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Now, this review of Butlins Minehead, despite it being advertised as a family holiday complex, would probably appeal more to 18year olds and people round that age region, "young adults", due to the nature of my party and our activities. This in itself shows the versatility of the place, it caters for pretty much everyone and a fantastic time can be had by all.
I went to Butlins Minehead for 7 nights during July of 2004. I was 17 at the time, and I went with 9 lads (one of which is my boyfriend) who were all 18 (I'm not a tomboy, I just really get on with my boyfriend's mates ;)).
We booked an early deal in the January, myself and Craig opting for Standard Half-Board accommodation, and the rest of the group pairing up and going for Silver Half-Board. The other choices of room were Gold and Deluxe, and from what I could see of these rooms, they were very big and had many more facilities and amenities such as DVD players, kitchen appliances, etc. These were more suitable for families, but for a young group who didn't plan to spend much time in the room, the basics were adequate. :) We booked online at www.butlinsonline.co.uk and saved £5 for our troubles (woohoo! :P). All in all, we paid £139 each for one week half board, which we thought was a bargain. Being students (well...some of us) and embarking on our first holiday parent-less, Butlins was perfect as we couldn't afford to go abroad. We got sent a confirmation pretty quickly, and as the time drew nearer, we got sent details of what to do on our arrival day. It all seemed pretty clear, we were allowed on the complex from 12 midday and check-in was at 4:00. No problem!
On the day, we set off from Bristol/Bath area for the 1hr40min journey. The complez was signposted from quite far out and was easy to find. We stopped off at the Tesco just down the road for room goodies (we're still children, really, after all ;)), but that Tesco is useful for anybody who doesn't want to fork out the expensive prices on site. We parked on site, and left our suitcases in the car, as we still had a good 4 hours to wait for our rooms. We entered the complex and were delighted to see the happy buzz everywhere, the bright lights, the vivid colours and the theming and laughs everywhere. The pavilion at Butlins (can be seen from miles away) is where practically everything is housed and so becomes the focal point of your stay.
We explored and found on site..:
Lazer Quest: This was never open when we tried to get in. It's in a huge building just off the Pavilion. Shame, because it looked good.
Reds: Again, just outside the Pavilion. This is where the majority of our 8-10pm time was spent before Jumpin Jaks opened. It's a family venue, with the Red Coats entertaining on the stage, an arcade area and a few bars. We saw some cheesy dance acts perform while we were here - Special D and Lasgo...vaguely recognisable. They have bouncers on the door, the majority of whom were friendly, and they were just to keep an eye on who was going in (whether they were drunk or not etc etc). For families, Reds is great, we certainly had a laugh in there.
Bar Rosso: One of my favourite places. This was a Greek themed cocktail bar, that did a great assortment of cocktails (quite pricey at £4:50 a go I think) and the usual beer and VK (THE alcopop for Butlins lol). This was a really nice place to be, and a great memory for me was all 10 of us sitting there for an afternoon, getting VERY tipsy, buying some novelty hats (I had a funny little knife that looked like it'd been stuck through my head) and then venturing onto the funfair outside. No, we didn't throw up, nor did we cause trouble, but we had a fantasic laugh. Bar Rosso is very atmospheric and is great for a chilled out drink in the day, or as a social starter to the evening.
MegaBowl: Not sure if that's the right name, but we went in here once. Tip: If you want to bowl, book in advance, the lanes get snapped up very quickly. There are about 10 pool tables in this place and the usual arcade games, and if you pay a deposit, you can play pool. It's alright in there.
Jumpin' Jaks. This was the on-site club. They notoriously have a very strict ID policy, which naturally worried me, being the only underager out of a group of 10! I had to prepare to spend some lonely nights. Luckily, due to some scheming and forward planning, I managed to get in without being IDed the first time, which was very lucky for me! Once in, we found quite a small club, a smoky bar and a basic dancefloor and small stage and a few tables. The club takes a long time to get 'Jumpin', opening at 10, closing at 2 and only really getting started at 12. Music in there varied each night, from complete cheese, to r n' b and the oldies etc, often these different types of music would be rotated throughout the night. It was a great place, expensive drinks, and they did shots called Bl** Jobs and Sh*gs, which was embarassing to have to ask for! Once you had them they tasted of flavoured ice, so they were a disappointment. While in here one night, we saw DJ Casper perform. This was quite funny, everyone was sat on the floor, clapping the floor from side to side, you know the jist. I got IDed a couple of times at Jaks, but managed to wheedle in every night (probably because I was with 9 lads WITH ID...the bouncers needed me for business! :P) This worked until the last night when they refused to let me in. Ho hum (we went on the beach at 2am instead :D).
One of the highlights of our days was going to Green Baize. This was a large building just off the pavilion, darkly lit, quiet, with many pool/snooker tables and some ping pong. This could all be played for a small returnable deposit of £5. There was a small bar and this was a very atmospheric place, we loved it here.
The Sun and Moon pub: We went here a couple of times, once to sit outside for some cider one afternoon, and once for a pub quiz in the early evening. We won the pub quiz (there was 10 of us to be fair!!), and there was free beer for us all...great for a non-beer drinking girl...It was a nice family vibe in here and it did some reasonably priced pub food.
Shillelagh Irish Bar (or something like that), not many places to sit, but there was nightly karaoke that we participated in a couple of times, great fun.
