I had the opportunity to take a few days off work so a couple of friends and I decided to relive our youth and take a trip to Alton Towers Theme Park.
From Strathaven (where we live) it’s about 4 ½ hours’ drive down to the village of Alton in Staffordshire where the theme park is based, so rather than leave at the crack of dawn we booked the 3* Stone House Hotel in Stone to stay the night before we went to the park. The hotel is about 40 minutes’ drive away from Alton Towers.
The Stone House Hotel is located just on the outskirts of the town of Stone, it was really easy to find using the hotels postcode on the satnav. There was plenty of parking at the main entrance to the hotel with additional parking available just off of the main road. Stone House Hotel is a country house style building with the addition of newer wings to incorporate bedrooms, swimming pool and a conservatory reception area.
We were checked in by the friendly and efficient receptionist who gave us details about breakfast, directions to our room and using the leisure facilities.
Our room was a classic family room and consisted of a double bed and a single bed. There was plenty of room for the 3 of us and our luggage (when I say our luggage, I really mean me, as I don’t travel lightly. A girls got to have options!). The décor and bathroom was a bit dated however both were extremely clean and in good condition.
We had a walk along to the pool and sauna to see if we were going to use them, but the facilities are quite small and there was a few people already in so decided not to bother. Instead we went for a walk around the hotel grounds and then down to the nearby Aldi to grab some supplies for Alton Towers the next day.
When we got back to the hotel we headed to the bar for a few drinks before getting ready for dinner. My friends are into their real ale’s so were happy to see something different on tap rather than just commercial brands. The prices were pretty reasonable too, a large Pinot Grigio and two pints of beer (I think it was call Shed Head) was only £13. The hotel was quiet so got served with ease and the bartender was really friendly asking us where we were from as he used to work in a hotel in Inveraray.
We had opted to book a dinner inclusive rate as not being too familiar with the area we didn’t want to drive around looking for somewhere for dinner. Our table for dinner was booked for 7pm and we had a choice of 3 courses from the Sunday lunch menu which is served all day on a Sunday. There was a good selection of dishes. I had black pudding with poached egg to start, Barry and Martin both had the goat’s cheese and sun dried tomato tart. For mains we each had something different, I had roast pork which came with vegetables and mashed potato. Barry had steak pie and chips and Martin had roast lamb which also came with veg and boiled potatoes. There was a £3 supplement for the lamb. Of course we had to have desert to, it would have been rude not too, myself and Martin had raspberry Crème Brule cheesecake and Barry had his favourite – sticky toffee pudding. The food was really good so I would definitely recommend dining in this hotel.
After dinner we sat in the lounge for a couple of drinks before heading to bed for our early start the next day.
Breakfast is served from 7am and was cooked to order rather than buffet breakfast which was nice for a change most of the time when I stay in hotels it’s buffet breakfast. The three of us went for the full English breakfast to give us plenty of energy to run about like kids all days.
As it was during the English October School holidays the roads were pretty quiet so it only took us about 30 mins to get to Alton Towers. The theme park doesn’t open until 9:30am (with the rides opening at 10am) but we wanted to be there in plenty of time to get parked and buy our tickets. Tip: If you pre-book your tickets online you get a discounted rate, however we had saved our Carex hand wash bottles so had ½ price entry which meant we were only £27.50pp instead of £55. During the month of October and beginning of November Alton Towers becomes Scarefest to celebrate Halloween. During this time the park is open until 10pm and you get the chance to ride the rollercoasters in the dark. There is also the Alton Towers “ancestors” running around the park getting up to mischief and a choice of Haunted Mazes (at an additional cost). We didn’t opt for the mazes as I’m a giant wimp!
Our goal was to try and get to all the rides we had never been on before (it was 9 years ago since we were here so there was quite a few new one) New for 2018 was the Wicker Man so that was our first stop. The queue was pretty long even before the ride opened but it didn’t take long to go down. It was well worth the wait. We then headed to Thirteen which is now one of my favourite rides, it was scary but amazing.
The park was extremely busy from the get go and didn’t really quieten down throughout the day. Wait times for the big roller coasters were from 45 mins to 2 hours. We were going to go on the Smiler but the queue time for this was around 2 ½ hours and by this point it was 6pm and pretty cold so we decided at that point to head home.
My tips for visiting Alton Towers would be:
- If you can, don’t go when the schools are on holiday or at the weekend as this is when the queues get pretty long. I would say it was generally school/college kids that were at the park more so than families
- If you do go during the holidays, be prepared to wait or be willing to spend more money on the fast track passes. These sell from £20 – £100 and allow you to skip the ques. (We wished we’d took that option as we only ended up on 6 rides all day)
- There are plenty of eating places in the park but if you are trying to eat healthy then you will struggle so may be worth packing your own food or have a cheat day!
The journey home was easy and we didn’t get held up with traffic. It was a great couple of days but we were pretty shattered by the time we got home.
For latest details, go to Stone House Hotel.
For tickets go to the Alton Towers Website
Or you can check out other cheap short breaks