We tried glamping for the very first time at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort in Surrey and it was the surprising highlight of our summer.
I’m not an outdoorsy type of person – it’s been well over a decade since I have been camping. I adore the luxury of staying in hotels when we travel. Noah, on the other hand, is keen to experience life in a tent. So when I decided I would arrange a trip to the Chessington World of Adventures Resort, I decided as a compromise we would give glamping a go.
Why choose Chessington?
Thank you to my parents gifting us some money to spend on my week off work. When deciding how to spend the money, I remembered Noah expressing an interest in visiting Chessington. The big draw for him was the Gruffalo ride which is based on the popular children’s book. Chessington is full of wonderful age-appropriate activities for primary school children and features two on-site family-friendly hotels and a glamping campsite.
Getting there and arrival
Chessington is meant to be a three hour drive away from our home. We made the mistake of travelling over rush hour so our journey was four hours, with one brief toilet break. The resort is also accessible by public transport, being only a ten minute walk away from the nearest train station.
There is a small charge for car parking for day guests, visitors to the hotels and glamping site enjoy free parking. There are plenty of car park attendants on hand to advise where to park.
Our package included a two day park ticket. It’s up to you which day to begin using the ticket but the second day had to be used consecutively. We arrived around midday on the first day. It was too early to check in for glamping so we headed straight for the ticket gates. We skipped the queue as our barcoded tickets could be scanned straight from our mobile.
The theme park
Having a two day ticket afforded us the luxury of taking our time exploring the park that first day. No worrying about queues or rushing as we didn’t feel like we had to ‘fit it all in’. I think queue times would have worried me if we had only been there for a day, although the longest we waited was 30 – 40 minutes for The Gruffalo ride (which is wonderful by the way).
We forgot to pick up a map at the entrance so we were just blindly wandering around the park. We managed to catch a sea lion show and visited the new Room on a Broom experience that brings the story to life.
The highlight that day was visiting the lions in the zoo where we unexpectedly got inches away from the incredible pride male!
Glamping after hours
We stayed in the park until gone 5pm. It was such a comfort to know that just meters away from the exit turnstiles was the glamping site. We got checked in and shown to our tent. It really surprised me because I wasn’t expecting it to be so comfortable and warm.
The site itself was not too big and had a lovely atmosphere. Noah really enjoyed playing outside and made some friends whilst we were there whom he played with until 10.30pm!
There were structured activities on too for the children, lots of equipment to play with and a treasure hunt.
We learned that a section of the theme park, ‘Wild Asia’ was still accessible to glampers after the park had officially shut. On the way to dinner Noah stopped off to play in the ‘Temple of Mayhem’ where kids fire foam balls at each other. It was interesting to see the park after hours and made for some rather eerie photos.
The Outpost restaurant provides a buffet style meal for campers and is extra. The food was pretty basic (think burgers, fries, corn on the cob) but I was glad to see there were vegan alternatives. Soft drinks are unlimited and for grownups alcoholic drinks are also available for an extra charge.
There’s absolutely nothing stopping you taking your own food into the camp. I also noticed that a pizza take out service is available to campers until late. Adults can also order alcoholic tipples from the bar.
Best night’s sleep ever
I’m not kidding. I don’t know if it was all the walking we’d done in the day or the fresh air but I think I had one of the deepest sleeps I’ve experienced in a while. It also helped that our tent had a comfy double bed (as well as two singles). Wrapping myself up in the duvet at the end of a busy day was extremely comfortable and relieving.
There was no need for us to use the toilets in the night but the site is beautifully lit and the bathrooms are close no matter which tent you are in.
A fresh start
Showers are available for glampers wanting a fresh start in the morning but you are expected to bring your own towels. Noah had time to play a little bit until we headed for breakfast.
Breakfast is inclusive of your break at Chessington World of Adventures Resort. We thoroughly enjoyed our glamping experience though I would say that breakfast was where some improvements could have been made. A thorough spread was laid out for guests including a full English breakfast and vegan options too. However, as there was only one coffee machine there seemed to always be a long queue for hot drinks. Luckily I don’t like coffee! There was also an issue with the orange juice running out and being replaced with orange cordial.
A full day in the park
After checking out at 10am, we were able to directly access the park from the glamping site. This is a nice time to jump on rides to beat the queues. This time we had studied the map and realised we’d missed a lot of the park out the day before. Noah was not too interested in going on the rides so we spent the majority of the day visiting the animals in the park and watching shows.
The park does have a safari ride which takes you to see the rhino, zebras and giraffes that all seem to have a good wide open space to roam. None of the animals seemed fazed by our presence and it was particularly funny when a giraffe decided to have a nibble of the vehicle we were in.
Our favourite show was the ‘Animal Antics’ show. Zookeepers introduce three different animals and tell you all about them, our favourite part was when the cheeky raccoon appeared because we have been obsessed with raccoons since one came to visit us on our recent holiday in Costa Rica.
There is also a SeaLife centre within the park and entrance is included with theme park admission! This was great as the temperature was hot that day so it was helpful to cool off.
I think another favourite experience that we had was going into a monkey enclosure and seeing them up close. We had spotted lots of monkeys on our Costa Rica trip but they were always high up in the trees. Chessington also has a ‘treetop adventure’ suitable for both adults and children where you can get a great view if the adorable yellow squirrel monkeys.
Strangely the treetop adventure was the closest we could find to an ‘adventure playground’ experience. I thought this was a bit strange given the park is primarily aimed at younger children. Although, there were plenty of places to relax and just chill out.
Alas, it was time to leave. We had a long drive ahead of us. To be honest, the drive back was straight forward – I’d had visions of having to queue to get out of the carpark or that we would be on the M25 forever. I would recommend though, if you have a long drive and can afford it, staying an extra night. It’s an extremely long day for the driver. On site is also a Go Ape centre which would make a fantastic day three activity!
Quoting Noah: “It was the best holiday I’ve ever been on!”
I was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable staying in a tent could be and I really loved the atmosphere. We are now considering trying glamping again, perhaps for a few extra nights at a festival or abroad.