Ev is currently a huge fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, so we bit the bullet and booked a trip to Thomas Land for his Birthday, together with a stay at the Drayton Manor Hotel in a Thomas & Friends themed room.
On arrival, we were greeted at reception by a miniature carousel, a large model of Thomas, and child size shiny statues (presumably on their hols from the Island of Sodor). There is no denying that the hotel is first and foremost a four star, with touches for little ones here and there. However, there were enough nods to Thomas to hit the right spot with Ev. His face lit up as he gazed around reception, and he was delighted to be presented with a gift bag as we checked in.
Our room was a standard Thomas room, number 25, and one of three on the ground floor. These Thomas & Friends themed rooms are located at the end of a standard corridor and Ev’s excitement hit new heights when he saw the brown patterned carpet change to a track as we neared our door.
The track continued into the bedroom much to Ev’s delight. On entering the room, his eyes lit up as he took in the large plastic Thomas bed end and detailed mural that covered the wall and ceiling of half of the room. He was thrilled with the trio of balloons that we’d ordered in advance as an extra birthday treat, and clutched these as he began pointing out all of the characters that he recognised on the walls.
The room was divided into two areas: the left boasted most of the theming and contained bunk beds which were each laid out with Thomas blankets. Each bed also featured a DVD player, as Ev was quick to point out. On the right was a more adult-friendly space with double bed and flat screen TV. We had requested a cot for Harmie and this had been made up for our arrival.
The room had a light and airy feel to it, and there was plenty of space for the four of us even with the cot taking up extra floor space. Ev snuggled on his bed and watched a Thomas DVD while we unpacked. These can be borrowed from reception, so that was one less thing to worry about bringing with us.
We headed to dinner in the Parklands Restaurant & Bar at 5 pm. This time seemed to be popular with families of young children and the dining atmosphere was relaxed – perfect for us. The restaurant staff were polite and helpful; meeting our request for hot water to warm Harmie’s food and patiently waiting for us to make up our minds before ordering (looking at you there Westy!)
The children’s menu was varied and featured chicken nuggets, fish goujons, spag bol, pizza, burger and sausages. Ev opted for chicken nuggets followed by a bubblegum ice cream sundae (don’t panic; all flavour no gum). I’m not sure if it was the popping candy in the sundae that was the icing on the cake, or if he just suddenly realised how much fun he was having, but between mouthfuls of ice cream he smiled and said “Thank you. For coming here today”. My heart soared and for that alone I’d book the night away all over again.
After dinner we skipped the children’s entertainment that was offered between 6 pm and 8 pm (this appeared to be music and games run by an energetic duo) and headed to our room to commence the bath-time routine.
We were feeling like we had won at life when both Ev and Harmie were bathed and ready for bed by 8 pm, and we were looking forward to a glass of wine and a film. Then the fun began. Ev realised that he could get out of his bed. Harmie realised some kind of excitement was happening without her. Chaos rained. And rained. Finally, Westy called reception as a last resort and requested an additional cot, and they offered a bed guard. All hail the bed guard! This helped to settle Ev and we finally had peace and quiet just after 10 pm.
Our bed was wonderfully comfortable. I could nearly have imagined that I was experiencing the joy of a hotel bed sleep fantasy if it weren’t for Harmie’s middle of the night wake up call (and Westy’s snoring). I set my alarm extra early and treated myself to a soak in the tub before breakfast. This in itself is a compliment to the cleanliness of the hotel; you won’t catch me enjoying the bubbles unless it’s squeaky clean. The grout was immaculate.
Character breakfast was included with our room rate and this was offered at 8 am sharp. We were mighty impressed with ourselves as we traipsed to the restaurant bang on time and joined other excited Thomas fans filing into the restaurant. The tables had been set with Thomas napkins and party hats, together with children’s cutlery for the little ones which we thought was a lovely touch. The breakfast buffet was reasonable with standard full-english fare, and tea and coffee was poured at the tables.
Westy went and plated up our breakfasts while I fed Harmie and chatted with Ev about the much anticipated arrival of Sir Topham Hatt. As Westy was doing his plate relay, Sir Topham Hatt entered the restaurant and made his way around the room greeting the children individually. Having chatted with the children he made his way to the centre of the room to engage them all in singing Happy Birthday and a dance activity. My one and only niggle with our stay would be that this felt a little rushed. Having all been asked to arrive at 8 am, the queue for breakfast was significant and as such Ev’s plate had just been placed in front of him when the children were asked to join in the dancing. Ev promptly refused, pointing out that he needed to eat his breakfast. He quickly recovered at the offer of prizes of colouring packs!
Having filled up on breakfast, we headed back to the room to pack and prepare for our day at Thomas Land. Ev snuggled back on his bed enjoying the remainder of the Thomas DVD while we re-organised our bags. We then waved goodbye to the room, and Ev commenced his now daily requests to stay with Thomas again. If it weren’t for the promise of a fun-fulled day at Thomas Land, i’m not sure we’d have been able to convince him to leave. That in itself means that the stay got a big thumbs up from us. Ev lived the dream in all its tank engine glory – the fact that the room and hotel were lovely for adults too was an added bonus for us!
- At the time of our visit (which was a Saturday night) the Parklands Restaurant & Bar accepted Tastecard which significantly reduced our food bill.
- There was a non-slip bath mat in the bathroom, super handy for our Ev who worries about slipping in the tub.
- As we discovered, bed guards are available from reception (we’d guess at a limited availabilty).
- Standard Thomas & Friends rooms can be booked online. Deluxe Thomas & Friends rooms can be booked at an additional cost by calling the reservations team. We didn’t opt for a deluxe but we enquired and were informed that these are more spacious and have views of the theme park.
- There is a fridge in the room – perfect for sterilised baby bottles (or a bottle of wine that you might get to drink if you have a more successful bedtime routine than we did).