We had a very cool experience the other day as we stayed at the brand new CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers. This place only opened at the start of July, so getting the chance to be one of the first families to check it out was awesome. Huge thanks to baby and toddler swimming gear experts Konfidence who arranged our stay – and subsequent visit to the theme park and water park – as part of our role as Swimologists in 2017.
As someone who has spent the best part of the last three years watching CBeebies on TV (hence posts like this, this, this and this), it’s safe to say that I was pretty excited about visiting. Toddler L probably was too…
Below, you’ll find my review of our stay at the CBeebies Land Hotel, covering arrival, our In The Night Garden themed bedroom, other areas in the hotel, entertainment and food.
Step inside the rainbow and straight into the colourful world of the UK’s only CBeebies Land Hotel, all uniquely designed for young families. A place bursting with music, stories and adventures for little ones to enjoy. Home to unrivalled and exclusive family entertainment featuring meet and greets with some of your favourite CBeebies characters, live shows, story time and CBeebies games to play, the fun is endless at the CBeebies Land Hotel.
Give your little ones the ultimate sleepover by treating them to stay in their very own Night Garden. The iconic song greets you as you open the door into this magical woodland world. As grown-ups you will sleep under the stars of the famous carousel canopy, while the kids drift off with Igglepiggle. One thing is for sure everyone is guaranteed to get a good rest in these well-equipped rooms. Sleeping up to 5 people, these rooms are designed for young families with a double bed and a separate sleeping area containing a bunk bed and a truckle bed for the kids.
Arrival And Check-In
Our stay was midweek (Tue and Wed) during term time. We followed the signs to the CBeebies Land Hotel and parked directly outside in the car park. The building looked new and the colourful entrance very enticing. It’s worth mentioning that there were a few workmen around doing bits and bobs. As the hotel had only been open for a few days, I can only assume that some work was running behind schedule, e.g. plants being put into the soil out the front. Give it a week or so, and I imagine everything will be complete.
The CBeebies Land Hotel entrance featured huge, colourful writing, a rainbow and a plane with a bugbie in it. The excitement levels were pretty high – and I’m not talking about Toddler L. We were greeted as we entered, asked if we were staying at the hotel and were shown over to reception. We arrived at 11.30am, so correctly assumed that we couldn’t check-in until later (check-in is 3pm). However, our theme park passes etc were at reception so we picked them up. Everyone was friendly and helpful – a great first impression. I’ll come on to the interior a bit later.
After spending a few hours in the theme park, we came back to properly check-in around 3.30pm. Unfortunately, our room still wasn’t ready and we had to wait another 15 or so minutes. I can appreciate that things are still new, they have a tight turnaround yada yada yada, but it was a little annoying that we had to wait 45 minutes after standard check-in time. Luckily, there’s plenty of entertainment whilst you wait. More on that below too.
We were given lanyards to wear to show that we were staying in the hotel and Toddler L was given a badge and one of those snap wrist bracelets. We were also given two room keys and given directions to our room. Unlike many hotels where kids are actively ignored, children here were welcomed at check-in – there’s even some small stairs kids can climb so that they can see what’s happening at the desk. Great idea.
In The Night Garden Themed Bedroom
The CBeebies Land Hotel has 76 different hotel rooms. We stayed in one of the character themed rooms – In The Night Garden. If Upsy Daisy, Iggle Piggle and crew aren’t your – or your kid’s – favourite, then they also have the ‘normal’ Bugbies room or themed Postman Pat, Something Special, Octonauts and Swashbuckle rooms. Our room was on the third floor and accessible by lift or stairs.
On opening the door, you are instantly smacked in the face by everything In the Night Garden. The walls are covered in wallpaper which depicts the grass, trees and characters from the show, whilst the carpet also resembles grass, flowers and stones. It’s certainly a bold and unique interior choice, probably copied from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s time on Changing Rooms.
In terms of layout, the room is designed to give the kids – and adults (!) – their own space. As you walk in, you’re greeted with a separate kids’ area to the left, storage on the right, the bathroom a little further on the left, then the main bedroom. I don’t know about you, but one of the most annoying things about staying in a hotel is that your kid is in the same room as you – this means they don’t go to bed on time, and if they do, you literally can’t do anything without waking them. As such, a layout like this is a game changer and something we’ve not seen before.
