between reviews for Bluestone and Center Parcs - both get impressive scores.
Which is cheaper? Center Parcs or Bluestone?
A holiday at Center Parcs in the UK can be pretty expensive, particularly during school holidays. That's why a lot of people look at alternatives, such as travelling to Center Parcs in Europe where prices are often much lower.
For a rough price comparison, we looked at the cost of a holiday at Center Parcs and Bluestone for a family of four on a selection of dates. We looked for the cheapest accommodation available, without any extras, upgrades or pets.
At Center Parcs, the cheapest option was always a two bedroom woodland lodge. At Bluestone, the cheapest accommodation available when we searched was a two bedroom Caldey Lodge.
A week in early August 2024, from cheapest to most expensive:
For a week during the school holidays, Bluestone is the cheapest of the prices. It's almost £400 cheaper than the most expensive Center Parcs resort (Longleat).
We then looked for the price a family weekend break in mid-June 2024. From cheapest to most expensive:
In this instance, Bluestone is the clear winner again. It's £160 cheaper than the lowest priced Center Parcs resorts and a whopping £280 cheaper than Center Parcs Woburn Forest.
Finally, we looked at the cost of a midweek break in mid-September 2024. This is obviously a term time holiday, so it's a lot cheaper than visiting during school holidays. From cheapest to most expensive:
Again, Bluestone is cheaper than all the Center Parcs for a midweek break. In our price comparison, it was £160 cheaper than lowest priced Center Parcs (Elveden Forest in Suffolk). It was £240 cheaper than the Center Parcs in Wiltshire (Longleat Forest).
Next, we checked the price of a holiday for a group of eight people, including four adults and four children. We started with a week's holiday in August 2024 and looked for one lodge. From cheapest to most expensive:
Finally, we searched for a weekend for eight people in mid-September 2024 and found these prices:
Again, Bluestone is the cheapest for a short break (off peak) and for the whole week at peak time.
Result: Bluestone is always cheaper than Center Parcs in our price comparisons.
Which is in the best location? Bluestone or Center Parcs?
I suspect that location will be the clincher for a lot of people. Long car journeys with children can be excruciating and it's probably not worth driving miles if you're just planning a short break.
Center Parcs clearly has the overall advantage as it has five resorts and so will be quicker for most people. Bluestone is also quite tucked away in the South West of Wales. You aren't likely to go past it on the way to anywhere.
From most of the UK's big cities, you're closer to a Center Parcs resort than to Bluestone.
Result: Center Parcs is the winner on location for most people. Unless you live in Wales, it's likely that there's a Center Parcs closer to you than Bluestone.
Which is bigger - Center Parcs or Bluestone?
I personally have no real idea of what an 'acre' looks like. You may well feel the same, unless you're a farmer or an estate agent.
So, it's not a great deal of use for me to tell you that Bluestone is spread over 500 acres whilst the UK's Center Parcs are somewhere around 400 acres. However, it does at least tell you that they cover roughly the same area. If you've been to one then you'll understand the scale.
More interesting is the fact that Bluestone has about 300 lodges whereas Center Parcs has about 800 lodges. So, the lodges and other accommodation at Bluestone is much more spread out than the lodges at Center Parcs.
My experience of Center Parcs is that you certainly don't feel crammed in, but it's something to consider.
Result: I'm giving this one to Bluestone, as it covers a larger area but has fewer lodges
Which has the best activities? Center Parcs or Bluestone?
Center Parcs and Bluestone are both renowned for their activities. Both have some activities which are free and others which you pay extra for.
At Bluestone, the Blue Lagoon swimming pool is free and is a big part of the appeal. It's described as a 'subtropical indoor water park' and features a wave pool, four flumes, a lazy river and a 'heated bubble pool'. It scores 4.4/5 from reviewers on Google Reviews.
Meanwhile, each Center Parcs has a 'Subtropical Swimming Paradise'. You get a similar selection of wave pools, flumes, rapids and hot tubs. Reviews on Google reviews range from 4.6/5 for Sherwood Forest and Woburn Forest through to 4.8/5 for the Subtropical Swimming Paradise at Longleat.
Besides the swimming pool, Bluestone has some other free activities including the Village Green Playground, sand play, guided walks and the Treetots treehouse.
Meanwhile, Center Parcs has its own adventure playgrounds which are free to use.
Paid for activities at Bluestone and Center Parcs
Comparing the paid for activities at Bluestone and Center Parcs is a little bit tricky.
The list of activities on the Center Parcs website is certainly longer than the list on the Bluestone website but that doesn't tell the whole story. As an example, Center Parcs Whinfell Forest shows 168 activities compared to 49 at Bluestone. However, the Center Parcs list includes a lot of duplicates so it's not really a fair comparison.
