We have been to the Cbeebies Hotel at Alton Towers twice now in just over a year, so I thought that I could offer an honest review of our experiences for other parents.
The first time we went our son was 2 years old (it was his birthday present) and the second time we went back we also had his little brother with us, RLT was 3 years and 2 months and EET was 10 months old. The second time was a last-minute treat from the boys’ Dad as there was last minute availability at the hotel and he had booked a week off work.
CBeebies Hotel Entrance and Check-in
Booking at the CBeebies Hotel provides you with the opportunity to park outside of the hotel and get the monorail to the theme park. When you pull up in the car park of the CBeebies Hotel, you can’t help be impressed with the entrance giving fun and welcoming vibes. One of the Bugbies is waiting to welcome you from an aeroplane outside of the hotel with music playing. A hotel worker will also be waiting at the door to ensure you’ve got a reservation and to direct you to check-in. You can’t go up to your room until 3 pm, but staff are more than happy to check you in, give you your room keys and take your bags up to your room for you for 3 pm. More importantly, they direct you to the toilet, as I’m guessing most people have travelled there to make use of the theme park for the day so need baby change and toilet facilities after the car journey.
The hotel foyer is impressive and instantly takes kids’ breath away with the interactive elements, bright colours and general buzz of the place. Everything is very straightforward and lifts are to the side of the foyer, toilets to the other side, restaurants in front and before that there is a musical meadow – the place where the entertainment happens up until 9.30pm from the check-in time. I did notice that the interactive storybook was not working on our second visit, the installation in the middle of the foyer used to spin and change colour, so the entrance had less of a dramatic impact this time. The musical meadow floor had started to lift so there was a strip of electrical tape holding it down right across the width of the floor, which looked rather amateur given that the pieces of vinyl on the floor were beautifully illustrated.
There are general CBeebies rooms within the hotel, which are the standard price or themed rooms decorated with characters from particular CBeebies programmes, which come at a premium price and are classed as suites as they sleep more than the standard rooms. We have always opted for the CBeebies rooms as our son thinks that the hotel is the CBeebies House studio from TV. The rooms are generous in size and sleep five, six if you include a little person in the provided cot, and have a separate bunk bed area from the double bed area. Again the rooms are decorated throughout, including the bathroom. Beds are comfortable, toiletries and towels are provided as are tea and coffee facilities, iron and ironing board and a bottle warmer. There is also a small fridge. The rooms are certainly getting a little run down now, our carpet was covered in what looked like bleach splats and drops of something green, which because the carpets are patterned looks even worse. We found some used tissues pushed underneath the pull-out bed, which were not ours, but otherwise, the room was immaculate.
Given that our youngest was only 10 months old on our visit, we didn’t expect that he would love it as much as he did. But he was smiling from ear to ear the moment we got to the hotel. It was fantastic to be able to have an experience that they could both enjoy given what different stages they are at developmentally.
The hotel entertainment is really what you pay the money for. The musical meadow is a little toddler paradise with a large tv screen which shows CBeebies programmes in between the exclusive 15 minute shows provided by the hotel entertainment team, when they are joined by CBeebies characters.
Bing, In the Night Garden, Octonauts and Postman Pat all have segments which end in a meet and greet so you can get your photograph taken with them, with the queues obviously being a lot smaller than they are in the CBeebies Land tent area where you can do the same.
There are also Swashbuckle, Andy’s amazing animals and other segments such as Let’s Dance and musical sessions which are run by the entertainment team without the characters.
Restaurant and food at CBeebies Hotel
The aesthetics of the Windmill Restaurant are great, but unfortunately, that is as much as you will be impressed. The dining experience lets the entire place down, not only is it expensive for what you get, the food is of poor quality and the menu is extremely limited. We were warned about this beforehand last year by Mark’s boss and he even wrote about his experience in his review of the grand opening of CBeebies Hotel, in which he was invited to with his family. I didn’t notice it so much last year as my vegetarian lasagne was ok, but this year we opted to get the family burgers which were £40 and the burgers tasted like they were weren’t even beef, just cheap nasty rat burgers, the buns were dry as sticks and the number of chips you got for a family of four were minimal. I think even my 10-month-old baby managed to eat what they had put together as an adult portion. The quality of the breakfast wasn’t much better. The beans were awful, the bacon incredibly dry, the sausages again tasted cheap and horrible and were covered in fat and the variety of breakfast cereals on offer, given that it was a children’s hotel were shocking. There were cornflakes or rice crispies or all other varieties covered in sugar. Service on a morning was really bad. I was shown to a table by a grunting young lady and not offered a high chair when I had a baby in my arms, but I could see every family around me had been offered that service. Service on the evening was better, but slow. Although I think the poor guy realised when our 3 year old couldn’t sit still any longer, so his Dad had to leave with him whilst I paid the extortionate £40 for the dry, horrible burgers, as he gave me a voucher for a free drink when I left. I must have looked like I needed it! I don’t have any pictures from any of the times I’ve been in the restaurant as I have obviously been preoccupied (probably by the terrible food but more than likely by my child who we struggle to get to sit and have a meal anyway).
Hotel generally comes with 2 day passes for the park. In 2018 we paid £488 for 2 adults and 1 child for 2 nights hotel and 2 day park. In 2019 we (Mark) paid £360 2 adults 1 child and 1 infant for 1 night hotel and 2 day park. We had been pricing up for many months to take our little boy back for his birthday in June but were looking at around a £200 increase on price from last year.
On reflection, the hotel did not feel as busy this year as it was last year, it made the entire experience better in terms of the entertainment was less crowded and you were able to get a seat. Maybe the new price point is to provide a better level of experience through less occupancy? I don’t know, but we had a great time, both times. Even more so with the two boys enjoying different elements. I thought the baby would be too young, but he absolutely loved it, so it definitely felt better value for money for two children to enjoy at the new price point. They loved it. RLT had not stopped talking about it for an entire year, and given how little he has talked until recently, that’s a big thing so it’s definitely worth it for making memories.
The images used are a mixture of 2018 and 2019 images. All opinions are my own and not paid for.