24-Hour Room Service: Legoland Resort Hotel, Windsor

It slowly wins you over, brick by brick

My parents once took me to visit Legoland while we were on a camping holiday in Denmark. It was 1981 and I was nine, the age that the elder of my two sons is now.

It was a gentler time. Legoland Billund was the only one of its kind, its key attraction being scale-model replicas of the wonders of the world – plus a Norwegian fishing village – rendered in Lego. As far as I can recall there were no queues, few "rides", and no hard sell of Lego products. There was, however, the chance to drive a Lego car on a Lego street, past Lego road signs, to obtain my Lego driving licence (which I still possess).

Black-and-white pictures exist of me, resplendent in a towelling tracksuit, clutching the hand of a large plastic pig in "Fabuland". Behind my over-large plastic-framed spectacles my eyes are alight with joy.

Now, 30-odd years later, I occasionally find myself charting a course to Junction 6 of the M4 and Legoland Windsor, which opened in 1996. Seen through adult eyes, it's a very different sort of place. The queues are dispiritingly long, both to enter the park and to join the rides. The roller coasters and their squirty, splashy, whirling alternatives shout too loudly over the replica Canary Wharf in "Miniland", which seems dusty and neglected.

Lunch is a high-volume, three-step affair. (Fancy a fajita? 1. Choose your base; 2. Choose your filling; 3. Choose your topping.) There's still a Lego driving school, but now you have to pay for your driving licence. For my children, the light of love seems to shine only in the shop, where ever-grander Lego kits draw them like moths to a burning wallet.

So, I wasn't too hopeful about Legoland Windsor's latest innovation, the Legoland Resort Hotel, which opened last weekend. It won me over, though, brick by brick.

Location

The first thing you see as you arrive at Legoland is the hotel's brightly coloured clock tower, with a smoke-belching green Lego dragon lurking above and a quartet of massive Lego "Minifig" characters – if that isn't a contradiction in terms – below. Rigid Lego flags rotate on the roof, careless of the direction of the wind. If you took these trimmings away, the building would belong to the Travelodge school of architecture. With them, children's expectations soar stratospherically high.

Inside, a Lego mobile spins at the centre of what is a rather dark lobby, with a low ceiling. In fact, there's Lego everywhere. Behind the reception desks 6,000 Minifigs are pressed against a Lego wall, Lego creations from junior guests stand on the shelves opposite, and a huge bath of Lego provides an unusual distraction near the lifts.

Crucially, the hotel has its own car park, which means the first difficulty of a trip to Legoland – queuing for a parking space in a desolate zone far from the main gates – is surmounted.

Access to park is via an entrance at the back of the hotel, and guests are given half an hour's "early bird" access to some rides before it officially opens in the morning.

Comfort

The template for the 150 rooms is that of a mini-suite in one of three themes: Kingdom (knights and princesses), Adventure (Indiana Jones, but not actually Indiana Jones, presumably for licensing reasons) and Pirate. At this point, for brevity, I must introduce a pair of useful terms: Made of Lego (MOL) and Not Made of Lego (NMOL). Our Pirate room contained a mirror in the shape of a ship's wheel (NMOL), skull-and-crossbones motifs (MOL) and a carpet designed like the deck of a ship (NMOL). There was also a treasure chest (NMOL) that the children could open once they'd uncovered a secret code. Inside were prizes (MOL).

Our double bed (NMOL) had a sail-like canopy and a swashbuckling red-velvet headboard; the boys had bunk beds. For company, we had a monkey, a parrot, a butterfly and a large rat (MOL, thankfully). The children were entranced, because Lego is always at the forefront: a big box of bricks is supplied for immediate in-room construction purposes.

Downstairs, the Pirate's Splash Pool is small and looks likely to be overwhelmed during peak times, but the airy restaurant – which serves NMOL potatoes in the shape of Lego bricks, but also offers salads and main courses that are far from plastic – is briskly efficient, with helpful staff. The all-you-can-eat evening buffet costs £19.95 for adults (£9.95 for children) and during ours a huge Star Wars Lego Stormtrooper popped over to make friends, which was charming of him. Round the corner, the Skyline Bar serves drinks (emphatically NMOL) with a view of the small stage, where we witnessed a giant pink Lego brick singing "Reach for the Stars".

Everywhere you go, there are Lego models: picture frames, flowers, bottles of wine. There's even a huge ice cream made from tasty-looking Lego in the restaurant. Inevitably, there's also an in-house Lego shop, but for once the children found everything else considerably more interesting.

I'm all grown up now, and Lego has grown up too. But for a cost-effective mini-break with your own little Minifigs, a stay at the Legoland Hotel fits together rather well.

Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel, Windsor SL4 4AY (0844 844 8099; legoland.co.uk/hotel)

Rooms ****
Value *****
Service ***

Family rooms (two adults and two children) from £247, including breakfast and park tickets for two days. (Pre-booked park tickets normally cost from £139.32 for a family of four per day.)

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer the industry can flesh out an existence
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Arts and Entertainment
art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable