A couple of years ago, we had a holiday in Ibiza and it was amazing. Six adults and four children, a perfect week away in the sun. A holiday so good that we decided we do it again! Last year, 2020, was out before Covid even started because I was due to have a baby in March and I didn't want to travel with her and a toddler at such a young age while recovering from giving birth and exclusively expressing.
When the time came again to think about going away again, we were living through Covid and not sure when we would be able to go away, but felt sure that by May 2021 things would be back to normal. We put our heads together, picked a date that fits in with our lives, and left it that, waiting to be told the world was safe again.
I don't need to tell you what followed. If we fast forward a little, and the plan to go back to Ibiza was put on hold. Thankfully we had held off booking anything.
That left us with a week off work, so we decided we would look for a staycation!
We had a very specific list of boxes that needed to be ticked to make it possible -
We didn't want to travel for more than a couple of hours
We had a budget
We needed three bedrooms, with enough room in one of them for a cot
We had very little flexibility of when we could go away (and it just happened to fall in line with the bank holiday weekend)
We needed (okay we didn't need but actually, we kind of did) a hot tub
We also wanted it to be on a holiday park if possible - although I didn't discount Air BnB and similar sorts of accommodation - or village. We had initially considered a caravan, but it quickly became apparent that the ones we could afford, in the places we were willing to travel to, didn't cover the "three bedrooms with space for a cot" rule.
After what felt like weeks of searching, we finally came across Solway Holiday Village in Silloth. It ticked every box, and it had an indoor heated swimming pool!
One thing I want to mention before I go any further, something that I think is really important, is that our experience of this holiday village goes hand in hand with the pandemic. This is a place that, like many others, will have struggled throughout the year, will have been closed and I can imagine that all of this has had an effect on the park. I have seen a few negative reviews which I feel are really unfair because we should be taking into account the current situation. I could be wrong, perhaps the things that we didn't love about the place are like that regardless of the pandemic, but I'm inclined to think otherwise. The photos on the website certainly suggest that it usually has a lot to offer. and Moving on...
It took us about two hours to drive there, and they got there pretty much spot on check-in time, which was 5pm. It was a Wednesday when we went, so it wasn't too busy, but by the time the weekend came, it was getting busier.
We stayed in a Kendal Chalet. From a distance, they looked lovely, but up close they do look a little worse for wear. We had three bedrooms, a full bathroom, a separate toilet without a sink, and an open plan kitchen and living room, with a dining area. There was a little outdoor area, which was fenced off, and that included the hot tub. The photos on the website are I'm sad to say, much nicer than the chalet we stayed in. However, it was still very lovely, and so nice not to be at home. We hired a cot and high chair, which were waiting in the hallway for us when we arrived.
What we loved -
It was spacious
It was very clean
It was well furnished with lots of storage
The kitchen was quite well equipped
The shower was easy to use, and the water was a lovely temperature
The beds were comfy
The heating worked very well
It was nice and light
The TV worked well
The WiFi signal was good
The front door, and door that lead out into the outside area, felt very secure
The hot tub was fantastic
What we didn't love -
The layout was strange. (see below for details)
The internal doors were noisy
The door which lead into my toddler bedroom would stick
The carpet didn't look like it had been hoovered and there were dog hairs on it
I found it difficult to get comfortable on the couches
The kitchen could have been better equipped
The coffee machine is a pod machine and those are terrible for the environment. We were given four pods for it, which wouldn't be enough for two adults over four days if my husband had brought his own instant coffee. One of the pods was a hot chocolate pot, and one of them was a frothy milk pod to go with one of the coffee pods, so you actually only got two coffees. If I had known this would have been the case I would have brought my own machine.
There is one other thing that wasn't brilliant, but it also isn't really a fair negative comment because it's not the fault of the holiday village. We didn't read the booking confirmation closely enough, so we didn't realize that certain things wouldn't be provided. I've also just seen on the website that it says "temporary removal of some non-essential high touch items" but it also says "hand sanitizer or hand soap provided" on the website. Things we didn't pack because we are so used to them being provided were towels (we did take swimming/beach towels), tea towels, hand soap, washing up liquid, or washing up cloths. There were none of these in the chalet. This meant that we then had to buy all of these items, which wasn't great. I also thought that the kitchen could have been better equipped.