THE FUNFAIR: This rocked. It was pretty basic, but there were Walterz, Dodgems, an inverting ship (our favourite) and other typical fairground rides. ALL free and we rarely saw any closures.
Splash Waterworld: I went in here once, it wasn't hugely massive, but it did have two main swimming pools, some rapids and a variety of slides (I went on the Space Bowl - got a mouth full of water, bumped my knee, scraped my leg everytime I went over a joint and nearly drowned. Fun! Vowed not to go on anymore hehehe.
Other facilities: Trampolines with those bungee ropes for a fiver a go I think (didn't go on), a roller-coaster simulator...£3 I think? That was quite good!, a hut of children's rides opposite Reds, obviously don't know much about that, but it looked fun for kiddies! Crazy golf was good, again, a deposit needed and a small fee. They had a gym, but that was closed when we went. Many, many arcades and fruit machines. A huge stage in the Pavilion with daily entertainment (didn't see much of this).
Shops: Alldays for everyday convenience, a hairdressers and piercers, Jokers shop for novelty jokes etc, a souvenir shop with picture frames, very tasteful etc. Prices were quite high. There were others, but it's been nearly a year and I can't remember them. But they had practically everything. :)
Eating outlets: They had a Burger King (open quite late), Harry Ramsdens (nice fish and chips for the day, great chicken burgers for 10pm munchies!), Pizza Hut (main restaurant has great all-u-can-eat buffet for £5:99 between 12-2pm on weekdays - think this is universal, but still, it was great! They've also got a take-out section which is useful at 2am! As was Chick N' Kebab, that did great, but expensive kebabs - again, fantastic at 2am! And, again, the Sun and Moon pub was great for traditional pub food.
And so. Check-in opened 2 hours earlier on the day we arrived, and we joined the queue and were swiftly and quickly dealt with. In any moments of confusion, we always found a helpful Red who was always smiling and willing to assist. This was great, and we really appreciated them being round. It seems Saturdays and Wednesdays are the busy moving in days!
Pretty chuffed we could check-in earlier, went to get our luggage and found loads of trolleys to help with the load. Finding our rooms were quite tricky because the complex is HUGE, but it's all divided into little areas with funky names. Luckily, we were all situated quite closely together and because we'd booked early we were a 2 min walk from the Pavilion and canteen. Some rooms could go waaaay back.
We weren't sure if there had been some mistake, but while Craig and I had booked a Standard room, the others had paid £30 extra for Silver accommodation, and they had exactly the same rooms as we did. We did ask if there was some mistake, but it turned out Silver meant just eating in a different canteen - adjacent to the Standard canteen, but separated by a wall, to keep the rich from the rif raff, I can only presume :P A little bit of wangling, but I can't remember the arrangement, we managed to get it so Craig and I could eat with the rest and not be segregated. So overall, we got the best deal hehe.
On arriving, the rooms were small and plain, but clean and nice to look at. I'd heard several horror stories about the rooms at Butlins, but I was pleased to see nothing was wrong. There was sufficient clothing storage, but not much for anything else. The bathroom was small and consisted of a shower cubicle, a sink, a toilet and a large mirror. The main room had a double bed, two bedside tables, a mirror and chest of drawers and a TV. Overall, it was small, but fine! We had a cleaner come twice a week, she did some basic cleaning, but how she managed that with the carnage everywhere, clothes, rubbish, alcohol bottles, I don't know! I tidied up myself twice, it did really become a joke.
The canteen was massive and had huge selections of everything, you could have something different every day.The food was great, nothing less than you'd expect and they had everything you could want for breakfast and lots of different things to eat for tea. Everyone was issued a meal ticket on the first day and this got ticked for every meal attended...although sometimes ours weren't checked. The restaurant was brightly coloured and nice banners for eveyr meal section there was, it was a pleasure to be in there. Meal times were 8-10am for breakfast I think, and 6-8 for tea, although I think they may have been longer and we were just on a rota.
Overall, there was plenty at Butlins, Minehead for all the family. I think a week there was just long enough, I spent £200 in one week, the ATM machine charged £1:50 everytime you withdrew unless you went into Minehead town itself. I was down to my last fiver on the last day, but it was all worth it. If you got bored (possible after almost a week), then Minehead town was a 5 minute walk away - a really pretty town we spent the day in. The beach, also, was literally across the road, and we spent the last night on there drinking and playing in the sand (yes, we cleared our bottles away) and we made some great memories.
I have a song now that reminds me of Butlins - Lola's Theme by Shapeshifters, a song which was very big at the time. It just signifies to me the fantastic time I had. I definitely recommend it, and I shall definitely be going there again. :)
Just for the record...I'm not any sort of chav, I'm a student. ;) And for all our drinking, we weren't aggressive, nor did we litter and we didn't impose on other people's holidays in any way. Kaycee x
very good review, but for me, when I read you were able to sneak in the club and bouncers are needed on the doors, It just doesn't appeal to me as a Family holiday camp
kismet 20.05.2005 12:05
great review, lots of detail to help someone decide if Butlins is the place for them. I have often considered it but wasn't sure if it would be the place for me, however having read this I think I might give it a go sometime!
Ragdoll26 12.05.2005 15:31
A good review, I went to a Warners holiday camp when I was a kid but never butlins. Anna x