Many people are surprised by how much it costs to stay at Center Parcs. While they offer a lot in terms of accommodation, entertainment and activities, it can sometimes be too expensive for a lot of families. That’s why I pulled together a list of some great, cheap alternatives to Center Parcs in England to try.
Centre Parcs are a popular choice for families in the UK, but they can sometimes work out more expensive than going abroad. I’m not sure if it’s the impact of the pandemic, which saw the price of staycations boom, or just factoring in the price of facilities and activities in addition to accommodation, but the price of staying at Center Parcs can be too much to pay for a lot of people. Fortunately, there are lots of cheap alternatives to Centre Parcs that offer similar holidays.
Don’t get me wrong, I can totally understand why Center Parcs are so popular. They’re one of the most highly recommended places to stay in England, located in beautiful areas with great facilitates and lots of different things to do. As a network of villages, they are designed to have everything for families for a fun and entertaining holiday. But staying at Center Parcs can cost a lot of money, setting you back up to £2000 for a week’s holiday.
That’s why I wanted to provide some more budget-friendly alternatives to Center Parcs in England, which offer similar holidays but at more affordable prices. Check out the list below for some of my favourites!
The best cheap holiday resort alternatives to Center Parcs
If you like the idea of a staycation but are a little overwhelmed with how expensive the likes of Center Parcs is, then hopefully these cheap alternatives will come in handy.
If you ask anyone in the UK what the best alternative to Center Parcs is, they will probably tell you Butlin’s. In fact, it was first founded in the 1930s for the purpose of providing Brits with an affordable holiday here in England. So it rightly became a popular, quintessential British holiday that lots of people still value today. It’s also a name synonymous with children’s shows and entertainment, where they put on lots for families looking to keep kids busy.
As of now, Butlin’s has three resorts; Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness. Each one is located by the coast, and comes complete with fairgrounds, swimming pools and theatre shows. There’s also things for adults to do to, like the Ocean Spa at Bognor Regis, The Yacht Club and other restaurants at Minehead, and the Leisure Hub at Skegness.
Although all Butlin’s resorts are great alternatives to Center Parcs if you’re looking for something more affordable, my personal preferences is Minehead. It’s the largest of the three resorts, found near the sandy golden beaches of Somerset. It hasn’t changed as much over the years, so still has that old-school family-friendly British seaside holiday kind-of-feel. However, all three have splash parks, entertainment, rides and everything you could need.
Butlin’s at Bognor has recently had huge investment to make it even better.
Butlin’s isn’t necessarily as fancy as Center Parcs, and they specialise in seaside resorts instead of nature resorts. However, they are generally considered the go-to alternative for Center Parcs in the UK.
If you have a group of you interested in visiting Butlin’s, it could be cheaper and easier to travel to Butlin’s by minibus.
Accommodation at Butlins is pretty good too; you can choose a level (and budget) to suit you, which generally helps to keep things cheaper than Center Parcs. From standard rooms to bungalows to chalets and seaside lodges, there’s a wide variety on offer across the three resorts.
At the Minehead resort, you can choose from rooms, apartments and premium accommodation. From the room selection, the ‘silver room’ promises to be suitable for budget-conscious guests. They have everything you’d need and expect from a basic but comfy space to stay and shower, so this is a good option to keep things low cost.
If you want something above a standard hotel room, then you can opt for an affordable apartment stay or a deluxe bayside apartment stay, a seaside lodge, or a lake chalet. The lodges and chalets are probably the most similar to Center Parc-style accommodation, but they’re still cheaper.
The range of accommodation available means that you can find the right accommodation based on your budget. If you want to splash out on a fancier apartment, you can – or if you only plan on staying in the rooms for sleeping, a basic hotel room may be better for you.
Butlin’s includes a lot of activities in their prices which means that when it comes to things to do, you don’t have to worry about piling on additional costs for your holiday. This really can pay off when it comes to paying less. You get unlimited fairground rides, access to indoor and outdoor swimming pools and splash parks, evening shows, and entertainment.
Of course, there are additional costs if you want to try other activities like archery, adventure golf, bowling, and pottery painting. But a lot is included in the price. I actually think that booking with Butlin’s is really easy, because you can clearly see what is included in the price.
One of the reasons why Butlin’s is so popular with families is because they have a ton of facilities to try out – especially in Minehead. Plus, there’s a beach around the corner for sunbathing and sea swimming that’s free to access. Somerset is a really nice area to explore if you haven’t already, and is great for long beach walks or visiting quaint villages.
Now, let’s talk about costs. Butlin’s is more affordable than Center Parcs – but it isn’t ‘cheap’. The cheapest prices for a week in August 2023 was £1055, which was for a family of four in self-catering apartments. This comes down to just over £800 for October 2023 half term. It’s still quite a lot of money, however it does work out quite a bit cheaper than Center Parcs.