For example, archery is listed six times at Whinfell Forest because there are slight variations in what you can do. Meanwhile, Bluestone just lists archery once. Similarly, Center Parcs lists eight different Easter themed activities which are only available in April. There's a good chance they won't be available when you visit.
Center Parcs also offers family photo shoots (not my idea of fun, but each to their own). It's listed as seven different activities, but it's really just the same thing with minor differences such as whether it's for a family or a toddler.
A slightly fairer comparison is to look at a category such as watersports.
At Bluestone, you can choose from:
Meanwhile, watersports at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest include:
As you can see, they both offer slightly different things. Kayaking and paddleboarding is available at both, but Bluestone is better for more adventurous off-site activities (coasteering, coastal adventures) whilst Center Parcs has pedalos and six person kayaks.
It's a similar story with high ropes and climbing activities. At Bluestone, your options include:
At Center Parcs, the high ropes and climbing activities include:
So, both resorts offer an extended 'Go Ape' type activity and somewhere to do some sort of climbing. The main difference is that Bluestone has an indoor course and an outdoor course.
(We just looked at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest. There is some variation between Center Parcs resorts, but they are fairly similar overall)
My advice is to have a think about whether there is a particular activity which your kids are desperate to do. There are some activities which are only available at one or the other. For example, Coasteering isn't available with Center Parcs but quad bikes aren't available at Bluestone.
Result: I'm declaring this one a tie. Bluestone and Center Parcs both have excellent swimming pools and a similar range of activities.
Which has the best food and restaurants? Center Parcs or Bluestone?
The notable difference between Bluestone and Center Parcs is that the restaurants and pubs at Bluestone are their own brands. At Center Parcs, they have a mix of their own restaurants as well as big names like Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, Starbucks and Las Iguanas.
The choice of food is quite similar. Bluestone has about 10 different places to eat and drink. By my count, there are seven different places to eat at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest.
We did a price comparison of a meal out for a family of four at Knights Tafarn at Bluestone and Huck's American Bar and Grill at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest.
We looked for the price of two burgers for the grown ups plus a side of onion rings. For the children we looked at the price of two kids meals of chicken nuggets or similar. For pudding we looked at the price of brownies for the grown ups and ice cream for the children.
Knights Tafarn at Bluestone
£16.95 x 2 for burgers and chips
£7 x 2 for chicken strips and chips
£7 x 2 for cheesecake and ice cream
£4.50 x 2 for kids' ice cream
Total bill: £70.90
Huck's American Bar and Grill at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest
£12.50 x for The Classic Burger
£7.99 x 2 for chicken nuggets and chips
£7.49 x 2 for cheesecake and blueberry compote
£3.99 x 2 for kids' ice cream
Total bill: £63.94
Result: Not much in it. Bluestone was slightly more expensive, but not really enough to change your plans!
Which has the best accommodation? Center Parcs or Bluestone?
Center Parcs has four grades of lodges. They range from Woodland lodges (£) through to Executive (££), Exclusive (£££) and Treehouses (££££). They also have apartments for smaller groups.
Within some categories you can also upgrade to a 'newer' lodge. Other upgrades get you things like en-suite facilities, a games room, a coffee machine, a wine cooler (absolutely essential, of course), dedicated parking spaces, a hot tub, a sauna and even a host with maid service.
We've written a whole blog about choosing the right Center Parcs lodge, but one key factor is the size of your group. The cheaper lodges are available for group sizes of between 2 and 12 whilst the most expensive lodges are best for groups of 7-8 people. You'll pay a premium per head if you have a half-empty lodge (we once saw a Treehouse which was £10,000 for the week...).
Meanwhile, Bluestone has 16 different types of accommodation by my count, including:
Some differences worth noting:
Result: Bluestone is a good option if two families want to holiday together, but still want some privacy. Center Parcs is a good option if you want a hot tub or sauna and have deep pockets.
Which is best for dogs? Center Parcs or Bluestone?
Bluestone has a complete ban on dogs, so you'll need to leave Rover with grandma or cough up for the kennels.
Of course, if you don't particularly like dogs then Bluestone is the winner!
Center Parcs has dog friendly lodges but there are some limitations:
The first thing to say is that are a lot of similarities between Center Parcs and Bluestone. Both are good choices for a family holiday at the more luxurious end of the UK's holiday lodge resort market.
Customer reviews are very similar and they both have excellent indoor swimming pools/water parks. They also both offer enough activities to keep you entertained for several days and have a big range of accommodation.
