There’s a sense of childish excitement as we approach Legoland — and that’s just the adults. The kids are mesmerised as we enter the Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel and more so as we reach the new Castle Hotel. There are Lego characters everywhere; carpets, walls and features all Lego-themed; and play areas full of the infamous bricks.
We head straight up to the rooms and they can barely contain their excitement — bunk beds, Xbox, goodie bags, treasure hunt… There are wizard or knight-themed rooms (we’re in one of the latter) and once we’ve exhausted the highlights, and explored the numerous goodies, it’s the Xbox that comes into focus. Lego Worlds, naturally, is the only game available.
Adults are thankfully also catered for, with the ubiquitous Nespresso machines as well as wi-fi and a TV for when the little ones finally drop off (though we’re not far behind). Oh, and there’s an illuminated stained glass window above the bed and a 70kg Lego dragon overlooking us.
The 61-room ‘castle’ opened on 1 July — five years after the original hotel, and 21 years after the Windsor park opened — and it capitalises on Lego’s remarkable renaissance in the past 15 years. Coinciding with the arrival of its former CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp in 2001, Lego has become one of the world’s most powerful brands. But there remains a wonderful innocence about it, having stuck to the original Danish principles that date back to its conception in 1932.
Housing over 2.1 million bricks and 657 Lego models, the hotel is something of a paradise for kids, and that’s before you even factor in the swimming pool, evening entertainment, play areas and themed restaurant with characters. But, after you’ve eaten, slept, swam and played, the main event stares you in the face.
Two days’ access to the park is included in the cost of a night’s stay, although as we head down straight after school on the Friday, we’ve just the Saturday to spend in Legoland. And really, it’s just about enough. You’d probably need two days to fully do it justice, but you can certainly tick off almost everything you want in a single day.
Ninjago World is the hot ticket at the moment, although our kids (aged four and eight) were enchanted by the entire thing. From the Lego City Driving School and the Atlantis submarine ride to the Dragon rollercoaster and the Duplo Drench Towers, we raced around all day to their utter delight. And the Star Wars model exhibition is staggering, given the complexity and amount of bricks used.
Similarly Miniland, while tame compared to the actual rides, is what I remember from my visit to the original Legoland in Billund in the late 1980s. This is clearly what the Lego business model has thrived on — a quality, classic product, adapted and changed to reflect the modern world. No wonder we hold as much affection for it as the kids do.