Advantages Great fun for kids...Nice food and plenty of it!
Disadvantages Very noisy, crowded lots of queues and kids everywhere.
|Is it worth visiting?|
Ive just had a week at Butlins...Now I need a Holiday!My week at Butlins:
I have some lovely memories of Butlins Skegness and Clacton as a child, I also enjoyed staying at Butlins Skegness, Minehead, and the Butlins hotel in Brighton and Margate later in life when my children were growing up.Prior to this latest holiday I hadn't been to Butlins for about 15 years. The last time being when my oldest grandson was a toddler…. We found the accommodation very shabby and not very clean (so we never went back again)web sites and brochures of 4-5 of the most popular holiday camps…. It was decided that Butlins was the one for us.
So in May of this year we booked a week for September…
We didn't want to actually be cooking all week, and to eat out at these kinds of places can be very expensive. Lots of Holiday camps only offer self-catering, we didn't want a caravan this time, as we were taking my mum with us, she has had a stroke, and a knee replacement (that hasn't worked)
The reason we booked Butlin's
Our needs and requirementsI picked up a brochure (just to get an idea) but decided to book on line as you make huge savings.
Now as I have already mentioned. There were 3 of us going. Myself, my partner, and of course my mum, so we needed two bedrooms, we also needed a walk in shower, as I can't get out of a bath, and mum can't even get in one, so a shower it had to be.We also needed a ground floor apartment, (because Butlins don't have lifts).
Mum wanted a TV as she likes to watch all her soaps…Yes I know she was going on holiday for God sake, but she didn't want to miss ANY of her soaps, if she could help it.
So that meant arranging our evening dinner around them!
I thought it was going to be quite complicated, as we had lots of questions and some strange requirementsI found the website at www.butlinsonline.co.uk
We decided that we would go around Sat Sept 17th -24th (Because it was after the school summer holidays) and before half term, I thought there would be hardly any children there, (all back at school) not that I don't like children… I love children, I have two grown up ones of my own, and three and a half grandchildren, But we were hoping for some quiet time now and again….So that was decided, Bognor, Sat 17th Sept, one week, Silver accommodation, (slightly dearer than standard but not as dear as Gold), two bedroom, half board, with shower and TV, ground floor, not too far to from car park and dinning room. OK?
So far, so good;One thing kept coming up on my screen, nothing available for those dates, so I tried the week after… I tried Skegness too; I also tried standard and gold accommodation at both, still no luck…. Then I saw a little message that said, 7-day holidays start Friday to Friday…
Just one tiny snag; Because they are classed as family rooms, most of the one and two bedroom apartments have a double bed in one room (sometimes bed settee in the living room) and …wait for it children's bunk beds in the other… Ok I managed to sort out a two-bedroom apartment with double bed in one room and two normal sized singles in other, I thought that's fine mum can take her pick…Fine everybody happy? Ok
NO not ok!
I was about ready to book a nice holiday in Silver accommodation at Bognor and pay my deposit… when all of a sudden mum stopped me.
How many of you have ever watched Eastenders? Well for those of you that have, you will know and probably love "Nanna"
She is Alfie's lovely old Nan. Well my mum is not unlike Nanna…. In fact there are quite a few similarities!
MUM "I hope we have a microwave in our apartment"?
ME "A what?"
MUM "A microwave"
ME "What on earth do we need a microwave for?
MUM "To cook my breakfast in"
ME "Breakfast… What breakfast? We are going all in, whatever you would like for breakfast and evening dinner; you help yourself to... as much as you want….
MUM "But I will be hungry when I get up before I get to breakfast"
ME "So what are you planning on having for your breakfast, before you go to breakfast"?
MUM "Oh I'm having my bowl of Oats so simple and my raspberries, kiwi, grated apple and yoghurt drink"
ME "I see… Shall I ask if we can have an oven too"?
Mum "No, I probably won't need an oven. But a fridge, Yes I need a fridge.
Me "A what? A fridge, I don't think we will get a fridge.
MUM "Ohhh dear, where will I put all my food?
ME " Food! What food?"
MUM "All the food I am taking with me…. My fruit, milk, butter, eggs. cheese, brown bread, yoghurts" (you get the idea?)
ME "Ok. Mum … Please don't get upset, I will see what I can do"
Now these few changes turned into a major shift around….
