You know you’ve hit the jackpot when you take the children to a themepark and they even adore the carpets. Ours spent hours dancing from island to island on the brightly coloured floors kitted out to look like a pirate treasure map. They were not in the park itself – Alton Towers, near Stoke – but in the Splash Landings Hotel that’s part of what they now call a ‘resort’.
Staying at a themepark used to be the province of Disney, but some of Britain’s major players now let you take the frenzy out of your day with a relaxing night. Splash Landings is Caribbean-themed, and so good Disney would be proud. It has Beachcomber family rooms (with bunkbeds), Pirate ‘cabins’ and other themed rooms (including one jaw-dropping Ice Age room), plus calypso music, limbo dancers and a colourful restaurant as acceptable to parents for dinner as it is to children. Plus, of course, there are those fun carpets, washing from your room down the hallways…
Then there’s Splash Landings waterpark – one of our children’s favourite places anywhere. The year-round indoor section (overlooked by the buffet restaurant) is a lagoon surrounded by rocks and ramshackle buildings, with places to float and places to get soaked, along with the Master Blaster waterslide. Toddlers can have gentle fun while bigger children can let off energy. Outdoors are more lazy options for summer.
The original Alton Towers Hotel is also an escapist affair – a country mansion kitted out with the phantasmagorical creations of inventor and explorer Sir Algernon Alton. Rooms (sleeping up to six) are equally eccentric; particularly extravagant themed options include Peter Rabbit and Arabian Nights rooms. Our kids loved the showtime in the big bar, even dancing with the entertainers. Both hotels offer single-night packages that include two days’ park and waterpark entrance (and an hour’s start on outside visitors).
Read also our feature on a family weekend break at Alton Towers inluding at stay at the Alton Towers Hotel.