29 ways to actually save money at Centre Parcs

29 ways to actually save money at Centre Parcs

There is no hiding that Centre Parcs is loved by many, and with over 97% occupancy rates across the year, clearly, people continue to visit! We too have visited many times and wanted to pass on our knowledge of how to save money at Centre Parcs.

1) Taking your own food and baking parchment (the pans aren’t great)

From our experience of visiting Centre Parcs 5 times all the restaurants are average/poor and are not worth the excessive pricing (this may vary depending on the site you’re visiting so check Tripadvisor for each restaurant). Equally, they make cooking in your lodge far from ideal with no nonstick pans, ovens which don’t seem to get to temperature quickly and tiny ice boxes within the small fridges. Consider bringing an AirFryer or similar and taking a cooler box/bag. Also see points 16 and 17!

2) Use free apps to maximise enjoyment within nature

We were actually informed of one of these on a paid activity but doing these instead of paying makes a lot of sense (if that’s what your family/group are interested in doing):

3) Get free nature at your lodge by taking bird seed (not bread)

Big caveat here, some sites don’t want you to feed the animals, equally there is a risk of being bitten etc, that said we saw Centre Parcs shop selling bird seed so… clearly it’s not that fround upon!

Yes £7.50 for a pint…

4) Avoid the £7.50 pints of beer!

Take your own alcohol (e.g. a superb beer machine) or consider buying from the shop instead to significantly save money, even the onsite shop is significantly cheaper than buying from the bars.

5) Take a fire stick or similar for TV and sports

One of the popular places on site is to watch sports in the Sports Bar, however, this brings expensive drinks along with it, instead consider bringing a small projector, a Fire Stick (or similar) and using the in lodge TVs instead.

6) If you have any problems, report them to guest services

Depending on the issue, they may provide you a free unaccompanied activity (e.g. electric boats, adventure Golf, Pedalo, Racket Sports) for compensation (as long as it’s a legit issue). We had a slight mark on our bedding, we called up and they replaced the bedding fairly promptly and offered a free activity to apologise.

7) Bring your own pick-n-mix, ice creams, etc.

Most places have overpriced sweet shops and ice-cream parlours; bringing your own will save you significant money.

£4.50 for a coffee or take your own…

8) Bring a large coffee flask

Similar to sweets and food, on-site coffee is overpriced. You’d be far better bringing a high quality YETI Rambler and either using the included Costa Tassimo Machines or taking your own Portable Espesso Machine!

9) If you want a Christmas adventure, you can go in November for the same attractions.

Sure it’s not quite the same but lots of the activities are available and depending on the time of booking it can be significantly cheaper!

10) Check school holidays and avoid those dates OR visit the locations outside of the UK!

Like all holiday prices which are a massive scam during school holiday times, holiday prices at Centre Parcs are the same. We stayed in a lodge that was 61% cheaper by going a week after the school holidays finished!

You can also look at Centre Parcs outside of the UK to save money, although you will need to factor in travel to get there!

11) Ordering drinks via the app forces a 7.5% service charge

Walking to the bar instead allows this to be removed without faff, of course, you can ask for it to be removed.

12) Bring your own bikes and a decent lock.

Just consider there might be more faff with this option but if you have an existing bike rack or you don’t mind taking multiple cars then bringing your own bikes is a good option to save money, just remember a decent lock (& learn how to use it) though as it has been known for bikes to go walkabout!

13) Share with others to lower costs and consider different parks

Depending on the room layouts and number of guests sharing a lodge with 2 or more families can save you significant costs, sadly there is a limit to this saving as they don’t allow more than 8 guests per lodge normally (although they sometimes have 12 guests in their 6 bedroom lodges but we’ve often found these are still more expensive than two lodges).

Another thing to consider is going further afield, for instance, a week at Whinfell (near Scotland/Northern England) will likely be cheaper than a week a Woburn (near London)!

14) Maximise your time on site (early arrival and late departure).

You can arrive from 10am on check-in day and leave at midnight on check-out day, you can also book activities for these days as well so we often will arrive mid morning/early afternoon and stay until early evening to effectively get a full extra day’s worth of activities. See point 22 as well!

15) Bring your own fire logs and lighter!

They need to be similar to the ones they sell on their website but places like B&M bargains sell them for a fraction of the cost.

16) Consider ordering an external takeaway to the security gate instead of the onsite takeaway catering.

