Holiday review: Center Parcs Woburn Forestjools


Gurgle's Nifa McLaughlin reviews Center Parcs' new Woburn Forest village as a family-friendly holiday

An action-packed weekend away with three children whilst being heavily pregnant with baby number four... were we mad? We headed to Woburn Center Parcs with the promise of activities to suit all the members of our (growing) family.

The huge blackboard was a highlight for the kids (aged nine, seven and two), which meant they played 'teachers' while we unpacked and got organised. Riding their bikes on roads with no cars was the next delight - once you've unloaded your car on arrival, all cars must be parked in car parks away from where you live. You can easily hire bikes with or without bike seats for little ones or trailers for babies.

The best bit for us was the sub-tropical swimming zone, with its slides, pirate ship, wave machine and, crucially for my son, a toddler pool with mini slides, water fountains and kids' swim jackets. There were cots at the side of the pool for parents with babies, snack bars within the pool area and family changing rooms to use. And if (like us), you discover your nine-year-old has grown out of her swimsuit once you arrive at the pool, there was a swimsuit shop just outside!

That evening we ate out with all the children in Café Rouge and I was delighted to find a play area for children inside the restaurant – in that agonising wait between ordering food and it arriving, our toddler was totally occupied. I noticed lots of cafes had play areas in them, which is brilliant when you have small children who haven't learnt the art of patience yet.

The next morning my nine-year-old did a cupcake class and our seven-year-old took part in a chocolate workshop, which involved a chocolate fountain, dancing, singing, aprons and loads of chocolate. It was suitable for ages 3-7 and lasted 2.5 hours - perfect for parents wanting to head off for some sport or to relax in the spa, both of which are right next to the crèche and children's activities.

It's worth noting that weekend breaks are Friday until Monday, so make the most of this before you have school age children who need to be back at school on a Monday. We all loved our weekend away; the children still talk about the swimming pool, learning to decorate cupcakes and whizzing down steep hills on their bikes. On the way home we asked our children what they thought of their weekend away and they all said: "can we do it next weekend too..."


  • No cars = freedom my kids don't usually have in London.
  • The swimming pool is free and you can go as many times as you want.
  • Accommodation came with a travel cot and highchair and you can (at extra cost) have a pack of essential foods like teabags, butter, milk etc. delivered to your chalet before you arrive.
  • There were loads of activities for kids and not just outdoor stuff – there was an art room, cookery and a pottery painting studio as well as a climbing wall and roller disco.
  • Knowing that instead of moaning about watching TV, the children were fully active all weekend, swimming and cycling, and all slept brilliantly.


  • Check some of the activities for kids as they all have age limits/restrictions. This may mean that siblings can't take part in the same activity.
  • Doing tons of activities can be pricey so manage your children's expectations before you arrive.
  • It takes a bit of time to check-in and unload bags/collect bikes/drop-off your car when you first arrive, so either book your family into a restaurant for the first night or bring something easy to heat up when you're exhausted.
  • There is a sweet shop at Center Parcs, which you pass all the time and my children spotted it from miles away. We got round this by telling them they could have a bag of sweets on the last day IF they were well behaved all weekend...
  • An adult must accompany every child under four. Whilst I totally agree with this rule, it means if you have two younger children both adults must be with them (rather than one having a well-earned rest in the spa!). The ratio is two children to one adult for children over four and under seven.

 girls on bikes

cupcakes copy

poppy choc copy




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