Keeping Cool in the Summer – Sledging and Skiing at The Snow Centre

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Us on the snow at the Snow Centre, Hemel HempsteadIt’s been surprisingly hot in London of late, but we found a rather unusual way to cool down….

Jess writes: Before yesterday, no one in my family had ever been skiing or sledging before – in fact, I was confused as to which one was which! Consequently, we were all really excited to go to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead to try our hands at both of these activities. First of all, we had an hour-long private family beginner’s ski lesson, and then we spent half an hour sledging. I have created a video of our day, which you can watch below. Watch out for Dad sledging into the side bumpers (and mum laughing as she videoed it!)…

After donning incredibly warm jackets, boots and trousers, we wobbled our way onto the snow with our instructor Hussein. Our boots had such a large heel that Hussein had to instruct us how to walk properly – keep your eyes fixed on where you are going and put your heel on the ground first.

Helmets at the Snow Centre
There were a lot of helmets on offer!

This is what Robert thought of the lesson: As it was our first time ever skiing, we took part in a basic lesson which involved us learning how to walk, turn and ski down small hills. I greatly enjoyed gliding across the snow, even though I did fall over about 20 times. Near the end of the lesson we each took it in turns to go a small way up the slope then back down again. To get to that point we had to hold onto a moving rope which brought us upwards. Unfortunately for me even that was too complicated and I usually ended up being dragged on the ground by the rope.

I learnt lots in that lesson and I really hope to go back and try lesson two. In the future I want to ski down one of the larger slopes. I enjoyed nearly everything about the lesson but the only downside was that the instructor was quite mean and bossy at times when I couldn’t do the thing he wanted me to.

Jess writes: I loved the lesson; even though what we were doing was very basic, it was exhilarating to hold on to the rope and be pulled upwards, and it was a strange feeling to glide down the slope on the skis. I had never realised how slippery the snow was before, making it difficult to turn or move upwards without turning your skis sideways.

Robert tries some skiing!
Robert tries some skiing!

Although I think that Robert disliked not being able to grasp everything quickly, I love a challenge and had a really exciting time. Hussein was funny and helpful, and always corrected me so that I could go faster or slide more smoothly. I realised that I have a tendency to wave my arms frantically in the air, and that I am better at skiing than I expected – I only fell down once! I had a brilliant time and wish that the lesson lasted longer, as even though it was an hour long, the time flew by really quickly.

Robert writes: After swapping our ski boots for snow shoes, we returned to the coldness to do sledging. This was extremely fun yet it was really tiring walking up the slope holding either a rubber ring or chair thing. I preferred the rubber ring as it was more comfortable to sit in but they were heavier to carry. I loved zooming down the hill but didn’t enjoy all the snow flying upwards into my face. Some sledges could carry two people and that was more fun than doing it by yourself. It was great.

Jess writes: I really liked sledging. We had to carry sledges or rings to the top of a slope, and pushed ourselves off it. I ended up sliding down really quickly, and getting snow all over me. Robert, Dad and I loved it, but it was exhausting having to walk up to the top again and again. We were in a group of around ten adults and children, but we never had to wait long for our goes, which was lovely.

Jess and Rob after sledging down the hill at the Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead
Jess and Rob after sledging down the hill

Although I preferred skiing, sledging was definitely faster and it didn’t take long to grasp. Once, dad ended up sliding into the cushion-y barrier, meaning that Robert, mum and I erupted into laughter. I would love to go sledging again.

View of the Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead
If you were a proper skier, you could try out the slopes on the other side from us and slalom down!

After our time was up, we gave back our ski clothes, boots and helmets and went upstairs to have lunch. There was a large range of choices, and a good kids’ menu, plus the lodge where we ate had a very nice atmosphere and you could watch the skiing go on through the windows behind you.

Eating in The Lodge at the Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead
Eating in the lodge after our exploits on the snow. You can see the slopes behind

Dad had a mushroom stroganoff, I had the vegetable chilli, mum had a falafel burger and Robert had fish fingers, beans and chips. Everyone was kind, and friendly and the food was very tasty – perfect after being so tired out from the skiing and the sledging. It was also pretty good value, with the kids’ menu costing £4.50 per child, including a drink and dessert, and the main meals costing less than £10 each. Dad and I also treated ourselves to a mouth-watering waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce afterwards…

Waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce
We enjoyed our waffles!

