Finding a hotel with family rooms – especially interconnecting rooms, where grown-ups can sleep in one room and kids next door – can be tricky. And that’s doubly true when you’re looking for somewhere within close reach of London. So when the Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel asked if we’d like to come and stay to test out their VIK – or Very Important Kid programme – my first question was whether they had any (a husband who snores and a family of light sleepers is not a recipe for fun. Trust me).
I had a quick look on the website, but it didn’t seem to advertise connecting rooms. However, the Marriott Windsor confirmed they had a range of family-friendly rooms – including double double rooms (two doubles), King guest rooms (a double and a sofa bed), and the option to book interconnecting rooms, which is what we settled on. There are floorplans of all of them on the website, which is handy if you’re a bit of an obsessive planner like me.
Marriott Windsor location – close to Legoland, London and Heathrow
The Marriott Windsor is in Slough, a ten-minute drive from Heathrow Airport, 15 minutes from Legoland Windsor (read our tips for taking preschoolers to Legoland if you’re going) and 20 minutes from Thorpe Park. It’s also really close to Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park – we stopped off for a picnic at Virginia Water on the way home and it certainly beats lunch at a smelly service station.
I found out on TripAdvisor that the Marriott Windsor is also a really popular option for families visiting London. Slough train station is two miles away from the hotel, and there’s a direct train to London Paddington that only takes 15 minutes. Considering the cost of hotels in London, this could be a really good option if you want to spend a day in the city and also tick off some local theme parks.
Check-in and our Very Important Kids
We visited on the Easter bank holiday weekend, and the restaurant manager told me there were more than 100 families staying the previous night. That’s 200+ kids, and the hotel catered exceptionally well for them thanks to their VIK programme, which runs during school holidays and half-terms, as well as bank holidays.
It all started as we got to the check-in desk, when staff swooped in with VIK passes, balloons, popcorn, Marriott mugs (for the free slushie machine in reception), a bag with crayons and coloring things in, and a little Easter egg for each of the kids. The lady taking our details invited my two-year-old to sit up on the desk for a chat because she was too small to see over it, and both kids lapped up all the attention.
I watched to see how the next family were greeted (I wasn’t sure how much of it was down to me writing a review) but it was exactly the same story. All the staff we met during our stay went out of their way to engage with the kids, and they even put on a special Easter egg hunt for them out in the little playground next to the main restaurant.
Inside the rooms at the Marriott Windsor
With their haul of goodies in-hand, the kids raced off to find our rooms. Inside, with the interior door opened, the total square footage was bigger than the ground floor of our house. Which was simultaneously pretty cool, and also pretty depressing.
The rooms were bright and modern, with huge TVs, a welcome bottle of water in the fridge and – much to the kids’ delight – even a little pack of bath bubbles and smellies just for them in the bathroom. The place was sparkling clean, and the same can be said of the whole hotel, which I’ll admit doesn’t look much from the outside.
Pizza-making in the restaurant
Later on, after a bit of tellie and obligatory jumping on the beds (them, not us), we went down for dinner in the main restaurant for one of the best bits of the VIK programme – pizza-making for kids.
The restaurant has an Italian pizza chef and proper pizza oven, so this is their speciality. And they had a little table set up for children to come and put on an apron, roll some fresh dough and add their own toppings. I think my two loved making their pizzas even more than they enjoyed eating them.
As well as the pizzas there was a children’s buffet with things like chicken nuggets and pasta, and a salad bar. My husband and I went for steak and a nice bottle of red, and the kids followed everything up with a huge bowl of ice-cream before toddling back up to the room for bed.
Peace and quiet, and Harper’s Bazaar
Being able to close the door between the two rooms was a godsend – it meant we could actually have a nice evening without worrying about waking them up. I brought the baby monitor from home because I’m paranoid, so I could still hear and see them sleeping soundly.
I poured a glass of wine, had a bath in the hotel smellies (all, incidentally, mandarin-flavoured, so I came out smelling like a massive orange), cringed my way through Bridesmaids on TV and flicked idly through the hotel copy of Harper’s Bazaar, which I originally thought was a magazine but now realise is actually a collection of ridiculous adverts (I voiced this observation several times to my husband, who was mainly making use of the free WiFi, but I don’t think he cared).
All in all, it was a perfect evening in a staying-in-a-hotel kind of way.
Breakfast and swimming and saying goodbye
The next morning, after getting over the shock of being woken ridiculously early by the kids (note to self: bring the Gro Clock next time), we headed down for breakfast around 8am.
As I expected from the lovely dinner the previous night, the spread was – in my four-year-old’s words – awesome. He started with the waffles, moved on to the pancakes, then dipped in to the cereal and fruit before declaring he had a tummy ache. My daughter refused to eat anything other than hash browns, and my husband and I tucked in to a cooked breakfast and copious cups of coffee. What was really nice was that we didn’t need to rush away thanks to the hotel’s very family-friendly check-out time of midday.
That also meant we had time for a swim in the hotel pool, which you have to pre-book in hour-long slots. It’s shallow at one end, so even my slightly scared two-year-old daughter could stand up in it. There aren’t any inflatables though, so I’d recommend bringing some armbands or a float suit to give your arms a rest.
We had a peek in the gym and my husband squeezed in a trip to the sauna while the rest of us traipsed back upstairs to play hunt-the-hairdryer.
Would we come back to the Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel?
After that, we packed up the room as the kids sat watching CBeebies, said goodbye to the lovely team on the desk downstairs, and set off home with two very happy children.
I asked Marriott how much it would cost for a similar stay, and a double double room – which sleeps four – ranges from £99 to £169 on the weekend, or £119 to £219 during the week. Considering the hotel’s proximity to London and so many family-friendly attractions, that’s a pretty competitive rate, and I don’t doubt we’ll be back again. In fact, I’ve thought long and hard and I can’t think of a single complaint after our stay.
Well, maybe just one teeny, tiny one.
Harper’s Bazaar is rubbish.
The Heathrow/Windsor Mattiott Hotel is located at Ditton Road, Langley, Berkshire, SL3 8PT. To contact the hotel, call 01753 544244.
Disclosure: Marriott kindly let us stay at the hotel for free in return for an honest review. As always, all views and opinions are our own.