Five years ago when we first went to Tayto Park, I admit, I was confused. Was it a playground with a zoo attached? Or a zoo with a playground attached? Our kids were too small for any of the rides, and I don’t remember seeing any rollercoasters – I was too busy trying not to lose sight of a rampaging two-year-old, I suspect.
Also, I’d never been to a theme park and didn’t really understand what they are. Since then, we’ve been to another theme park, and nowwwww I get it. Theme park means “place with rollercoasters and one or more themes”. In this case, the theme is crisps. And it’s as good a theme as any.
We were there last Saturday, thanks to the Clayton Hotel Liffey Valley, on a complimentary package that included Tayto Park passes, an overnight stay in a suite (details of all family rooms here), and dinner and breakfast too. We picked the date over a month ago, but said nothing to the kids – I figured we’d keep it until September’s return to homework became just about unbearable, then surprise them. So after lunch one afternoon, I passed them a packet of crisps each, and said, “You know what’s even better than these? The free packet of crisps you get when you’re leaving Tayto Park.” Their eyes widened as one by one they picked up on what I meant, and the cheers got even louder when they found out we’d be staying in a hotel too. Because hotels mean one thing to these kids – hotel breakfasts. And specifically, all-you-can-eat Coco Pops. They were ecstatic.
And of course because we picked the date of our trip over a month ago, we had no idea what weather to expect. As it turned out, Saturday was the warmest, sunniest, loveliest day we’ve had all month, and for the person who stands and watches while everyone else gets on the rollercoaster, this was a huge added bonus.
We started with Cu Chulainn (by “we” I mean my husband and my eldest – the rest of us stayed safely on solid ground) and for the next six hours, the kids went on as many rides as they could find, checked out the animals (very briefly I confess, because, rollercoasters), ate ice-cream and posed for an obligatory photo with the main man himself, Mr Tayto. Twice.
Then it was back to the car, munching our free crisps, and a twenty-three minute journey to the Clayton Hotel Liffey Valley. I had told the kids I wasn’t sure what way the rooms would be and who would sleep where but when we saw the accommodation, they took the decision right out of my hands.
We had been given a suite with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchenette. Once the kids saw the bigger room, they decided it was the “party room” and told us we were taking the twin.
Since it meant we had the kitchen, the balcony, and all the chocolates, plus happy kids closing the door behind us, that suited us just fine.
Once the kids had investigated every nook and cranny (including important things like the safe, the TV channels, the bottles of water, and flicking every single switch) it was time to go downstairs to Gusto Restaurant for dinner.
This is when the next bit of amazing news came – dinner was an all you can eat buffet. You should have seen my kids’ faces. All you can eat pizza. All you can eat burgers. All you can eat meatballs. All you can eat salad. Just kidding about the last one. (Yes, there was all you can eat salad, but no, my kids didn’t get excited about that bit.)
Starters are brought to the table – for us there was chicken wings and antipasti, for the kids, garlic bread, cheese, and smoothies.
Then they helped themselves to the buffet. And again. And again. And again. My “only take a small bit, you can go back up” pleas went unheeded. It was funny and fun, and a huge novelty, and before we knew it, it was nine o’clock and time to return to the party room.
Happily, they were tired after Tayto Park, and soon fast asleep. In the other room, we opened a bottle of wine, delved into the chocolates, and very much enjoyed being on holidays just twenty-minutes from home.
The breakfast the following morning was superb – we’ve all experienced hotel buffets that (despite endless Coco Pops) are not quite what we hoped, but the food in the Clayton Hotel Liffey Valley breakfast bar was genuinely excellent. Somehow, despite all the eating, the kids and my husband went for a swim in the hotel pool (good changing rooms, warm pool, lovely staff) and I had half an hour to myself, reading my book. We were on our trip for less than twenty-four hours, but it truly felt like a proper break.
Our stay was complimentary in return for a review, and the whole experience was absolutely superb. In particular, the staff were excellent, especially with the kids. For me, that’s the biggest plus with any hotel stay – feeling welcome despite the noise we make or how many times we go up to the buffet 🙂