The kids’ area actually sleeps three – there’s bunk beds and a sliding mattress which is underneath the bunks. We pulled the bottom one out in case we had any fall outs during the night. There’s also a few other nice little features, such as night lights accessible from the bed, a TV and an activity wall which has a couple of puzzles. There’s also a huge Iggle Piggle watching over your kids at night – I’m not sure if that’s reassuring or creepy…
The main adult part of the room features a double bed, TV, desk, bedside tables, coffee making facilities and a fridge. It’s like any normal hotel room, apart from the fact it looks like Upsy Daisy has vomited all over the room. The adults’ bed is actually pretty cool – it’s made to look like the carousel from the show with stars above you. The bathroom is a pretty standard hotel bathroom, with the one main exception being a huge Makka Pakka in the shower with you. To clarify, that’s a photo on the wall rather than a man in a seven-foot outfit – I think you need to pay extra for that service.
A huge effort has been made to make sure these rooms are perfect for the whole family. Far too often, kids are forgotten about, but this certainly isn’t the case here. Obviously the decor was a huge hit with Toddler L, but the room is more than aesthetics as they’ve been designed with babies, toddlers and kids in mind.
For instance, there was a travel cot in a drawer, a baby bath on top of the cupboard, a bottle warmer on the desk, a toddler-level peep hole through the door, lowered light switches, kid-friendly toiletries, a step stool and an integrated toddler seat on the toilet. The latter was obviously hugely useful as we’re currently potty training. It was the most child-friendly and family-friendly hotel we’ve stayed in.
Strangely though, the rooms didn’t have a safe, which I’ve come to expect in hotel rooms. Similarly, we couldn’t find a hairdryer, which again seems an oversight and I’m sure I’ve read something about one being there. All in all though, it was a comfortable hotel room for the adults and a fantastic experience for Toddler L who got to stay the night with some of her favourite characters.
The CBeebies Land Hotel is made up of a couple of different areas. The main entrance has a shop and the reception desk on the left, decorative walls featuring bugbies doing various things on the right and a magic story book in the middle. Colour is everywhere – it’s quite the entrance.
As you go further in, there’s the stairs on the left and lifts on the right – side note, I found it strange that they’d only installed two lifts in the building. The lifts were quite cool though – again, colour was splashed everywhere. I’m pretty sure you’d have a seizure if you were trapped in the lift for any length of time.
Going a bit further, there’s a small seating area with a bar on the left, then the huge Musical Meadow on the right where the majority of entertainment happens. Here, there’s tables, stools and bean bags, a huge screen, the stage area and forest-inspired decor – leaves hang from the ceiling, trees are painted on the walls etc. Again, pretty impressive.
Walking further still through the CBeebies Land Hotel, you have toilets on the left, the library room on the right and the Windmill Restaurant in front of you, which continue the impressive theme and decor. I won’t say much about the restaurant now as I’ll cover it in the food section later.
Something I didn’t expect was the huge array of entertainment happening during our stay – I assumed the Alton Towers theme park was the entertainment, with the CBeebies Land Hotel providing a bit of a theme aimed at preschoolers. Oh how I was wrong. It turns out that there’s an actual entertainment schedule exclusive to those staying in the hotel. This starts at 7am and runs right through to 9.30pm. Not that you would, but in a way, you could sack of Alton Towers and just spend all day at CBeebies Land Hotel.
To give you a flavour, this includes meet and greets with characters, live shows, organised games and, of course, the chance to watch CBeebies just like at home – only with a bigger screen. Obviously, we didn’t hang around for all of the entertainment as we were busy in the theme park and waterpark, but we did manage to see quite a few things. For instance, on arrival at the hotel to check-in, Toddler L got to meet Little Monster from Justin’s House. This was closely followed by meeting Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle from In The Night Garden.
Later on, we caught the end of Bing’s Sleepover, which featured the annoying toddler rabbit singing and dancing with the kids. After we’d eaten tea, we listened to a couple of stories in the Library which had a much more chilled out vibe to the main Musical Meadow room where the other stuff had happened.
After this, we then headed back to the main room where Toddler L rocked away to Ubercorn’s Disco – this was a mixture of upbeat modern and classic songs, which featured an appearance from the Go Jetters’ mentor. Finally for that night, there was Stargazing, where a fella told a few stories about certain constellations as the kids laid back – and nearly fell asleep – on beanbags.
