During October half-term, we were invited by Shorefield Holidays to stay at one of their holiday parks in Hampshire. After checking out the options, we went with the multi-award-winning Shorefield Country Park located at Milford On Sea. The county has become one of our go-to places for short UK breaks over recent years, so we were excited to return and see a slightly different part of the area.
With the promise of top onsite facilities, leisure and entertainment for the entire family, along with the perfect location for exploring the nearby coasts, countrysides, woodlands and open moors, it sounded like the right kind of place to escape for a few days away. Even better, our dog, Dax, was able to join us as Shorefield Country Park are also pet-friendly. Below, you’ll find a review of our experiences and what we got up to when we stayed at the holiday park.
There’s a wide range of accommodation options at Shorefield Country Park to suit tastes and budgets. This includes lodges and static caravans – from basic to luxury versions with hot tubs – as well as cottages and houses. Looking at the map, there’s probably approaching 1,000 separate holiday homes at Shorefield Country Park, so there’s a little something for everyone.
Our home away from home for the four nights was a self-catering, pet-friendly, Select Lodge in the Dane Park area of the site. Check-in is staggered depending on your accommodation – ours was from 3pm which worked well for us travelling down. Conveniently located a five minute walk away from Reception, the exterior cladding, raised decking and woodland setting gave a great first impression.
Handily, each property has a parking spot right outside, so you’re able to unload the car and get settled pretty quickly. Having both young kids and a dog with us, it was great to see a gate at the top of the stairs from a safety perspective. Although other properties were adjacent, it didn’t feel too close and like you were on show.
On opening the door, we walked into an open plan kitchen / diner / living room. There’s then a small hallway which leads onto the bathroom, a bedroom with twin beds and another bedroom with a double bed and en-suite.
As it’s a lodge, exposed and painted wood panelling features heavily throughout to recreate that log cabin feel. Everything was clean, the beds were freshly made, and there were no signs of previous occupiers – particularly impressive as it’s pet-friendly accommodation.
We found the kitchen to be fully equipped with everything we needed for our stay. This included appliances like an oven, microwave, fridge, freezer and kettle, along with pots, pans, utensils, crockery and cutlery. There were also a couple of sachets of tea and coffee, some milk, as well as washing up liquid and a sponge, which were handy as we’d not been to the supermarket on arrival.
There was a dining table to seat four, then a living room area with two faux leather sofas, a fireplace, a TV with Freeview and a DVD player. Obviously not that usable at this time of year, there was a patio door which led out onto a decked area complete with outdoor furniture. Being October, the lodge was quite cold when we first entered, however, the electric fire and wall heaters did the job when turned on.
The main bathroom had a bath, whilst the en-suite had a shower – remember to bring your own towels though as these aren’t supplied. Each bedroom had plenty of storage space for clothes and suitcases, plus we also found a separate cupboard in the bathroom where there were things like a clothes airer and ironing board.
During out stay, we found our lodge to be comfortable and spacious. It was a definite upgrade from a static caravan and provided plenty of room for us as a family of four (and a dog). The open plan living worked well for us – for instance, the kids were able to play or watch TV in the living room as we cooked and kept an eye on them from the kitchen. There was also free WiFi which is always a winner and allowed me to do a bit of work in the evenings.
As the little lad isn’t old enough for a single bed yet, we borrowed a travel cot from Shorefield Country Park – we just needed to remember sheets for it. As there was no space in the bedroom for the travel cot, he slept in the small hallway – this made things a bit of a squeeze, but was manageable. There wasn’t anything like booster seats, high chairs or children’s crockery / cutlery though, which is potentially an area they could look at improving for young families.
All in all, we enjoyed staying in the Select Lodge and would have no hesitation in doing so again.
Being a family-friendly holiday park, there’s a number of activities available onsite in order to keep the family entertained. All of the indoor things are located in the building that houses Reception, whilst the outdoor activities are dotted around the park.
There’s a couple of different outdoor play areas for the kids at Shorefield. Firstly, there’s a small, fort climbing frame next to the car park near Reception. Not far from here, you’ll also find an outdoor tennis court and a five-a-side football pitch which you’re free to play on.
Then, there’s two large, pirate-themed play areas (one of which is sand-based) at the far edge of the site. It’s a great space to let the kids blow off some steam, with climbing frames, slides, swings, puzzles and more. The only ‘negative’ I’d mention is that it’s not central of the site and took us about 20 minutes to walk to from our accommodation.
