Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead review

Can family ski-ing lessons on real British snow offer a great day out? We find out…

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Snow scooting beats scooting to school

Day out in a nutshell: Family ski lesson for four beginners!

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Who went: Susie with her 3 children aged 8, 11 and 13

Essential travel info: The Snow Centre is at Hemel Hempstead, 25 miles from central London and well situated for the M1 (5 mins from junction 8) and the M25 (10 mins from junction 20). Free car park with 250 spaces.

Our review

Take three children who’ve never put on a pair of skis before and one ungainly mum who once skied 30 years ago on a school trip. Mix with a baby-faced athletic instructor. Could an indoor group ski lesson really be fun? 

Oh yes! We turned up at the Snow Centre, discretely hidden within the lightly-hilly Hemel Hempstead, and soon found our way to the ski, boot, helmet and jacket hire desk. Lots of sizes to choose from and helpful staff meant that we could all find the equipment to fit.

After a quick change we all looked like Michelin men – but at least we were warm. Our helpful instructor showed us how to put our skis on and we were soon on the training slope (next to the freestyle slope) for our lesson.

What we loved

Our instructor was patient at all times and totally focused on us. He helped us to gain confidence, didn’t laugh when we got tangled in the netting or couldn’t get ourselves up, and was full of praise.

An hour was perfect – the children were just starting to get tired, but it enabled us to go from rubbish novices to moving across to the main slope with our parallel turns and even a bit of speed, which all the children loved. 

We then had 30 minutes on sledges and snow donuts, a fun way to use up any left-over energy after the discipline of the lesson. The Snow Centre has also introduced Snow Scooters – for children from 7+ (and adults!), while sledges can be used from 4 years.

We also loved the café bar upstairs, with a big window so you can admire all the 6 year olds whizzing down the freestyle slope or relax in the soft comfy sofas!

What to watch out for

The instructor can only go at the pace of the slowest learner within the group – therefore your youngest child will set the pace. As flexible as they try to be, if you have one less coordinated child, and two more coordinated, it can be a little frustrating towards the end.

Our verdict

An excellent day out (well, afternoon), which left us all feeling we could ski a little and wanting to come back the following weekend.

The details

Children as young as 4 can have ski lessons and from the age of 7 can learn to snowboard. There are regular holiday courses, or you can book 1 hour lessons during term time. Check out the latest Snow Centre offers here. 

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can book a family lift pass (1 hr on the slopes, 30 mins on sledges and a free soft drink in the café for an all-inclusive £79). 

Quick tips

You’ll need:

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  • Long, thick socks (buy for £6)
  • Layered clothing – jeans are no recommended
  • Waterproof gloves (buy for £9)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (hire for £6.50)
  • £1 coin for a locker
  • To know the height and shoe size of everyone in your group

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