Forest Holidays Silver Birch Cabin Review | The Pandemic Precautions, Cabin, Hot Tub and Activities!
Hello Explorersaurs! Another cabin to grace your screens today – this time the gorgeous silver birch cabin from Forest Holidays. If you missed my previous post all about a cabin we visited in Kent – a little gypsy-style hut with a wood fired hot tub and outdoor fires, take a look at it here! There are so-so many beautiful UK cabins dotted around the UK and they make such a good way to still get a holiday right now; given all the travel rules and restrictions. You can just jump in your car and go all the way there, without any need to stop or see anyone!
Today I’m going to go through all the current rules and precautions Forest Holidays have, and take you on a tour around the cabin. Probably the best way to really get a feel for it is to see it in video format, so have a watch of the YouTube video attached below! If you like what you see, you can follow our YouTube channel here – it’s still pretty small but I’d be so grateful if you’d come over and follow along!
The Cabin Tour – Explorersaur
The Silver Birch Cabin Amenities and Pricing
We stayed in the cheapest cabin – this range being called Silver Birch Cabins. They are almost identical to the cabins in the tier/price bracket above, however are missing a log burner inside the cabin and certain added extras such as robes and slippers. As you’re just in the UK it’s so easy to pack these things in your car though, and to be honest given Covid it may be best not to use these sorts of things – although I’m sure they also have rigorous cleaning. The cabins come in various sizes, and we stayed in one with two bedrooms – sleeping four. All of these cabins only have one double room, and the other has twin beds. As we were two couples it wasn’t ideal, however we just pushed the twin beds together in the other room so it wasn’t too much of an issue. There are also two bathrooms which is really handy, as there’s never a queue to go for a pee!
We didn’t miss the log burner either, as the heating throughout the cabin is really wonderful and keeps everything toasty warm – especially the underfloor heating in the bathrooms! Whilst this would be a gorgeous aesthetically pleasing touch, we didn’t miss it hugely for the sake of a hundred or so pounds difference in our holiday.
Pricing seriously varies depending on what time of year you go. What I would say, is if you have the freedom to go last minute, keep an eye on the Forest Holidays Instagram account. When they have a free cabin for the week coming up, sometimes same-day check in, they often slash the price hugely; so you can go away for a teeny amount of money. We booked a Monday to Friday stay, which cost just over £700. We added on the entertainment package for around £60 which is the only way you’ll get WiFi in the cabin, and have access to a few films. To be honest the films are a minimal for that chunky price tag, but the WiFi is obviously the main bonus for most of us. You can also chrome cast movies from your phone with this.
The cabin is hugely open-plan, which is lovely. As you walk in, you’re greeted with high angled ceilings and an open plan living area and kitchen. Turn right and you have a little corridor that leads to both bedrooms and bathrooms, as the video shows. The bathrooms are both pretty basic, although the underfloor heating is incredible in here! As this is the cheapest of all cabins I think it’s partially expected to be a little tired – it still all felt clean which is the main thing.
The kitchen is fitted with all the utensils you could need, including a washing machine – which is so handy for cabins as you just don’t need to spend your mini-break washing up do you? The bedding is all also so super-soft which is a lovely touch. I know some people prefer to bring their own pillows on mini-breaks right now though so that option is always there.
The best part of the whole cabin – other than that gorgeous decor – is the hot tub. All cabins – including all the cheapest ones, come with a huge hot tub out on the decking, surrounded by towering trees and greenery. The hot tubs are big enough to easily sit 6 people (you could fit 8 to be honest,) so for a cabin for four, you have so much space. The hot tubs are cleaned daily – where workers hop through the back gate to add chlorine powder or anything else that is needed. They leave a time note on the hot tub so you know when to go back in, and although it’s sort of awkward not being able to use for a certain amount of time every day, it’s never too long, and good to know they’re well looked after.
