We were excited when Hemsby Beach Holiday Park invited us to stay in one of their luxury lodges in Norfolk. For us in London, short breaks in Norfolk are easy. We just hop on the motorway, and two hours later, we’re driving past the county’s wide expanses of deep green fields, where poppies dance in the hedgerows, up towards 90 miles of coastline. There are plenty of things for families to do in Norfolk, and we were looking forward to exploring our surroundings, as well as trying out the new holiday park activities at Hemsby Beach.
Where is Hemsby?
Hemsby is on Norfolk’s eastern coast, about 20 miles (33 km) from Norwich and 15 minutes north of Great Yarmouth. We drove there from London via the M11 and A11. Towards the end we took the A47, through pretty towns with thatched cottages and village greens.
Hemsby itself is a small town with a Co-op supermarket. It’s not as pretty as some of the surrounding Norfolk towns, but the beach itself is glorious. Its sand dunes are home to rare wildlife like the little tern, and the area to the north of the holiday park, Winterton-Horsey, is a special area of conservation.
Hemsby Beach Holiday Park address: Beach Road, Hemsby, Norfolk NR29 4HR
Holiday accommodation in Norfolk: Platinum luxury lodge with hot tub
Richardsons are a local company that celebrated their 75th anniversary this year. They’ve been upgrading their Norfolk holiday accommodation over the years since they took over Hemsby Beach Holiday Park. The newest addition to the range of chalets, apartments and static caravans is the Platinum luxury lodge.
Here’s a short video tour of our two-bedroom lodge:
The Platinum lodges were built in 2018, and everything in ours was clean and modern. The sofas were a decent size for lounging in front of the TV, which showed Freeview channels. Our open-plan living room/diner felt bright and airy, with curtains and plump cushions in fresh, muted tones.
Light came flooding in to the lodge through large French windows. These did stick a couple of times when we opened and closed them, but it was fine once we’d perfected the knack.
We soon got into an early morning routine of me doing a little bit of work inside the lodge, while keeping an eye on the children playing in the hot tub. There was no Wi-Fi in the lodges, but when I needed to connect, I could use the free WiFi in the park’s Yacht Club or the Quarterdeck Entertainment complex.
Luxury lodges in Norfolk: Hot tub, anyone?
There’s not a great deal to say about a hot tub. You either like them, or find them a bit ‘meh’. And we LOVE them. The Platinum lodge tub was a decent size for all four of us to fit inside. As well as the usual range of jets and bubbles, lights sprung to life when we pressed a switch, and changed colour. So when the children were in bed, D and I enjoyed sitting under the stars with pink, aqua and sunshine yellow lights glowing through the water.
The weather was beautiful for our Norfolk break, so we ate most of our meals out on the terrace, at the picnic bench.
Kitchens can make or break a lodge holiday, especially if you’re planning to do lots of self-catering. The Platinum lodge kitchen was well-equipped, with a full-sized fridge-freezer, and plenty of cupboard storage space for food. As well as kitchen utensils and pots and pans, there was a dishwasher, washing machine, kettle, toaster and cafetiere. A four-ring hob sat on top of a single oven, and we had a microwave for heating food. The holiday park left us a small starter pack with a couple of cleaning cloths and a small amount of washing-up liquid. We needed to bring our own dishwasher tablets.
I was impressed with the amount of general storage space in the lodge. As well as storage for food in the kitchen, there was ample room for our balls, bucket and spade and other beach paraphernalia next to the brushes and mop in a utility closet.
Bedrooms and bathrooms
Like the living space, the Platinum lodge bedrooms were tastefully furnished, with beds made up for our arrival. Our double room looked out onto a lawn and a beautiful tree, with French windows opening out onto the decking. Both bedrooms had enough space for small desks, and ours even included a small TV.
Again, there was no scrimping on storage. The kids’ twin room included a wardrobe. If that didn’t hold all the clothes they might need for a family holiday, there was bags of space in the small dressing room leading off the master bedroom, which had a large built-in wardrobe and two chests of drawers. Behind our dressing room was an en-suite shower room with a toilet. Another bathroom led off the main living space. The holiday park left us bath mats, but we needed to bring our own towels.
The Platinum lodge was a different beast altogether from regular holiday park static caravans. If you’re looking for Norfolk cottages with a hot tub, I’d say it would make a good alternative. The luxury lodge didn’t lack any amenities you could find inside a more traditional cottage. Our own Platinum lodge didn’t allow pets, but some were set aside to welcome people looking for dog friendly accommodation in Norfolk.
Go Active at Hemsby Beach Holiday Park
Hemsby Beach Holiday Park invited us to choose a couple of activities to try from their Go Active range. It was a tricky choice, and it took a while for our seven- and nine-year old to plough their way through the impressive range of 15+ indoor and outdoor activities. Some were for over-8s only, so although our daughter would have enjoyed going on the Sea-scooters, Air-boardz, body zorbing and archery, in the end she chose the Traversing wall and Sky tykes. This was for children 1.2m high and under, so she was just about small enough for the activity.
