We didn't tell our 2 girls until we picked them up from school on their last day of term all packed and ready to go! The look on their faces when we told them we were going away to stay in a log cabin for 2 nights-priceless! (at 7 and 5 they honestly thought we were taking them to sleep in a shed!) They were VERY pleased to see photos on the website of our actual cabin.
Those photos do not do the retreat justice-the surroundings and cabins are beautiful! By the time we arrived it was pitch black (love these winter evenings!) We parked at reception and went in to check in. The staff were very helpful, went through everything from what was on offer, food and takeaway packages to how to get to our cabin, and the reception/cafe opening hours.
We drove the short distance to our Silver Birch cabin and unloaded the car. The cabin was toasty warm when we got in (trying to convince the hubby to install underfloor heating at home now!) The girls straight away started running through the cabin checking out each room and telling us where we were sleeping! They LOVED the little 'welcome' message on the coffee table.
The main living area of the cabin is open plan with the kitchen and dining area just off the decent sized lounge. With the high ceilings it felt bigger than our own house! The cabin has everything you could need for a wonderful holiday - bedding, towels, crockery, cutley, cooking utensils and saucepans etc. All we needed was ourselves, clothes and food and drink. This makes it so much easier to pack for than our normal holidays (camping). We love the outdoors so a Forest Holiday is perfect for us, but has A LOT of added luxury! The cabins are spacious, simply but beautifully decorated and extremely clean.
The cabins are all situated right in the forest - the drive to reception is 1/2 a mile from the road into the forest! All of the cabins are nicely spaced so you almost feel like you are in an isolated, private forest. Depending on how many of you are holidaying and your requirements you can opt for a cabin with a log fire or even a hot tub. We had a Silver Birch cabin to sleep 6 (2 twin bedrooms and 1 en-suite double), we also had a hot tub on the decking-it was well used by the kids over the 2 days! Cabins can sleep as few as 2 (a romantic get away) to 10 (a wonderful setting for a Christmas family get together!).
After unpacking we walked back down to the retreat for a drink and tea (it was too dark to fully explore the area). In the retreat they have a small shop selling all the essentials (tea, coffee, milk and chocolate) as well as souvenirs and (at the time) gorgeous Christmas decorations (a few of which were hung on my tree once we got back). They have a bar serving hot and cold drinks and alcohol. You can order food and drinks at the bar and it is bought to your table in the dining area.
The menu offers a variety of meals for breakfast, lunch and tea including cooked breakfast, breakfast sandwiches, soups and sandwiches and sharing platters pizza and curries; they also have a varied children's menu. We thought the prices of food and drink were very reasonable, and for a small delivery charge you can also have it delivered to your cabin for full on luxury!
The girls were happily entertained with colouring (some provided by us and some by the retreat) They even drew pictures of the cabin for the retreat staff. They also loved looking around the shop (make sure you take some holiday spending money for the kids!) One bought a head torch - a very good piece of equipment for the forest and the other bought herself a Forest Holidays branded notebook and pen-none of the products were hugely overpriced like you can find in some gift shops (they were even allowed to go back and spend a little more on our last day!) ;)
After dinner it was time for a dip in the hot tub before bed. On the TV in the cabin is a video explaining how to use the hot tub and safety advice. Once all 4 of us had watched it we got in and enjoyed looking at the stars through the trees.
Once the children were tucked up in bed fast asleep we popped the TV on - you can connect to the retreats WIFI and even connect your own Chrome Cast.
The following morning the girls were back in the hot tub before breakfast! We stayed in our cabin for breakfast as we had brought croissants and bits and pieces. In the kitchen area is a lovely dining table all set up ready for meals.
We decided to explore the forest and the forest's trim trail after breakfast - the sun was shining so we donned our coats and wellies and got outside! (den building and checking out the bug hotel is compulsory!) There are lots of activities you and the kids can take part in whilst on a Forest Holiday including bike hire and mini forest rangers.
In the afternoon we enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate in the retreat, more exploring and then of course the obligatory dip in the hot tub! The grandparents joined us for the second night (they had seen a video of the cabin and the girls in the hot tub and were so jealous they drove 1 1/2 hours to stay with us!) We ate at the retreat again in the evening.
Day 2 was very much the same - we had come to relax before the craziness of Christmas started and that is exactly what we all did. The girls enjoy being outside and are used to camping holidays, but this break gave them a little more luxury than usual (I hope they don't mind getting back in the tent in the spring!)
We would love to return to Blackwood Forest (maybe without the children to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary later this year) and try some of the other Forest Holiday venues (we'll let the kids come this time) around the country (the grandparents are definitely booking to go with friends later in the year). We had a truly magical time at Blackwoods and would thoroughly recommend a Forest Holiday to anyone.
Raring2go! members can save 5% off a Forest Holidays break at any of their 10 settings HERE.
Ria has 2 girls and previously worked in nurseries for over 15 years and left managing a day nursery when her eldest was born. She now works for Raring2go! as our Digital Content and Strategy Manager
If you are interested in writing for Raring2go! or featuring on our site please email Ria.