What to pack for Center Parcs

Center Parcs

If you go down to the woods today… there are a few things that you should take along with you. We’ve had holidays in three of the five UK Center Parcs (Whinfell, Elveden and Sherwood), and we all love it. The Bookworm is never happier than when she’s building a den, or heading down a waterslide for the fiftieth time. And just a mention of the word ‘squirrel’ has The Chap completely beside himself. But each time we’ve thought, ‘Oh. We really should have packed that.’

So, to save you all the trouble of learning from your own mistakes, we decided to make all the mistakes for you. Here’s what we’ve learned you need to pack. We’ve assumed that you’re already planning to pack clothes (no offence, nudists!) and toiletries.

A big saucepan – Especially if you’re staying with a family or a group. The villas have pans, utensils, and more egg cups than you’ll ever need. But there’s never one pan big enough for cooking up a huge batch of chili or bolognese.

Tea towels – Again, Center Parcs provides a tea towel. But it has the size and absorbency of a Dairylea cheese slice. Pack your own if you want to get any drying done.

Washing-up liquid and sponges – Same deal. You get a little sachet of washing-up liquid. Presumably the plan is that when that’s finished you head down to the little shop and pay three times the normal amount for a bottle of the stuff. But not me! Because I packed my own.

Dishwasher tablets – See above. To me, a dishwasher is the ultimate in exotic luxury. I’ve never owned one, but I marvel at the Center Parcs dishwashers.

Food and drink – Pretty obvious, right? Wrong! Plan your meals out for the week, and take all the stuff you’ll need. All the stuff. Like these things, that you’re bound to forget about:

  • Cooking oil
  • Butter
  • Salt & pepper
  • Herbs & spices
  • Sugar (for hot drinks)
  • Snacks
  • Sandwich stuff
  • Tea & coffee

On the tea and coffee note, they do give you a handful of teabags and instant coffee sachets. There isn’t enough to sustain a normal person for their stay, so there’s definitely not enough for a parent. Although you will get a cafetiere, so pack proper coffee if that’s your bag.

Kitchen knife & chopping board – This might just be me. I’m quite attached to my kitchen knives, so I tend to take one anywhere that I’m likely to be chopping anything. There are knives provided by Center Parcs. But mine is better.

Towels – There are towels in your villa. Apparently they frown upon you taking those towels out of the villa and down to the swimming pool (sorry, Subtropical Swimming Paradise). Pack your own swimming towel and use the Center Parcs towels for bathing.

Alcohol – I realise I’m sounding quite cheap now. But, just like food, you’ll save money by taking your own drinks rather than buying them at the on-site shop, though they do have a good selection.

Toilet roll – Don’t want to run out of that.

Swimming costumes – You’re at Center Parcs. You have to go swimming.

So, there you have it. Our packing list for your Center Parcs holiday.

Anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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12 thoughts on “What to pack for Center Parcs

  1. Joanna Le Put says:

    Interesting reading someone else’s essentials list, especially when it differs so my much from our own! We are far more focused on remembering sportswear for various activities such as exercise classes, badminton and swimming. Not forgetting trainers and boots with a heel if you are planning to go horse-riding. Also pack a lightweight waterproof in addition to a warm coat. I disagree about the food being over-priced and would much rather choose from a fresh selection whilst there than fill the boot with a load of bags from the supermarket before we leave home. Plus, we are on holiday, and that includes the pleasure of eating out. With a great selection of cafes and restaurants, who wants to be stuck in the kitchen? We are rarely in the villa in fact. If you order the Groceries Welcome Pack, it’s all put in your villa for your arrival and ensures a far more relaxing start to your holiday.


    • Adam Kirkup says:

      Hi Joanna. Thanks for commenting. You’re right – it sounds like we have pretty different packing lists!

      I guess it just comes down to your preferences, and your expectations for the holiday. We tend to go with a big group of extended family and friends, so there’s lots of cooking and eating together (plus I really love cooking, but you probably got that from the ‘pack your own knives bit’). And there’s definitely minimal horse riding.

      It’s good to get a different viewpoint on it. Thanks again.


  2. Martin says:

    By far the best tips and help i’ve read on what to take. We are off for our first jaunt to center parcs next week so this is really useful and informative thank you 🙂


  3. Emma says:

    A great list, really useful. When we go camping we often cook a bolognese and freeze it to take with us so by the time it’s defrosted we have an easy meal ready to go 🙂


  4. emwraynaud says:

    We’re in France so go to the french one – and TWICE now we have forgotten to take mugs – they only provide tiny little cups and no teapot so you only get a mouthful of tea which is really not what you need after a wet windy cycle! Last time we were so desperate for proper sized tea that we bought mugs in the shop.


    • Adam Kirkup says:

      Great call!

      We went with Sarah’s parents just before Christmas. They each brought a big mug (and we didn’t) so I just borrowed (stole) theirs.


  5. HK says:

    great advice!

    I am going to Elveden forest center parcs in a couple of weeks so will make sure to bring some towels! its also a good idea to take goggles as on the rapids and slides there WILL be a big splash at the end.


    • Adam Kirkup says:

      Glad you liked the post. How was your trip? We were at the Elverden one a couple of weeks ago, we were lovin the tree top spa. ~ SK


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