Sky tykes was essentially like high ropes, but closer to the ground, so it wasn’t as daunting for younger children. Children as young as two could have a go. After a staff member meticulously kitted our daughter up in a harness, he clipped her to a strap that held her securely onto the play frame. She then walked across narrow beams and bridges, slowly gaining the confidence to let go of the strap and walk with outstretched arms.
After about 45 minutes, our daughter came off Sky tykes, declaring that next time, she’d like to try the Crow’s nest. This was a more grown-up version, a few metres higher, for people over 1m tall.
My son was torn between fencing, lazer clay and panna soccer. In the end, both children signed up to the Traversing wall, which was inside the Yacht Club leisure complex.
The Traversing wall was for 4-12 year olds. Instead of climbing upwards, children moved along a wall, under the watchful gaze of a staff member. He was great with the kids, letting them move at their own pace, and suggesting handholds or footholds when they became stuck. He even put out a helping foot for some of the younger children to tread on, when they reached a tricky bit at the corner.
Our slot was an hour long and the children went on the wall in turn, having two practices before the timed session. For this, they pressed a button when they set off, and then again at the end. A note was made of their times, and the staff member gave them a certificate at the end saying how quickly they’d traversed the wall. It was a lot of fun.
Both my two love Water walkerz (or water zorbs as they’re sometimes known). So, as well as trying some new activities, we signed them up for this pool-based session.
The children queued for their turn inside large balls a bit like hamster wheels. It was all hands on deck at the pool, with four balls on the water at a time, each guided by a friendly staff member holding a rope. Sqeals echoed across the pool from excited children trying to stand up and run inside the balls. Although they spent most of their five-minute slot tumbling painlessly over, my two managed to stand and run a few times. I doubt I’d have been as skillful.
The Go Active activities ranged in price, from £5 for Water walkerz, to £12 for archery. As well as Go Active, we saw a few families pedalling round on bright orange go-karts, available for hire along with more traditional bikes. There was also a spa for massage and beauty treatments.
Quarterdeck Restaurant and Posh Plaice fish bar
Hemsby Beach Holiday Park had two places to eat on-site. Posh Plaice, in the Yacht Club leisure complex, was a sit-down restaurant attached to a fish and chips bar, which sold traditional rounds of battered haddock, jumbo sausage or scampi, with mushy peas as a side option. Posh Plaice was open to everyone, even if they weren’t staying on-site. For the holiday park customers, there was the Quarterdeck Restaurant.
Dinner at the Quarterdeck Restaurant
The Quarterdeck restaurant was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We dined there on our first evening. It was nice not to have to bother with cooking after the drive from London. We didn’t pay for our meal, but the prices were reasonable, from £5.95 for a full vegetarian or traditional breakfast (a gluten-free option was available at £3.50), to £11.40 for the most expensive item on the menu, a double cheese- and bacon-burger.
We took a sneaky look at the burgers the diners next to us were eating. They were huge, with a nice fresh-looking salad to accompany them. Instead, though, I went for one of the specials, beer-battered cod with chips. The chips were large and fluffy, and the batter was crisp, without being overly greasy.
I snaffled a slice of D’s hot & spicy pizza, with was vegetarian and came with a stuffed crust. It was satisfyingly hot, and flavoursome. The one option on the kids’ menu for our vegetarian son was mini pizza, but as he has a large appetite, he went for the adult margarita instead. The staff noticed that he and D couldn’t finish their hearty pizzas, so they offered to give us take-away boxes, so we could eat the slices for lunch the next day. Our daughter chose chicken nuggets from the children’s menu.
The food at the Quarterdeck Restaurant was decent pub grub, and its bar served draught beer, wine and soft drinks. A soft play area at the end of the restaurant let smaller kids burn off steam between courses. The restaurant’s large glass windows overlooked the pirate ship play area, where our daughter enjoyed herself in the early evening sunshine while waiting for dessert to arrive.
The dessert was scrumptious: rocky road sundaes for the children, and gooey Belgian chocolate pudding for me.
Things to do near Hemsby Beach Holiday Park
Hemsby Beach Holiday Park is well-situated Norfolk holiday accommodation. The beach is just a two-minute walk away. If we’d wanted to, we could have just divided our time between the hot tub, Yacht Club swimming pool, Go Active activities and the beach. There was plenty to do, and several pictureque walking trails ran nearby.
But Hemsby Beach is also well-placed for Norfolk holidays that involve more exploring. It’s on the tip of the Norfolk Broads. As well as running the holiday park, Richardsons hire out boats for exploring the Broads, from their base in Wroxham.
Our own weekend away wasn’t all about luxury lodges in Norfolk. We went to Cromer for the day, visiting two museums and the beach. It took 45 minutes to drive there. A little further along the north Norfolk coast, seal-spotting trips run out of Blakeney. The Norfolk coastal town of Great Yarmouth is close to Hemsby Beach. As well as the seafront, it boasts several wet-weather attractions, like Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre.
For the purposes of this piece, Hemsby Beach Holiday Park provided us with three nights’ accommodation in a Platinum luxury lodge, dinner at the Quarterdeck Restaurant and a choice of two Go Active activities. All views are my own.
Have you stayed in any luxury lodges in Norfolk? How did it compare to our experience?
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