The next morning, we managed to catch Postman Pat for a meet and greet just as we finished breakfast. We then hung around for a meet and greet with Ubercorn, before getting involved in Get Up And Go With Tree Fu Tom which involved more dancing, moving and copying his actions.
All of this entertainment happened in the hotel and was inclusive of our stay. Although it may look like we did a lot and hung around the hotel most of the time, this was all stuff that we saw either in the evening before bed or in the morning before check-out. The people involved were friendly, the entertainment was well thought out and the kids seemed to love it – I know Toddler L did for sure. Having this stuff happening in the hotel made our stay even more fun and it was an unexpected bonus.
We ate our evening meal in the Windmill Restaurant – as the name suggests, this featured a huge windmill in the middle of the room. The entire place was funkily decorated – there were clouds, planes, hot air balloons, flags and bugbies galore getting up to all manner of things. It was certainly impressive.
We’d made a reservation online earlier in the day as we knew we wanted to eat in the hotel – I’d suggest you do that too if you wanted to eat in there as certain slots were fully booked. We were shown to our table by a friendly waitress and were given menus and a few other bits and bobs.
The menu actually had a large and varied number of dishes – spaghetti, Sunday roast, burger salmon fillet, rump steak, fish finger dog etc. Rather than there being a kids’ menu, it was a combined kids’ and adults’ menu – you’re given the option of choosing the dish for a ‘little guest’, a ‘grown up’ or a ‘family share’. The menu was CBeebies themed (obvs) and consisted of five chapters – (1) salad and snack bar, (2) the pizza factory, (3) starters, (4) mains, and (5) desserts.
As part of the bumf we were given at the start, Toddler L was provided with crayons, something to colour in and some stickers. It turns out that these stickers were more than just mealtime entertainment. They could actually be used if she wanted to order a pizza from the pizza factory – as she’s my daughter, she obviously wanted to as she loves pizza nearly as much as me.
I’ve never seen something like this before, but basically she could choose what she wanted to put on her pizza by sticking the relevant food item stickers on a picture of a pizza – the waitress would then take this away for the chef to create. She went with a mozzarella cheese, chicken, tuna, sweetcorn and tomato number – I’m not so sure you’d usually see chicken and tuna on the same pizza, but she was adamant it’s what she wanted.
We also ordered a garlic and mozzarella flatbread to share, the missus went with a pizza (it’s unlimited toppings so she went crazy), I had the classic steak burger and we had a couple of drinks. Each meal came with wedges and we also could help ourselves to the salad bar. I thought the salad bar had a pretty good selection of fresh things – pasta, potato salad, hummus, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, pepper slices, celery sticks, tomatoes, lettuce and other bits.
This total bill came to £53, which felt a little on the pricey side, particularly as the food was nothing special. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, but I was expecting a bit more as it was quite bland. There is a definite focus on healthy and fresh food, which should be applauded – for instance, the pizza bases are 60% wholemeal and 40% white flour, whilst the tomato sauce contains 10 different vegetables. All in all, I’m pleased we ate there for the experience, but the actual food was a little underwhelming.
We returned to the Windmill Restaurant in the morning for breakfast. Again, we’d booked – this time at 7.15am. We were greeted on arrival and were asked if we had any nutritional requirements or allergies – I’m pretty sure I’ve never been asked this before. Even though we haven’t, this was a big thumbs up and showed careful consideration, particularly as the focus is on kids.
We were seated at the opposite end of the room to the night before, were told about what food was available and offered teas and coffees. We then had a look at the food on offer. This included pastries (pain au chocolat, muffins, croissants and pancakes), cooked breakfast (bacon, sausage, egg, beans etc), cereal, granola, yoghurt and fruit. They even had a funky juice station with breakfast smoothies.
Again, there was obviously an emphasis on a wide choice of healthy options which was great. We helped ourselves to various things and it all tasted nice. I find that hotel breakfasts can often be hit or miss – this was definitely a hit and is the type of breakfast I’d happily have at any hotel we stayed at.
