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Muddy reviews: Mill Rythe Coastal Village

A shiny new cocktail bar, kid's play areas and your own private hot tub. Don't get stuck at the airport - book your next staycay on Hayling Island instead.

THE LOCATION

Tucked away on the east side of Hampshire’s Hayling Island, connected to the mainland by road bridge, Mill Rythe Coastal Village is one of 23 modern holiday park sites owned by Away Resorts. Located beside a peaceful estuary, it’s a real hidden staycation family gem within striking distance of strollable marinas and gorgeous beaches.

Ready just in time for a Muddy visit, Away Resorts have just completed a massive £10m renovation. The transition began with the switch from older chalets to cool modern caravans. The second phase was the just-opened brand-spanking new play spaces, family dining room with entertainment stage and absolutely stunning, Insta-worthy bar.

THE ACCOMODATION

Forget shabby curtains and sardine can-like teeny living spaces, the 85 modern caravans and luxury lodges at Mill Rythe have flat-screen TVs, comfy beds and outdoor spaces. Ours, a two-bedroom, six-berth TriBeCa, is styled like a New York loft with apartment-style furniture. There’s a private hot tub outside, and even a spacious bath for a soak.

Arriving for the weekend, we’re delighted to find the kitchen ready-stocked with a goody bag of essentials. Tea, coffee, biscuits, prosecco… For everything else, there’s a couple of supermarkets just five minutes’ drive from the park.

PLACES TO PLAY

Well worth the upgrade, our caravan comes with it’s own private hot tub (complete with colour-changing lights for post sunset dips). Glasses are understandably a no-go beside the tub, so pack some plastic flutes if you’re hoping for a sip-and-dip.

The hot tubs are off-limits to younger kids, but the brand new splash park and play areas are absolutely ideal for them. On our pre-season visit, the park is quiet but the Mudlet manages to find a new friend to splash around with.

After, we head to a (free) pre-booked session at the decently-sized pool. There’s also an area set aside for craft and other bookable children’s entertainment activities here, available for a small fee.

Now the park is getting into full swing, there’s plenty more entertainment on the way. In the run-up to the summer holidays, families with preschoolers can book special Play Tots Breaks. Think Tot’s Disco, singalongs and furry puppet friends. In July, Mill Rythe Coastal Village will host a Music Weekender. And there’s also a Colour Festival featuring ‘bubblologists’, stilt walkers, live music, DJ and face painting. It’ll all culminate in a big Indian festival-style colour throw.

SCOFF AND QUAFF

Probably the biggest surprise at the sleepy Hayling Island spot is the stunning ‘Missing Squirrel’ bar. Cool and quirky in equal measure – and worthy in design of a hip city location – if you look long enough at the giant cheeky greys on the wall you’ll be treated to a sneaky wink. (No really, I swear it did – although I had indulged in a couple of G&Ts by that point…).

As the finishing touches were just being made to the new family dining room, we ate bar-side at The Missing Squirrel instead. After a day walking on the beach, playing on the park and splashing at the pool, we’re pretty hungry. So we opt for well-executed burgers all round from a menu that also features nibbles and bistro favourites like pizza, steak and salad.

Now complete, The Green Room has all of the above on it’s menu plus fajitas, pasta, curry, fish & chips and more. Basically we’re talking relaxed, holiday fare, with something for everyone.

OUT & ABOUT

Hayling Island has plenty of beautiful, strollable beaches. The main Hayling seafront is a ten minute drive or 45-minute walk from the park, with a long stretch of windy shoreline that’s perfect for kitesurfing – or just flying a kite.

In search of sand, a paddle and a stroll along the beautiful dunes, we head to the far south west corner of the Island to a quieter spot (above). Here, you can expect beautiful crashing waves and sandy stretches of beach in buckets and spades.

Another of Muddy’s favourite Hayling Island spots, the Salt Shack Cafe at Northney Marina is a proper hidden gem. Park yourself on suntrap terrace tables overlooking the yachts and fuel-up with South African Braai-style barbecue breakfasts.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: If you love long walks and hate being cheek-to-jowl with strangers on the beach, this is the place to go. Couples, families with younger children and those with dogs will be in their element.

Not for: There isn’t a huge amount on Hayling Island for teenagers and beyond the upcoming festivals and sports court, the entertainment and play facilities at the resort are probably better suited to younger kids. The road on and off Hayling Island gets very busy in peak season, so plan ahead.

The damage: Prices vary by accommodation grade and season, starting at £226 for two nights in a Burst of Blue apartment in June/July and £358 in the August school holidays. Mains in the Missing Squirrel and Green Room family dining room cost between £10 – £25, kid’s menus are £8.65 for a main, drink and pudding. Bring pooches for an extra £35 per short break (under 6 nights) and £55 per long break (7 nights or more) per dog, max. two dogs per accommodation. 

Mill Rythe Coastal Village, 16 Havant Rd, Hayling Island, PO11 0PB.

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