I must admit its slightly disconcerting to wake up with a dragon next to your bed. But such things cant be helped when youre staying at the Legoland Castle Hotel at Legoland Windsor Resort.
Its not like youre unprepared – the hotel entrance is guarded by the most enormous green Lego dragon, growling and puffing smoke from his nose.
In the Castle Hotel restaurant theres another, guarding her eggs from hungry diners.
My niece and nephew loved this primary coloured creation, along with the play corner in the Tournament Tavern.
They came with me to see what Legoland Windsor Resort and its hotels had to offer.
There are two – The Legoland Resort Hotel and The Legoland Castle Hotel.
Both are fun, imaginative and bursting with colour, but theyre not exactly cheap – at the time of writing (admittedly during the summer holidays), a stay for a family of four would cost upwards of £300 per night.
Compared to the CBeebies Land Hotel and Thomas Land, Legoland Windsor fared pretty well overall, but is better suited to older children (like my Ninjago-obsessed six-year-old nephew) than both of those.
Arrive as early as possible to get bang for your buck and plan your whole trip as much as possible – theres lots to do at the hotel and in the park there are 55 rides, shows, workshops and attractions.
Check-in is from 3pm but theres a swimming pool open from 7am to 8pm (make sure you book) and live entertainment from 7.30am to 8pm.
Check out is at 10am, but its better to leave earlier – staying at the hotel means you can get into the park before everyone else, from 9.30am on Saturdays, and you can leave your luggage at reception.
When we arrived, the kids (three and six) spent a lot of time running around getting excited at the throne, wizard and dragon – all Lego after all.
They loved their room too.
Dont underestimate how much time kids will want to spend in there, as the themed ones at the castle come complete with dragons, a treasure hunt and Lego computer games on the TV opposite their bunk beds (to be honest, the simple fact they were allowed a TV opposite their beds was probably one of the highlights for them).
For my part, I thought the decor was hilarious – from the aforementioned dragon by my bed to the Lego knight blushing in his boxers on the back of the toilet door.
There were also nice touches like branded bath products.
Dinner at the Tournament Tavern was outstanding. The chateaubriand at this grill was as good as any top steakhouse offering.
For once, it felt like a kids restaurant was catering for adults first, although the children enjoyed their spag bol too.
The menu options are aimed meat-lovers though – theres smoked salmon, pate, ribs, king prawns and so on, but only a couple of veggie options.
If youre vegan, you may be better heading to Bricks Family Restaurant, the buffet in the other hotel.
Breakfast was a well-executed but fairly standard mix of options, from full English to continental.
Make sure you look at your copy of The Daily Build when you check in – its your guide to the hotel entertainment and more.
The kids enjoyed learning some circus skills and dancing as part of this, while I enjoyed going upstairs to play more Lego arcade games.
The highlights of the park for us were Lego Ninjago World (because Ninjago), the Splash Safari in Duplo Valley (because who doesnt like running round squirting water at people when its hot) and Miniland (because it reminded me of visits when I was younger).
My nephew was pretty taken with Miniland too, especially its boats.
The section now includes Lego versions of the Taj Mahal, The Forbidden City and Miniland USA with its tiny copies of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
One tip for the park would be either head back to the hotel restaurants for lunch or take your own food, as we werent too impressed by the (mostly junk) food on offer from the various stalls.
Vegan ice cream was available though.
This was never going to be a cheap family trip in high season, but its lots of fun.
If your kids are obsessed with Lego, especially Ninjago, they will love it. And even for adults, there was plenty to do and see.
My advice? Plan ahead to make sure you get the most out of your trip there – but do go.
How much does it cost?
At the time of writing, a family of four can stay at The Castle Hotel from £300, or in a premium themed room for £697, including breakfast and park tickets for two days.
Ninjago fans should check out the four themed rooms at The Legoland Resort Hotel too.
Check the Legoland Windsor Resort website for deals, including kids go free ones.
Day tickets to the Legoland Windsor Resort start from £32 per person – book them online at least a week in advance.
Q-bot passes cost from £20 each. If you can afford them, Id recommend them to avoid the queues and do more in the day – you can book them here.
And if you do decide to visit, make sure you plan lots in advance (look at the map and work out a route with rides most suited to your kids), so you can make the most of the hotel and the park.
Do consider bringing packed lunches.
How to get to Legoland Windsor Resort
The nearest train station is Windsor & Eton Central – the journey takes about 45 minutes from London Paddington.
You need to change at Slough, and a return ticket costs £11.70 per adult.
You can travel direct from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside, which takes about an hour.
From both stations, theres a shuttle bus to the park – from Windsor & Eton Central, tickets cost £4 per adult and £2 per child, the trip takes 10 minutes and the service runs every half hour.
Children aged five and under can travel free on all trains, while kids aged five to 15 need a childs ticket (half the price of an adult).
If youre planning to travel by train regularly, you could buy a Family & Friends railcard, which costs £30 and saves a third on fares and 60% on kids fares across Britain for a year.
Its also worth checking the National Rail Days Out Guide website – currently you can get two tickets to Legoland for the price of one when you travel by train.
Alternatively, if youre driving from central London, the journey takes just over an hour and a days parking costs £6.
If you want to park closer to the entrance, you can buy Preferred Parking for £12, or £10 if you book online in advance.
(Top picture: Legoland)