You know what you’re signing up for when you book a stay at the Alton Towers Resort. Set foot in the Alton Towers Hotel and you are greeted by friendly staff offering cheap and cheerful service, surrounded by a spacious reception area based on fictional explorer Sir Algernon. (You’ll find his flying ship “crash-landed” in the hotel bar.) It does what it says on the tin, providing a fun-packed haven for youngsters with short attention spans.
The rooms are basic with no frills décor, that is unless you decide to opt for one of the hotel’s themed boudoirs. From the Sonic the Hedgehog Room to the Chocolate-inspired dorm, this is a sure-fire way to get the kids excited before you’ve even set foot in the theme park. Meanwhile, keen swimmers can stay in the neighbouring Splash Landings Hotel for a Caribbean-themed water park experience.
Hotels aside, it’s the theme park you made the journey for (and Alton Towers knows a thing or two about a good rollercoaster). From the twisted tracks of Nemesis to the famed plunge into Oblivion, a day inside the park is guaranteed to give your vocal chords one hell of a workout.
New this year to the popular selection of white-knuckle rides is The Smiler – a looping, hooping rollercoaster that aims to “marmalise” fearless thrill-seekers. The creepy smiling faces that leer down as you queue are enough to make you jumpy before you even buckle your seatbelt. Top tip: don’t embark on this after lunch.
Special mention should also go to Rita which speeds passengers from 0 to 100kmph in just 2.5 seconds and the nerve-shredding underground experience Nemesis Sub-Terra which leaves its customers shaken and stirred as they stagger back into daylight.
Food and drink:
The Alton Towers Hotel offers guests a selection of eating options. Sail past Sir Algernon’s marooned ship for an evening in the fauna-themed Secret Garden restaurant providing a buffet-style breakfast and an evening brasserie. Don’t expect any big surprises on the menu with mains ranging from burgers and fish and chips to Caesar salad and roast chicken.
If steak’s your thing, pay a visit to The Emperor Grill which serves up a meat feast of burgers, skewers and, you guessed it, steak. Or if it’s a daytime meal you’re after, The Atrium offers a buffet brunch and light lunch menu. Each eatery is child-friendly, with a range of kids options available.
Inside the park itself, you’ll be hard pushed to find anything beyond sandwiches and greasy fast food, although if you’re counting calories, the Woodcutter’s Bar and Grill and Courtyard Barbecue & Bar are your best bet. Prices are on the expensive side, so if you’re saving the pennies there are plenty of rolling green lawns, suntraps and packed lunch spots.
Adults in need of a stiff drink to recover from a day in the park can head for the Alton Towers Hotel Dragons Bar – although the warbling vocals emanating from the live entertainment aboard Sir Algernon’s deck may necessitate a higher bill than you’d anticipated…
Price: Adult theme park tickets start from £35.10 and children from £29.25 when booked online in advance at www.altontowers.com. Hotel prices start from £33.75 per person based on four people sharing.
Radio Times Travel rating: 7/10. No luxury getaway or gourmet food, but this is family-vacationing down to a tee and your kids are guaranteed to have a blast.