Monday, 29 February 2016

FAMILY HOLIDAY: Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest

 
Last week we packed up the car and made the 2ish hour journey down south to Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest in Hampshire. As my maternity leave is coming to an end we thought we'd make the most of the final few weeks and enjoy a family holiday together. I've always wanted to visit Brighton properly, I applied to Brighton University so visited it briefly but hadn't wandered the Lanes or seen the pier. It's also an area of the country we hadn't discovered together, therefore prompting a search for somewhere family friendly to stay.
Forest Holidays have nine locations across the United Kingdom, all the way from Strathyre to Cornwall. As the name suggests, all of the Forest Holiday locations have log cabins set amongst woodland and wildlife. True tranquillity from the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life! All their sites have Forest Ranger activities, bike hire, pre-bookable in-cabin treats, in-cabin spa treatments and a Forest Retreat, which is the hub of the site offering meals, drinks, provisions, help and advice. There are four main types of log cabins: Golden Oak Treehouse for ultimate luxury for larger groups, Golden Oak for a luxurious stay, Silver Birch for affordable quality and Copper Beech for best value. The Golden Oak Treehouse, Golden Oak and Silver Birch all have private outdoor hot tubs on the balcony - how amazing?! The two Golden Oak options also have a log burning fire in the living room, which is perfect for this time of year.
We chose Blackwood Forest, as it's the nearest location to Brighton and it had some of their newest luxury cabins, set in a stunning 270 hectare beech forest. When we arrived we checked in at the Forest Retreat, which was quick and easy. The very helpful staff informed us of the various food packages and experiences they had on offer that week. Lodge 27 was our home for the week, which was in brilliant location. Near enough to walk to the Forest Retreat Hub, yet far enough away from other lodges to feel completely isolated in the woods. When we first drove up to the lodges I thought that they seemed a bit close together and that our privacy would be comprised. However, the cleverly positioned lodges and hot tubs mean that you have complete privacy while both inside and out. 
We were in a pet friendly lodge, despite not having any pets, as that was the only lodge left when we were booking. I would say that there was evidence that a dog had been in the lodge when we arrived. There were quite a few white hairs here and there, which would be an issue if you had any allergies. If you don't have pets with you then I would recommend booking a lodge that isn't pet friendly, of which there are lots on site. 
 
We all slept so well throughout the week, in fact Isabella slept through the night for the first time since she was 4.5 months! When we go away she normally has very disrupted sleep, but not this time. I think she slept so well due to the residual warmth from the log burning fire and the underfloor heating throughout. Having the fire lit every evening was one of my favourite parts of our holiday, though I wish they had provided a fire guard to protect babies/children. Luckily, Isabella kept her distance despite her fascination of the flickering flames. 
Our lodge slept up to six people (two twin rooms and one double) and we felt that there was ample room/seating throughout the lodge. The master bedroom has a shower en-suite and there's a bathroom opposite the two twin rooms. The living area has lots of seating and space for children to safely play away from the log burning fire. I would however say that the fridge in the kitchen was a bit too small for a lodge that sleeps six. The fridge is under the counter, with a single shelf freezer compartment. We struggled to fit our food in for the week and there were only two (and a half) of us. Just something to bare in mind if you are visiting with more guests.  
 
The hot tub has to be my favourite aspect of the forest Holiday lodges - what could be more perfect than after a busy day exploring coming back and relaxing in the hot tub?! After Isabella went to bed each evening we would go into the hot tub with a cold glass of fizz and just relax. An added bonus was that the hot tub was in the range our baby monitor can work in, so we could be in the hot tub and still check on Isabella. Personally, this is my favourite time of year for hot tubs because it's freezing cold outside, while the hot tub is lovely and warm. One of the friendly Forest Holiday members of staff checks the hot tub each day and it is drained at the end of each stay. So it is ready to be used any time of the day!
 
We absolutely loved our week at Blackwood Forest - the customer service was outstanding, the feeling of being alone in the middle of the woods was so peaceful and the log cabin was very spacious. Essentially, there is a lot to do within reasonable driving distance, including Marwell Zoo, Winchester, the beach, Southampton, the setting for Downton Abby etc. We just wish we had had more time to discover Blackwood Forest itself, hire bikes from the Forest Retreat and build a den out of twigs/logs. So much more to do!
 
^Sunset from our balcony^

 
What's your favourite type of family holiday?

Feel free to leave a comment :)

Helen x

*We received a discount for our stay at Blackwood Forest. All opinions are honest and my own.
Family FeverYou Baby Me Mummy
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14 comments

  1. Wow this looks beautiful! Such a cute little place and surrounded by trees making you feel like your the only ones there! Glad you enjoyed your stay! Suz x beauisblue.com

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  2. Oh the photos are beautiful. I love the one in the woods and the willies. I've always wanted to go to Brighton too. What a lovely place to stay. Big boo about your maternity leave. Emjoy every minute my lovely #MaternityMondays

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  3. Looks like a lovely place to stay, your pictures are lovely. #maternitymondays

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  4. That looks a really lovely place to stay, so peaceful! And I love the fact that you get a hot tub too :-) #pointandshoot

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  5. Sounds like a lovely break for you all, surroundings look lovely and such a lovely photo of that robin #TriedTested

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  6. Looks like you had a really wonderful break, we've had a Forest Holidays week away before and now seeing this has made me even more desperate to go back again! Beautiful photos #PointShoot x

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  7. Gorgeous photos. Forest holidays have been on my holiday list for a while, but we've just not managed to get to one. It looks really good. #triedtested

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  8. Oh my, that looks like one rather fantastic place to stay! A great idea for perhaps the warmer months :)

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  9. I have always wanted to stay in a cabin in the woods so it's great to see an honest review, your pictures look lovely. Sarah #whatevertheweather

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  10. Oh wow I am so insanely jealous. This looks like such a perfect retreat. I've always wanted to go on a staycation to the woods and stay in a cabin or treehouse. I had no idea that they had one in Cornwall. I'm going to look that up now. I'd love to go on a mini holiday soon. It looks so peaceful and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with #whatevertheweather x

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  11. The open fire and hot tub look amazing! We used to live very close to here so know there's loads to do in the area, but I'm not sure I could drag myself too far from the lovely lodges. What a great idea for getting some quality family time before your maternity leave finishes #PointShoot

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  12. Gorgeous photos! You definitely found a great location for a holiday! I haven't been on a Forest Lodge holiday (Strathyre is just down the road though), but had always thought they would be more like a youth hostel style inside and a bit shabby, but totally opposite judging by your photos. It looks quite luxurious and the perfect place to stay. That hot tub looks amazing! :) Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather :) x

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  13. Ooh it looks like such a lovely place to stay. Glad you got some time to relax. Thanks for linking up to #PointShoot x

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