Gulliver’s Kingdom & Explorer’s Retreat, Matlock Bath

Gulliver's Kingdom, Matlock Bath
Gulliver’s Kingdom, Matlock Bath

We booked an overnight stay at the Explorer’s Retreat at Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire.

We booked in on a Sunday Specials Stay & Play deal, making it less than £100 for the overnight stay in the themed accommodation at the resort, plus entrance for 3 of us into the theme park for the day on the Sunday.

The Sunday Special deal also gave us access to the evening activities, such as marshmallow toasting on the fire, a movie night with hot chocolate (Lily was asleep by then!), and family games – which was a fantastic end to the day. In comparison to other theme park hotels/accommodation, this price was fantastic for a day out and overnight stay with the family.

The main bedroom in the pirate-themed accommodation
The main bedroom

We were staying in their pirate-themed cabins, which were basically converted shipping containers. There’s the option of the pirate ones or a princess cabin, but we knew Lily would enjoy the pirates more. The outside looked great as we pulled up, but we weren’t sure what to expect when we got there or what they would look like from the inside – but we were blown away by what we saw.

We could park directly outside the accommodation and collect our tickets on the Sunday for the park. The welcome from the staff was really friendly, and they told us we could go and enjoy the park, then come back to check in at 4pm.

Outside the accommodation at Smuggler's Retreat
Outside the pirate cabins

The theme park was great fun – and we were lucky that despite it being a Sunday, it was empty. We didn’t need to queue for any of the rides, and even though some of them were quite dated, our 3-year-old loved them. We were also impressed with the regular play areas along the way – which she enjoyed as much as the rides themselves – and the small indoor soft play area to warm up in.

The theme park is built into the side of the hills, so has fantastic views across the Peak District, but we wouldn’t recommend it for push chairs, as there’s a very steep walk from the bottom. Without a pushchair, you can grab the chairlift from the bottom to the top again, which is lovely.

The new Lost World dinosaur area is great, but the only real downside of the park is that the food and drink is very expensive – we were glad to have taken a packed lunch, but the coffees did add up!

Enjoying the dinosaurs!
The Lost World

We were once again greeted with a friendly receptionist when we checked in at the accommodation, who gave us the keys to our cabin, and off we went. The quality of the room was fantastic, and despite being a cabin, it was really very cosy.

The attention to detail was incredible – from the paintings on the wall, and pirate hook towel rails, through to the little treasure hunt for our daughter in the room. It was also lovely to have a microwave, fridge and kettle in there, as we brought along Weetabix for the little one’s breakfast. All the plates and cups are provided too.

The pirate bedroom
The pirate bathroom

As fantastic as the décor was, and the children’s bunks, we were nervous about our 3-year-old bumping herself, so we moved the mattress to the floor for her. It would be great for 3 children under 10 who you could trust a bit more – and the price is no different, no matter how many of you are in there, which is great for larger families with up to 3 children.

There is a little outdoor play area, and views across the Peak District, plus just a 5 minute walk down the hill to Matlock Bath village where we had dinner… even if it meant we could walk our food off up the hill on the way back after!

We loved it so much that we’ve booked into the Gulliver’s Land accommodation in Milton Keynes in June, in a deluxe dino den – so keep an eye on our page for the update!

Tips for visiting

  • Check out the deals for a Sunday night – you can get full access to the park for you and up to 3 children, as well as the accommodation, for under £100.
  • Avoid taking a pushchair if you can – some of the ground is uneven, and it would avoid big pushes up the steep hill
  • Bring your own packed lunch to save money as food is expensive

Check out the website here…

So much fun for all the family
She loved it here!

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