As you know, here at “Lodges with Hot Tubs” we love to get out and explore and try out those lodges for ourselves! This time we are staying at Vale of York Country Park in Strensall, just 5 miles outside of York city centre.
We decided to make the most of the Easter hols and the kids being off school and get away for a 4 night break Monday to Friday in the second week of the Easter holidays.
First, because a two week holiday is a long time to entertain the kids and second because with them being school ages of 9 and 12 we only really get a chance to go away during school holidays and long weekends. We decided to leave our dog Coco (a crazy chocolate Labrador) at home with the grandparents as the lodge we booked doesn’t allow pets.
On the Monday morning there was great excitement in the house as the kids woke up and remembered it’s holiday day. Having finished off last minute bits of work on the morning and dropped off Coco we packed up the car ready to go.
Sometimes we arrange a food shop delivery at the lodge on the first evening but this time we got a Morrisons food delivery at Monday lunchtime so it was ready just to load into the car. A few things we like to take on our lodge breaks include the essentials like bread, butter, jam, multi pack of crisps, cheese, meats, orange cordial, cereal and things we can make a picnic with for one of our days out.
We could check in from 4pm and lodge was just under 2 hours drive from us so we set off at 2pm. The traffic was pretty quiet so we decided to drive the whole way in one go instead of stopping off for a break. As we got closer to Vale of York country park we followed the directions we had been sent alongside the sat nav directions and we found it quite easily. There is a turn off just a bit further up the road to their sister park.
We had been sent a map of the park and we knew our lodge number so before we went we had a look to see where we were. We were lodge number 38 and situated on the outskirts of the park. Our lodge was called a Lakeview Supreme Lodge so we were a little disappointed to see we didn’t actually have a front line lake view.
The lodge itself was lovely though and being new for 2023 you could tell everything was new and very clean. It was also very spacious with the living area in the middle and a bedroom with bathroom at either end. It felt like everyone could have their own space and didn’t feel like we were falling over each other! The other great thing compared to other lodges we have stayed in was the storage, with multiple wardrobes and drawers in each bedroom. Another initial impression is that the park seemed very small and peaceful and the hot tub in the garden was perfect!
The park itself had no amenities as such but it was a short walk into the local village of Strensall where there are 3 pubs, a Boots pharmacy and some other shops. However, in reality it wasn’t really walkable from the lodges with children as there was no footpath only grass verges alongside a busy road. It felt safer to drive so on the evening we went to The Shop pub for tea in the village we drove down and parked in the pub carpark which was really convenient.
After we got there and unpacked quickly using new life hack (pack all clothes on hangers!), Roman aged 9 decided he wanted to go on his Xbox with his friends. He was pleased to note the TV was high resolution which is sometimes an issue for gaming and within about ten minutes he was hooked up with headphones on chatting to his friends. Willow decided to try out the hot tub. After that we went for a walk around the park to get our bearings and as it is a very small park we were back in the lodge in around 15 minutes! It had started to rain and was windy so we were quite pleased to return to our cosy lodge.
We checked the guide in the lodge for recommended eateries and ordered an Indian takeaway from Jinnah. Our dishes included the Chef’s special Jalfrezi as well as Biryani, Mushroom Pilau Rice and Popodoms. We had mixed reviews on the curries they were tasty but very greasy. A few days later we were out and about and drove past Jinnah with a sign outside saying Under New Management. We would try different dishes if we ordered from there again.
Our first full day of the holiday and we had tickets booked for Castle Howard. There is a fantastic play area there for the kids as well as the house to look around and lots of Easter activities going on. Willow and Roman did the chocolate lollipop making where they started with the melted chocolate in a circle added a lolly stick then decorated with marshmallows, smarties and sprinkles. When they were finished we got a ticket and had to go back in 20 minutes to collect them. They looked really impressive and the kids couldn’t resist eating them straight away. I did manage to get a photo before that though!