A few minor changes to details before booking:
To my delight Butlins did have a few silver apartments with Microwaves, Oh good … They are slightly bigger, slightly more expensive, not many of them, but they have fully fitted kitchen/diners (with everything including cooker, fridge) nice living room with TV and patio doors…
We'll take it…
Next day; Phone Butlins, and tell them my dilemma, lady is very helpful, she tells me there are NO two bedroom half board apartments with kitchens at Bognor, and that she would try Skegness for me,
Which she kindly did.
And there were just a couple left
So back on the computer, put in dates, Skegness, and all my details, and low and behold…. I booked it all within 10 mins.
It was a bit more expensive, worked out at £162 each, which I thought was pretty good.
A box at the bottom of page asked if I had any special requests, that was a laugh, after all the requests I had already asked for, but I did ask if we could be reasonably near the dinning room.
Driving to Butlins was very easy.
We left my mums at 1pm, didn't want to leave too early as we knew the journey wouldn't take too long, and didn't want to be hanging around to long at Butlins before we could get in our accommodation.
We turned into huge gates to be greeted by security, and shown where to park and check in… check in is at 4 PM unless you are premier members (then you get to check in at 2pm)Now as I already said, we arrived at the gates at 10 past 3 so we still had almost an hour before we could check in.
I was amazed at the amount of people queuing to check in at this early time, there must have been at least 300 people standing outside with luggage and children.
The weather wasn't particularly warm that day, and if any of you have been to that part of the coast, you will know what I mean when I say it can get windy, and by golly it was a cold wind that day.
We were lucky in that we had all our luggage in the car, some people had arrived by coach and were stuck with their cases, until they could get in there rooms.
I decided we were NOT queuing, instead we locked the luggage plus all mums food in the car, found the toilets and then went for a nice cup of tea, at 5 past 4 we went to the check in office…
We drove for about half a mile (following the directions given) and finally reached our apartment. We had parking right outside our front door (which was handy) and were in our apartment unpacking and putting on the kettle by 20 past 4….
The apartment:To tell you the truth, I was pleasantly surprised.
On entering the hallway I noticed it had a nice fresh clean smell, (unlike one we had years ago that smelt damp and musty).
To the right of the hall was the Kitchen/diner, which was quite big, clean, bright and airy, had all mod cons including microwave and table and 4 chairs.
On the other side of the hallway were the bedrooms, mum jumped at the first one with plenty of space, two single beds, storage heater, wardrobe, bed side table and draw space.
We had the far room with double bed, and plenty of wardrobe, cupboard and drawer space, but not much room to move about.
The dining room and food:
We decided we had better find the dining room and have our evening meal, we took the car, as we weren't sure how far or exactly where it was.
Good job we did as the dinning room was three quarters of a mile away… our apartment was actually t the furthest point from it, that we could have been... so much for being near.
There were two large doors into the dining room. A redcoat stood by the door and checked our blue card; we then went into what looked like a massive restaurant and sat where we liked.
At the back were all the food counters, at the sides and front were many types of drinks dispensers that you help yourself to (non alcoholic drinks) in the middle by the food counters you could purchase wine and beer to have with your dinner if you so wished.
Breakfast was partly serve yourself and partly ask for what you want, there were large toasters that took about 18 slices of bread at a time. There were many types of breakfasts, offering a good choice of cereal, full English, vegetarian, prunes, grapefruit, kippers, fresh fruit, jams, butters etc, and as much bread/toast as you wanted.Dinner also offered a wide range.
Whoops I keep going off on a tangent.... Where was I? Oh yes!
I could not fault the food; accommodation and friendly staff (most of the time)
A bit about the campsiteButlins's does caters well for disabled people, with easy access into all shops, venues and buildings, and is wheelchair friendly, there are plenty of disabled toilets.
The grounds on the whole are clean and tidy, with some nice flower gardens. There are plenty of parking spaces and the main entertainment and shopping area is pedestrianised.In the brochure it states, the fair rides are all free, well there was a fair, with dodgems, Carousel, a boat like thing, and a couple of other rides. These were actually free as stated, but the queues most of the time were huge and the rides only lasted a very short time.
You also had to pay to go on the Bungee trampoline, kiddies Go-karts and numerous other little kiddie's rides, that were dotted around the place.
