For Little Man's 4th birthday a few months ago we gave him the choice of having a party or going to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor and stay over in the hotel. He chose the latter as he had watched the 'Thomas Hotel' (as he called it) being built over the last 18 months or so and kept asking if we could stay there. As we only live 2 hours away we normally only visit for the day but as it was a special occasion it seemed like a good opportunity to try out the hotel. Booking I booked our room via the website www.draytonmanorhotel.com. I put in the date I wanted to stay and the site brought up all the available rooms and packages. As it was Little Man's birthday I decided to book a Thomas themed room, which was an astronomical £220 including a character breakfast. You could also book dinner and park tickets with your room, but I already had Tesco vouchers for our entrance and wasn't sure what we wanted to do for dinner so just stuck to the room booking. I secured the booking on my credit card, but this was just in case we did not turn up. There was also a warning when I booked that the Thomas rooms were for families, and if there was not at least one child staying in the room then the booking would be cancelled. The Hotel The hotel from the outside is quite bland looking, but has turreted towers to make it look a bit like a castle. It has its own car park, but as the hotel offers conferencing facilities it can get very busy. We managed to park but were unable to get a disabled space so it was a bit of a struggle to get Little Man out of the car, but this was not a major problem. The inside of the hotel was a real surprise compared to the outside. The foyer is light and bright with a huge Thomas themed carousel which the children can make move at the touch of a button. There are 3d models of the trains carved into the walls, and statues of the people that you see in the Thomas episodes. We took loads of photo's of Little Man at various displays in the foyer! There is a shop located in the foyer too, however like the one in the theme park it is extremely overpriced with about 30% mark-up compared to the high street. There are wooden train tables dotted about the hotel, but they do not provide trains as they go walkies so I would bring something from home if you can. There is also a small amusement arcade and an outdoor play area accessible from the foyer. Check-In We were in the theme park until about 15.30, and there was two receptionists checking guests so we only waited a couple of minutes to be checked in. As we had booked a Thomas themed room, Little Man got a gift pack with a book, stickers and crayons. He also got a dvd for the night which he could swap as many times as he liked during his stay. I had review all my details I had given when I booked and fill out our car registration number, then we were given two key cards and directions to our room which was on the second floor. You needed your key card to access the lift to stop people who aren't guests nosing, about but bizarrely you also needed them to get down which I couldn't understand! Our Room The Thomas rooms are located at the end of each corridor, and as you approach them the carpet changes to train tracks which delighted little man wheeling along in his chair! The track carpet continues into the bedroom stopping at the foot of the Thomas bed. The room was large with a large window making it light and airy. It was a T shaped room with the bathroom of the entrance corridor, with a large king size bed to the left and Thomas bunk beds to the right with a large desk with the fridge in the middle. Our bed was really comfortable with a big puffy duvet. There was a large LCD television mounted on the wall in front of the bed with Freeview channels. On the other side of the room is the Thomas bunk beds with personal DVD players mounted on the end, and a lovely Thomas mural painted on the wall. The bathroom is a good size with a bath with wall mounted shower, basin and toilet with soft close lid. There are also wall mounted shower gel and soap, and a complementary bottle of Thomas body wash which you can take home. Other Rooms There are 150 rooms including the 15 Thomas themed rooms, and there is something to suit any budget from a standard room which start from £49 out of season, to the three presidential rooms in the turrets which I have never found available so can only imagine what they cost! All rooms come with flat screen television and mini fridge and from the pictures on the website all appear to be of a decent standard. Food As the car park was so busy that we decided to leave the car where it was and eat in the restaurant. We both had the rib-eye steak with jenga chips, and it was really nice. The main courses were £19.99 which I thought was a bit pricey but was so nice I can't complain. Little Man had a 2 course children's meal which was the minimum you could order. He had garlic bread to start (which we ate), and chicken goujons which he picked at. The puddings were all ice cream based which he won't eat (strange child!) so we didn't bother with dessert. His meal was £7.99 and two courses was far too much for him, so I felt there should have been a smaller option on the menu (which I did feed back to them). The bill for dinner came to almost £60 including soft drink, and although the food was nice and the service was excellent, it was not much better than a beefeater but for double the price. Next time I will risk not being able to park and find somewhere in Telford. Breakfast was included with the room and was very good. There was lots of breads and rolls, a great variety of cereals, continental meats and cheeses, as well as fresh and canned fruits. The full English breakfast was excellent - the sausages were great chunky herby bangers, I think you can tell a lot about the quality of a cooked breakfast by the sausage! For me the star of the show was the fresh warmed croissants, and as it was a buffet you could eat as much as you liked (so I did). As we had the Thomas room and it was school holidays we got to have a themed breakfast. You can upgrade to this, but I really wouldn't bother! The only difference was you got bothered by the fat controller and his assistant every few minutes, and if you ate all your breakfast you got a certificate at the end. If I went again I would just sit in the standard breakfast area and eat in peace! Check- Out Check-Out was at midday. As we hadn't ordered room service or charged anything to our room checkout took just minutes. All I had to do was hand back the keys and the DVD, and confirm they could charge the card I booked with for the room - although I could have opted to charge another card or pay cash. We asked if we could leave the car in the hotel car park while we went back to Thomas Land, as there was an entrance gate opposite, which was fine. So would I return? Yes - but only if I could get a good deal! Although the Thomas room was lovely it certainly wasn't worth what we paid. However I don't think having stayed in one I could stay in a standard room! I did like the fact that Little Man had a proper bed, as every time we have stayed in a hotel with a sofa bed it has been a complete nightmare, and here he slept through until seven. Little Man absolutely loved his birthday treat, and still talks about going to the 'Thomas Hotel', so I guess it was worth it. If you are coming a long way to visit the park then regardless of what room you book you are likely to have a comfortable stay, and if you book early enough then it is no more expensive than a Premier or Holiday Inn and at least you won't get lost finding it!