As expected, prices vary depending on the type of accommodation you want and what time of the year you want to stay. However, Butlin’s are well known for their great deals and last-minute breaks. So it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out.
While booking your trip last minute can be risky, you can sometimes bag a holiday for a really good price!
READ MORE: Holiday Packing List for Toddlers
This holiday village is owned by Away Resorts and is centred around a group of eight lakes at Tattershall, Lincolnshire. It’s not as well known as Center Parcs, so it’s generally a lot quieter with less crowded facilities. This makes the on-site hot tub holiday homes even more appealing and relaxing.
The lakes provide stunning scenery as well as activities to do – but there are no forest walks or trails available like at Center Parcs. You can still take part in things like archery, axe-throwing, high rope adventures, and lots of water sports. There’s also a great selection of things to do for kids at Tattershall Lakes, like a fairy and superhero academy, mad science and slime workshops, pirate play, sensory boards and toddlerpop painters and more.
Accommodation at Butlin’s
Like with Butlin’s, Tattershall Lakes resort offers a lot of different accommodation types so you can find the best options that suit your preferences and budget.
There are specific types of accommodation available at Tattershall Lakes that sort of impact the type of holiday you might have. You could choose to stay in The Rockstar, which is indulgent, fun and comes with a hot tub guarantee!
Or there’s the TriBeca, which is stylish and a bit like staying in a New York flat. These are the exclusive accommodation types and are more expensive.
Alternatively, you could go for the lodges, caravans and hot tub hideaways, which are more similar to accommodation at Center Parcs. The comfort lodges are the most economical of the types of lodges, but still offer 2-3 bedrooms and sleep 4-8 people. There’s a TV, comfy beds and full size oven, which is handy if you want to cut costs a little and cook now and again.
The caravans also range from comfort to luxurious, however even the most basic can make for a great family holiday base. There are even options for earlier check-ins, additional towels and soaps, and more, which makes it easier to fit the holiday around your needs.
Overall, the range in types and size of accommodation means that you can make things cheaper.
Facilities at Tattershall Lakes
There’s definitely no lack of facilities or activities at this resort. Tattershall Lakes specialises in water-based activities due to the nearby lakes so there are options for swimming (both indoor and outdoor), jet skiing, water play areas, wakeboarding, and more.
Outside of the water, there are high rope obstacle courses, archery, pottery painting, cycling, zip wire, and more. There’s even a spa for adults to visit and plenty of bars for those late-night drinks.
There are a few snags to be aware of. Firstly, some of the watersports will be closed during the winter months. Secondly, a lot of these activities are not included in the price of your stay – so check beforehand!
Also, it’s true, Tattershall Lakes lies close to an RAF base, and there’s no denying it can get a bit noisy. But think of it this way, it’s like having your very own airshow right on your doorstep.
Price of Tattershall Lakes
Tattershall Lakes is a much more affordable alternative to Center Parcs as it costs an average of £1,000 for a week’s stay (depending on your choice of accommodation of course). However, there are some good deals if you’re willing to go basic and on particular dates. For example, you could stay for 3 nights from the 23rd October 2023 for just £276 in a value caravan, or £474 for a superior caravan with a hot tub!
However, as a lot of the activities and facilities cost extra on top, it’s important to keep this in mind when budgeting for your holiday.
Landal Greenparks is a much smaller resort company, which means that their resort parks are smaller, quieter, and a lot cheaper than the likes of Center Parcs. They have a few family-friendly resorts around the UK but one of their best is their Gwel an Mor resort in Cornwall. It’s near the small fishing village of Portreath and its sandy beaches and small woodlands so you can enjoy both sea and forestry while staying here.
I can see why most of the reviews talk about the surroundings and atmosphere of the resort. Overall it’s quiet, but it’s a great all-rounder park. It has everything you need to feel like you’re in a resort, but it’s close enough to Portreath that you can explore further afield. If you have a car, you can also head to The Eden Project, St Ives or Newquay too.
But even if you want to stay around the resort, there’s lots to keep you occupied. It has its own Feadon Wildlife Centre, as well as a spa, activities and kid-friendly entertainment. The lodges are really nice too so you won’t feel the need to rush out every morning.
For me, the best thing about the Gwel an Mor resort is the holiday vibe. It’s not overrun or heaving with crows, and it’s in a great location. Even though it’s geared towards families, it has the whole laid-back coastal feels of Cornwall where you can really feel like you’re away from it all. If you’re arriving by car, don’t forget to make the most of this beautiful spot of England with the most unmissable spots to see on a Cornwall road trip!