There are a few factors which might make up your mind:
Review scores and prices correct at the time of writing.
A fascinating comparison of Woodland Lodges, Executive Lodges, Exclusive Lodges and Treehouses at Center Parcs UK
There are four main types of lodge at Center Parcs in the UK - Woodland (£), Executive (££), Exclusive (£££) and Treehouses (££££). We'll use £ symbols throughout this guide to help you get your head round the options.
You can also choose whether you want to upgrade to 'newer' versions of each lodge and there are some other options (which we'll discuss later).
A big factor in helping you decide is the size of your group.
If you are a family of three or four then you are really only choosing between Woodland (£) and Executive (££) - unless you've recently had a lottery win. This is because the Exclusive (£££) and Treehouse lodges (££££) have four bedrooms, so you'll be paying a huge amount per head if you only use a couple of the bedrooms.
Let's start with a rather massive table of what you get with each type of Center Parcs lodge and then I'll move on to a summary of the main differences.
*The ideal group size means that you'll get best value for money if you have this number of people. Of course, a family of four could hire a treehouse but they all have four bedrooms so you'll be paying a huge amount per person.
Key differences between the four main types of lodge at Center Parcs
1. Center Parcs Woodland Lodge (£)
Woodland Lodges are the cheapest accommodation at Center Parcs. You get kitchen facilities, a lounge with a TV, bedrooms, a patio area, a log burner and towels provided. You don't get any frills or fancy features but it's still in a nice woodland setting.
The best thing about them is that they are available in loads of different sizes - including Woodland Lodges for two people or for a party of 12.
2. Center Parcs Executive Lodges (££)
Executive Lodges are only a modest upgrade from Woodland Lodges but you don't tend to pay a huge amount more. You get the same facilities as a Woodland Lodge but you also get ensuite bathrooms including a whirlpool bath/jacuzzi/hydrobath. That's certainly not quite as fancy as a hot tub, but it's still a nice addition. You also get TVs in the bedrooms, a coffee machine and a wine cooler.
Some of the the bigger Executive Lodges have games rooms and hot tubs, but you don't get that with the standard sized ones with two bedrooms.
So, the differences are not mind blowing but when we checked for a week at Whinfell Forest in August 2024, it was only £50 to upgrade from a New Style Woodland Lodge to New Style Executive Lodge. I'd say that is good value and is probably worth it.
3. Center Parcs Exclusive Lodges (£££)
There's a big jump up in price to a Center Parcs Exclusive Lodge. You can expect to pay about 50% extra per person per night, or perhaps even twice the price (based on the price comparisons we did below).
Exclusive Lodges have four bedrooms, so they are prohibitively expensive per person unless there are seven or eight of you to spread the price out.
The most significant upgrades are that you get a games room, a sauna, a steam room and a hot tub. That makes a big difference if you plan to spend a lot of time socialising with your own party rather than doing non-stop activities.
My opinion is that if it's a family reunion then it may be worth paying the extra. If you plan to swim every day, go for a bike ride, slide down a zip wire and then eat out for most meals then it's probably not worth the money.
You also get allocated parking in the car park, which is a small bonus in my opinion. The outside space you get is slightly better as well.
4. Center Parcs Treehouses (££££)
Finally, there's the option of upgrading to a Center Parcs Treehouse.
You mostly get the same things as you get with an Exclusive Lodge, but you also get a host, a balcony, more space and a somewhat cooler building. You get a hot tub and sauna, but you don't get a steam room. You also get a maid service, which will appeal to some people.
Honestly, I think it's hard to justify a Treehouse for the facilities alone. However, the design is pretty cool so it's no surprise that they often sell out first. If you are flushed and want a more memorable holiday then I would be tempted.
Take a look at our guide to the 6 Best Holiday Parks With Treehouses or some cheaper alternatives.
Is it worth upgrading accommodation at Center Parcs?
The short answer is that:
a) upgrading at Center Parcs is cheaper off peak than on peak
b) upgrading from a Woodland Lodge (£) to an Executive Lodge (££) is quite cheap and is probably worth it. However, upgrading to an Exclusive Lodge or Treehouse is very expensive so is only really worth considering if you plan to spend a lot of time in the lodge.
How much will upgrading accommodation at Center Parcs cost me?
For a rough price comparison, we looked at the scenario of two families of four people wanting to visit Center Parcs Sherwood Forest together for a week in August 2024. Let's call them the Smiths and the Jones.
Now let's see what the Smiths and Jones would pay for a similar holiday at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest in mid September 2024, during term time.
