With the Easter holidays in full swing it leaves me thinking about all sorts of different things, such as what to do with the children, and gets me thinking and planning for the summertime. I think that a theme park has to be pretty much be on the bucket list for children, right? Luckily there are quite a few to choose from in the UK, with Alton Towers being one of them.
We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the new stargazing Pods at Alton Towers this past weekend, so my sister and her family went along for us to check it out, as we got delayed in Dubai on the way home from our travels. Alton Towers Resort’s new Stargazing Pods are accommodation that aims to get families to embrace the great outdoors, reconnect with nature, feel inspired by the world around them, and spend quality time together (all being a moments way from the theme parks itself).
If you are more of a glamping than camping person, then this could be for you. Here is what they thought:
When I think of camping, I think of a field in the middle of nowhere, being kept up all night by the people in the tent next to me and waking up freezing cold. I don’t expect to sleep in a warm, cosy wooden pod only a stone’s throw away from on of the country’s most popular theme parks.
But that’s exactly what I did in Alton Towers’ new Stargazing Pods. We were lucky enough to be invited to the opening weekend of the pods to find out what the experience was all about.
On arrival, we were greeted at the check-in desk by some lovely friendly employees who explained everything to us and we checked out the map to find where our pod was. It was easy enough to find so we threw our bags in and went to take a look around the area.
There are picnic tables all around so there is plenty of space to sit and have dinner or a few drinks on an evening, although you are able to access the facilities in the main hotel, which is just a short walk away if self-catered isn’t your thing. There are some play areas, that my daughter loved and drinking fountains and vending machines are available as well.
The pod itself is very cute but it is very compact, with 2 single beds and a double bed at the back. If you’re used to large hotel suites, then this may come as a bit of a shock but compared to camping in a tent it is practically luxurious! It was decorated with a starry theme, which is cute, and I was pleasantly surprised at the amenities: USB charging points and plugs by every bed, a radiator and obviously lights as well.
We spent the evening in the bar in the tipi, which puts on live entertainment and there are characters that come and dance with the children. My daughter loved it and the event staff were fantastic with her, teaching her new dance moves. I wrapped myself in a blanket and listened to the magical self-playing piano; there was a great atmosphere. Once the sun set, we were able to go outside and use the telescopes to stargaze in the beautiful night sky. The telescopes are the perfect height for children and they loved it, they don’t cost anything and you can use them whenever you like.
We had a good night’s sleep in a proper bed, with a decent mattress and comfortable bedding. It was surprisingly quiet and we could barely hear other people outside so there was nothing to disturb us, which is good when you have a busy day at Alton Towers ahead!
We used the communal facilities in the morning to shower and get ready, which is a normal part of camping and they were clean and spacious but very different to staying in an en-suite room. We then headed back to reception to check out and pick up our breakfast – bacon sandwich and tea, coffee or orange juice. A quick walk to the monorail and we were on our way to a fantastic day at Alton Towers – most of which was spent in CBeebies land with a 4 year old. Life doesn’t get much better than that!
- Affordable way to stay at Alton Towers and take advantage of the early access
- Enjoyable atmosphere
- Warm, cosy pod
- Free drinking water available
Not so Best Bits:
- The pods are not suitable for cots or wheelchair users. I also think people with limited mobility or sensory issues might not enjoy the pods as there is not a whole lot of room
- The tipi is a bit chilly – blankets are available but heaters would be nice
- Queues for the shower in the morning
- They’re called stargazing pods but the only stargazing is with the telescopes. How cool would it be if they had a sunroof!?
- Book in advance if you would like to dine at a restaurant. They were fully booked the night we were there.
- £10 deposit is needed for the key
- Apparently bedding and towels are extra, so make sure you check in advance and bring things if needed!
- Bring extra food and drinks. We packed SUPER light because we were worried about space but we could have done with a few extra things and the car park is so close it would not be an issue to keep things there.
We had a lovely time staying in a stargazing pod and would definitely visit again. I had thought about booking a stay at the Alton Towers hotel before but it was too pricey so these are a great alternative if you don’t mind becoming one with nature for the night.
The launch happened to be on ‘Look up to the Sky’ day on 13th April, which fit perfectly as when dusk rolled on, you could get cosy in the pods and look up to see the stars. I think if we plan a visit over there, I will make sure that we are all kitted out in some cosy outdoor gear from Millets, so we can ‘look up to the sky’ and be cosy and warm.
The team at Alton Towers have also found that one in four Brits do not regularly gaze at the stars, and thirty percent of Brits questioned, admitted that they can’t identify any constellations in the sky. So the pods are a great way to counter that, as you can get to know the world around you and get outdoors in nature.
If you want to get your family into stargazing, then Mark Thompson (astronomer and Stargazing LIVE co-host), who was at the launch, said these are some of the best ways to do it:
- Get the gear – the secret is to use a torch that gives off a dim red light
- Get a star chart – stargazing apps can show you the night sky from your location, any time of year, day or night
- Look Up – armed with your torch and star chart you can look up and start learning your way around the night sky
- Join a stargazing gang – a fun way to boost your new hobby and make lots of new friends
- Buy a telescope or binoculars – take it to the next level for the best way to view the moon and stars
The pod prices start from £88 for up to four people, and they really are a fun and unique way to spend time as a family, and get outdoors. Visit www.altontowers.com to book the Stargazing Pods.
Have you been to Alton Towers before? It would be great to hear what you think to the new Stargazing Pods!
*this is a collaborative post – but all opinions are our own.