There are lots of arcades with tons of machines in (we stayed away from these).
There are children's clubs, for different age groups, where the Red coats take the children off and entertain them, during the day and early evening. Also a nursery where parents pay to put their young children for a few hours, and an evening baby-sitting service at a charge.The Splash Waterworld Pool with flumes, was very busy most of the time, we were going to try it out, but one look through the doors was enough…
Skegness has a relatively new spa centre, which looked very inviting and had a lovely quiet relaxing pool.
Mum and I would have liked to have, had a quite float around in the adult only pool.
On enquiring the minimum charge was £16… for that you got to go in the pool, use the gym and have a small pamper treatment, (so we gave that a miss too).
Each day as we walked past we looked in through the huge windows, there was never anyone in the pool, apart from one afternoon there were two woman having a leisurly swim.....
Other Entertainment:Skyline Pavilion: Join in the fun with the Skyline Gang. Including shows, street theatre and games, a bar and restaurant. (Family entertainment)
There were plenty of places to eat or drink on the site, handy if you were self-catering and didn't want to be cooking all the time.
Places to eat and drink:
Papa Joe's pizza's
Finnigan's fish & chips
Yacht club restaurant
Cafe and bar in Skyline pavilion
A hire shop... you can hire bikes, tandems and large 4 person pedal carriages (at a price) see photo's
Hair and beauty
Kodak photo shop
Fancy dress hire shop
Clothes and accessories stores
Launderette (at a charge)
Holiday Booking Shops
Nursery services (at a charge)
A spa experience (at a charge)
You can also hire mobility scooters and wheelchairs (but you have to mention this when booking) Quite expensive
Baby listening service (at a charge)
Crèche (at a charge)
Outside Butlins: (Yes they do let you out)At the back of the camp are large gates that bring you straight onto a soft sandy beach, Butlins own private beach.
If you turn right out of Butlins gates, Ingoldmels is a short distance (approx. 1 mile) if you keep going 2 miles you will come to Chapel St Leonard's, about 9 miles further on and you will reach Mablethorpe.There are bus stops right outside Butlins that take you in both directions. Also outside Butlins is a pedestrian underpass that takes you under the busy road, to another part of Butlins.
Did I enjoy my week at Butlins? And will I go again?
Well I don't think I will be going back for a long time, if at all.
The accommodation was fine, the food was great, we were lucky to have good weather almost every day, the staff were friendly, most were helpful.
But, it was so noisy, we had two families above us, one family had 3 children that were like elephants and awake about 4am every morning, jumping up and down. The other family never came home much before 2-3 am.
Ok they were on holiday. But they banged, thumped, screamed, sang, shouted, argued and fell over.
In general the whole place was very busy and crowded, and as for queues..... Well I have never seen such long queues of people… Queues for fair rides, for toilets, for games, queues to have your photo taken with Billy bear, queues outside for dinner and breakfast (over half an hour before it opened) queues of cars to get out the gates. Some people even seemed to be queuing for no reason at all.Maybe I am just getting old and want a relaxing holiday.
Ok maybe I should have gone to Warner's its adults only there. NO Children allowed!My two youngest grandsons would probably enjoy Butlins…. But I certainly won't be taking them! My sister in law takes her three little ones a couple of times a year.... But not for me I'm afraid.
At the bottom of this I had to tick Yes or No for potential buyers, I have actually ticked yes, because I feel it is probably a good place for families with children (if you like that kind of thing)If there is anyone still reading. I thank you!
And for anyone interested here is a bit more information about Butlins's in general
How Butlins's startedBilly Butlins opened the very first Butlins holiday camp in 1936 and it was in Skegness Lincolnshire
Butlins Grand hotel in Margate also had a bad fire in the 90's and was closed for some time.
Butlins' famous Redcoats are the entertainment team and are easy to spot in their bright red jackets.
Most Butlins offer a range of accommodation in standard, Silver or gold, from self-catering to halfboard.
You can book a week Friday-Friday or short breaks… Frid to Mon 3 day breaks or Mon to Frid 4 day breaks.
Butlins also have Adult short breaks at certain times, and include such things as Motown weekends, 60's weekends, Rock and roll weekends.
Thanks for reading… Heatherx
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