A January Break at Center Parcs Whinfell with Tweens & Teens

We're going to Center Parcs! I will be sharing photos from our stay but didn't want to spend time typing out loads of info so thought I'd share a pre-visit post which I can link to with my photos with all of the info you need. 

January is (in my opinion) a good time to stay at Center Parcs. We all know it can be ridiculously expensive, well January is the cheapest time to go. Our short weekend break was £579 staying in a 3 bed 2 story detached new style woodland lodge Fri-Mon.

We paid £171 deposit on booking and the balance is due 10 weeks beforehand. If you book within 30 days of a break, you get an additional £50 off these prices too. I actually think some of the prices for January 2023 are cheaper than what we paid. 

I could have done this break on more of a budget and not booked restaurants, not visited the spa and taken my own groceries but I really felt in need of a nice break and wanted to splash out a little.

This post isn't about saving money at Center Parcs, there are plenty of ways you can do that and it is possible to have a fab time at Center Parcs and not book anything. There are plenty of free things to do. But like I say, I am tired, in need of a break and happy on this occasion to pay for convenience. I'm not always like this but sometimes, needs must. We have visited Center Parcs on a budget in the past, if you are interested, here is a post with my money saving tips and this more recent post featuring 10 ways to save money at Center Parcs . 

By the time we included a grocery delivery, our spa sessions, restaurant deposits and interactive squash, the cost of our break was actually £820. At the moment, you can book restaurants and activities 60 days before your break. You pay for these when you book them (£5 pp restaurant deposit / other activities are paid in full). 

I think it is quieter visiting in January too and I didn't have any trouble booking restaurants and activities at times that were convenient for us. 

Our plan is to pick the kids up from school on Friday and drive straight there. We should get to Whinfell for around 5:30pm-6pm depending on traffic. We have paid for Sunday night but don't want to keep the kids off school so we will be leaving Center Parcs on Sunday teatime after a trip to the Pancake House. 


We are staying in a three bed two story new style woodland lodge. We didn't pay for a particular area of the forest as aren't really fussed and we have been allocated a lodge in Foresters Lane. I like the layout of these lodges for families with older kids.

They are detached so we don't need to worry about noise and you get your own patio area, more up to date than some of the accommodation available and they include all the mod cons like a dishwasher, 40" TV and media hub and log burner. 

There is a double bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor and two twin rooms and a bathroom upstairs which will be the kids' floor. This style accommodation was the second or third cheapest option available when we booked. 

Grocery Delivery 

I would usually always take my own groceries to somewhere like this but I am time short this week and just don't have the headspace to think about writing a list of everything I need to buy and go shopping so we decided to pre-order a grocery delivery which will be all put away in our lodge for us and waiting on arrival.

This was around £50 and there are snacks, fresh fruit, drinks and enough for breakfasts across the weekend plus a few other bits and bobs. I am definitely paying for convenience here mind but it is one less thing for me to think about. 

We have also orderd three packs of logs for our log burner (£10) and a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts to be waiting in our lodge too (£13). These are just a little treat for the kids really. You can take your own logs and I know B&M sell them pretty cheaply. Again, I wanted the convenience of not thinking about it. 

There are other convenient ways to get your groceries at Center Parcs. You can click and collect at supermarkets in Penrith, order a delivery from Sainsburys (they deliver to the check in hut) or if you spend £40 in the shop on site, they will deliver to your lodge free of charge. Or of course you can just take your own food with you from home. 

Interactive Sqaush (Family Ball Wall) 

This is the activity most people recommended to us and I am so pleased we managed to book. It is £22 for a 45 minute session for up to 6 people. The wall in front of you is digital and you play games hitting a real ball against it. Sounds fun! We are going to combine this with a mooch around the Sports Plaza. Find out more about Family Ball Wall here. 

This is the only activity we've booked other than the spa / swimming as I didn't want to pack too much in and wanted plenty of time to relax too. I think sometimes we are guilty of booking too much and trying to pack too much in so I am trying to do less of that now. There were plenty of other activities that we liked the look of including bowling, segway, archery and fencing. 

Winter Forest Lights 

They actually announced this after we had booked and I think it is probably more suited to families with younger kids, but similar to the Christmas lights, there is now a new Winter Forest Lights experience which takes place from 10 Jan - 27 Feb 2022. This experience is free with no booking required (although there are additional activities you can book such as trails and storytelling sessions). 

