The Dorset Hideaway
The website for Dorset Hideaway has an extensive list of rules and the first one we broke on the first day. The website states that your pitch will be available from 2pm. We didn’t think it would be a problem to arrive early, if we couldn’t pitch up, we’d just check in and look around. We arrived at Dorset Hideaway, twenty minutes to 2, and the reception was closed but the door was open. My husband went in to speak to the person on the desk and was greeted with “can you go out a minute we’re not ready”. Not “hi” or “hello” or “can you bear with us please”. Some customer service training needed.
I had booked and paid for an electric grass pitch for a 4m trailer tent and a gazebo (which I had to pay extra for) and the pitch we were allocated was not big enough to put up the trailer tent let alone the extra gazebo. It also had a huge crater in the middle which meant it was even smaller. My husband went back to reception to ask if we could have a pitch that was big enough for the trailer tent we booked (in July) and was told there were no other pitches available. So the campsite didn’t have the room to accommodate us but had taken our money and now weren’t too concerned that we weren’t able to put our tent up. “Luckily” for us another camper had booked as part of a group, a tent pitch, but had been given an all weather pitch as they’d put her down as a caravan. The management were also uninterested in this ladies dilemma, who had also paid. My husband suggested to the lady that we swap pitches as this would mean that she would be near her group, as she originally requested, and it meant we would have enough room to actually put our tent up and not have to sleep in the car.
If you book a grass electric pitch and happen to be in their large field be prepared to trip over the long electric cables that are strewn across the entire field. There seems to be a bit of a free for all “system” going on here. The field reminded me of the underside of my teenage sons computer desk or behind the back of our TV cabinet.
The fishing lake. A pond. I’ve fallen in bigger puddles. I saw some of the fish caught from the lake and I reckon if you caught 6 you’d have enough for a sandwhich. Although I do appreciate that you are meant to throw the fish back on this lake I do fear that one normal size fishing hook would be mean the end of the majority of the fish who dwell here.
The campsite promises relaxation in their on site spa and a hot tub which you can hire by the house. The website promises a hot tub experience with child free relaxation. Hot tub yes. Privacy no. If a hot tub with an audience is your thing this is the place for you.
Rules. If you love rules and signs with rules and CCTV and being told “there’s CCTV all around the camo so if you or the kids break anything it comes back to you” this place is your nirvana. The fence has signs every meter or so “don’t climb on this fence”. The park is padlocked at night (is this really necessary?) So any hardcore slide riders are out of luck post 10pm. Wtf?? No children in the toilets unaccompanied at any time. So everytime my 10 year old wanted a piss I had to go with her. When my daughter went to the toilet on her own at 9pm one evening we felt like the plucky British Servicemen in Escape to Victory trying to dodge the searchlights.
The owners enforce adherence to their rules by taking it in turns to patrol the site in their cars sometimes 3 times a day and to check people were off at the kicking off time of 11am. It did make me wonder what would happen if you weren’t off site by 11am sharp. Would you just have to abandon what you hadnt managed to get in the car “Just leave it!!! GO, GO, GO!!”
The highlight of our trip was when our awning turned into a swimming pool or our “all weather” pitch and the twenty five minute wait for chips and baked beans cos apparently she was there for chatting not for cooking and he could only cook one order at a time. Bain Marie anyone??
The site has some lovely features. The shower and toilet block is clean and well kept. Two toilets for a 95 pitch site seems insufficient but there is a wooden overflow toilet block with two ladies toilets in, although only one of these had toilet paper when we needed to use them. The water in the washing up area is actually hot which is great and overall the site the well kept. In conclusion we won’t be back and the owners clearly aren’t that interested in year on year return custom given the way that we were spoken to.