*Overview* The Drayton Manor hotel is located in Tamworth, just off the M42, M6 Toll road and approx 15 minutes from the centre of Birmingham. It is literally on the door step to the Drayton Manor Theme Park, being 20 meters from the Parks entrance. The nearest train station is Tamworth, which is just 4 miles away. Drayton Manor hotel Drayton Manor theme park Drayton Manor Drive Tamworth B78 3SA Originally the building was owned by Sir Robert Peel. These days however it is a four star hotel set in 280 Acres of parkland and lakes. I booked our stay here very last minute during the summer holidays. I popped into the local Thomas Cook on the Saturday and booked a room for the next night. I happened to have some Thomas Cook vouchers about to expire and decided to use them on a "stay and Play" offer i had seen online. As always Thomas Cook were brilliant to deal with, althought slightly expensive. We paid for a interconnecting family room (2 adults and 2 children) which was £198.00, this price also included full breakfast and entry tickets for the Drayton Manor Park (the tickets were to be collected on arrival at the hotel) I have seen on the hotels website that they have different offers running regularly and I am sure cheaper deals could be found on other hotel websites. Of course rates also depend on the type of room being booked and this hotel has a variety of different rooms avaliable which i will discuss in more detail further on. I must note that it took sometime to arrive at our destination. The general drive up there was fine but towards the end of the journey we were stuck in a traffic queue to get into the actual park. We finally arrived in the car park a few hours later than we had hoped. However, we were met with large flashing signs informing us that the theme park would be open until 7:30 in the evening, so we still had plenty of time to play. I think the reception at The Drayton Manor Hotel had to be one of the nicest receptions I have even seen, and any parents dream! In the center was a large chair for resting those weary legs after a long journey. Dotted around the room where Thomas the Tank Engine themed characters, brilliant for keeping the kids occupied whilst queuing and sorting out our room at reception. There is also a Thomas the tank engine shop located in reception. However, we never went into the shop as I thought I would spend enough money in the actual theme park. There was a small queue in reception but this went down fast and I was greeted quickly by a young lady. She apologised for the long queue in entering the hotel and park carpark and again I was told that the park would remain open until 7:30pm. The receptionist took my details and I was handed three key cards along with our park entry tickets. All the usual information was given, breakfast, check out times etc. I was also informed that as they were quiet busy they were recommending guest pre-booking a table in the hotel restaurant, we decided on 8:15. We decided to head to our rooms before going to the park. Both stairs and Lifts are located next to each other in reception. A room key card is needed to use the lift. Along the corridors leading to the rooms hung pictures of Drayton Manor and more impressingly large 3D murals of Thomas the Tank Engine and friends bursting out of tunnels. Impromptu photo sesion ensued until the kids got bored and would not let me take anymore snaps of them posing in front of James or Emily. As mentioned before we had booked interconnecting rooms. Both rooms were very clean and of a high standard and tastefully decorated. We had a lovely view with plenty of trees and greenery, it was also very quiet. In the first room we had a double bed and also a sofa bed. The en suite bathroom was well equipt with clean fluffy quality towels and the usual toiletries, shampoo etc. A small sign informed us should any additional bits be needed (eg. Razors) they were avaliable at reception. There was a shower over the bath. The second room had twin beds and another pull out sofa bed. The en suite in this room was for disabled access, it had a walk in shower. On using their bathroom one of my children mistake the pull alarm for the light switch and reception staff knocked a few moments later to check everything was ok. I was not too happy about the pull alarm just dangling from the ceiling with having a three year old using the room thinking it was a bit dangerous, so we had to move the cord out of the way and tie it to the shower rail to keep it out of reach. Both rooms had large flat screen tvs attached to the wall which included all the usual freeview channels. One thing I was particulaly happy about was the hair dryer, instead of the usual hair dryers in hotel rooms which take forever to dry your hair, this one was of a good quality and worked well. Both rooms also had a tea and coffee making facilities. Other rooms available include a standard room which can accommodates two adults and two children, Double room with two double beds for up to four adults and Presidential rooms. Also available are Thomas the Tank Engine themed family rooms which include Thomas bunk beds each with their own dvd players and Thomas welcome pack. After visiting the theme park we took the short 2 minute walk back to the hotel to eat in the restaurant. We were seated at our table very quickly by the staff and given menus. Drink orders were promptly taken and delivered. The childrens menus were on paper "mats" with puzzles and pictures too colour in, pencils were provided, rather like what you get in pizza hut. Always good when children are kept busy in restaurants! There was also some Thomas the Tank Engine toys to play with but my daughters were not too interested. I was very happy to see that the restaurant catered very well for vegetarians, with plenty of choice! My partner and I both had a main each, the kids had a main each from the childrens menu, we ordered two additional bowls of chips this all came to around £45 including a few drinks too, which I think was a fairly reasonable price. The restaurant had a nice atmosphere and the staff were friendly and efficient. It was extremly child friendly. Next to the restaurant was a bar, but as we didnt visit it I cannot comment on what it was like. The Buffet breakfast was served in the restaurant. A large variety of food was available. Hot food including beans, eggs, etc was served by staff and although vegetarian sausages were not out I asked and some were brought to my table a few moments later. They also had all the usual cereals, fruits, breads and pastries. Check out was at 11:00. Again staff were friendly and efficient. I would recommend the Drayton Manor Hotel to anyone visiting the theme park. It is conviniently located and of a extremely good quality.