Stay Play Explore Review

Stay Play Explore provide excellent value short breaks and one night stays with accommodation and attractions included across the UK.

I think they offer excellent value and ideal for special occasions or a night away in the school holidays. We tried one of these breaks back in 2017 and had a brilliant time - everything ran without any issues. 

Stay Play Explore Review

Each break includes as standard: 

  • One night in a hotel (there are 4* options and most have swimming pools) 
  • Hotel breakfast (most of the hotels include this)  
  • Entry to three top attractions 
  • A set price (from £159 per family)
Some accommodation options allow up to a family of 5 to stay together in one room but if you're a larger family or group, just pop them an email and they will do their best to customise a trip for you. 

Transport and additional meals are not included. 

There are a number of add ons available including more attractions or additional nights. See here to give you an idea of what to expect. 

How it Works 

You get to pick your hotel and can look at the different options available when you book online. 

On booking, you will be sent enough vouchers to book visits to three attractions (or more if you've added these to your break). 

These vouchers are valid for 12 months from the start date of your holiday so if you don't get a chance to visit all three attractions in one trip, you can pop back and use the remaining vouchers another time within the year. 

I think this is brilliant and would even recommend considering this deal if you're driving South or to Cornwall and looking for somewhere to break your journey up. You could visit two attractions and stay overnight on the way there and then pop to the other one to break up a journey on the way back. 

Some attractions need to be pre-booked in advance using the vouchers, others you can just turn up. Below is the most up-to-date info (checked January 2023) but do check with Stay Play Explore direct as this info may change. 

Remember to take your paper vouchers with you when you visit attractions, these are scanned on entry. You can only visit each attraction once per booking. You can find all of the information about how to pre-book each attraction (if required) here. 



You can choose to visit three attractions from this list: 

  • Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre (no need to pre-book)
  • Conkers (pre-book) 
  • Hi/Lo ropes at Conkers (pre-book) 
  • King Richard III Vistor Centre (pre-book)
  • Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre (pre-book)
  • Stonehurst Farm (no need to pre-book)
  • Swadlincote Ski Centre (pre-book) 
  • Twinlakes (pre-book) 
  • Twyross Zoo (pre-book) 
  • Wheelgate (pre-book) 
I personally highly recommend Twycross Zoo, it's one of the best we've been to and the kids still talk about it now. Twinlakes is a cute little theme park for under 10s too (kind of similar to Gullivers). 

Coventry Attractions 

You can choose to visit three attractions from this list: 
  • Ballroom Climbing Wall (book in advance) 
  • Coventry Transport Museum (no need to pre-book) 
  • Footgolf (no need to pre-book but it's recommended you call before visiting) 
  • Midland Air Museum (no need to pre-book) 
  • St Mary's Guildhall (no need to pre-book) 
  • The Wave (pre-book) 


You can choose to visit three attractions from this list: 

  • Avon Boating (book in person on the day) 
  • British Motor Museum (no need to pre-book)
  • Fairytale Farm (pre-book) 
  • Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm (pre-book) 
  • MAD Museum (booking required during weekends and school holidays but not term time) 
  • Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall (no need to pre-book)


  • Castle Howard Gardens (pre-book) 
  • City Sightseeing Bus (no need to pre-book)
  • Ice Sheffield (pre-book) 
  • Ripon Museums (no need to pre-book) 
  • York Bird of Prey Centre (no need to pre-book) 

There are other options for couples too. 

The rest of this post is a review from 2017 (there have been some changes since then, including the attractions on offer) but should give you an idea of what to expect. 

A few weeks ago we were invited to review a Stay Play Explore short break in Leicestershire. The break is superb value at £149 per family of 4 or £169 for a family of 5. You pay the full cost on booking and choose your hotel from a small selection. The price includes:
  • One night in a 4 star family-friendly hotel
  • Breakfast for you all
  • Entry to 3 top attractions (from a choice of 8). You are sent a voucher to use at the attractions so can decide on the day (and weather) where to visit

This worked out at just £33.80 per person for us which is just incredible value. Entry to Twycross zoo alone would have been £20 each if we'd paid on the door.

I had a few reservations though:-

  • Would they be able to accommodate a family of 5 (so many breaks like this don't)?
  • How far is Leicestershire? Is it too far to travel from the North East for one weekend? 
  • What actually is there to do in Leicestershire?

Yes they can accommodate families of 5 (woohoo), Leicestershire is around a 3-4 hour drive from Northumberland straight down A1 and actually very easy to get to and it turns out there is actually a lot to do it Leicestershire too.

Stay Play Explore | Family Attraction Choices

You are emailed a PDF voucher before your break which you will need to print out three times (one for each attraction - one voucher covers all members of the party).

We didn't need to pre-book the attractions we visited and we simply hand over our voucher at the entrance gate.

We didn't hit any problems using our vouchers and all attraction staff seemed to be familiar with them. We changed our minds numerous times where we were going to visit but finally decided on Twycross Zoo and Twinlakes Park.

Some attractions do need to be pre-booked and some have exclusion dates too. 

We could have squeezed our third attraction in on Sunday morning I think but we were feeling lazy and opted to have a lie in instead.

What I like about the vouchers is you can keep hold of them if you don't manage to fit all three attractions into your break and they are valid until the end of the year.