Other Things To Note
In addition to the stuff I’ve already said above, I just wanted to touch on a couple of other things. Firstly, to get to Alton Towers from the CBeebies Land Hotel, you have a bit of a walk. I assumed there’d maybe be a shuttle service or something, but there wasn’t. Instead, you have to walk 15 or so minutes passed the Alton Towers hotel and Splash Landings hotel to the monorail – it’s then another five-ish minutes (when no queues) on the monorail. This is fine for adults, but feels a bit far for young kids and means factoring in half an hour to get to the theme park.
On a similar note, we were actually given Express Parking at check-out on the second day as as we were heading back to the theme park. We assumed we’d stay parked in the CBeebies Land Hotel, but in fact was able to park as close as humanly possible to Alton Towers. This meant we didn’t need to walk or get the monorail – we were parked 30 seconds from the theme park entrance. Express Parking is usually £16, so it was an added bonus to find that this was thrown in.
Guests staying at the CBeebies Land Hotel also get one hour early access to CBeebies Land within Alton Towers. This means you can beat the queues before they’ve even started by having an hour to yourself on some of the rides. Again, this wasn’t expected, but was a nice little unexpected perk.
Finally, the hotel feels safe. There’s a person on the door greeting people and stealthily checking that you’re staying at the hotel – plus turning away those who have come for a look. When inside the hotel, you also need to use your room key to access the lift, the hallway and bedroom, so there’s no randoms wandering around. It all feels safe and secure.
Our stay at CBeebies Land Hotel would have cost £356. This was for one night bed and breakfast for two adults and a toddler, as well as theme park tickets for two days. Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. That is very pricey and probably out of budget for many families who couldn’t afford to spend that on two days of fun.
But, is it as expensive as it feels when you break the costs down? If we bought two day saver tickets online to Alton Towers, that would be £115 for us as a family. A hotel breakfast would usually set you back £10 each, so that’d be £30. Then there’s the parking at £6 one day and £16 the next. So that means we’re talking just under £200 for a themed bedroom, the experience of staying at the hotel and all of the included entertainment.
It’s still not cheap, but you do get a reasonable amount included which goes someway to explaining the price tag. Do I think it’s worth the money and would I pay it? Well, yes and no. It was a great experience, we have some fab memories and Toddler L absolutely loved it – but, it’s not something we could justify every time we went to Alton Towers. I could however see us splashing out a bit more on a special occasion – like a birthday – but we’d probably cut corners to save money, e.g. make a picnic, not eat in the Windmill restaurant etc.
Staying at the CBeebies Land Hotel was way cooler than I thought it would be. I had high expectations, but I can honestly say that nearly everything surpassed these. I’m hardly CBeebies’ target demographic, but I was excited and had a blast – just think how much Toddler L loved it!
It’s obvious that a lot of thought, care and attention has been put into making the hotel a destination for preschoolers. Everything is a sensory experience – we’re talking lights, sounds, things moving etc. There’s so much to look at, to do and to take in that I’m surprised more kids didn’t have their heads blown off with excitement.
Our In The Night Garden themed hotel room was great. Toddler L loved being able to stay in a room with her favourite characters, whilst it had nearly all amenities that I’d expect from a hotel room. The decor probably wasn’t something I’d choose at home (!), but the separate section for kids was genius and it was the most family friendly hotel room I’ve ever stayed in before.
The icing on the cake was the inclusive hotel entertainment. There was something like 14 hours worth of different things that the kids could do – from meet and greets with characters through to dancing and singing, Toddler L was thoroughly entertained every second we were in the hotel. And, let’s remember, the main purpose of Alton Towers is to get entertainment from the actual theme park and not the hotel.
It wasn’t perfect though. I’m probably being a little harsh due to the high price tag, but I felt that the evening meal was average, we had to wait to check-in despite already being 45 minutes after the supposed check-in time and getting to the theme park from the hotel was a bit more arduous than I’d hoped.
However, all in all, the stay was fantastic and (should you have £350+ spare in your wallet) your kids would love you forever for booking a room at CBeebies Land Hotel. I’m pretty sure you’d secretly enjoy it too.
The DADventurer Star Rating
5 out of 5 stars
Disclosure: Our stay at CBeebies Land Hotel and the Alton Towers theme park tickets were provided to us by Konfidence as part of our Swimologists ambassador role during 2017, however I was not asked or expected to write about our stay at the hotel.