I have to confess; before I arranged this trip ‘up north’ (yes, outside the M25) I wouldn’t have been able to locate Staffordshire on a map. Yes I’m one of those Londoners.
Well I’ve been missing out all these years because Staffordshire is lovely! We went over the bank holiday in May; the one where we actually had good weather!
We stayed at Best Western Stoke on Trent Moat House Hotel; a 4 star hotel (easily located off the M6) with 147 rooms and a bar, gym, pool, spa and most importantly, free WiFi. I can’t bear hotels that charge for WiFi.
We stayed on a B&B basis and breakfast was enormous. They had lots of options for folk like me who can’t eat gluten or dairy and staff were very helpful in catering to the dietary needs of a lactose intolerant 3 year old. The hotel grounds were very picturesque and wedding friendly; in fact there was one held every day we were there. Despite that, in our room we couldn’t hear dancing or any other shenanigans.
To get the most out of Staffordshire I recommend buying an Enjoy Staffordshire Thrill Hopper which gives entry to four attractions – Alton Towers, Drayton Manor, Waterworld and SnowDome.
We started our weekend activities with a 15 minute drive from the hotel to Monkey Forest; an outdoor nature reserve set in 60 acres of woodland where 140 Barbary Macaques monkeys live in complete freedom. We saw them interacting (and arguing) with each other, grooming and feeding and there are guides dotted around the reserve to let you know what they are doing and why. The kids absolutely loved it.
Later that day we dressed up for Winter and braved the cold at SnowDome. An hour from the hotel, the dome offers something for all ages – snow play for small children (which is what we did) boarding, sledging, skiing, an ice-disco – there really is something for everyone. Typical that when it was 20 degrees plus outside we were sledging down mini slopes, but we all had great cold fun.
After another giant breakfast at the hotel the next morning, we made the five minute journey to the Emma Bridgewater Factory where we enjoyed a tour of the Victorian factory and their old school pottery making methods as well as a pot of tea in the charming café. If you book in advance (we didn’t) you can also decorate your own pottery which most kids (and adults) are going to love.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do in Staffordshire and certainly recommend it as an idea destination for families and singles alike. It’s perfect for half term and we will certainly be back.
Rooms at Best Western start at £30 per person per night on a bed and breakfast basis. To book visit www.qmh-hotels.com.
Enjoy Staffordshire Thrill Hopper Family Ticket (two adults, two under 12s) – £170 granting one entry each to Alton Towers theme park, Drayton Manor theme park, Water World and the SnowDome.
Monkey Forest – adults £7.50, children (age 3-14) £5.50. Under 3s go free.
We were guests of enjoystaffordshire.com.