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Step into the wonderful world of The 100 Story Hotel with children’s author Rob Biddulph

We sat down with kids author and illustrator Rob Biddulph, ahead of the exciting 100 Story Hotel installation at Z-arts.
Rob Biddulph

Looking for a day filled with wonder, imagination, and endless excitement with the kids this half term?

Look no further than The 100 Story Hotel – where around every corner adventure is waiting to unfold!

At The 100 Story Hotel, there are all sorts of guests; lions and tigers, dinosaurs and bears.

Some sausage dogs are having a party on the hotel beach.

And that’s to say nothing of the dedicated staff.

The porters are penguins, the housekeeping team is headed up by a handy octopus – and you’ve already met the polar bear concierge…

The 100-Story Hotel

100 Story Hotel

Detectives we need you!

The brand new wonderful immersive adventure at Z-arts, The 100 Story Hotel is an incredible place where children can have fun, explore stories, and embark on an adventure to save the day.

We caught up with the bestselling, multi-award-winning author and illustrator Rob Biddulph, to talk about 100 Story Hotel, and how you can enjoy the wonderful world of play at Z-arts later this February.

Rob Biddulph, award-winning children’s author, and illustrator

Please may you introduce yourself to our readers

My name is Rob Biddulph, I’m a children’s author and illustrator. I do a bit of everything, I can be a bit greedy like that!

My first book was called Blown Away, which came out nearly ten years ago. That was all about a penguin who goes out flying a kite on a windy day and he gets blown away across the sea and gets into all sorts of fun adventures. That book won the Waterstone Prize, back in 2015.

I think I’m up to about 13 or 14 picture books now. I’ve also published a series of middleweight novels called The Peanut Jones Books.

100 Story Hotel
The fabulous human hotel helpers

Perhaps I am best known for my series of YouTube videos during lockdown, Draw with Rob. I just put up a series of draw-along videos right past the beginning of lockdown. It went crazy online, I think people enjoyed it.
We just drew together a couple of times a week, step-by-step drawings of fun characters.

It was weird, I remember seeing lockdowns on Sunday, recording a video on Monday, uploaded it on Tuesday – and it went so wild I was on the news on Wednesday talking about it. I can’t tell you how bizarre it was. They’ve been watched millions of times now. (You can check these videos out here)

Can you tell us a bit about the 100 Story Hotel came about?

It’s so strange, it’s like walking around inside of my head. I can’t tell you what a surreal experience it is for me to walk through The 100 Story Hotel.  We’ve created this incredible make-believe fantasy hotel, staffed by penguins and polar bears – each room in the hotel is themed around one of my books. 

There’s an Antarctic-themed restaurant dinosaur-themed bedrooms, and all sorts of fun stuff going on. Most of the rooms are full of interactive puzzles and drawing activities, with play areas too. You’ll find plenty to enjoy.

Your background is in illustration and writing, can you tell us about how it transitioned into an interactive play experience?

100 Story Hotel

It was so flattering, that people wanted to bring my book to life. Wow. Taking it from two dimensions into three. 

We’d have these great brainstorming sessions, and these wizards would take it off the page and make it real. 

I would produce the artwork for them to turn into models and put all these great twists on, it was incredible to see it all come to life. I went down to the exhibition at the Discovery Centre in London where it was initially being showcased,  it was beautiful to see how the kids were interacting with it. 

To see all the fun they were having, was humbling. A wonderful thing from start to finish – and we get to do it all again in Manchester.

When I’m sitting writing these books or I’m illustrating these books and everything is kind of alive in my head as I’m doing that, but ultimately to be able to walk through some of the scenes that I’ve kind of, uh, thought about for so long in my head and sort of put down on the page. I can’t explain it, it’s very surreal. 

Can you tell us a bit about some of the extraordinary characters at the 100 Story Hotel? Who’s your favourite?

100 Story Hotel

I think my favourite character has to be the concierge, the Polar Bear. He pops up right at the beginning when you first walk into the hotel, in the lobby, along with the penguin porters. They are also lovely, popping up here and there throughout the journey. 

They get up to all sorts of shenanigans throughout the experience. One of my favourite rooms in the experience is themed around one of my books – the Peanut Jones novels. There are all these tiny little secret doors and interesting bits – you could spend half an hour in that room and you’d keep finding lots of fun things to enjoy. 

It’s so much fun. I think you’re all going to love it. 

What is the story behind the missing story?

The main ‘thing’ at the 100 Story Hotel is that the kids are looking for clues as to who has taken a story.

There’s a huge hole blown in the wall, and one of the stories has gone missing.

They are given a little checklist to tick off these clues as they snoop around the hotel. 

Kids can be kids, and just run around and have fun around the hotel but if you want to work out who’s taken it – you can. 

There are brilliant human hotel employees who interact with children too, taking you on tours, showing you the ropes and just making it a fun experience to be part of. 

Why should people come and experience it?

I think this is just a great day out people can have with their children. For adults, there are some funny jokes in there for you too. 

I think about three to nine is the sweet spot, and if you’re looking for a great day out with the kids over half term. It’s perfect. 

It’s a really lovely and joyful experience, maybe something a bit different too. It’s great to go to a playground, or on a walk or something – but this has got another level of fun. 

To celebrate the opening of The 100 Story Hotel, Z-arts will be having a bear-tastic Launch Event on Saturday 17 February with a Best Bear-themed contest, an exhilarating assault course plus a complimentary copy of The 100 Story Hotel activity booklet for every child that attends.

You can book tickets to see the 100 Story Hotel by clicking here

100 Story Hotel is at Z-arts from Wednesday 21st Feb and tickets are on sale now.

They are flying out so be sure to be quick!

Timings for the exhibition 10am, 11.30am, 1pm & 2.30pm during Half Term and on Saturdays and selected Sundays throughout the year.

They are also hosting birthday parties at 100 Story Hotel. Find out more about that by clicking here

You can find Zarts at: 335 Stretford Rd, Hulme, Manchester M15 5ZA

About Z-arts

Z-arts is the UK’s only arts centre dedicated to offering best-practice in creative provision for children and families. Our mission: to inspire and enable generations of young people from Greater Manchester and the North West to use creativity to maximise their potential.

We engage with hundreds of thousands of people annually in outreach programmes with local communities, schools and college groups, international touring theatre shows and with superb on-site facilities including: 230-seat theatre, studio theatre, gallery, cafe bar, recording studio, music space & dance studio.

You can find out more on their website by clicking here

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