I think they are going to have a stall selling hot drinks and snacks too and even though my kids are older, I'm hoping it will be a nice little winter walk. I mean who doesn't love twinkling lights? I will share some photos of this experience (as it's brand new this year) when we are there. You can read more about the Winter Forest Lights here. 

Spa Sessions 

Steve and I have tried and failed for over a year to book a spa session. Whenever Steve has time off we've tried to book but they've always been fully booked on the dates we need. Center Parcs is one of our favourite spas and I am SO pleased we have managed to book.

Teens are welcome too (aged 14+). Sessions are very reasonably priced at £98 for two people (three hour session including robe and towel hire) or £109 for two people including afternoon tea. You can book a spa session up to 60 days in advance of your stay and you pay on booking. The spa includes over 14 different experiences. You can read more here. I cannot wait and this is one of the main selling points of Center Parcs for me. 

Swimming Sessions 

Swimming is another reason we booked Center Parcs. Their pool is fab and they have a few slides suitable for older kids. Entry is included with your booking and at the moment you can book up to three (3 hour) sessions per weekend break per person AND visit without booking after 6pm (although the slides do close at 7pm). This may change depending on when you book and restrictions at the time. 

I'm not too keen on waterparks so plan on letting Steve and the kids go off and do their own thing while I read my Kindle on a lounger. I will probably have a turn on the lazy river and the whirlpool too. Kids who can swim and are over 8 do not need to be supervised. We plan on going swimming on one evening and have booked a session for Sunday afternoon too. I am kind of gutted the pool bar/cafe is closed at the moment due to staffing shortages as we usually like to get a little drink / snack. 

Find out more about the Subtropical Swimming Paradise here. 

Dining at Center Parcs 

I have gone backwards and forwards over dining at Center Parcs. I wanted this to be a proper break for us where we don't cook much so we are eating out every night. We did consider a Center Parcs takeaway or ordering a takeaway from Penrith but we do like the experience of going to a restaurant so I wanted to make the most of it. 

Center Parcs restaurants get mixed reviews and I am not expecting fine dining but it will just be nice to be out and able to have a few family meals with a glass (or bottle) of wine without needing to worry about driving home etc...... We have booked Bella Italia, Hucks and the Pancake House. We have dined at Hucks and the Pancake House before and I thought they were expensive but nice last time. I will report back on how I find things this time around...... 

In terms of pricing, pancakes from the pancake house are around £6-£8, pizzas and pasta at Bella Italia are £10-£13 (kids deals are available at £6-£8.50 for 3 course) and Hucks is £12-£14 for a burger/ £16 for fajitas or £7.50 for a kids deal with 2 courses and a drink. A little more expensive/en-par than a normal city centre restaurant but I don't think their prices are too extreme. 

You can find out more about the restaurants at Center Parcs here. 

Center Parcs with a Dog 

I did look at re-booking Center Parcs for the same weekend next year as with our returning customer discount it would be less than £500 and we do really like Center Parcs. However, we will have Fozzy then (he will have just turned one) and when I've looked into it, Center Parcs doesn't seem to be that dog friendly. Dogs are only really allowed in the pub and there aren't any activities other than walking through the woods where you can take your dog. Leaving the dog in the lodge as we enjoy activities is always an option but I am sure we will mostly want to involve Fozzy in our family time.

So I've decided not to rebook and instead will book a lodge somewhere which has more going on for dogs (somewhere with more dog-friendly dining options / pubs / activities where you can bring your dog along too). 

We may rebook Center Parcs with Fozzy in the future but won't be for 2023. 

Just before I end this post, we were going to book Center Parcs in the Netherlands before the pandemic hit (we had got as far as booking the ferry which was cancelled) and if you are interested, I have put together a guide to Center Parcs in the Netherlands here. 


1 comment

  1. You will have a fantastic time Sam and we used to go lots at this time of year for mine and Katie's birthday. We have stayed in Foresters Lane before and it's a great location. Glad you managed to get in the spa finally, sounds as if you are all going to have a great weekend. Don't forget that cocktail in Hucks for me on the 15th !! xx


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