Cancellation policies – This is where they’re a little shoddy
Okay so the biggest downside I have with Forest Holidays right now is their cancellation policy. Because of the hard times of covid, we decided to pay extra for the added booking protection. I figured this would save us in most situations, so was gutted to find out it really doesn’t. This allows you to change your booking from 8 days or more before your date of travel – which really isn’t the handiest given Covid orother bad situations don’t always give you that much warning. My lovely little (very old!) cat fell unwell right before we left, (he is okay now thank god!) so I tried to ring Forest Holidays a lot of times in the days running up to our booking. Unfortunately their lines were closed at this time, so I had a last ditch attempt to ring on the morning we were supposed to arrive. I figured this would be too late and wasn’t met with much help – although they did say if we had called sooner there could have been more potential options – which isn’t hugely helpful considering their lines weren’t open!
Due to this, I only managed to go for one night of the four planned, and I do think they could be more explicit with their policies. Other holiday providers including airbnb and booking.com have some really fab cancellation procedures right now. For example, most airbnbs will let you cancel on the day of for a 50% refund or reschedule, and any day before for a full refund. I think if you’re booking a holiday in such a turbulent time that’s really the sort of procedure you need right now! It wouldn’t put me off booking with Forest Holidays completely, but I do think if you can’t be 100% sure you’ll be able to make it, perhaps an Airbnb could be a great option for now, and Forest Holidays could be looked at when everything is a little more secure.
Covid precautions and activities
Forest Holidays say they’ve completely upped their cleaning procedures (to be fair to them, everything was spotless even when we visited pre-covid,) but I like the idea of everything getting extra sanitised and cleaned. There are some things I wonder about – for example the germs can easily live on the walls you might lean on as you put your shoes on etc. But that is the same anywhere you go and the sort of thing you have to decide for yourself on – so long as you wash and sanitise often it’s a much more minimal risk. Due to this extra cleaning, you have the downside of considerably less time in the cabin. You check in a few hours later (4PM) on the first day, and check out earlier than normal at 9AM on leaving day. You can pay for early check in and late check out, but you only get an extra two hours, so you have to consider if that is worth the extra price for you. For us, there seemed better things to spend the money on as we wouldn’t be able to do a huge amount more with that time. (And obviously in the end – really didn’t as I only went for the one night haha!)
Most of the check-in process is done online now, where you input all the cars you’ll be taking and personal information needed for the booking. This means when you arrive, only one person from your party will need to enter the main building just to put a card on hold and pick up the keys. There is a shop still open that you can visit for essentials on site, but it’s obviously at an inflated price. It makes much more sense to pack for every possibility to avoid this contact and also to save that monaaaay!
Forest Holidays always run activities – things like the opportunity to hire bikes, go on forest trails with leaders, target practice shooting, archery, and more. They are still running most of these activities in reduced numbers. My friends booked target practice shooting and were the only people there which sounded really fab. The leader of the activity kept a distance and everything seemed to run smoothly. That being said, there are so many beautiful walks and things to do in the surrounding area – as well as all the fun you can have in the cabin(!) so I don’t think you necessarily need to book these extras, but having the option is great.
The last point I want to touch on is food delivery. We really enjoyed the fact you could still order food from the Forest Retreat (the main building) to the cabin. When we visited before we loved the food here – and it was perfect to have after a night with a few too many wines! They have a really decent array of food from burgers and sandwiches, to breakfasts, snacks, curries and more. They had a good amount of veggie options and few vegan options – these were much more sparse but to be honest I still bloody loved my chips and onion rings so I was happy haha!
Whether we would recommend
Overall, we were not disappointed with the cabin, beautiful location and things to do in the area. We love the fact you can pack your car to the brim to have everything you could need and really enjoy a relaxing break away. Due to the fact they have sites all over the UK you’re always fairly close to one too.
Whilst there were so many things to enjoy here, I think the cancellation procedures are a little risky. For instance, if someone in a party had a cough come on, but could not get a refund or rearrange, I wonder if they’d take the risk and still go on the holiday to not miss out on the money. Some cabins are easily over £1000 so I can see this happening. For that reason I’ll take my next break somewhere with better cancellation and covid procedures, however I would absolutely come back to Forest Holidays in the future. I think it’s dependent on your personal situation and how reliable your booking would be, but I really can’t wait to visit this place again, one day!