Are you always looking for a family getaway for a weekend or more? Have you ever heard of Stay Play Explore? They offer short breaks that are great value for money! One of our very own families from the Family Creator Network enjoy a short break at the start of February – here’s what they thought all about it. Everyone, say hello to Abby and her family…
Hi, I’m Abby, mum of two little ones and engaged to my partner of nearly 9 years…where does the time go? Time seems to fly by, so I think it’s important to spend time together as a family. We love taking the time as a family to go on adventures, holidays and staycations, they really do create wonderful memories to cherish. We also love lazy Sundays at home with hot chocolate too!
We were very kindly gifted a bundle experience by Stay Play Explore who gave us the opportunity to stay in a top family hotel and visit three fun attractions in the Hinckley area of Leicestershire – it was a jam-packed, fun-filled weekend and our toddler has not stopped talking about it!
Booking A Stay Play Explore Trip
Every morning leading up to our trip for about a week, our toddler was asking if it was our holiday yet and if we were going to the zoo…I was fully in the excited mode too, I had our packing list written a week before…do you do the same? I do find it helps because no doubt I’ll forget something if not.
Hinckley is around three hours from where we live so we got up and left quite early, to get the most out of our first day. I took books in the car for our little ones to read, (or me to read to them) and some toys. I also packed extra toys, books and colouring books in their suitcases. We stopped off around halfway at the Cambridge services for coffee and a snack. Check-in was at 3 so we decided to visit the nearby town of Market Bosworth beforehand where we found some lovely independent shops and stopped in a local café called Jaffles for lunch (which was delicious!) and a cup of tea… of course we couldn’t leave without cake!
They enjoyed a 2-night trip with 3 attractions as a family of four: 2 adults, 3 year old and an 8-month-old.
2nd - 4th February 2024
Total price: £259 including breakfast
Check-in time arrived and it was only a short 20-minute drive to our hotel; The Leonardo Hotels Hinckley Island. Checking in was super quick and easy, the staff were so friendly too, and our room was decorated for our arrival which was so special. The room was a lot larger than I expected, with a bathroom, wardrobe and a table. There was a cot provided, complimentary bottled water, tea and coffee. We were lucky enough to receive a complimentary meal from the hotel in their Triumph bar, which much to our toddlers’ excitement, had an actual motorbike in!
Food & Drink
The food was delicious, and the service was amazing, the staff were so lovely and attentive, they didn’t even mind our baby sharing their pasta with the floor! Breakfast is included for both mornings as part of the bundle, which is a buffet in the restaurant near to reception. There was SO much choice, from hot food to cereal and pastries, even porridge on request!
This made it easy to feed our baby and toddler without needing to pre-buy anything.
Swimming Pool & Leisure
The hotel also has a large leisure facility including a swimming pool, hot tub and gym. The only issue we had was that the changing rooms were either female or male, with no family changing rooms. We only took one bag with us so had to split what we needed… easily resolved but definitely something to bear in mind. The swimming pool is a really good size, and a lot of fun to be had. Make sure to book your hour slot if you want to make use of it!
A short drive away is Bosworth Battlefield so it made sense to explore there as we still had time before check-in.
This was our first attraction as part of our bundle. My three-year-old couldn’t wait to get into the museum, there were interactive buttons and screens before even stepping foot past reception… I knew he was going to love it! There were so many fun, interactive things for children (and adults) to do, that we could have spent a lot longer there…the drawing and brass rubbing were a hit for our toddler, he didn’t want to leave it!
From trying on costumes, metal detecting, bookmark stamping and a big giant map game, it’s set up for whole family fun! Robert and I came away talking about what we’d learnt too. There’s a large outdoor area to explore, perfect for picnics, long dog walks or for the children to run around! This area is referred to as Richard III’s country and it was so interesting to find out why, I’ve always found history as a subject quite interesting, so places like this are cool to visit!
Our next attraction was Twycross Zoo, which is huge! We had half a day here, to make sure we could fit in as much as possible, but you could easily spend a whole day, take a picnic or stop in one of the many food places.
Before you get into the actual zoo, there is a giant soft play surrounded by a gift shop, café and restaurant. We came back to the café for lunch after we’d explored a bit of the zoo, a good variety of food was available. We queued up at the entrance and then were directed to guest services to have our Stay Play Explore tickets scanned which was really straightforward, then off to explore the zoo!
We started with the Gruffalo Trail which we all loved! It’s a favourite story in our house so we recited it as we walked around. It was so interactive, the animatronics were awesome. The trail finished with a Julia Donaldson character-themed gift shop and café. Then onto the animals, we saw zebras, rhinos, giraffes and gigantic tortoises to name a few, but we were most entertained by the bonobos!
We definitely recommend spending some time checking them out, they loved to play around and swing from their climbing frame with lots of wow’s and oooh’s from the audience. If you do go, see if you can spot the baby, it’s super cute! Lastly, we visited the gift shop, and our toddler chose an elephant puzzle (£2.49 bargain!), despite them not being at the zoo, it was a fun topic of conversation around other animals!
Conkers was next on our list and only 15 minutes further from the zoo and also included in our Stay Play Explore bundle. We didn’t end up with a lot of time here so would definitely like to go back again, I’d allow at least 3 hours to get the most out of it.
We did however get to go on the (pram-friendly) train which takes you over to another side of the attraction where there is a soft play and café. You can opt for walking instead of the train if you’d prefer.
There are lots of trails to take in the whole place, a maze, high and low ropes, there are even swan pedalos too! Inside the main area, there is a pottery painting place (definitely check the last time slot for painting as we were told we were too late for this 40 minutes before closing), a skating rink and a discovery area with soft play and interactive, educational displays. This was really cool, super engaging with so much to learn/play with.
Our toddler enjoyed crawling through tunnels, looking at the bugs, pushing interactive buttons and running around! Our baby was fascinated by the lights and different sounds. There were lots of older children enjoying this area too.
As well as the attractions that were included with our stay, Hinckley has so many free attractions to visit. As it’s the home of Triumph it was super fun to include a visit to their Factory Visitor Experience.
As soon as you enter there are motorbikes that you are invited to sit on, a great photo op which was super cool. The exhibition went up two floors (the lift makes this fully accessible) with a view of the factory. There is a merchandise shop and café which we also made use of…a coffee for the journey home, yes, please!
If you are planning on making a trip to the area here are my top tips;
- Plan! Work out your route, planned attractions and rough timings. This will help you fit in as much as possible. Keep the plan fairly loose so you can still enjoy each place without rushing.
- Take snacks/picnics with you, it can add up when buying food out, or to feed hungry little ones whilst walking around.
- Enjoy yourself. Allow yourself to live in the moment and embrace your inner child, there really is so many fun things for everyone in the family to do.
Why We Recommend Stay Play Explore
Overall we all had a wonderful time, we managed to fit so much in throughout the days and still have lovely relaxing evenings in the hotel.
We are so grateful for this opportunity, the memories we’ve created really mean a lot. We hope you do enjoy your trip to Leicestershire if you go, and that our experience helps inspire you to check out the local attractions!
So, now you know everything amazing about Stay Play Explore, you want to come to experience their family breaks, right? It’s time to make the best memories and spend quality time as a family.
Looking for more things to do? Head to our recommendations page for all reviews on fab family attractions! From Fonmon Castle, Hobbledown and Stockeld Park to the National Space Centre in Leicester and the Knights Village at Warwick Castle!