In line with our promise to ferret out money-saving opportunities that typical budget overviews of Europe miss, we turn to two great budget accommodation alternatives: the trusty Dutch bungalow park and the newer "farmer's bed" accommodations.
Bungalow Parks in the Netherlands
About bungalow parks
Bungalow parks are a domestic Dutch vacation secret. Bungalow parks typically consist of clusters of small bungalows in rural areas run by a resident custodial and administrative staff. Bungalow parks can be found all over the Netherlands.
Bungalow parks aren't limited to the Netherlands, but they are a special feature of the Dutch vacation landscape. There are more than 400 bungalow parks and a grand total of more than 30,000 bungalows in the Netherlands. Farmer's beds, a newish development, provide rustic accommodation on working farms throughout the Netherlands.
What are bungalow parks?
Bungalow parks are clusters of small bungalows in rural areas. Many are located in or near forested areas. Others are situated near the sea. Bungalow parks are typically car-free zones, perfect for vacations involving small children.
Most bungalows will have kitchens as well, allowing guests to save more money by avoiding restaurants and preparing food on their own.
Most bungalow parks feature an additional range of facilities, including swimming pools, water slides, restaurants, tennis courts and various recreational opportunities.
Today, bungalow parks come in many different forms, from bare-bones to extremely luxurious. Some bungalow parks, surrounded by kid-friendly facilities, feel like amusement parks with attached resident cottages.
Bungalow parks are an especially great deal for groups of six to eight people. By avoiding high season and school holidays, when prices spike, it is possible to enjoy a week at a bungalow park for as little as €20 per person per night, though sometimes lower.
Why are they so cheap?
Hmm, for a number of reasons. The first bungalow park was opened in the Netherlands in the late 1960s. Bungalow parks became extremely popular in a very short period of time, and huge numbers of bungalows were built in park after park.
The travel habits of the Dutch population, however, have shifted over time. Nowadays, Dutch people are more likely to spend their holiday periods abroad than they were in the late 1960s.
With more than 30,000 bungalows in bungalow parks scattered around the Netherlands, bungalow parks now suffer from low occupancy rates. The special deals luring visitors bring in revenue during periods of low occupancy.
Taking Advantage of Bungalow Park Deals
Most of the accessible bungalow park chains operate English-language components of their sites, and booking is simple and easy.
Landal GreenParks is among the best known bungalow park chains in the Netherlands. Landal continually features special deals. While the lion's share of Landal's parks are in the Netherlands, the chain also maintains bungalow park settlements in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Hogenboom Vakantieparken operates bungalow parks, camping sites and hotels in Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. While Hogenboom's Dutch listings are quite extensive, the chain also has camping sites in France, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Spain. The website, however, is only in Dutch and German.
Roompot Parken maintains a smaller circle of 15 parks, all of which are in the Netherlands. Not only does Roompot serve the Netherlands, it also offers parks in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain and more.
Center Parcs operates bungalow parks in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Center Parcs is the second biggest bungalow park chain in the Netherlands after Landal GreenParks. The English-language site lists an inventory of Center Parcs' British parks.
A more recent arrival on the scene is the Het Betere BoerenBed chain of farmstays across the Netherlands. Het Betere BoerenBed means "the better farmer's bed." There are 15 Het Betere BoerenBed farmstays across the Netherlands. Think of the "farmer's bed" farmstay as a kind of anti-bungalow park.
Ideal for groups of friends or families, the farmstay cabins run between €335 and €485 for a weekend, between €235 and €535 for a five-night weekday stay and €435 and €835 for a full week. Cabins can accommodate five adults or six people if at least one child is involved. Het Betere BoerenBed farmstay cabins are only open from springtime through October.
This alternative, which is more expensive than the cheapest bungalow park options, offers a real get-back-to-nature experience. While bungalow parks are often outfitted with full entertainment centers, farmstay cabins are far more rustic, allowing visitors to actually experience elements of farm life.
Unfortunately, there is no English-language version of the Het Betere BoerenBed Web site. Despite this, you can check out farmstay cabins at Het Betere BoerenBed's official Web site.
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