Back in August, we were invited to spend a long weekend at Richardson’s Hemsby Beach Holiday Park. Located a few miles away from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, they’ve recently invested in new accommodation, an improved entertainment complex and other onsite activities to entertain the whole family.
So, on the Friday morning, we packed up and drove the few hours to Norfolk to check it out for ourselves. Below, you’ll find our review of the accommodation and the onsite facilities at Hemsby Beach Holiday Park, as well as a bit about the family-friendly places we visited in the local area.
Hemsby Beach Holiday Park has a variety of accommodation options to suit the different budgets and requirements of families. This includes apartments, chalets, bungalows and caravans, which range from basic to the more luxury side of things. There’s also pet-friendly options too.
We stayed in a Platinum 2 Lodge Spa, which is described as being Hemsby Beach Holiday Park’s “most luxurious accommodation”. Having opened in 2018, the Platinum 2 Lodge Spa is suitable for families of four and – I’m guessing – is their attempt to try and entice the more affluent families (i.e. the Center Parcsers) who may not have necessarily considered holiday parks for their family staycations.
Check-in for this accommodation is from 2pm, but we got there an hour or so later so didn’t take advantage of the early check-in. After parking up in the car park, we went into reception, were given various information leaflets and provided with the keys to our accommodation along with instructions of how to find it.
Set in a secluded corner of the park with no through roads, our lodge was the first of eight identical units. There was a designated car park space outside, a good amount of grass surrounding the lodge and the neighbours didn’t feel too close. First impressions were certainly good.
On entering and looking around, we found a spacious open plan lounge / kitchen / diner, a master bedroom with en-suite, a twin bedroom and a family bathroom with shower. This was all decorated in a fresh, clean and contemporary way which instantly felt homely and like we were the first people to ever stay there.
There was a flat screen TV with Freeview, a fire, a dishwasher, a washing machine, a microwave, crockery, cutlery, pans, a clothes airer and plenty of storage. There were also three patio doors which all led onto a large decking area with a bench, as well as the pièce de résistance, a private hot tub on the deck!
We stayed for three nights in the Platinum 2 Lodge Spa and could easily have done more. We all felt comfortable and at home there instantly and liked that the location on the site was out of the way, which meant reduced noise and through traffic. We enjoyed hanging out there and it definitely wasn’t one of those places where you try to escape by filling your time with activities away from the accommodation.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for us to try out the hot tub. The kids loved it and we went in there at least twice a day. It was a novelty we’ve not had before and was a really nice, chilled out way to spend time together as a family. Since then, L has asked me on countless occasions when we can next go in a hot tub again!
Although we really liked the Platinum 2 Lodge Spa, it wasn’t as family-friendly as we’d have hoped, particularly from a toddler perspective. For instance, there wasn’t a cot, high chair, booster seat or plastic cutlery – all things we’ve received at other places where we’ve stayed which are on par with Hemsby.
We were fine without these as we brought stuff ourselves, but the option is always a welcome one. In addition, the loose stones in the fireplace were a nightmare for wandering toddler hands!
Similarly, the accommodation felt like it was lacking a few things you’d hope for in order to warrant the title ‘luxury’. The hot tub is definitely luxury, but a DVD player and radio would have been nice additions. Similarly, there was a lack of bath towels and things like tea and coffee (even cheap sachets), which I’d kind of expect from somewhere marketing themselves as luxury.
Still, these are very minor points and probably say more about me and what I class as basic versus luxury! From an accommodation perspective, this was more than adequate for us as a family and we’d happily stay in something like this time and time again. The Platinum 2 Lodge Spa costs from £450 during off-peak times and from £1,109 at peak.
As you’d expect from a holiday park, there’s plenty of onsite activities and facilities available to keep the family entertained at Hemsby Beach Holiday Park. Although the majority are aimed at children, there’s still plenty of things to do as a family that include the adults. These are located in the Quarterdeck Entertainment Complex, at The Yacht Club and near the main car park.
Indoor And Outdoor Play
Hemsby Beach Holiday Park boasts two indoor soft play areas, two outdoor play areas, a multi-use games area (MUGA), Trim Trail, indoor swimming pool and Family Entertainment Centre. Within the Quarterdeck Entertainment Complex, you’ll find a decent soft play split into Under 3 and Over 3 areas with the usual slides, obstacles and punch bags – a nice, unexpected addition for kids to let of steam.
Next to the soft play, there’s the Family Entertainment Centre which consists of classic arcade games and a Bowleasy mini ten pin bowling. We found this to be a good place to visit to pass a bit of time when waiting for the evening entertainment to start.
