For our recent visit to Chessington to experience the new Gruffalo River Adventure Ride we wanted to make the trip extra special for the girls so we booked one of the brand new Gruffalo themed rooms.
This is our review of the new Gruffalo rooms at the Chessington Safari Hotel.
Arriving at the hotel we parked at our exclusive dedicated Gruffalo parking spot, which is reserved for Gruffalo room guests, close to the Hotel and Theme Park entrance.
The African themed ambience starts as you walk through the doors of the main entrance and enter the spacious lobby of the hotel. Even before we got to the check-in desk we caught our first glimpse of the Gruffalo theme with a snake wrapped around a post, you could tell this hotel was going to be different.
When you book a Gruffalo room you can check-in from 2pm which is 2 hours earlier than other hotel guests. We were warmly welcomed to the hotel by the friendly hotel staff and check-in was fast and efficient.
Once all the paperwork was finalised, we received our bands for early access into the Chessington theme park, made our dining reservations and we were advised of the meet and greet times to come face to face with the Gruffalo himself in the hotel.
As we were staying at one of the Gruffalo rooms we received a family VIP Explorer Fastrack ticket which was great, as we could ride any of the Fastrack rides throughout the day, which saved us so much time waiting in lines.
As we opened the door of our hotel room the look on the girls faces was priceless as the rooms have Gruffalo themed audio. Phrases such as “you go ahead and I’ll follow after” activate when you open and close the hotel room door (this can be turned off if you wish).
We are a family that travels a lot and the girls have stayed in many great hotels over the years, but I have never seen them so excited as when we stepped into our Gruffalo room at Chessington. It was as though we had been transported into the pages of Julia Donaldson’s book The Gruffalo.
The theming and attention to detail is what makes these rooms so special, it really was a dream hotel room for the girls. The walls were beautifully decorated with Gruffalo painted scenes, bespoke furniture and even the carpet had a woodland scene complete with little footprints to follow.
The spacious rooms have two distinct sleeping areas, one for adults and one for children. The girls little enclave had a bunk-bed treehouse complete with their own Gruffalo themed TV where they could watch the Gruffalo animated films.
There was also a bottom bunk that pulled out meaning the room could accommodate two adults and up to three children.
The mouse from the Gruffalo was standing in their bedroom holding the TV remote which the girls thought was brilliant. It really made the girls believe they were sleeping in the Gruffalo woods especially with the decorative leaves draped around the room.
The attention to detail and theming of these rooms is of the highest quality with lines from the Gruffalo story written on the walls next to their woodland themed beds, which engaged them into the story.
This was a lovely touch and my daughter has been constantly quoting lines from the book ever since our stay.
The girls loved finding the interactive elements in our room, such as the giant wooden wheel which when turned would say phrases from the book including “twit twoo” and “a mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood”.
Behind the faux stone cushions on the floor was a hidden door and when you opened the door the children found a Gruffalo story book. My youngest daughter loved reading the book before bed along with watching the film from her bunk bed.
I really like the little details for children, like the child size Gruffalo mugs and a Gruffalo themed cushion complete with purple prickles. Being a Gruffalo room there was no traditional dressing gowns on offer for the girls to wear, but instead they had really cute Gruffalo hooded towels to use throughout our stay.
In the adults section of the room we had a king size bed which was really comfortable with quality bed linens complete with woodland detail.
The Gruffalo theme continued with lots of leaves around the cornices of the bedroom and trees but the star attraction of the room was located above the headboard of our bed.
A giant 3D Gruffalo head was peering through the foliage into the room. “WOW” the girls exclaimed when they when they first caught glimpse of the Gruffalo but it’s what makes these rooms so special.
By having two separate sleeping areas was perfect as it meant that the girls could go to bed without being disturbed by lights or the noise of the TV. It was like having two separate bedrooms in one room.
Even the bathroom was also Gruffalo themed. The owl from the story was imprinted onto the shower screen, the walls continued the Gruffalo story and there was even a television built into the wall at the end of the bath.
The TV was a big hit for the girls as they watched their favourite programmes, quoting lines from the Gruffalo whilst enjoying their Lush Cosmetics themed bubble bath. It made an exciting bath time and they loved jumping out the bath into the Gruffalo towels.
The rooms had everything you needed for a relaxing stay . Each room had tea and coffee making facilities, air conditioning, fridge, a large wardrobe with a good amount of hangers and a good size desk. Along with the TV’s in the children’s area and bathroom there was also a wall mounted HDTV in the adults bedroom.
The view from the hotel window was outstanding looking out on to the Wanyama Reserve where animals such as Giraffe, Zebra and Sitatungas were freely roaming.
Dining at the hotel
Zafari Bar & Grill is the main restaurant at the Chessington Hotel and is open daily for breakfast and dinner. A stay at the hotel includes a free buffet breakfast including hot cooked breakfasts, fruits to cereals, but it can get very busy and you have to book a breakfast slot at check-in.
When staying in a premium Gruffalo room it would be good to have the option to have breakfast at your leisure rather than having to book, but this is only a small criticism.
After a busy day at the park we dined at Zafari Bar & Grill which offered a decent a la carte menu which was surprisingly good coupled with great service.
My husband and I had the burger which was delicious and the girls had pasta and pizza. There was also a buffet restaurant in the adjacent Azteca hotel but this looked a little too hectic for us.
Other Hotel Perks
Staying on-site hotel when visiting Chessington offers many unique benefits. Chessington Hotel guests get early access into the Chessington theme park (from 9-10am).
The park is literally just a short walk from the hotel which allowed us to ride the new Gruffalo ride four times before the park officially opened to off-site guests. This alone is worth the extra cost compared to staying at an offsite hotel.
When the park closed hotel guests have the opportunity to get close to the animals with an evening walk around the Wanyama reserve. This coupled with the new AMAZU treetop walkway was so much fun and gave excellent views of the monkey enclosures below.
There was also complimentary car parking for all hotel guests, a swimming pool and nightly children’s interactive entertainment at the Rangers Club in the hotel with meet and greets with the Gruffalo, games, a mini disco and so much more.
Not only are the Gruffalo rooms a fantastic addition to the Chessington Safari hotel they were the highlight of our trip. What you get is an experience like no other which was really special for the children.
There are very few hotel rooms around the world that can literally immerse them into such a magical experience and made our visit to Chessington and the new the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure even more memorable.
Is it worth the upgrade?
On to what really matters – are the new Gruffalo rooms at the Chessington Hotel worth staying at, and ultimately is it worth the extra cost?
The new Gruffalo rooms are the most expensive rooms at the hotel, but it’s well worth the extra expense and something I would strongly recommend for a special occasion. It’s a fun way to extend your Chessington theme park experience that your children will never forget, the girls have said it’s their favourite hotel and can’t wait to return!.
When you add in the benefits of exclusive early check-in, VIP parking, Fastrack and more importantly being able to see your children’s faces as they enjoy the Gruffalo themed rooms it really seemed worth it to me!