Review of a Weekend at Sandy Balls, New Forest – UK

The New Forest is located in a beautiful area of south England popular not only for its National Park and ponies but also (dare I say it) for its proximity to… Peppa Pig World!  Thanks to my sister for her review below.

Weekend at Sandy Balls, New Forest

Sandy BallsGoing away for an impromptu weekend in the UK just isn’t so easy now that we have a toddler in tow.  If we all share a bedroom then nobody sleeps, and suites at nice luxurious hotels are prohibitively expensive for most of us.  Holiday resorts like Butlins, Pontins and Centre Parcs offer caravans and lodges with space for the family, at various different price levels.

We chose Sandy Balls, a family (and dog) friendly resort in the New Forest for a long weekend in April.  I called up a few days before and was offered 50% off their online prices, which enabled us to book a 3 bed lodge for the weekend (the biggest they have on site).  Located near to Fordingbridge, it’s a two hour drive from North London depending on traffic.

Sandy Balls Holiday Centre
The accommodation (campsite, static caravans and lodges) is all based around a central hub with an indoor pool, soft play, small toddler playground, gym, spa, bike hire and two restaurants.  They also run activity sessions (some are free, some at extra cost) including everything from arts and crafts to archery and horse riding.  During busy times you need to book advance slots for the pool (including a £1 deposit for each person at each session) but this is easy to do online and it does mean that the pool doesn’t get too overcrowded.  Changing facilities are separate with only one small (and poorly located) family changing room, which is a bit annoying.
Our toddler loved the soft play and small outdoor playground.  The main resort area felt very safe and friendly, and our toddler could run around without any problems.

Our room
Our lodge had a good sized kitchen and open plan lounge, with 3 bedrooms (one double and two small twins).  Our particular lodge was built with disabled access in mind so I think that the other rooms might be smaller, it’s worth looking into this if you need bedroom space for a travel cot.  Floor plans for each of the lodges are available online.  We had a picnic table and BBQ and the kitchen was pretty well equipped.

Sandy Balls Playground

Food and drink
There are two restaurants on site, a pub and a pizza place, plus a shop selling everything you might need during your stay.  The food wasn’t amazing but it was perfectly adequate for our stay, and both restaurants offer takeaway options so that you can eat in your lodge in the evening while the kids are asleep.  There are some lovely pubs nearby, we had great meals at the Fighting Cocks (two mins drive from Sandy Balls) and also at the George in Fordingbridge.

Local area
The weather wasn’t great when we were there so we didn’t explore much off site, but there is plenty to do nearby in Salisbury and Bournemouth.  Both Paultons Park (Peppa Pig World) and Beaulieu are only a half hour drive away. Our little girl also really enjoyed just driving around and seeing the horses everywhere.


We would definitely go back to Sandy Balls – the food wasn’t great, the facilities felt a bit tired, but it’s a lovely affordable option for a family friendly holiday.

Sandy Balls softplay

1 comment

  1. Sarah Ebner (@sarahjebner)

    How lovely to come across your review. We went here when my daughter (now 11) was 15 months old! Great location, interesting that the facilities felt a bit tired, but it is ten years later. I wrote about it back then and it’s on my blog – http://familytraveltimes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-family-holiday-in-beautiful-dorset.html Hope you like it!

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