Outside The Quarterdeck Restaurant you’ll find what looks to be a new, pirate themed play area. This was split into two separate areas for smaller and bigger kids, with both being shaped like boats. Again, a nice option to have to let the kids play for a bit whilst you’re taking five with a cold drink.
Over by the car park is the Trim Trail and MUGA. The former includes a range of outdoor fitness equipment such as cross trainers, leg presses and cross country skiers which is a great way to get the family active. The MUGA is next to this and can be used for football, basketball and other sports.
Over at The Yacht Club, you’ll find another soft play similar to the one already mentioned and a swimming pool. The latter is something we always tend to visit when we’re on holiday, but the fact that we had our very own hot tub meant we didn’t this time. That being said, we did have a look through the window and it looked to be a good size and recently refurbished. Outside of The Yacht Club, you’ll also find another outdoor play area.
As well as the above free things, you’ll also find paid for activities including bike hire, go kart hire, crazy golf, pool, darts, air hockey, a fitness room and a solarium. I was a little disappointed that you had to pay for the gym as most places we’ve visited give you the ability to use it for free – still, it gave me the excuse to eat chocolate and not exercise whilst on holiday…
Daytime Activity And Evening Entertainment Programme
During the day, there’s a few free activities that you can get involved in. We didn’t get chance due to time and other things we were doing, but it’s worthwhile mentioning that they had Wild Wild West and Pirates Paradise sessions for kids, as well as biscuit decorating, pebble painting, pool and darts competitions.
From around 5.30pm, the focus switches to the evening entertainment. This kicks off with Bingo and is followed by the likes of the Kid’s Disco, Party Dances, Photo Time, Cabaret, Adult Game Show and Late Night Disco.
L and I headed over to the Quarterdeck Entertainment Complex each evening for the disco and dancing. Although tired and passed her bedtime, she had an absolute blast and loved showing her moves on the dance floor to classics like the Macarena and Agadoo. She particularly enjoyed the Party Dances where she was able to follow and learn the moves from people on stage, plus having her photo taken with the characters.
Go Active Sessions and Activities
There are also a number of Go Active paid activities that you can do whilst at Hemsby Beach Holiday Park. From archery and a climbing wall through to lazer clays and sea scooters, these instructor-led courses are suitable for different ages, cost from £5 and take place onsite. They also have Go Juniors, which are themed Go Active activities specifically designed for kids between the ages of 3 and 7.
As part of our stay, we were provided with a complimentary booking onto two of these Go Active activities. Having looked at the list of things available and asked L what she’d like to do, we booked her onto Sky Tykes (£3) and Go Junior Robin Hood & Mini Musketeers (£5) on the Sunday.
Located by the car park near the Quarterdeck Entertainment Complex, Sky Tykes is an aerial obstacle trail for young children set around one metre up from the ground. Kids are fitted with a harness which is connected to a rail above their heads, then are given the freedom to explore and tackle the different obstacles – stepping stones, rope bridges etc – however they wish.
Despite being advertised for children between the ages of 2 and 7 (up to 122cm), we felt that it was a bit too basic for our recently-turned-5-year old and is probably best suited to preschoolers. She spent about half an hour going around the course and enjoyed doing so, but it didn’t really provide a challenge.
In hindsight, we probably made a mistake not booking her onto the Climbing Wall (£6, minimum weight 4st) or Crow’s Nest (£7.50, minimum height 1m) instead as these would have been better suited for her ability-wise. That being said, Sky Tykes is a good little course and feels a bargain at £3 for little ones.
A little later that day, we headed over to the Activity Room in The Yacht Club for the Robin Hood & Mini Musketeers Go Junior session. Along with eight other kids and led by an instructor, the session lasted an hour and was split into two halves.
The first half an hour was focused on sword-fighting and fencing and saw the children don a helmet and learn different ways to attack their opponent with foam swords. This culminated in challenging each other to a dual with the mandatory glove slap to the face! Although a little chaotic at times, there were plenty of laughs (from kids and parents!) and every child seemed to enjoy it.
The second half switched focus to the legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The fencing mask was replaced with a bycocket (no, of course I didn’t Google the real name for a Robin Hood hat…), then the children were tasked with creating a wanted poster using pen and paper.
After this, the children lined up and took it in turns to shoot arrows with suckers at a target using a toy crossbow. It’s at this point that I’ll do a proud parenting boast – only four arrows out of 30 or so hit the target, of which L contributed a solid 50% of that total! A modern day Robin Hood, it would seem.