Next to this play area is the outdoor swimming pool and toddler splash pool. This is open seasonally (May to September), so was closed when we visited in October – however, due to the weather, we wouldn’t have gone anyway! Interestingly, this whole area was closed off for refurbishment work, so I’d expect big things for 2020.
Shorefield Country Park takes up an impressive amount of spaces and is nestled into some large wooded areas. As such, there’s plenty of leafy places you can explore and play, whether it’s hide and seek in the woods, spotting wildlife down at Dane Pond or learning about nature on the numbers signs dotted around the site.
Shorefield has a large, indoor swimming pool which is suitable for the whole family. We particularly liked that there was a very shallow section which was good for babies and toddlers to splash around in. As the pool curves around, it then expands out and becomes deeper for those looking to have a proper swim.
There was also a sauna, steam room and spa bath, as well as plenty of changing rooms, including some larger ones designated for families. The pool was always very busy, so they operated a colour band system so that people had designated time slots. This was good to manage crowds, but obviously meant that you couldn’t just rock up and swim whenever you wanted, so keep that in mind.
Next to the swimming pool is an indoor arcade. With likes of slot machines, computer games and air hockey, we found it to be a good place to visit when waiting for the evening entertainment to start.
There’s also a gym and day spa which offer exercise classes and relaxing treatments, however we didn’t use either of them during our stay. We both packed our gym kit and had planned to go, but were put off by the fact that we had to do a gym induction (and pay a few quid for the privilege) despite not being gym newbies. I totally understand this is for health and safety purposes, but less hoops to jump through would have been good.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
We chose Shorefield Country Park over some of the other holiday parks owned by the chain because of the focus on families. Nothing sums this up more than the free on-park entertainment that takes place at The Showbar. This includes child-focused daytime and evening activities such as Mini Foresters Club, discos, dancing, games and character meet and greets. Then, a little later, there’s activities for the adults like bingo, cabarets, gameshows and live performances.
We popped along to The Showbar each day for the kids to enjoy the fun of Dance Party Disco Time (5pm) as they bopped along to different songs – or, more accurately, ran around the dance floor like lunatics! Then it was Showtime (5.30pm), where Cyril and Cybil the squirrels took to the stage for a 20 minute show that told a story and involved singing and dancing.
As it was Halloween during our stay, the entertainment team went all out with different spooky-themed activities. There must have been approaching 100 kids who took part in the daytime arts and crafts, the fancy dress competition and the werewolf hunt. Then, later on, there was a Halloween inspired Dance Party Disco Time and Cyril & Cybil’s Halloween Spooktacular show. Great fun and the kids – particularly L – loved it.
Other Onsite Facilities
There’s a couple of different places you can buy food and drink. We chose to cook meals in our accommodation, but if we wanted to eat out, there’s Tides Bar & Grill (which has Sky Sports and BT Sports), the Milford Room (which is pet-friendly) and the Beech Bar (over 18’s only).
There’s also an on-site supermarket – The Country Store – where you can pick up supplies, however we went to the Tesco Superstore a few miles up the road. It’s also worthwhile saying that there’s free Wi-Fi across the park which actually works as it doesn’t usually in so many places like this!
Although technically not onsite, the beach at Milford on Sea is a short 15-minute walk away. With great views along the clifftop walks, picturesque beach huts and a pebbled beach, it’s a more relaxed and quieter alternative to some of the larger beaches in and around the Hampshire area.
Other Things To Do In The Area
This was our fifth short break to Hampshire, so we’re no strangers to the area now. Each and every time we visit, we’re really surprised at just how many things you can do as a family. There’s plenty of ideas in my previous posts here, here, here and here ranging from attractions like Paulton’s Park, Marwell Zoo, Hawk Conservancy Trust and Blue Reef Aquarium, through to outdoor activities like cycling and kayaking in the New Forest, through to shopping at Gunwharf Quays and exploring the beach at West Wittering.
On this visit, we spent some outdoor, family time at Lepe Country Park and Moors Valley Country Park, which are both dog-friendly. We also had day trips to Bournemouth and Weymouth where we checked out what they had to offer – the unexpected highlight being Sandworld sculpture park in Weymouth which is home to huge sculptures made from sand which depict characters from film and TV.
Disclosure: We were provided with a complimentary break to Shorefield Country Park in exchange for an honest review of our experiences.