Leeds Castle, Kent review

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
User rating
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In a nutshell

A spectacular castle for all ages, with a fairytale moat and 2 excellent children’s playgrounds for both smaller and older children
Fun for kids
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Fun for parents
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Worth the money
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Facilities
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Family friendliness
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Pros: Stunning castle, brilliant kids’ playgrounds and generally family friendly
Cons: Some parts potentially scary for smaller children, expensive

When we visited:

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On a warm day in the summer

What age and family is Leeds Castle best for:

  • Best for: Children aged 5 years +, teenagers
  • Still good fun for: Children aged 0-2 years

How much does it cost?

This is not a cheap day out by any means. Entrance is:

  • £24.90 for adults and £16.90 for children
  • Free for under 4s

Are there any extra costs once we’re inside?

There’s a boat across the lake which is lovely but costs £2.50 per person (adult or child).

Even if you bring your own packed lunch, you’re still likely to get cornered into an ice-cream (£2.50 – £2.80 a shot), not to mention the gift shop. So for a family of 4, you’re unlikely to get much change from £100. All in all, you’re getting a great day out but at a price.

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How long will we spend at Leeds Castle?

Definitely a full day. The castle itself takes a while to visit as you have to walk round the moat to get in and there’s a fair old walk from the car park. Your children will also want to spend time enjoying the playgrounds. Then there’s the maze, a herb garden, a lake (which you can cross by boat) and of course, the shop.

Opening dates and times:

Open all year, daily from 10am – 4.30pm. Check timings though for the children’s playgrounds as they vary in the colder months and are closed if it’s icy.

Worth a long car journey?

Yes. We drove down from London and it took around 2 hours each way but it was worth it. Even better however if you happen to be staying in or around Kent.

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What’s it like for families?

Leeds’ Castle’s tagline is ‘the loveliest castle in the world’ and on a nice day, you can see what they mean.

The whole place is very family friendly and my little girl adored the castle-themed adventure playgrounds. There are two: the Squire’s Court Playground for under 6’s which has turrets you can climb, zip lines to wing and sand pits. She also loved the Knight’s Realm Playground (technically for over 7’s) where you can climb the ‘Maiden’s Tower’, as well as navigating firemen’s poles, rope ladders, turreted walkways, spiral staircases, secret tunnels and slides.

She even enjoyed the castle itself, particularly seeing the queen’s bedrooms. Beyond that, there’s obviously huge space in the grounds to run around as well as swans and ducks to feed and the maze to explore.

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What to bring:

Comfortable walking shoes (you’ll be covering a lot of ground), the usual kids’ supplies (wipes, drinks, sun cream if summer etc), as well as plenty of water and snacks. Unless you want to eat in one of the cafes or restaurants (which will obviously up the cost of the day significantly, it’s also worth bringing a picnic.

What to watch out for:

My little girl and her cousin (both 5 years old) found the grotto in the middle of the maze rather frightening. We’d seen photos of it which were brightly lit, so they’d gone in very excited thinking it was going to be fun. What we found however was a dark, slightly dank, subterranean basement with a huge stone face with backlit red eyes and a recorded voice booming out of it. They had enjoyed the maze before that so it was a shame to suddenly find something upsetting.

As you’re entering the castle itself, there’s also one stone staircase which is very dimly lit and as you walk up it, all you can see is a coat of armour holding a spear at the top which my little girl found quite scary. So much so that I had a bit of a job persuading her to go up the stairs with me, on the basis that it was quite a short staircase and it’d all be over soon. It’d be good if this staircase was perhaps better lit and the armour removed from the top as it was easy to see why this could be frightening for smaller children.

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Food and drink at Leeds Castle:

There’s a choice of cafes and restaurants at the castle and there are also seating areas both in the grounds and near the cafes if you want to bring your own food.

The main café near the playgrounds serves a Kids’ Burger Meal (using 100% British beef) with chips and juice or water for £5.20. There are also veggie options i.e. beetroot and feta burger (£6) and a family discount where you get 10% off any 4 dishes.

What are the toilets like?

Clean and well-equipped

Pushchair/wheelchair access and special needs:

  • Most of the ground floor areas are wheelchair accessible
  • Within the castle itself, the majority of the ground floor areas of the castle are accessible with pushchairs or by wheelchair
  • The usual entrance is through the cellar but they’ll let you through the main front entrance on the ground floor if you ask and staff are happy to help with pushchairs
  • There’s a minibus to transport wheelchair users from the entrance to the castle and main areas and there are also free audio guides and British Sign Language Guides are available as long as you pre-book
  • Guide dogs are welcome

What to do before you go to Leeds Castle:

I showed Georgie the website before we went and she immediately liked the look of the castle. However, the family activities page has pictures of children dressed up in medieval costumes which she was very excited about, but this turned out to be misleading as there was no dressing up available. The castle themed playgrounds made up for it though.

Tips for getting to Leeds Castle:

Leeds Castle is 7 miles east of Maidstone, Kent near Junction 8 of the M20 motorway

  • ME17 1RG is the best postcode to put in your satnav
  • If you’re travelling by rail, Bearsted Station is the nearest according to the castle website but you then need to get a shuttle coach from there. (Check website for details)
  • Several companies also offer coach tours to Leeds Castle from London (again – check the Leeds Castle website for details)

Visit the Leeds Castle website

See more reviews of Leeds Castle on TripAdvisor

MFM verdict:  

This was a fantastic day out. The children loved it, most of all the adventure playgrounds and we adults had a great day too as the castle and grounds are truly spectacular.

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Intro to me:

I visited with my 5-year-old daughter Georgie, her cousin Rosa (also 5) and my friend Joanna on a beautiful summer’s day when temperatures weren’t too hot but it was still lovely to wander around in short sleeves. The castle was busy but not too hectic even though it was in the middle of the school holidays