So, upgrading from a Woodland Lodge to a Treehouse during peak times costs about £1200 more than it does off peak. However, upgrading from a Woodland Lodge to a New Style Executive Lodge is only £5 per person, per night off peak - I'd say that's money well spent.
What other types of accommodation are at Center Parcs?
The two other types of Center Parcs accommodation to choose from are:
1. Center Parcs Hotels and Apartments
These are one bedroom 'Executive Apartments' which are aimed at couples or a parent with one child. You can stay in an apartment at any of the UK Center Parcs, but the hotel is only at Center Parcs Woburn Forest.
With an Executive Apartment you get a small kitchen, en-suite facilities and a balcony or terrace.
The main upgrade available is a 'Penthouse Apartment', which has a larger kitchen and more spacious living area. You also get an infrared sauna.
To give you a rough idea, we looked at the price of an Executive Apartment at Woburn Forest for a couple in mid September 2022 and found it cost £688 or £49 per person, per night. The upgrade to an Executive Penthouse was about twice the price at £1208 or £86 per person, per night.
The Center Parcs Hotel Rooms are currently only available at Woburn Forest. You don't get food provided, but you are near to the Plaza where they are places to eat. Bear in mind that eating out at Center Parcs isn't especially cheap!
2. Center Parcs Waterside Lodges
Finally, a brief mention for the Waterside Lodges. There are only three of them, which are at Elveden Forest so we've not included them in our comparisons. They sleep six people.
*This 'half price' claim is based on our Center Parcs Europe price comparisons for August 2024. We found a week at Center Parcs Les Ardennes in Belgium from £1072 for a family of four when booked through CenterParcs.fr. The cheapest price for the same week at a Center Parcs UK resort was £2128. My advice is to pay a little extra and stay at highly rated Center Parcs Het Meerdal in the Netherlands, which was £1140 for the same dates.
You may have noticed a couple of different prices appear when you’re booking a Haven holiday.
Option one is a ‘Haven’ holiday whilst option two is a ‘Haven Hideaway’ holiday. The ‘Haven Hideaway’ holiday is usually £80-£200 cheaper for a week.
So, what’s the difference and is it worth paying the higher price?
In summary, a Haven Hideaway holiday means that you can't use the onsite facilities except for the restaurants, shop, launderette and takeaway.
The official explanation is here, or you can read on for more details of what a Haven Hideaway holiday includes and our opinion of whether it's worth upgrading.
'Haven Stay' is now called 'Haven Hideaway'
Haven has offered two options for its holidays for a while now but they were previously called ‘Haven Stay’ (now called 'Haven Hideaway') or ‘Haven Stay + Play’ (now just called a ‘Haven’ holiday).
In summary, a standard Haven holiday gives you accommodation plus access to all the free onsite facilities (e.g. swimming pool, evening entertainment). You can also choose whether you want to pay for the extra activities (e.g. climbing walls, archery, zip wires etc)
A Haven Hideaway holiday just gives you accommodation, plus access to the restaurants. You can’t use the swimming pool and you can’t sign up for the paid for activities.
Haven Hideaway is aimed at people who want a good value caravan holiday but just want a base for exploring the local area.
My understanding is that Haven introduced these options when Covid-19 led to a boom in staycations. They were getting lots of first time visitors who didn’t want to mingle with everyone else but liked the beachside location and the reliable accommodation offered by Haven.
What you need to know about Haven holidays vs Haven Hideaway holidays
What’s the difference in price between a Haven holiday and a Haven Hideaway holiday?
Roughly speaking, you’ll save about £80-£300 if you don’t use any of the facilities at a Haven holiday during a week’s holiday.
However, the exact amount you save by going for a Haven Hideaway holiday varies depending on a) the time of year b) the number of facilities at the holiday park and c) how long you are staying for.
For example, a family of four staying at Haven Devon Cliffs for a week in August 2024 would pay from £907 for a Haven Hideaway holiday or £1097 for a standard Haven holiday (based on the cheapest accommodation available). That’s a total of £190 to use the facilities, or £6.78 per person, per day.
Meanwhile, a family of four staying at Haven Lydstep Beach for a week in September 2024 would only pay £4.28 per person, per day to use the facilities. That price is based on a Saver caravan costing £818 for a Haven holiday or £698 for a Haven Hideaway holiday.
For a more detailed comparison, we looked at the cost of upgrading from Haven Hideaway to a standard Haven holiday at Hafan y Môr in Wales. It's a huge holiday park with excellent facilities, so you’d expect to pay quite a lot extra for the facilities.
Here’s the cost of upgrading for a family of four in the cheapest accommodation available at Hafan y Môr:
The prices are similar to Haven Devon Cliffs, which is another large and popular resort:
So, the amount you’re paying to upgrade is pretty significant in the summer but is much less in the autumn.
