Every parent knows that checking in to a hotel can be the most stressful part of a trip. Asking small, tired children to sit quietly for just few more minutes after a long journey can result in tears, wailing and, as I once found to my cost, expensive pot plants being overturned and scattered across plush reception areas.
Full marks to the newly opened Castle Hotel at Legoland in Windsor for addressing this issue then. While my husband and I have been collecting our room key from friendly, efficient reception staff, we've not heard a peep from our five-year-old, who was last seen climbing into the large pit of Lego bricks in the centre of the lobby. He subsequently joined an enchanted throng of youngsters oooh-ing and ahhh-ing at a giant Lego wizard made from 35,000 bricks, and is currently sitting on a life-sized talking throne, giggling at the noises it makes every time he tries to stand up. His catchphrase "I'm bored" will be the furthest thing from his lips for the duration of our overnight stay.
Coby, five, loved his stay at the new LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
Guests are offered a choice of knights or wizards-themed rooms and we've opted for knights. As we open the door, a sharp gasp of delight shoots out of Coby (my son, I have to add, not my husband). Brightly decorated with Lego wallpaper and a number of Lego creatures, including a 17kg dragon, the rooms are Christmas come early for kids. In each, there are separate sleeping quarters for up to three children (one bunk bed with a pull-out bed underneath). Separated from the adult bedroom area, these 'dens' are full of stuff to keep kids entertained, including Lego, a large TV and an Xbox ONE games console. Cue another gasp – this time it is from my husband.
The most exciting part is that every room contains a safe with a code that can be cracked by solving a series of puzzles. Open the safe and you get your hands on a Lego treat—a special touch that really impressed us. The rest of the room is spacious and caters for everything you may need for a short stay, including a Nespresso coffee maker, which will prove a lifesaver if you've got kids who wake at the crack of dawn eager to get into the park.
The adult's area in one of the Knights-themed rooms
Before bedtime though, I peel my boys away from the Xbox with the prospect of an afternoon in Legoland itself. The hotel sits at the edge of the park, so you can walk straight out into the action. No stressful transfers, arduous hikes or reasons to ask, "Are we there yet?" With over 55 rides, shows and attractions, the resort is cleverly pitched to ensure kids of all ages stay entertained throughout the day—although height and age restrictions do apply on some of the rides. The undoubted favourite for all three of us was LEGO Ninjago The Ride, an immersive 4D adventure where you get to battle villainous serpents and skeleton ghosts by shooting out fireballs with easy-to-grasp hand movements. The comprehensive soaking we got on the Pirate Falls log flume comes a close second.
Rooms are decorated with LEGO-themed wallpaper and bedding
Wet but thoroughly entertained, we return to the hotel for dinner at the à la carte Tournament Tavern. It's a great spot for families: children can wander off to the Jester's Play Den to build with Lego and watch balloon modelling and magic tricks, while mums and dads get a chance to enjoy a glass or two of wine in peace… apart from the occasional growl from the Lego dragon over the fireplace. The choice of food is extensive, catering really well for the children with a three-course set menu. The staff are warm and informative - as they are throughout the hotel - and Tournament Tavern provides a relaxing, child-friendly environment for families to enjoy a meal together.
It's also a pleasant change to drag Coby off to bed knowing that, for once, we won't be the ones spending half the evening clearing up—or worse, treading on—the trail of Lego he's left behind him.
The hotel sits at the edge of the LEGOLAND Windsor park
After a quiet, comfy night's sleep, a hearty breakfast is served in the Tournament Tavern. The huge choice ranges from a full English breakfast to cereals, fruit and pastries. It's a good way to fuel up before another hard day's adventuring in the park, with a number of attractions opening 30 minutes early for hotel guests. There are a few tears and tantrums today, but only when we realise it's time to go home. As we reluctantly wave goodbye, it's clear our stay in the Castle Hotel has made a big impression on Coby. Alright, I suppose we can stay a little bit longer. Now, where was that Ninjago ride again?
Family rooms (2 adults/ 2 children) available from £572. Hotel price includes breakfast and Park tickets for two days plus early access to the park, free drink vessels for the children, LEGO gifts and collectables. Book here: legolandholidays.co.uk/legoland-windsor-hotels/legoland-castle-hotel.html
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