It’s a great British tradition, and one I’ve never indulged in. Until now. Yes, I’ve stayed in a caravan. And it was great! As we’d be invited to review a six to eight sleeper caravan at any of the Park Resorts up and down England, I invited the family along for some fun times, board games, and beach walks too.
Would I recommend a stay in Norfolk in October though? And would the holiday be ok for grown ups? After all, all the reviews I’ve read online have been by mummies and daddies spending time with their kids. How would five adults fare in a traditionally cheap and frugal kid-centric holiday?
Our Park Resorts California Cliffs review
California Beach, near Great Yarmouth, is a long stretch of golden, soft sand which lines rugged cliffs and windswept grasses of the Norfolk coast. As a family tradition over the last decade, up until this year, before dad passed away, we’ve gathered together to party and reminisce about good times with the grandparents in Winterton-On-Sea, just a stroll from California Beach – and partly the reason we opted for this holiday park.
We knew we were taking a massive chance with the weather – the first week of October would either be glorious or grizzly. David wasn’t pleased at the thought of spending a weekend in a damp, cold caravan, but fortunately the sun was playing ball and we enjoyed a warm weekend. Who would have thought you’d be able to sunbathe in the UK this time of year?
Packing for a weekend was easy for us. Mum supplied the eggs, bacon and beans for a slap-up brunch, we brought towels for showers and the beach, as well as shampoo, conditioner and everything else. The only thing we weren’t sure about was bedding, but as we were staying in Gold level accommodation, this would be made up for our arrival.
Check in… and what’s that smell?
We informed the resort we’d be arriving late, and arrangements were made for our key to be left with security.
After a quick Maccies and a slightly longer journey, we arrived at the resort. After spotting reception I dashed inside, picked up they key and after some handy hints from the security guard, we ambled along the dirt tracks in near-darkness before spotting our caravan. Which was wrong.
After confirming a few times the caravan could house and sleep six – as in three bedrooms with dining space for all – we waltzed up, bags in hand, to find the caravan had two rooms and a pull-out bed under the sofa with no bedding supplied. Not a great start. The caravan also stunk to high heaven of mould and cigarette smoke, and the dining table could only sit four people.
Heaving all our luggage and bags back in the car, we weren’t best impressed to be heading back to reception at near midnight in the hopes of getting what we’d ordered.
The security guard was most apologetic, and after finding a key to a gold standard three bed (sleeps eight) caravan that had erroneously been booked for a family of three, we headed off in the opposite direction to lay our weary heads.
First impressions of our Park Resorts caravan
Parking right next to our home for the weekend, we unloaded the car and headed inside to be greeted with what looked like someone’s home – complete with cat knick-knacks! We had the right key, we were in the right place, but the entire weekend we did wonder if we were going to get a knock on the door from some very puzzled owners.
The layout was compact – one double bedroom with a double bed, and two smaller bedrooms each with twin beds. Now, I say double and twin beds, but given how tiny the rooms are they aren’t of normal length. Our two taller guests had issues with feet hanging off the bed, but after a reshuffle here and there we made do for the weekend. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but we weren’t drowning in comfort either.
There was a separate loo and shower room with the most divine shower ever! I’d say it rivalled that of the Sofitel – how that’s possible I’ve no idea.
The kitchen/living room was spacious and there was seating at the dining table for all – joys! The owners had also left games and puzzles for bored minds, and a selection of DVD (though where the DVD player was we’ll never know). The kitchen had utensils, pots and pans, as well as a fridge, freezer and microwave. Everything you might need if you were thinking of bringing your own food.
Worried about being chilly, we popped the central heading on, and after fifteen minutes we were toasty and warm.
We had a great time, and on more than one occasion felt like we could happily live in a mobile home for life, so comfortable it was. Sure the walls are thin and all the doors open out onto each other, leaving a bewildered Louisa trapped in a room without knowing which door was which, but we had a really fun weekend.
Rugby, food, pools, and the California beach
As rugby was on, we ate at the local restaurant (no thanks to the lovely server who rudely asked whether mum was finished with her J20 bottle before snatching it away), and had our fill of 2p machines, winning a literal handful of goodies and spending about £25 in the process. Worth. It.
The facilities are great for adults, with a little convenience shop full of food, booze and sweet treats, a chippy for traditional fish and chips, as well as a restaurant with well-priced meals on offer. Just be sure to ask that your table is cleaned as ours was disgustingly sticky.
We were excited about the pool, attached to the entertainment area, but it was definitely aimed at children and wouldn’t have been deep enough to have a good swim.
The beach was the real winner. California Cliffs Resort is popped on top of, you guessed it, cliffs. This means to get to the sea you have to walk down a ramp and some wooden stairs. It’s fine for us, but for those with mobility issues I’m not sure how friendly it would be. Children had no problems toddling up and down, and as dogs are welcome we ended up having a stroll with some super-chilled sheepdogs!
Packing up and leaving
We decided to leave Sunday afternoon to be back at work on Monday, so after a leisurely brunch, a spot of sunbathing in the outside garden area, a few rounds of cards, and snapping the last of the photos, we packed up and headed to reception.
Again, something that was a little lacking was check out process. After standing at the front desk with a girl reading papers and totally ignoring me, her colleague had to run around the corner, took the key, and left. No thank you, no hope you had a nice stay, no was everything ok for you.
A bit weird.
We had a great experience – although customer service was slightly lacking and the missing DVD player was a bit sad. All the time we were thinking how dad would have loved the weekend, being back in his adopted home county and having fun with the 2p machines. We missed him greatly, and have all agreed to stay again next year to keep a new traditional alive. Caravan holidays are definitely a novelty and I can’t wait to see where we pitch up next!
A three-bed caravan for three nights starts at £260 online, however a mystery discount of £104 was applied to the online booking, making the weekend £158 total. Between five of us, accommodation for the weekend would cost £31.50 each. Add on food here and there, the meal, and petrol and the entire weekend would cost each of us £78. Not back for a full English, pub grub, beer and whisky and plenty of candyfloss!
Would we book again? Yes. However with a huge variation of caravans and amenities on offer even within the same price band, definitely do your research before booking and see if you can request an owner’s caravan. They’re definitely warm and cosy compared to the others (cat figurine included).
Park Resorts California Cliffs
Book online and see what discounts you could get.