THE WEEKEND: A luxury long weekend might conjure images of business-class flights to NYC or the Eurostar to Paris, but have you considered a trip to Norfolk? While it may rest in the public consciousness as the home of Alan Partridge, Bernard Matthews and Colman’s Mustard, it’s a beautiful part of the country and, if you stay at Norfolk Park, you can leave London at 5pm and be stewing in a hot tub before 8pm wondering why you didn’t think of this sooner.
WHERE? Part of the Dream Lodge group, Norfolk Park is located in North Walsham, sandwiched between some of the most underrated parts of England. On one side lies the gentle, sandy coastline, home to picturesque beaches including our favourite Holkham Bay and seaside towns such as Cromer; on the other is the Norfolk Broads, with its interconnected rivers and lakes that are perfect for summer walks.
WHAT ARE THE LODGES LIKE? There are a variety of tiers, but the Summit Lodge I stayed in is a luxury, family-sized apartment with a huge living area complete with a gigantic curved TV and an Xbox console. The kitchen has a wine chiller and dishwasher as well as all the usual kitchen stuff you might need, and there’s a dining table should you decide to cook (or get a big take-away). The master bedroom has a huge en-suite with a bath deep enough to go scuba diving in, and there’s a second double bedroom and a small room with bunk beds for the kids. But the pièce de résistance is the hot-tub on the terrace, which is the perfect place to while away a weekend away from the city. Even if it rains non stop, relaxing here for a weekend with a stack of books and a crate of red wine is an enticing prospect all by itself.
AND THE REST OF THE SITE? This is a far-cry from the static caravan parks you might remember from childhood trips to Butlins; Norfolk Park has the feel of an eco-village, filled with Scandinavian-style log cabins and the odd modernist lodge. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and a spa and gym on site.
WHAT ABOUT FOOD? Norfolk Park has a restaurant called the Olive Tree, which serves salmon and scrambled eggs every bit as good as you’ll be served at Chiltern Firehouse, and is also open for lunch and dinner, with live music at weekends. But we recommend taking a short drive to Cromer and eating the famous fish supper from No. 1 Cromer, where you can eat this British staple with a view of the pier.
AND TO KEEP THE KIDS HAPPY? There’s loads to do within easy driving distance: there’s Banham Zoo, Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens and Amazonia Zoo, which should cater for all your animal needs. There’s Dinosaur Adventure, which features life-size dinosaurs, or you could just take a boat down the broads.
NEED TO KNOW: The Dream Lodge Group (dreamlodgeholidays.co.uk, 0844 414 8080). Prices from £777 for a three night break in a three bedroom Summit Lodge at Norfolk Park. The Summit is manufactured by Pathfinder Homes. If you are new to lodge holidays, freedomtogo.co.uk has hints and tips to help you get started and plan your next family adventure.