As Castle Howard is a big place they had a tractor pulled train you could hop on and off to get from the entrance/gift shop area to the house and then down to the play area. The children really enjoyed getting the tractor ride and it was decorated with a circus tent theme. There are some lovely places to eat there including The Boathouse near the play area where you can get pizza and burgers. We had taken a picnic but we enjoyed a snack in the Courtyard Cafe at the end of the day where we had coffee and scones and Willow tried the tomato soup which was delicious.
The amazing play areas are a real bonus with large wooden play equipment suitable for older kids as well as younger ones. There is a fun rope bridge that leads over to the other side of the play area called Skelf Island. The kids really enjoyed going over the bridge and finding dens to hide in at the play area.
We ordered another takeaway from a place recommended in the guide called The Pizza Box in Haxby. We got a few pizzas, salad and a chicken kebab and it was all really nice. There was a bit of an error with our order but they soon rectified it and sent the correct thing.
The hot tub is lovely at night, you can really see the stars in this area and the hot tub also had cool lights you could put on as well as the usual jets. There was no lake view from the hot tub like our last lodge break at Oakwood Lodges which would have made the lodge break even more amazing. The hot tub is set in the back yard area and you have to walk over gravel to get to it so a top tip would be to take slippers! We had also taken our own additional towels and a robe for using the hot tub as advised in the guide we were sent before we went. They advise there are 4 towels in the lodge but to take extra for using the hot tub.
After a lovely lazy morning in the lodge we were keen to get out and explore some more of the area so we went to York Aboretum, somewhere we have never visited before. It was really interesting seeing so many unusual species of trees as well as a lovely lake and a red squirrel enclosure. We weren’t so lucky with the weather though so we headed to the lovely cafe where we sampled some of their home cooked food. We can definitely recommend the chicken and bacon grilled sandwich with chilli jam – yum! The kids absolutely loved the Oreo milkshakes too!
We decided to go for tea at The Ship, a charming pub in the village centre just a few minutes walk from Vale of York Country Park. As mentioned above, there isn’t really a footpath though so we drove down the road and parked at the pub. You could brave the walk if you wanted to though, you would be walking on grass verges at the roadside which is probably OK with adults but felt a bit dangerous with children. The pub had a quiet welcoming atmosphere and all of the food was freshly cooked. I went for the pub classic of Scampi & Chips with tartre sauce and was not disappointed. They also served a nice Rose Zinfandel wine! The kids enjoyed the nachos starter with sour cream, salsa and guacamole, as well as the veggie burger and chips.
The weather was really mixed but we had had such a good time at Castle Howard we actually decided to go back there and try out the Boathouse Cafe for lunch. We also visited the House this time which we didn’t have time to do on our first visit. It was a really grand house to walk around with lots to see and Castle Howard staff on hand to tell stories about the history and some of things in the rooms. There was also some Easter Egg spotting along the way with a prize in the gift shop if you could guess the amount of chocolate eggs hidden in the house. We couldn’t leave the gift shop without buying the cutest teddy all dressed in his Castle Howard outfit.
The rain came doen heavily in the afternoon so we also ended up buying some umbrellas and braving the walk down to the Boathouse for lunch. The Boasthouse itself ended up flooded around the outside and we had to enter via the kitchen entrance, it felt like stepping on a boat. The food was delicious (pizza and cheeseburgers). After that the weather didn’t get much better so we took the little bus back up to the car park and headed home to get in the hot tub and warm up!
We chose to stay in and watch a film so we ordered a Chinese from Clifton Chinese Takeaway – also recommended in the guide in the lodge. We ordered a king prawn curry, noodles, egg fried rice and prawn crackers and the food was of an excellent quality.
The lodge we stayed in was extremely clean and spacious with plenty of storage. It would have been better to have a view from the hot tub or overlook the lake but we couldn’t fault the holiday park itself or the cleanliness of the accommodation. It’s also a perfect location to explore York and the surrounding areas. One thing we haven’t came across before on our lodge holidays which we loved was that we could pay an extra £20 and checkout at 12 noon which was amazing and felt like an extra half day of holiday. Great value! We will definitely return to Vale of York Country Park in the future.