MENTION Blackpool and one of the first things that will probably come to most people’s minds is that staple of any British seaside town, the shabby B&B with brassy Bet Lynch landlady at the helm.
And on our drive into the town, it was clear the traditional guest house is alive and well. However, our destination, the Big Blue Hotel, contradicted all the stereotypes, proving to be an oasis of sophistication in a place that is all about fun.
WINING AND DINING?
The hotel’s Blues Brasserie offers light lunches and à la carte meals prepared by an award-winning head chef, with the emphasis on fresh, local produce. The restaurant was fully booked for dinner when we arrived in the late afternoon, but the breakfast we had the next morning was top notch. There was a vast array of food on offer – pleasing even the fussiest of four-year-olds – from croissants and pastries to cereals, toast, fruit and cooked breakfasts. It was all of a very high quality and, although the restaurant was full, the service was quick, efficient and friendly.
Ours was described as a deluxe family room. In the main area was a huge and very comfortable double bed, while tucked away round the corner were the children’s “funky bunk beds”, with two televisions, one at the height of each bunk, set into the wall. In the unlikely event they might tire of CBeebies, there was a snakes and ladder game on the wall too. Never have our daughters been so keen to go to bed. But the biggest highlight was the view from the bedroom window – we were literally feet away from the Big One, the tallest rollercoaster in the UK, so close we could almost see the raised hairs on the necks of the people riding on it.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR?
The Big Blue is right next door to the Pleasure Beach, so you don’t have to travel far for a full day’s entertainment. The hotel will arrange wristbands to give you access to all the rides on offer, from white-knuckle to gentler ones all the family can enjoy.
The Pleasure Beach also features Nickelodeon Land, with another 12 rides and the chance to meet favourite Nickelodeon characters, from Dora the Explorer to SpongeBob Squarepants. We spent an entire day, from 11am to 7pm, at the Pleasure Beach and still didn’t manage all the rides. The children loved it. A family wristband (for two adults and two children) can be bought online for £86, or you can buy one via the hotel as part of its special package. We didn’t make it any further than the Pleasure Beach, but there are loads of other things to do: the Tower, which nowadays also features a circus and the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, plus the Sea Life aquarium, Madame Tussauds waxworks and Sandcastle Waterpark, with the world’s longest indoor rollercoaster waterslide. And for more simple pleasures, there’s always the beach itself.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
The Big Blue is a four-star hotel that likes to think of itself as a place “where chic cutting-edge design blends seamlessly with an attention to detail and a level of service that is second to none”, and we found this description accurate. But it was the quirky bunk beds and the incredible view of the rollercoaster that will stick in our minds. There definitely didn’t seem to be anywhere else like it in Blackpool.
The hotel has its own private entrance to the Pleasure Beach, for use of guests only. When you have children desperate to experience the thrills on offer, avoiding a long queue will do wonders for your stress levels.
Guestbook Comments? This is the perfect place for families who want to experience the thrills of Blackpool during the day but retire to a serene, sophisticated, very comfortable hideaway in the evenings.
Big Blue Hotel, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire (0871 222 4000. www.bigbluehotel.com).
B&B plus one day’s wristband, from £127 per room per night.