L really enjoyed the Robin Hood & Mini Musketeers Go Junior session. As a parent, it was nice to be able to sit back and watch the kids listen to, and learn from, the instructor and interact with children of a similar age. The session felt varied in terms of activities, was well targeted for the age range, and was good value for money.
Food And Drink
The Yacht Club Bar and The Quarterdeck Show Bar provide the two onsite options if you fancy a drink. If you’re looking for something to eat, then there’s fish and chips at Posh Plaice (see what they did there?!) and The Quarterdeck Restaurant. We didn’t eat at the former, but we were treated to a complimentary meal at the latter as part of our stay.
We’d originally hoped to eat at lunch time on Sunday, but on discovering that they only served a carvery (which the kids aren’t massive fans of), we decided to return for tea. We were one of the first to be seated at around 5.30pm so pretty much had the pick of the place – we made the clever decision of sitting over near the soft play so the kids were distracted until the food arrived!
The menu was relatively simple and included the likes of burgers, paninis, salads, pizzas, steaks and some nice sounding deserts. There was also a simple kid’s menu of cheeseburger, fish finger wrap, chicken nuggets, pizza or a hot dog, which came with chips and beans / peas
The missus and I both went with 12″ pizzas – BBQ Chicken and Hot & Spicy – whilst the kids had the chicken nuggets. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting gourmet, Michelin star food, just something cheap and cheerful that would fill the gap. As the food arrived though, I was pleasantly surprised.
Sure, the kids’ chicken nuggets and chips were exactly that, but the pizzas appeared loads better than anticipated. Rather than being soggy, mass-produced circles of dough, these looked to have been freshly made and were packed with toppings. They tasted as good as they looked too – in fact, we both said that they were the nicest pizzas we’d eaten in a long time. A very pleasant surprise!
Despite being pretty full, we all decided to partake in a bit of dessert. The kids went for Chocolate Ice Cream, I had a Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Missus went for the Rocky Road Sundae. These all looked – and tasted – great and wouldn’t be out of place in a more fancy establishment.
We don’t tend to eat out that much at present because (a) being in restaurants with young kids can be hard work, and (b) we’re usually left a bit disappointed by the food. However, we were pleasantly surprised at The Quarterdeck Restaurant and would definitely recommend it, particularly the pizza. The fast service and relaxed, family-friendly environment (including the soft play), as well as the nice food, meant it was a definite winner for us.
Things To Do Nearby
There’s plenty of places to visit in the surrounding area too should you wish to explore. Hemsby is a five minute walk down the road and provides plenty of amusements, a fairground and a nice, clean beach. Alternatively, for a larger seaside, Great Yarmouth is 15 minutes down the road and has Joyland theme park, SEA LIFE Centre (previously visited and reviewed here) and adventure golf, to name a few things.
A little further afield (25 minutes drive), we spent a full day at BeWILDerwood. It’s basically an outdoor adventure park set in a large, enchanting forest which features zip wires, treehouses and mazes, as well as facepainting, crafts, a boat ride and magical stories about The Twiggles and Boggles. We had a blast and would recommend it to any families looking for an outdoors attraction to visit in Norfolk.
Another place we visited was Wroxham Miniature Worlds (30 minutes drive). At over 10,000 feet, it’s described as the largest modelling attraction in the UK. We planned to pop in here for a quick visit on the way home, but ended up spending a good three or so hours there.
Alongside the multiple, impressive model railways depicting different parts of the world, there were classic video games, a penny arcade, a LEGO city, flight simulators and toys. There was also a kind of treasure hunt sheet we were given with things to find as we went around – this definitely made the place more engaging for us all. It’s well worth a visit if the weather isn’t great (or even if it is!).
We had a really nice few days away at Hemsby Beach Holiday Park. It had everything we look for in a family holiday in the UK – comfortable accommodation, things to do onsite to entertain the kids and places to visit nearby.
We were very impressed with the Platinum 2 Lodge Spa which was our home for the weekend. It was clean, spacious and well suited for a family of four – the icing on the cake was the private hot tub which was a fantastic luxury to have and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
There was also a lot to do onsite, both in terms of free and paid for activities. The soft play, outdoor playground and evening entertainment were always going to be winners for us, but the experience was enhanced with the Go Active sessions, which really added an extra element to the holiday.
All in all, we were impressed with Hemsby Beach Holiday Park and would definitely recommend it to others looking for a seaside break in the UK.
Disclosure: We were provided with a complimentary short break to Hemsby Beach Holiday Park, which included two Go Active sessions and a meal, in exchange for an honest review of our experiences.