I’ll confess that when the DH told me we were going to be staying in a Lodge Tent, I didn’t immediately picture Holland. But when we spent May half-term glamping at Duinrell last year, I was won over. In fact if you have come across me in real life or online talking holidays since then, you’re likely to have heard all about it. DH and I may well be responsible for the Lodge Tents being booked out this year, so enthusiastic are we about it as a holiday destination.
How enthusiastic? Enthusiastic enough to go back over Easter when the weather could best be described as “lukewarm”. But with lots of sweaters, extra socks and plenty of blankets, you soon realise that Duinrell may be the best holiday you’ll ever have. Here’s why:
1. Cost: even taking the most expensive accommodation on site, the holiday worked out to be half the price of a week in a UK Center Parcs venue. This was a common thread of conversation with the British people we met on the site, all of whom were amazed at the value for money. Staying on site includes complete access to the Amusement park when it’s open, and some bookings even include free entry to the Tikibad- the famous water park in the heart of the Duinrell complex.
2. Location: if, like us, you live in the South East of England, Holland is as little as four hours away. In fact the drive to north of The Hague took us about 5 hours from Calais Euro tunnel, but that was because of traffic. The ferry is a popular choice for British visitors, to Calais or Oostend. But the drive is very easy and there are plenty of service stations en route to fill up. If you have a Diesel car this is a more enjoyable experience than usual. The weather, of course, is similar to that in Britain, but we had several misty cold starts top the day and ended with brilliant sunshine.
3. Atmosphere. The Dutch, Europeans in general in fact, are a fabulous friendly bunch. There’s a lot of buzz around the park whether you are staying in a Duingalow, Campervan, Lodge Tent or other tent. You regularly see big cook outs between neighbours, and I enjoyed watching a family play a garden game from wooden blocks that I had no clue about. People drive slowly to allow for all the bikes and go-carts and scooters that zoom around, and the guys on the security gate could not be nicer.
4. Amenities: the site has everything you might need. There’s a well-stocked supermarket for essentials, a La Place restaurant, and an Irish Pub for bowling, drinking and discos. You can also wander of site easily to the beautiful local town of Wassenaar and all it has to offer including florists, greengrocers, ice-cream shops and a bevy of fabulous restaurants. Mummy Barrow and I both found a rather convenient pancake house at the entrance to Duinrell. Just ask for the Shawarma Pancake.
5. Beach. Yes, Holland has beach. Lots and lots of wide sandy beach from which I imagine I can see my in-laws sunning themselves in Cromer. At it’s nearest point it’s 4km from the park, and you can cycle there with the family on the well-designed, beautifully landscaped, cycle paths. There are multiple Beach Front cafes with play areas, sheltered outdoor seating and vast menus. There are also a couple of large car-parks which charge for the day.
6. The Park. Duinrell is a holiday park- in addition to the variety of accommodation, there are rides and games and activities to get involved with. the park is divided into sections which are easy to navigate, and because you are staying on site, you don’t feel you need to see it all in one day. From log flumes to rollercoasters, soft play to boats, not to mention the Adventure Forest for climbing and zip-lining (these activities may cost extra). Not all rides require parents to get on with kids, but there are height restrictions. There are a couple of large playgrounds, and slides that we’ve used outside park hours too. Oh, and there is an Indoor Carousel with Pancake stall. FYI.
7. The Tikibad. If you are a family my biggest tip for this would be to make sure you know what time the family swim is and get in line for it. The pool, despite being an additional extra in many cases, is the most popular part of the park and the biggest attraction by far so it does get busy. That said, it is big and there is lots to do so it doesn’t always feel busy. It has a large warm pool with wave machine, a heated baby pool and numerous other pool areas. It also has a lot of flumes and rides, so you could spend all day there. Not all rides are suitable for all ages and you will need to put any child under 8 in armbands/flotation devices as standard.
8. Outside the Park: there are so many things to do in Holland that make Duinrell a great base. A mere 20 minutes from The Hague (which has free wifi), you could see Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring, visit Madurodam or ride the trams and go shopping. Head north to yet more beautiful coast at Katwijk or beyond to the amazing tulip fields in Keukenhof (open a mere few weeks a year). Rotterdam, Delft and Gouda are all accessible by road as is Amsterdam.
9. Cars on site: which brings me to cars, which are allowed on site. You mostly get a parking spot near to your accommodation which makes loading and unloading so much easier, especially if you have a sleeping child or two to transfer. You get a notice to stick on your car dashboard to let the security guys to let you in, and you can come and go as you please, though only between the hours of 7am and 11pm. Obviously you need to drive slowly as the road is shared with go-carts and cyclists but everyone seems to get along without incident or horn-beeping.
10. Booking: it’s a small but crucial detail. Remember when I mentioned the cost being half of that in the holidays? Holland has different holiday periods. Which means if you are clever and double check, you can often get a quiet week during busy UK holiday periods. It also means that you could score a good last minute deal. We’ve met several British couples who have. Likewise, book far in advance and you could get a discount. There are several tour operators on site: Canvas Holidays* and Eurocamp to name two that appeal to the British market, but I would strongly advise checking with the Duinrell site (which has an English page) to see if they have the best price. If you need to call them, they speak excellent English and could not be more helpful. (Oh, and tell them I sent you!)
*check out Mummy Barrow’s post on staying with Canvas Holidays in Duinrell
I would like to stress that we have paid for all our holidays at Duinrell. I am sharing our experience because we love it so much and I get asked so many questions on Instagram. If you have specific questions, do contact me via twitter or email!