Now, I said above that the layout was a bit strange. The front half of the chalet was fine. You came in through a small entryway, which had the door to the small toilet in it. The entryway lead onto the kitchen and living room. The back half was where it was got strange. In the living area, we had two doors. One lead to our bedroom, and the other lead to our toddler's bedroom. The rooms were side by side. Both of these rooms had a door on the opposite side. The door from our room lead into the third bedroom, which would be our baby's room. The door from our toddler's room lead onto a small hallway. There was also a second door in the baby's room, and this lead onto the same hallway. That hallway lead to the main bathroom. This meant that once the kids were in bed, we couldn't access the main bathroom, meaning we had to wash our hands, brush our teeth, etc in the kitchen sink.
Overall, we were happy with the chalet, it was comfortable, warm, and spacious. The hot tub was fantastic, lovely and warm, very comfortable, and easy to use.
We didn't make as much use of the park as we might have done outside of Covid, so there are certain aspects I won't be able to review. The park itself was pretty easy to navigate once you had been around it a couple of times. We couldn't park outside of the chalet, however, the parking spaces were a very short walk from our front door. The chalet was also conveniently close to the reception, swimming pool, bar, and restaurant. We didn't see the Alpacas or make use of the football pitch, and the other activities. We didn't use the shop, the arcade (we had planned to but the night we went along it was really busy, and that was also our last night), or the laundrette, and as far as we could tell, the soft play wasn't open.
The park itself did look a little run down, but you could see that they had staff working hard making improvements.
The swimming pool - The swimming pool (and all other onsite activities) was on a booking system. This was great because it meant that it was never busy when we went. The pool made up of a shallow toddler pool, and a deeper adult pool. It was clean, heated, and indoors. Both us and the kids really enjoyed using it. The sessions lasted for one hour.
Playpark - The park was good, but perhaps not aimed at young children like ours, and could do with some features for toddlers and babies. The kids seemed to enjoy it though.
Bar & restaurant - We went to the restaurant one night for tea. We had intended to use it a few times, but it didn't appear to be serving more than take-out and evening meals, although online it states "light bites and main meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner" The only instance we went to eat in, it took a while for us to be seated, and we choose to sit off to the side so we were far away, and we were basically forgotten about. After a while of waiting, my husband went and found our own menus. There was a lot to choose from. I ordered scampi and chips, my husband got the steak pie, and we got chicken nuggets, chips and beans for my toddler, and fish fingers and peas, with the intention to share them between the two of them. He ordered at the bar, and it took so long for it to come that a member of staff actually came and asked if we had ordered, and checked our drinks order before we got anything. He also brought our food and momentarily forgot the cutlery. The food was the exact sort of stuff I would expect to come out of a freezer, there's no other way to put it. None of it tasted freshly made, not even the chips. It was nice enough, the kids scoffed theirs, but we didn't go back to eat in, and I felt it wasn't worth the money we spent. We did decide to try their takeout though, and so we went on a different evening with a plan to have a drink while we waited for it. We got three pizzas, two BBQ and one Margarita. I was quite disappointed to find out that the bar didn't do their drafts by half, but we each had a bottle of Peroni and went outside to wait for our order. This was quite nice, our son enjoyed playing in the l.ittle courtyard, and even saw one of the mascots who gave him a balloon dog, which he loved. The pizza was really nice though, we really enjoyed that.
Silloth is the little Victorian seaside village outside of the holiday park. It was very nice to walk along this seafront, but there wasn't a great deal to do. We went to the shows one night, and our son had his first ride on an amusement park ride. We had hoped to go out to eat a couple of times, but there weren't many places to choose from. We did go to Mrs WIlson's twice, once for brunch and once for breakfast, and that was lovely. I would highly recommend going there. We also got fish and chips from Silloth Cafe and sat on the green to eat them one evening. They were really nice. We had lovely ice cream from the Ice Cream Factory on our last morning before we set off to go home. We drove along to the beach one day, but it wasn't the sort of beach we were expecting, it's very much a functioning beach I would say, with lots of people set up to fish there. Our son really enjoyed running about though. Silloth is a lovely place to have a walk around, it's very picturesque, and not too touristy like some holiday destinations can be.
We had a day trip to Keswick to visit The Lake District Wildlife Park which was fun, although a little underwhelming. This may have been because we hoped our son would be over the moon, but he was mostly uninterested! We then went out in Keswick and had some lunch and a little look around. We had to buy the things that were missing from the Chalet, and we so wanted to buy some gin from a local distillery but the wait to get in was too long. We ate at the Back Bar where we got some really nice sandwiches.
All in all, we really enjoyed our holiday. It was lovely to be away from home and to be able to take our little girl out and about because she hasn't been to many places at all since she was born. The weather was good, the chalet was comfortable, and the hot tub was fantastic. It is a shame that the effects of the past year are visible everywhere we go, and because of that the things that we didn't love didn't spoil our time away.