We’ve not done this personally but we know people that do this, just make sure you’re at the gate ready to collect it from the driver, the on-site takeaways we’ve found are not very good, we had pizzas and they were dry, lacking toppings and not worth it.

17) Consider food shop click-and-collect or delivery to the security gates (must be there) instead of using the on-site (overpriced) supermarkets.

The on-site supermarket (like most of Centre Parcs) is overpriced compared with likely nearby supermarkets, for instance at Woburn just 2 miles away is a Big Tesco. Arranging a click and collect at these sites on arrival day is likely a good option as well.

18) Clearance food prices at the supermarket.

We did find that sometimes you can get lucky at the built in supermarket, we picked up reduced to clear items with 75% off, however, these were all hot food.

19) Book the £50 returning customer / price promise / no amendment fee deal

If you rebook within 31 days of returning home from a Centre Parcs trip (either as the lead booker or a guest) you can unlock several things:

  • Price promise (if you see the same break offered for sale at a lower price at any time before you arrive for your break, you will be eligible for a refund of the price difference or a reduction in cost to meet the new price.)
  • £50 discount 
  • No amendment fee (you can adjust your booking up to seven days before your arrival date)

Learn more here

20) Check prices between booking and the stay to see if the prices drop, if they drop call up.

See the price promise above, keep an eye on prices and call up for a refund if the prices do drop!

21) There are free water refill stations

Instead of buying overpriced water bottles consider refilling instead (see these superb Yeti Flasks)

22) Keep hold of your wrist bands

On checkout day keep your wrist bands until you actually exit the site, the wristbands/keys work for lockers until midnight. You can then use these for lockers so you can enjoy the day longer either by using them for swimming or using them as a bag store, there are often lockers at multiple locations as well so learn their location over your holiday.

23) Complain if food is poor

If food is rubbish complain, our bill for dinner on one trip was dropped from £80 down to £45 after a quick & legitimate complaint.

24) See if you can swap expensive activities for a DIY approach

For instance, children’s archery little outlaws classes will set you back £9.50pp but for just £40 you could just buy your own set and bring it with you and set it up by your lodge or walk it down to the woods.

A bowling session for four will set you back £30 for 45 mins (~1 game) seems a tad expensive, our local bowling alley charges £13pp (for 2 games and a drink).
Nature Walk at Dawn (£9.25pp) – Instead, just go and find the Nature Discovery Centre and walk the 1.5 hour route yourself for free, using the Merlin Bird App (something we previously had on our phones) to confirm the birds you’re listening to and keep an eye out for Deer (Muntjac), Pheasant, Partridge, Squirrels etc.

Cupcake decorating? Could you do the same within your lodge?

Visiting the Arcade just let the kids sit on the machines or have a try without paying (depending on their ages and how busy it is).

Rent a squash court (~£9) and asks for whatever rackets and balls you want, we did it with soft tennis gear, this is ideal with kids as the squash courts have 4 walls so you don’t end up spending half of the time chasing balls across the room!

25) Only do activities you wouldn’t normally be able to do easily outside of CP and remember you can cancel (and get a refund) just before the activity start time

For instance, some of the best fun we’ve had at CP has been on activities that aren’t available near to our home, obviously, this will vary for everyone depending on where you live but for us it was:

  • Off-Road Explorers – Driving small off road cars
  • Laser Combat – Sure there are plenty of similar things like Paintball, Laser Quest (indoors) and similar but this was a unique experience for us
  • Mini Jet Skis – Quite possibly available at our local pool but we’ve never seen it

Remember if you want to cancel something you can request a cancellation even very close to the time, just visit guest services or call them.

26) Utilise free activities to their fullest (especially if you prepare for all weathers)

Free Adventure Parks are often quiet when it’s about to rain or has been raining, or on switch over days. We found ourselves alone in the biggest one twice during our stay primarily because we packed these all in one kids suits and we were prepared for the weather!

27) Find quiet picnic areas instead of eating just within the lodge

Take lunch with you on the bikes to make it more enjoyable without the cost of ‘eating out’.

28) Find Free Soft Play and Maximise your time when it’s quiet

These areas can be quiet on switch over days (especially around 2-4pm)

29) Just go elsewhere or go to other European Centre Parcs to save!

We love lots about Centre Parcs but the pricing especially peak season is enough to make our eyes water, instead you might find a week holiday in the sun elsewhere in Europe better value or consider going to Centre Parcs in Europe.

Be a financial rockstar and share this with your friends, family and co-workers to maximise savings:

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