We stayed at the Chessington Safari hotel on a Monday and Tuesday when the park had just opened. I had not stayed before but I had done my research and tried to plan so that everything went smoothly. I asked on their facebook page whether there was a small shop nearby where there was a place to get snacks and drinks, Chessington did not respond but another customer commented and said there is one in the hotel lobby. Upon arrival I was disappointed to see there is only a small gift shop with childrens toys and a small fridge with bottled drinks (I meant like a spar or something, where we can get sausage rolls, meals to go, magazines etc) Luckily I had packed enough food for us overnight anyway. We asked if there was one nearby, just incase we missed something else, and the gentleman on reception said there is a BP garage 5 minutes drive up the road. It was chilly and we didn't drive to the park so didn't bother walking up there (I saw on the way home that there is a small shop by the train station, which is useful to anyone going by train)
The hotel was playing funky safari music outside and it sets you up for the beautiful interior. There is a tall lit up sculpture of a giraffe, beanbags in front of a tv showing the chessington video, and a couple of lizards in the corner.
I originally had issues with the booking people (Which was apparently the people at the hotel booking office, not the chessington booking office.) as I had paid the extra couple quid to have all the tickets and information sent to me in the post as we were not able to print them. I was sent multiple emails telling me to remember to print my park tickets, and free lunch voucher. I was not sent the lunch voucher in the post so I was on the phone for a long time trying to find someone who knew what it was. I eventually reached someone who said that once i got to the hotel, I should ask the receptionist to call them, for the booking people to then email it to them, and the hotel to print it and give it to us. It ended up being a bit of hassle as we had to explain what the person on the phone said, and what they said they should do. Sigh! The young lady on reception was very helpful. (And it ended up being worth that extra bit of hassle, we got a free lunch in the park on both our days!)
As check in was not until 3pm, we left our suitcase at the hotel and headed to the park. We got back to the hotel at about 5pm, and it still wasn't too busy. I definitely think it's worth visiting earlier in the year instead of summer, I dread to imagine how busy it would have been in the school holiday! The gentleman on reception checked us in with ease and told us where the bar, dinner and lifts were (The pool and 'leisure centre' was closed, it said it would re-open Spring this year which was quite vague. If we were being literal by saying Spring it would have already been open as Spring had officially started). Our room was on the first floor and very pleased to see a clean spacious room (standard, not the special safari room) with a partial view of the ostriches and deer. We had a lovely bath (Nice to be able to straighten our legs, we can't in ours!) and nice big mirrors. There is a phone, tea facilities, iron and board, bible, and tv.
We were peckish around a hour later and went to query about food. There is room service in the rooms, but there is a charge of £5, regardless of what you order. So we thought, why not just get the food, then bring it up to the rooms ourselves? The receptionist confirmed this was fine and that if we only want a small bite, the bar itself has a smaller menu. We went to the bar and the young gentleman was very helpful and friendly, he put our food ready on a tray for us to take up, had got us condiments and napkins too! I went back up to the room feeling very good at this point.
One of the main downsides to our stay is that there is no wifi in the rooms, only in the downstairs part of the hotel. Now being the young gadget-y folk we are, we need our internet in bed. I wind down in the evening by playing a few games on my kindle, which i was not able to do. They do have internet on the television, but I have read it is £15 per night for use of their internet (And i still wouldn't have been able to use my online kindle games).
We dozed off and both woke several times during the night covered in sweat, even with the air con on full blast! Also there is a fire alarm in the middle of the ceiling that flashes every 30 seconds or so, and is not good for light sleepers like me. Bring a blindfold. (Though we had no issues with noise)
We headed down to breakfast the following morning at half 7 after barely any sleep, and we were greeted by a heavily pregnant woman who said as we were walking over "name?". She then pointed over to the general area and said something like "There's the table" (She had an accent that was unfamiliar to me and I struggled to hear at times) and also showed us where the tea making facilities were. A little bit dazed and wondering whether we had an assigned table, we chose one that we thought was out of the way (But ended up being the main route for all the staff to bring the dirty crockery). After having such a terrible sleep, we were feeling a little bit, what i can only describe as "meh". The mood that good customer service can usually pick up and leave us feeling much better. It fell a bit short this morning. My Fiance went over to get us more toast and came back with a bit of a disappointed look on his face and one black and one white piece of toast.
He said he turned the dial on the front to a more appropriate number that wasn't going to burn the toast, and the pregnant woman told him off, telling him not to touch it. He explained that it is still white putting it through once, and too burnt twice! She was apparently having none of it and turned it back to what it was supposed to be saying "It needs to stay on this." (Which was actually a different number to what it was originally, clearly someone else had thought it was okay to have toast done to their own preference)
I put on my kindle to use the wifi and needed up update one of my games. It ended up taking 40 minutes to update the same amounts of MB that at home or at cafes, takes 20-30 seconds. We tried in the hotel lobby, the bar, breakfast area, and the conference room. All had average signal but was just so slow.
We checked out and handed in our suitcase for the second day in the park (Rain, rain, rain on our second day!) and they were friendly again. The overall customer service at this hotel was very good. We just had a small blip at breakfast, which may have been due to her natural hormones.
Since arriving home I have seen that a room only with no breakfast or park tickets is around £130 and i think this would be far too much. It cost me £160 for us to have the room, breakfast and the '2nd day free' park tickets. I wouldn't have stayed at the hotel if it wasn't next to the park, and I am undecided whether I will stay again as there are positives and negatives.
Well... That was quite the story! See Chessington World of Adventures for my separate review on the theme park itself.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Wake up to an African inspired reserve with zebras, antelopes, ostriches and the very rare Scimitar Horned Oryx roaming freely before your very eyes - it's the ultimate room with a Zoo! The hotel is perfect for family breaks with safari theming, African Adventure rooms, Penguins of Madagascar themed rooms, an indoor swimming pool, the family friendly Savannah Splash, gym & spa and the fantastic Zafari Bar & Grill. The hotel is part of the Chessington World of Adventures Resort and is just a few strides away from the Park. On weekends and during school holidays there are also animal meet and greets and character breakfasts. The hotel also has state of the art corporate facilities with 6 meeting rooms all with natural daylight, air conditioning and high speed internet access. At the theme park take on the KOBRA, our exciting spinning disc ride in Wild Asia, soar on the Vampire roller coaster through the depths of Transylvania or take a fiery spin round Dragon's Fury. Take a walk on the wild side with tigers, lions and gorillas in the Trail of the Kings, go underwater with sharks and stingrays in the SEA LIFE centre or journey to our new Wanyama Village & Reserve where the zebras and antelopes roam. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Inn London - Chessington Hotel Chessington
- Holiday Inn Chessington
- Chessington Holiday Inn
- Chessington Safari Hotel Surrey