The UK holiday park with indoor swimming pool, glamping pods…
IF you reckon anyone describing Northampton as a holiday resort is talking cobblers, think again.
The historical home to the cobbler trade could never be mistaken for Vegas or the Bahamas — but it does have a 235-acre leisure park with funfairs, fishing lakes and walking trails galore.
So I packed up the car with my wife and two sons, aged 12 and 14, and headed for Billing Aquadrome in the Nene Valley for the weekend.
Welcomed by the site’s friendly reception team, we were instantly captivated by the holiday atmosphere.
It’s no surprise that this place feels so laid back, considering that Billing has been providing holidays for many a year, having opened just after the Second World War.
The park is a mix of camping, static caravans, glamping pods and holiday homes accommodating a variety of budgets.
We had opted for a lodge, which was more than comfortable enough for our family of four and came complete with useful mod cons like a dishwasher and washing machine.
The standout of this place is not the accommodation, though.
It’s the activities that will have kids and parents beaming from ear to ear.
Book in for a session at the indoor swimming pool, which boasts a great slide, or play a round of mini-golf after riding the mini-train — the only downsized things on this huge and happening site.
The traditional funfair is vast and mega, featuring the old favourites like dodgems, a Ferris wheel and waltzers — and is something that sets Billing apart from the typical caravan park.
Plus, there’s an amusement arcade where my wife and I could leave the boys playing for hours while we sat back and relaxed in one of the on-site bars.
More adventurous folk can follow one of the walking trails deep into the countryside or spend a day by the fishing lakes, a peaceful way to pass an afternoon.
There are three lakes in total and you can catch a variety of species from pike and carp to bream and tench.
If you’re looking for a big day out, a little farther afield lies the late Princess Diana’s family home Althorp, as well as the Silverstone motor-racing track.
But we struggled to tear ourselves away from the endless fun at the park.
Billing has recently been taken over by Royale Resorts and been given some new entertainment experiences including the Trapp’d escape rooms — a massive highlight for my family.
We opted for a Mars mission adventure which challenged us for an hour.
Staff told us the cleverly thought out experiences are so devilishly hard that one family actually got trapped inside and had to be rescued.
When it comes to grub, you can pick up pub-style meals and tempting desserts at the central restaurant as well as a full English to start off your morning — or a super-sized belly-buster version for the brave.
Being a campsite, the atmosphere is all part of the experience — barbecues get lit up in the evenings and you can munch on home-cooked meats bought from the local butcher’s up the road.
Plus, there’s live music at the weekend.
We visited over the King’s Coronation and danced along to a Michael Jackson, Tom Jones and Dolly Parton tribute acts — it turned out to be a right royal weekend.
GO: Billing Aquadrome
STAYING THERE: Prices start from £199 at Billing Aquadrome.
The Marlow 2 Lodge, which sleeps four, costs from £379 per week or from £399 for a weekend.