Were you aware that you can get away on a mini break with the family for £149 in Leicester?
And I’m not just talking about an overnight stay; for this price a family of four can enjoy not one, not two, but three fantastic activities from a choice of ten exciting attractions and activities plus an overnight stay in a four-star, family-friendly hotel with breakfast.
Not bad eh?! So, in the name of research, I went to investigate!
The ‘Stay, Play, Explore' deal has been introduced by Visit Leicester to highlight the great range of activities and attractions available for families – and in particular, those on a budget or seeking affordable yet value for money holidays.
It includes four-star accommodation with breakfast for two adults and two kids and three activities from a choice of ten attractions.
Larger families can buy one additional child ticket for £20 and additional nights incur an additional cost of £3 per night for extra children.
The attractions which have partnered up with the initiative to offer free entrance as part of the deal include the National Space Centre, Conkers, Twycross Zoo, Twinlakes Theme Park, Stonehurst Family Farm, Swadlincote Ski Centre, Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Bosworth Water Park and King Richard III Visitor Centre.
When you book the short break, e-tickets are generated which are available to download and print to take with you to the attractions.
The great news is that tickets are valid from the day of your stay until the end of the year, so if you don't have time to enjoy all three fun activities during your short break, you can always come back at a later date!
What we booked
The four-star Jury’s Inn in Hinckley was our accommodation for the break; now all we had to do was choose our three activities.
It was easier said than done; not because we couldn’t find anything suitable – we could have done them all! It was a tough decision having to whittle it down to three.
In the end, we decided on visits to the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Swadlincote Ski Centre and Twinlakes Park.
We decided that it was best to do two activities on the Saturday, stay overnight and fit in the third activity on the Sunday morning, before making our way back home.
Activity 1: Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre and Swadlincote Ski Centre
We had planned to take part in an archery session at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre.
As a family with tweens (9 and 11), we figured that being a bit older, they might have a better chance of being strong enough to hit some targets – and would find it both challenging and fun.
There were four groups of three participants and our instructor, Katie, spent some time teaching us how to aim and handle the bow and arrow, before we had some time to put our skills to the test.
After about half an hour of practising we moved on to playing the pizza game (when you had to hit the colours on the board in the order specified to ‘make’ a pizza), which the kids loved.
And then we split up into different teams – men V women V kids! The aim of the game was to get as close to the bullseye as possible to earn maximum points.
Everyone was really friendly and we all cheered each other on, so it was great the kids got to experience some great sportsmanship.
Hitting the town
With a few hours to kill in between our next activity of the day – and with some hungry bellies to fill, we decided to take in the sights of Leicester town centre.
We had a good walk around town, taking in the architecture, variety of shops and the new and old parts of the city.
We then grabbed a bite to refuel for our next activity – Sno-Tubing and tobogganing!
Activity 2: Swadlincote Ski Centre
As we’re planning on a ski trip next Easter, we thought it would be great fun to visit the Swadlincote Ski Centre for a combo activity – half an hour of Sno-Tubing and two toboggan rides per person.
Being an adventurous family (we all seem like adrenaline-junkies at heart), this was right up our street!
First up was the Sno-Tubing which was immense fun; sitting in a large inflatable ring, you are spun down the ski slope!
It was great fun and we loved the fact that you could choose to go down alone or as a group – we tried both! The walk back up the hill (inflatable tube in tow) tested our stamina, and when the half hour was up, we were about ready for a good rest!
After some time out and people watching, it was time to have a go of the Cresta Run toboggan ride.
You are allowed two rides per person and in the middle of the ‘car’ in which you sit is a lever, which controls the brake.
As our kids are older than seven, they got to ride by themselves and we took great delight in watching each other hurtle down 500m of track, twisting and turning!
I even managed to film one of my rides so you can see just how fast – and long – it is (watch the video below)
By the time we were finished, we were well and truly worn out and we were looking forward to grabbing a bite to eat and getting to the hotel to rest up.
The Jury’s Inn Hinckley
As we walked into the foyer of the Jury’s Inn Hinckley I knew this was going to be a very relaxing, comfortable stay for the night – you can just tell sometimes can’t you?
The reception area smell reminded me of some opulent spa (I’m sure they were pumping it through the vents!) and we were checked in quickly and efficiently.
En route to our room, we got our first impression of just how big the hotel was, with a plethora of dining facilities; meeting, event and conference rooms; not to mention the bars and leisure facilities (including a pool!). Oh and 362 guestrooms to boot.
The pool was actually being refurbished during our stay, but we were too worn out from our fun-filled activity day to even think about swimming!
As part of the Stay, Play, Explore package, families receive an automatic upgrade to an Executive Family Room – and I have to say, it was pretty plush.
The room had nice décor, tea and coffee making facilities (us Brits love a good cuppa!) and had Gilchrist & Soames products in the bathroom.
After we all had refreshing showers, we got settled into the dressing gowns (provided) and relaxed to watch some family TV for the night (and occasionally make the most of the free Wi-Fi on our phones and iPads!)
Activity 3: Family Fun at Twinlakes Theme Park
We definitely made the right decision leaving this activity to last; the fact that you don’t have to pre-book a visit meant that we could have a leisurely morning and not have to hurry to eat breakfast and rush out the door.
In fact, we ended up leaving the hotel at 10am (check out is actually a very generous midday!) and got to the theme park for around 10.30am.
My first impression of the theme park was that we didn’t have to queue to enter, which made for a pleasant surprise and just inside the park was a display of bike, roller skates and skateboard stunts which was great to watch for a short time.
Then the kids found some water guns to squirt people on the paddle boats on the lake (while I pretended the kids were not mine!), before heading to try out some of the rides.
Favourite attractions (I quizzed the kids on this one) included the Dragon Falls Log Flume (they got soaked!), the indoor drop ride and the huge soft play zone complete with steep slides.
My favourites of the day included spotting the different types of birds and animals around the site and watching the kids squealing with delight as they threw themselves down the slides.
By the time we’d been there for a few hours the kids seemed ready for a rest and a bite to eat, so we decided to get on the motorway and make a start on the three-hour journey back home.
After being in the car for a few minutes we wondered why the kids were not talking (read arguing!) and we turned round to see they had fallen fast asleep, which is quite telling of the energetic day we’d had! Let’s just say that the drive home was a very pleasant one indeed!
Overall, I think it’s a fantastic idea to offer the Stay, Play, Explore break to families; given that an overnight stay at the hotel is £149 anyway, for the same price you are getting three fantastic activities thrown in for good measure.
What also impressed me were the activities on offer; we know that if we decide to make a return visit we get to try three completely different activities….although I have a sneaky feeling we’ll all be voting on a return to the toboggan run – we are a family of adrenaline seekers after all!
For more information on the Stay, Play, Explore adventure call 0116-225 4000.
A huge thanks to Leicestershire Promotions and Jury's Inn Hinckley who invited us to experience Stay, Play, Explore in return for an honest review.