Overall, we would all definitely recommend The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead for skiing and sledging, whether you are a total novice or a seasoned skier. Everyone was so lovely, and it was so exciting to slide down the slopes really quickly. We were also very impressed by the more experienced skiers who went down the much steeper slops. I had always wanted to see what it would be like to ski and sledge, and my first time certainly didn’t disappoint me. In fact, I want to go back again!

The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead is the closest ski slope to London, and clothes hire is £6.75 per person. A one hour private family ski lesson (two adults and two children) is £165, and sledging is £7 per person. Group ski lessons are cheaper, and are offered for juniors and adults. Our visit was kindly hosted by the Snow Centre, but they have had no input into this article and all opinions are our own.

Hemel Hempstead is in Hertfordshire, about 40 minutes from Central London

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40 Responses

  1. Globalmouse

    I love the look of this! Someone was recently talking to me about this place but I had no idea it would look this great – I would love to visit with my three! Thank you for linking up to #GlobalKids

  2. Rhian Westbury

    I didn’t know there was something like that in Hemel. I have been to the one in MK and I went snowboarding which was really fun, but quite scary as we had to go down backwards for that! Looks like you guys all had fun though. x

  3. Erica Price

    Great way to cool down on a hot day. We did a great day out at a snow centre when my son was much younger – might need to give it another go.

  4. Anne

    We have a snow dome near us which my eldest daughter has been too but it really doesn’t appeal to me. But then I have a condition where my joints dislocate rather too easily so maybe not the best thing for me to be doing. I wouldn’t say no to that waffle though 😉

  5. Rachel

    Anything to do with snow and im pulling faces as I hate the stuff, though want to go to Iceland, that said, this looks like lots of fun x

  6. Christine

    That sounds like a brilliant family activity. I’m no skier (attempted once, disaster) but I know the kids would enjoy it, particularly the sledging. It must have been quite surreal going into the snow dome from our summer weather too!

    • Sarah Ebner

      It really was – we went in sweltering, and in tee shirts, but it was pretty cold on the snow and the viewing gallery too! But that was absolutely lovely as we have been so hot recently.

  7. Sarah Fazendin

    How fun! I’ve been following the “heat in London” news, and this looks like the perfect thing to do with kids in the middle of a heat wave:)

  8. Eric Stoen

    I had no idea there was indoor skiing in the UK! I’ve only seen it before in Dubai. I was tempted to try it, but then I remembered that I was from Colorado and could ski on amazing mountains anytime I wanted! If your family is now addicted to skiing, you’re welcome in Colorado!

  9. Natasha Amar

    Looks like a fun family activity. I tried my hand at skiing once (at an indoor ski park in Dubai where I live) and there was nothing easy about it.

  10. Travelwith2ofus

    Now that looks like a lot of fun. I don’t mind giving it a try. Unfortunately, I have never been in the snow, so I don’t know if I can handle the coldness.

  11. Laura

    This looks like so much fun! We ventured to the Tamworth Snowdome in December and our little man just loved it!

  12. Uncover Your Caribbean

    See, now this is cool (pun intended!). If it was hot enough in the UK to seek relief in snow, then you guys are in for a great summer of garden BBQs. Well, hopefully. Enjoy!

  13. Carol Colborn

    Wow, I should look for a snow center! Looks like great fun and I don’t have to feel that cold!!!

  14. Jolanta aka Casual Traveler

    Wow, I bet that place is expensive to maintain, but it really is cool that skiing aficionados get an opportunity to ski even in the summer! Sounds like a fun thing to do in the middle of the summer! (if you know where your winter jackets are, that is) 😉

  15. Cerys

    That looks like such a fabulous introduction to skiing and sledging – dry ski slopes the only other real alternative just aren’t the same. It would be perfect to prepare before a ski trip for a family and the food reminds me of food that you would eat on the slopes.

    • Sarah Ebner

      Yes, I think it was a great introduction. We’d love to go again actually! They also had other food which was very reminiscent of a ski holiday, so am sure you would like that too!

  16. Helen @actuallyblog

    It’s just round the corner for us so we go often and summer is definitely the best time to go. We try to fit the kids in for some booster lessons over the school holidays so that we don’t have to cram onto the slopes pre ski-season when it can be a little busy. Let me know next time you’re there and we’ll join you!

  17. Tonya

    I’m not a skier, but my kids have always enjoyed skiing. Now they enjoy snowboarding. It’s a great way to spend the winter.

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