Will you get value for money with a Haven holiday?
One thing to consider is that you will likely spend more money off site if you get a Haven Hideaway holiday. For example, you might decide to visit Crealy Theme Park if you’re staying at Devon Cliffs. A family of four will pay about £80 entry. That’s a fairly big chunk of your £90 saving if you’re visiting Devon Cliffs in October but is less of a big deal if you’ve saved yourself £210 by choosing Haven Hideaway in August.
It also depends on what your family enjoys doing on holiday. A Haven Hideaway means that you can’t watch the entertainment provided at Haven Devon Cliffs, but you might prefer a trip to the cinema in Exmouth (about £25 for a family ticket).
If you want a family swim every day then you’d be better using the facilities at Devon Cliffs. If you just want a basic swim on one day, you’d be better paying £15 for a family swim at the council swimming pool in Exmouth.
It’s worth doing a detailed investigation to figure out what your children are looking forward to doing. If they just want to do an aerial adventure or zip wire then you’d be better visiting a nearby Go Ape (£20-£30) rather than paying £100-£200 for a Haven holiday and then another £12 for the Haven Adrena-Line zip wire.
Conclusion - Haven holidays v Haven Hideaway holidays
If you’re visiting off-peak, I would certainly go for the ‘standard’ Haven holiday even if you mostly plan to spend time offsite. You’ll probably pay less than £100 for a family of four for a week, which is good value compared to local days out.
If you’re visiting a larger Haven resort during the school holidays then it’s a bit of a trickier decision as the difference can be around £200. That will pay for a few days out or meals out, so you’ll need to use the onsite facilities quite a lot to get value for your money.
Also remember that paying for the standard ‘Haven’ holiday doesn’t mean you can do every activity onsite for free. Several things cost extra, although the prices aren't as high as Center Parcs in my experience.
Generally, I think it's worth paying for the full Haven holiday experience. Downgrading to a Haven Hideaway holiday means that your kids won't be able to join in with the entertainment or ride down the flumes - which may be a problem if they make friends with the kids in the caravan next door.
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This is just a short blog to clear up a question that a lot of people have about Eurocamp - do you have to clean your holiday home when you leave?
The short answer is...sometimes. Read on for the four things that you need to know - plus our advice on how you can avoid cleaning your holiday home.
1. There are some jobs that everyone needs to do when they leave a Eurocamp holiday home
Eurocamp ask you to do what they call 'Basic Housekeeping' before you leave. This is regardless of what property you are staying in. The tasks are:
These are listed on the Eurocamp website here.
My experience is that most UK holiday parks ask you to do these things when you leave. It varies a bit, but I don't think it's an unreasonable list of requests.
2. You don't need to do any cleaning if you are staying with Eurocamp in Germany, Spain, Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria or Switzerland
What about cleaning rather than just taking the bins out and stripping the beds?
Well, in the vast majority of countries that Eurocamp covers, you don't need to do cleaning before you leave. In fact, the only country that requires some guests to clean is France.
I don't know why this is the case but if you are visiting a Eurocamp in Germany, Netherlands, Spain etc. then you won't be cleaning the oven whilst trying to leave.
3. You do need clean your own property when you leave in most Eurocamp properties in France.
If you go for one of the cheaper grades at Eurocamp in France, including Classic, Classic XL, Comfort, Comfort XL or Premium then you need to do the following before you leave:
Again, you can find this list on the Eurocamp website here.
So, are cleaning materials provided by Eurocamp, or will you need to pack a bottle of Cif? According to the Eurocamp website, the following is provided:
If you go for one of the top grades of accommodation at Eurocamp in France then cleaning is included. These grades are called Premium Exclusive, Ultimate and Ultimate Plus.
4. If you don't do housekeeping and cleaning then you will be charged up to £150
There are a couple of 'penalty charges' if you don't complete your duties.
If you don't do the 'housekeeping tasks' (e.g. taking out the bins, stripping the beds) then Eurocamp will take 'up to £70' from the bank card that you used when you paid for your holiday.
If you don't do either the housekeeping or cleaning of a property where you should have done it then Eurocamp will charge you 'up to £150'.
So, how can I avoid cleaning my holiday home before I leave?
You may feel that you don't want to clean your holiday home. I know that Mrs Guru would certainly feel that it wasn't really a holiday if she was scrubbing the toilet. She would also be concerned about trying to clean whilst the children made more mess and I made a pigs' ear of packing the car.
There are several ways to avoid cleaning your Eurocamp holiday home:
Holiday Park Guru Blog
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