Since our first visit to Chessington World of Adventures, the resort has rapidly become one of our favorite places to visit. My family and I were invited along last weekend to preview the new Azteca Hotel before its official opening and we were interested to see how the new hotel would compare to the existing Safari Hotel, which we have stayed at before.
The Azteca Hotel sits beside the Safari Hotel and is connected to it via a (mostly) covered outdoor walkway or a bridge corridor two stories up. Each of the hotel’s three sleeping floors are themed differently to reflect the different height you are up in the jungle. Because they are connected, the Azteca Hotel shares its facilities with the Safari Hotel, including evening access to the Wanyama Reserve after the the theme park closes*, the Rangers Club for kids, and the Zafari Bar and Grill restaurant. However, a number of new facilities have also been added over in the Azteca building.
The Temple Restaurant is downstairs and offers buffet-style dining in an environment best described as being similar to the Rainforest Cafe. At the center of the restaurant is an Aztec-style pyramid and fountain whilst numerous TV screens are hung on the wall, each one showing close-up CGI animals who gradually rotate around the restaurant, giving the impression that you are peeking out through windows into the jungle beyond. Periodically, the lights dim, thunder rumbles, and these “windows” slide closed as the magic of the ancient temple builds up. The central pyramid performs a short show before animal drawings are revealed on the restaurant walls under blacklight. It’s an impressive performance, but one that many of the younger children found a little frightening.
The Savannah Splash Zone has been added to the existing 15-meter swimming pool and features fountains, a slide, and a bucket dump—all scaled to suit young adventurers. Outside the hotel is a patio area where you can relax with a drink from the Temple Bar and nearby, the Amazu Treetop Adventure attraction from the theme park is kept open for hotel guests after the park closes until dusk**. This attraction combines more animals including monkeys, marmosets, and capybaras, with a treetop climbing experience so your children can run off any excess energy they may have after a day in the theme park. We had a hard time dragging our 4-year-old down from it! His favorite part of the hotel, however, was the Temple Throne near the base of the Azteca elevators. This giant stone-effect seat supposedly tells you your spirit animal by playing a sound when you sit on it. My son loved jumping on and off to hear all the different animal noises.
We were given a disabled room for our stay, which makes reviewing the room size a little tricky as it was laid out differently to the hotel’s standard. The room included a double bed and a bunk bed, along with two TVs (one aimed at each bed) and a view of the Wanyama Reserve. Our son loved waking up in the morning and being able to watch the giraffes and zebras having their breakfast while we packed up. While our disabled room had a kid’s bunk bed in the main room; the Azteca Hotel’s standard rooms will feature a separate sleeping area for children. This is something we have experienced at the Safari Hotel in the past and is vastly superior to having the kids sleeping in the room with you.
We did notice that the room had far less theming present than the example room we were shown on our tour, although whether that is representative of all of the disabled rooms or not is uncertain. Judging by promotional photographs, the level of theming seems consistent with other rooms on our floor, which is the least expensive of the three. What I can say with certainty though is that the resort is well laid out for those with strollers or in wheelchairs with nice, wide corridors and a ramp up to the Amazu area and into the theme park itself.
Alongside evening access to the Wanyama Reserve and Amazu, there are a number of other exclusive benefits to guests staying at the resort. During weekends and school holidays, the Temple Restaurant hosts a character breakfast with a friend from the Madagascar film series, the Rangers Club provides evening shows and games for children and willing adults, and guests can also enjoy early access to the theme park. The hotels also provide a number of opportunities to get closer to the park’s animals, including meet-and-greets and giraffe feeding for those aged five and over.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Azteca Hotel, however, we struggled to find anything to justify the extra money the hotel costs over its sister resort next door; especially when all of the facilities are shared between the two. Even the cheapest room at Azteca costs a full £50*** ($83 U.S.) more than a basic room at the Safari Hotel, and is £25 ($42 U.S.) more expensive than a room in the Safari Hotel overlooking the animals. The Safari Hotel allows you to choose a Wanyama Reserve view (for an additional cost), whereas the Azteca Hotel does not allow guests to choose—all rooms have views of either Wanyama or Amazu, but you get no preference as to which you will stay in. It may be a small thing, but if I’m paying extra for this hotel then I’d at least like to be able to make that decision.
*/** Evening access to the Wanyama Reserve and Amazu is from April – mid-September and is subject to good weather and ground conditions.
*** Based on a family of three staying one night.
GeekMom was invited to experience the Azteca Hotel and Chessington Resort for review purposes.