The Stargazing Pods are the latest accommodation offering to come to the Alton Towers Resort alongside their existing hotels and lodges. They opened in April 2019 and are billed as budget breaks with premium excitement!
The pods provide a camping style experience and are due to be their cheapest overnight stay, prices are listed as starting from £88 (off peak) without park tickets. We stayed on Saturday 11th May and paid £123 for 1 night for 4 adults, which was significantly cheaper (by under half) than the other hotels and lodges at the time of booking (Splash Landings was unavailable due to a private event). Each pod sleeps up to 4 people, and the price includes the evening entertainment, 9 holes of Extraordinary golf and a takeaway breakfast. Other perks include access to Early Ride Time, and the opportunity to purchase 2 days waterpark entry for the price of 1.
The reception and breakfast area is located a short walk away from the pods re-utilising the old Enchanted Treetop Quest building. The check-in process is fairly easy, and in a similar style to the other accommodations where a form of ID is required to prove it’s you checking in, as well as a £10 deposit which is to cover the room key. We don’t think it is made clear enough that towels are not included with the stargazing pods; as it is essentially camping we came prepared, but there is no clear information, or even letting you know at reception when checking in. The reception is only open for limited hours, so at night, the Enchanted Village reception would need to be used for any late check-ins or other issues.
The Pods do look quite small from the outside, but once inside we were surprised how spacious it felt. There’s a comfortable double bed at the back, and the 2 single beds either side at the front are long enough for adults, we prefer them to the bunk-beds in the hotels. There’s ample space underneath the beds to store all the luggage, but no cupboards or shelves to put clothes in, so with the one walkway in the middle all 4 people would struggle to sort themselves out at once. The pods provide standard luxuries such as a built-in wall radiator, as well as 4 plug sockets (including USB ports) above the beds with little shelves to store your phones etc. on. There are coat hangers both inside and outside the pod which are handy.
There is one amenities block for all the pods located at one end of the campsite, the area of the site is smaller than we were anticipating, so even if your pod is located the opposite side, you’re never more than a minute or two away from the block. The block itself is split into male, female and accessible and contains the sinks, changing rooms, toilets & showers you would need. There’s plenty of sinks and toilets, but unfortunately appears to lack showers for the number of guests (we counted 6 in the mens), which is sure to cause queues at peak times; the showers they do have though are powerful, hot and very spacious.
On the evening you’ll need to pre-book one of the resort’s restaurants if you’re planning to eat due to high demand; we do recommend the fantastic Rollercoaster Restaurant, always a great atmosphere and a unique dining experience. You can visit the Alton Towers hotel & Splash Landings hotel bars to soak up the atmosphere and entertainment. The Stargazing Pods also have their very own Enchanted Tipi with a bar and features some live entertainment, it felt quite cold in there on our visit, but during the warmer summer months it would be perfect, and helps to keep the authentic camping feel.
We do think the name is a bit of a marketing gimmick as it may lead people to believe the pods have a glass roof which they do not, though there is a decor sign inside, with constellations that make up some of the park’s ride logos which is a nice touch. The branding idea behind it is carried out well though with bits of enchanted themeing, and the large central green area creates a great space & atmosphere to enjoy the outdoors and admire the night sky with the help of some telescopes.
Overall we really enjoyed our comfortable stay and was worth the premium price for the convenience of being on the resort, which left us refreshed and ready for another thrilling day in the theme park & waterpark. The benefits of staying here outweigh the flaws, and some of these areas for improvement could easily be fixed, and quite possibly be changed as the season goes on (they’ve only been open for a month so far). If you’ve been camping before and enjoy the outdoors, or if you want to give camping a try, this is the ideal accommodation for you, especially if it’s available at a budget price in comparison to the other on-site options.
Please note Stargazing Pods are available on the following dates: 17th and 18th May. 24th May – 2nd September. 5th and 12th October. 18th October – 2nd November 2019. See their website for more information and to book.
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