Accommodation at Landal Greenpark
Unlike other resorts, Landal Greenparks specialises in one type of accommodation – lodges. This does limit your choices when it comes to accommodation types as there’s no room for camping or caravanning here.
However, Landal Greenparks have made an effort to ensure each of their lodges is stylish, comfortable, and fitted out with additional amenities. For example, you can opt for a stand-alone lodge with a hot tub or barbecue – or a large lodge with enough room for larger groups.
This makes it a good resort for groups that go beyond the traditional family stay. If you are looking for a place that can host a weekend getaway for hen-dos, stag-dos, and more, then Landal Greenparks is definitely a resort to consider.
In fact, if you are coming with kids make sure you search for ‘children’s accommodation’ when booking, which tells you which lodges are more suited to families, and which aren’t.
Facilities at Landal Greenpark
Although Landal Greenparks may have much smaller resorts than Center Parcs, this doesn’t mean they lack the same level of facilities.
The Gwel an Mor resort features an indoor swimming pool and soft play area for kids, a golf course, fitness centre, and a bar and restaurant.
There’s also a nearby wildlife centre where you can get up close with some real animals, a well-being spa with a sauna and steam cabin, and Clover Lake for fishing. Or you can enjoy their archery range, bowling greens, croquet lawns, or tennis courts for more activities.
Although it’s one of the cheap alternatives to Center Parcs, it still has some similar features like cycle paths, walking paths, forestry, and more. Of course, there’s the famous Cornish coastline and Portreath Beach, which is just one mile from the resort. So, there’s definitely plenty to do here.
The Gwel an Mor resort is one of the most expensive Landal Greenparks resorts, but it’s also one of the best. Prices for a week’s getaway start around £1615 but that’s still a whole £500 cheaper than Center Parcs. Plus you’re a stones throw away from one of the best beaches in the UK!
However, if the Gwel an Mor resort is still way too expensive for your budget, then check out some of Landal Greenparks’ other resorts such as the Whitbarrow resort. A week’s stay there can cost under £1000 for accommodation.
Both the facilities and location of Parkdean Warmwell give this cheap alternative to Center Parcs a good competitive edge. It’s located in Dorset, so is close to beaches and historic towns, and is also the only holiday park in the UK that has a ski slope!
I don’t usually like the phrase there’s something for everyone as it sounds a bit cliché, however Parkdean Warmwell truly has a lot of different things to offer that cater to most. Beyond skiing and exploring, you can wander around the forest, fish at the lake, go deer-spotting on a woodland walk, venture along the high ropes, play Jurassic crazy golf and more.
The resort has been updated recently too, with lots of new facilities and activities. Some of these include an inside climbing wall, VR room, indoor sports dome, bungee trampolines, as well as a course on how to survive using natural surroundings with the Bear Grylls Survival Academy.
It’s clear to see why Parkdean Warmwell is an award-winning resort (5 Star Exceptional Award from the English Tourist Board and Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award), despite being one of the cheap alternatives to Center Parcs. It seems to have all the same services and things that I love about Center Parcs (if not more!), but at a more affordable rate.
Accommodation at Warmwell Holiday Park
The upgrades to Warmwell Holiday Park aren’t just the facilities and activities, but accommodation too. The lodges are stylish and relaxing, and like with the other resorts, come in a range of sizes to suit your party size and budget!
Some have verandas and jacuzzis, and some are lake views. Obviously, the more features the more you’re going to pay, but even the most basic lodges are spacious and comfortable.
If you’re coming with pets, make sure you choose one that’s pet-friendly. Not all the lodges are so it’s worth noting.
Facilities at Warmwell Holiday Park
As mentioned, Warmwell Holiday Park has a great range of modern facilities. It features a restaurant for dining at and fish ‘n’ chip shop for takeaways. Kids can enjoy the amusement arcade as well as the adventure playgrounds. Plus there’s lots of useful amenities like a laundrette, cash machine, mini supermarket.
The park also boasts a 110m ski slope for ski and snowboarding lovers, as well as a mini golf course. For anglers, there are three well-stocked fishing lakes within the park too. You can also hire bikes if you decide to explore the park further, or head out and about around Dorset. On sunny days, this is a great way to see the area.
Price at Warmwell Holiday Park
Prices in the summer holidays can get quite steep, although still not as expensive as £2000 at Centre Parcs. For two adults and two kids, you could pay over £1300 for four nights. However, for the same party size and duration, you could get it as cheap as £450 in September, making it one of the best alternatives to Centre Parcs for price on this list!
This price is for a ‘caravan’ as opposed to the other larger lodges, however it is a static home that falls under a type of lodge anyway!
