My kids were beyond excited to hear I’d booked a stay at the Chessington Resort in the Safari Hotel. Staying inside an actual theme park is a massively special treat, and Chessington didn’t let us down, especially on their brilliant Zootastic Sleepovers weekend…
Our stay was in January, which means the theme park rides are almost all closed but the zoo has exciting extras for Zootastic hotel guests. We arrived on the Saturday afternoon, checked in and went up to our African Adventure room. Everything about the hotel is themed, which is such fun for the kids. From the giant giraffe in the hotel atrium, to lifts like you’re in a hot air balloon and corridors carpeted in explorer trails, everything is fun, exciting and imaginative.
Our African Adventure themed room was brilliant. The kids stay in the first section of the long room, decorated like the inside of a safari-tent, with bunks and their own TV. Parents at the other end, which was tastefully decorated with just enough zebra print! Some of the other themed rooms overlook the actual park, so I expect views of zebras and giraffes and all the other animals that roam freely in that area, which would be a really spectacular treat!
We then went straight to our session in the splash pool. We were late for our timed slot, but the staff didn’t mind at all. And they helpfully suggested we go back to our room to get towels, instead of paying to use the pool ones. They didn’t mention the £1 locker, so our bags were left poolside instead. The splash pool was fantastic. A normal pool, plus splash zone (with slide, sprays and general water fun), a baby pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room! We had a great time trying it all out, and it wasn’t at all busy thanks to the timed slots.
I’d booked the buffet restaurant for our dinner and the food was pretty good, with a plentiful range of adult and child-friendly options. Not the most exciting meal for me, but full of brilliant touches for the kids. There’s a ‘Juice Lab’, lots of yummy desserts, but the best part was the ice cream making station, where kids get to make their own ice creams and add all the sauces and toppings themselves. All this in a Temple-themed setting, sound effects included!
After dinner we explored the hotel and the kids entertainment. There’s a full programme of activities and shows for kids. Mine (at 8 and 11) were a bit old for most of it, but we enjoyed watching the dreaded mini disco! The atmosphere was fab, with lots of kids and adults getting involved. There are also movies and characters to meet, so the kids have zero chance of getting bored, while parents can relax and have a drink or two in the various bars. My 11 year old was worried he might be much older than the other kids, but they were of all ages, and all having a blast!
Breakfast is included in the package, and you have the option to book the buffet or a la carte restaurant. Apparently the food is the same in both, but the kids love a buffet so we went for that again! And again, there was lots of choice so it was ideal.
The Zootastic Sleepovers include entrance to the zoo on day 2. As hotel guests the main extras are a Sneak Peek at the Giraffes and a How to be a Zookeeper Live! demonstration, with the chance to meet smaller animals. The zoo really is fantastic. You’re able to get up close to the tigers and lions and we loved the inquisitive little monkeys.
There’s also a SEA LIFE aquarium, with walk-thru tunnel. Some of it was shut off for our visit, but it was still full of weird and wonderful sea creatures!
The zoo wasn’t at all over-crowded due to the theme park being closed for winter, so you can get a good spot to watch all the animals, even during the feeding sessions and displays. Plus there’s a playground in the sky, made up of a series of netted walkways, which I had no idea was there and was fantastic fun.
Zootastic Sleepover weekends are a really good value way to enjoy the zoo without the stresses of the theme park, and the crowds that flock. We had a brilliant stay, and I will definitely take them again. The magic of staying at the resort was unbeatable for making wonderful memories with my kids!