We really wanted to visit the National Space Centre but unfortunately, a special event was running so we couldn't.

We decided to save our voucher and return in September. It feels like 2 breaks for the price of 1. 

Attractions include:
  • National Space Centre
  • Twycross Zoo
  • Conkers
  • Swadlincote Ski Centre
  • Stonehurst Family Farm
  • Twinlakes Park
  • King Richard III Visitor Centre
  • Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre
  • Bosworth Water Park 
As you can see you are spoilt for choice! 

Stay Play Explore | Twycross Zoo

We arrived at Twycross Zoo at lunch time on Saturday. The zoo is a renowned world primate centre and houses a wide variety of monkeys and apes including the UK's only Bonobos.

Some of their animals are in breeding groups too and what I loved about our trip was being able to see lots of animal babies. So cute! I can hand on heart say this is the best zoo we've ever been to.

Unlike Edinburgh Zoo it is nice and flat and pretty compact so ideal for visiting with children.

There is a splash area and a few play parks dotted about too and you could definitely make a day of it here.

The animals all look well kept and there are lots of information signs dotted around to help you learn more.

We fell head over heels in love with the Orangutans and adopted our own as soon as we arrived home - it's the first time a zoo has inspired us to do something like this.

Highlights for us all included watching the Chimps, admiring the Gorillas with their babies, watching the Orangutans with their babies, a walk-through Lemur encounter, the Butterfly house and the Bonobos. I'll share a few photos below: 

If you'd like to see more animals from our day, please check out our video from the weekend below: 

Stay Play Explore | Hotel Choice - Sketchley Grange Hotel

You can select your hotel on booking and we went with Sketchley Grange which was pretty much hidden in the middle of an upmarket housing estate.

We were really impressed with the 4* facilities. Our room was huge with everything you could need and the hotel has it's own bar (with outdoor terrace) and restaurant too.

If we'd arrived earlier we probably would have checked out the beautiful looking spa and pool too (included in your stay at no additional cost) but we were starving so headed straight to the hotel bar for food instead. 

There are some lovely options for food within a few miles drive of the hotel and we almost booked a delicious sounding seafood restaurant in the next village.

I decided to give poor Steve the night off from driving though and we decided to stay in the hotel. Dinner was on the pricey side and I must admit we did splash out and all 5 of us enjoyed 3 courses each plus 2 rounds of drinks for the kids and 2 bottles of wine for us.

I'll say this quick - our food and drinks bill was £125. Yikes!

The bar was nice and welcoming though and we were in holiday mode. What can I say? Nothing encourages me to spend money more than being in 'holiday mode'. Our food was better than expected too. I especially enjoyed my salmon, radish and rocket salad to start. 

We enjoyed a full breakfast the following morning which really set us up for the day. We helped ourselves to baked pastries, fruit, yoghurts, cereals, juice and hot items. All washed down with a nice pot of fresh coffee brought to our table.

Stay Play Explore | Twinlakes Park

I really wanted the kids to have a super fun weekend and there's nothing my kids enjoy more than a trip to a theme park. Twinlakes Park is a small park and I would say better suited to children aged 10 and under.

 You won't find any white knuckle rides here but you will find lots of proper family fun.

Jack is past the height threshold to go on a lot of rides with his brother and sister without a grown up now and I had one of those moments where I felt like I'd lost my little boy as Jack raced onto the Log Flume with his brother and sister without so much as a second glance at me. Sob!

They LOVED the log flume and I think this will be their go-to ride at any future theme parks we visit now. 

Just because we don't have to go on the rides with the kids, doesn't mean we want to miss out. Steve and I had loads of fun riding the rollercoasters and the Pirate Ship was a real highlight. Check out the woman's face behind me - she looks how I felt! 

Twinlakes is so much more than just a theme park - the kids loved the two massive indoor play areas, a mirror maze, the outdoor castle-themed adventure playground and there is a full farm on-site too as well as special events (there was an early evening outdoor cinema on the day of our visit).

If your children are aged 5-10 years old, they'll really love it here. 

We left Twinlakes at tea time and were all in high spirits. You need to spend at least 4 hours here to get the most out of it. There's an outdoor water park on-site too.

We didn't bring our swimsuits this time but the kids have been begging me to go back so I'm sure we will next time.

We stopped off for tea in Darlington on our way home and the kids were in bed by 8pm. Tired but happy after another weekend filled with happy memories. I can't wait to return to Leicestershire later this year and use up our voucher for the National Space Centre - look out for us blogging about that trip in late September. 

Please check out our video featuring more fun from the weekend below and if you'd like to learn more/book a fantastic short break yourself, visit the Stay Play Explore website for details. 



  1. Random fact - I almost grew up in Leicestershire! My Dad had a job offer there when I was about 7 or 8 and it got so close to us moving I remember us going to look round a house and being taken round my new school. I'm not sure what happened but it all fell through last minute and we ended up staying in Norfolk. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if we'd lived in Leicestershire - i may well have ended up making completely different life decisions! It's funny to think!

    Anyway, that story is completely irrelevant to your lovely trip!

    Stay, Play, Explore is such a brilliant concept - what a bargain!

    Twycross Zoo looks amazing, i've never seen a baby gorilla before - so so cute!

  2. I always think this seems such a great offer but when you put it down in black and white, see how much you packed in AND you can save vouchers, it's incredible.


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