Of course no list of cheap alternatives to Center Parcs would be complete without a Haven holiday in there. Haven are sometimes considered as more of a base if you want to do some more exploring, whereas Center Parcs usually have guests that stay on site all the time.
However, there are lots of Haven resorts that do actually feature many of the great facilities, accommodation and activities that Center Parcs do, which is why I selected Hopton.
Hopton is one of a few Haven holiday parks in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, offering direct beach access and lot of things to do. One of the more popular activities exclusive to this resort is the Mini Aerial Adventure, which is a bit like Go Ape for toddlers and young kids. There’s also a huge SplashZone swimming park with slides and flumes. In 2023, the Hopton also expanded its features to a NERF training camp, inflatable area, climbing wall and covered outdoor pool.
Although you don’t exactly need to go off site to fill up your schedule, Hopton is located in a beautiful part of the UK. It’s right by Great Yarmouth Beach, which is a lovely sandy stretch to walk along or play on. There’s also the Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park and Norfolk Broads nearby, giving you lots of reasons and options to explore.
Accommodation at Hopton
There’s quite a good range of budget-friendly options at Hopton, as well as most Haven resorts. You can choose from caravans and lodges, as well as different levels of luxury for each type. So you could stay in the saver caravan to really minimise costs which you can book for four nights from just £49, or go for premium lodges to be more extravagant.
The saver caravans still have two bedrooms and can sleep up to four people, showing they’re not that overly small. However, silver and gold caravans come with the added bonus of verandas, as well as being larger, meaning they feel bigger overall.
Facilities at Hopton
Haven’s Hopton resort is quite a big resort, so has everything you need. There’s an amusement centre, swimming pools, Marina Lounge entertainment venue, restaurants, supermarket and more. As mentioned, it has a great range of activities, including lots of new ones added this year.
However, it’s clear the main pull is the beach. It’s so close and spacious that it feels like it belongs to the resort. Obviously, if the weather rains, which is always risky in England of course, then you need to rely on the indoor facilities. Fortunately, that means you can still swim in the new outdoor pool.
Price at Hopton
You can really grab a bargain if you opt for the cheapest accommodation and book in advance. For example, a Haven Hideaway holiday in a Saver Caravan for a week in March 2024 costs just £133.
It’s important to know the difference between a Haven holiday and a Haven Hideaway holiday. The first includes access to swimming as well as free and paid activities and entertainment. Haven Hideaways are just accommodation.
However, the same holiday as a Haven holiday (including the perks) costs £193, so still significantly cheaper than Centre Parcs. A diamond lodge at Haven ups the price a lot to £1361, which can actually work out more than some Centre Parcs.
Arguably what makes Haven a cheaper alternative is its broader range of more economical accommodation types.
So, is there an alternative to Center Parcs?
I hope this list has shown you that there are lots of other resorts in England that are more affordable than Center Parcs. Some are still quite pricey, and some are more coastal parks than woodland, but they’re still cheaper alternatives worth considering.
Center Parcs certainly isn’t the only one, it’s just generally the most well-known in the UK. It does have a lot of good activities – maybe more than any of these alternatives, but that’s why it can be too much to pay for some families.
Instead, why not take a look at other locations, from the sandy beaches of Somerset to the lakes of Lincolnshire; there are plenty of great holiday resorts out there in England and some of them cost way less for a week’s stay than Center Parcs.
Why is Center Parcs so expensive in school holidays?
Center Parcs aren’t the only resorts that put up prices during school holidays. As with all holidays generally, holiday parks and resorts operate through supply and demand. This is why they tend to be pricier during school holidays as many families are free to travel during these periods.
What’s so great about Center Parcs?
Like with all these cheap alternatives in England, Center Parcs offers families everything under one roof (or open sky). This is the main appeal, as it makes it easy to keep everyone of all ages and party size entertained.
But Center Parcs probably has the edge when it comes to variety and quality. It has more things to do and more stylish accommodation. So I’m not saying Center Parcs isn’t worth the money, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only option for those searching for cheaper alternatives.
Is Center Parcs better than Haven?
Choosing between Centre Parcs and Haven depends on personal preference. Centre Parcs offers a woodland retreat with lots of outdoor activities and premium accommodations. Haven is more like Butlin’s, where they are generally seaside locations with traditional holiday park entertainment. Both offer unique experiences, so it really depends on what you and your family prefer.
Having said that, a lot of reviews indicate that people do prefer Center Parcs – it’s just a lot more expensive.
Quicklist of cheap alternatives to Center Parcs
- Butlin’s, Minehead
- Tattershall Lakes, Lincolnshire
- Landal Greenparks, Gwel An Mor
- Parkdean Warmwell, Dorset
- Haven Hopton Resort Norfolk