Last weekend saw us having a Stay Play Explore mini-break around Leicestershire. I have only got really good things to say about this, so I will say right up front that I think this break represents fantastic value for money, is great for families and every aspect of our stay and adventures were crammed with fun and great service. What more could we need?
How the Stay Play Explore Break works
For a family break, you can choose 3 attractions to visit over the weekend (or indeed over three separate weekends if you’re relatively local and want to do it this way) from this list. You don’t have to decide up front, you can book your break, get your passes and they are then viable at any three places that you go for. It’s £149 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children and along with the attractions you’ll enjoy overnight accommodation including breakfast at a choice of 4 star family friendly hotels. If you have more than 2 children, you’d add an extra £20 per child. The hotel choices are all listed on the website, so you simply pop your chosen date in and see what’s available and where. Once booked, you can print off your attraction tickets and you’re good to go!
Where to Explore and Have Fun
As a family with a 7 year old and 4 year old, we chose to visit Conkers, the National Space Centre and Twycross Zoo.
This is a great place to visit with children as there is so much to see and do and plenty of space to run free and explore. We had a good look around the Discover Centre inside, which is full of interactive exhibits about nature, the environment, recycling and fuels, animals and more. Outside we went round the Fairy Labyrinth, followed the Sensory Trail, strolled the Barefoot Walk, delved into the Deep Dark Wood, rode the train and had fun in the play areas. There are also daily shows and activities such as pond dipping to take part in.
National Space Centre
There is so much to learn here! Boo was reading lots of facts and attempting the experiments and hands on exhibits, Little Man was just enjoying running about touching, poking and pulling everything! It’s a very interactive and informative place with plenty to see. The highlight here for the kids and the Husband was the wonderful planetarium show. For me, not so much as it made me feel sick, but if you get like this with shows, I can assure you that the seats don’t move and it is quite relaxing closing your eyes and listening to the show!
Now in the interests of full disclosure, I need to say that Twycross Zoo is the zoo of my childhood, so I am completely biased and subjective where its concerned as I have so many happy memories there. I always like visiting, and it seems to be getting better and better every time. The Gibbon Forest area was just brilliant, a great way to see so many of these animals up close. Boo loved the pets corner with the guinea pigs, and then there is a huge area for zebras, her favourite animals. Little Man loved watching the orangutans and we were fortunate to be visiting a few days after a baby was born and were delighted to get a little glimpse. The butterfly house is always a hit, the play areas were thoroughly explored and we spotted a new wet play area that I can see being lots of fun in the warmer months.
We stayed at the Leicester Marriott and were very happy with our accommodation. The staff were friendly on arrival, and we’d been upgraded to an executive room. We had two double beds, so we all had a comfortable night. It was free parking on site and it’s right next to Fosse Park if you fancy squeezing some shopping in. There is a swimming pool so do take your costumes, and whilst we were there it was open from 6am until 9pm for children, though be aware that it might be busy so it’s worth asking for a call to your room when they have availability. The pool has family changing and towels, lockers and toiletries are all provided. Oh, and as an aside, I loved the toiletries – green mandarin, smelled so good!
We went down to breakfast at around 8.30am on the Sunday morning and there was a nice buzz in the dining room without it feeling too busy. We did notice as we were checking out at around 10am that there was a big queue then, but I’d say if you have young kids, you’re having an early breakfast anyway, right?! Service was great, with hot drinks provided straightaway and tables cleared quickly. And there was so much choice! There was the full range from cereals to pastries to fruit to meats to pancakes to porridge to toast and lots of preserves to a full hot breakfast. You could also order eggs any way you wanted them, and there were plenty of juice options. All food was fresh and tasty and we all filled up for the day ahead.
We comfortably managed to visit the three attractions over the weekend. Conkers is around 20 miles from the National Space Centre, where we were then around 6 miles from our hotel. The following day we visited Twycross Zoo which was 18 miles from our hotel.
We took a picnic with us to Conkers so didn’t try their food, though they do have a restaurant on site. As our hotel was next to Fosse Park, we ate there on the evening before checking in. The following day the breakfast filled us all up so all we ‘needed’ at the zoo were ice creams! There were several restaurants and kiosks open there.
Absolutely loved every single aspect of it. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about our break. I am happy that we chose the right attractions to suit our children, and I can see that maybe if we do this again in a few years time, we’d be going to different places and trying different things. Each and every place we went to was a great experience and our hotel stay simply couldn’t have been better. A huge thumbs-up from all of us.
Disclosure: We received our break FOC for the purposes of this post