As ambassadors, we were lucky to stay in one of the largest rooms Butlins has to offer – a Nelson State Room in the Shoreline Hotel. The cost of this for 4 nights (during May half term) was £1214. This included housekeeping and free Wi-Fi, along with little luxuries you wouldn’t find in other rooms, such as a telescope. The room was spacious and modern with a large balcony and sea view. As lovely as this room was, if we visited again we would opt for a lower budget room. The time we spent in our room was limited, due to the amount of activities on offer and I don’t think we used the room and balcony to its full advantage – maybe we’d have used the balcony more if the weather was nicer.
There are often offers on the Butlins website and breaks are generally cheaper in term time. Looking at a special offer Butlins currently have, the same room for 4 nights in November would only cost £421 – that is a massive difference! Obviously this isn’t great for families with school aged children now the rules have tightened on taking kids out of school (not that we ever would have anyway). But if we did a term time break we’d combine a 3 night weekend break with a Monday inset day – there tend to be a few of those throughout the school year and the resort would probably be quieter than in the school holidays too.
Our dining package would have cost £264 for a family of four staying for four nights during half term. If split equally this works out at £16.50 per person, per day for both breakfast and dinner, which isn’t bad at all, especially if you stick with the all inclusive hotel buffet for each meal.
Approximate costs of any extras we paid for during the week:
Evening meals & drinks after vouchers were deducted – £25
Lunches – Free as we took snacks with us to store in the mini fridge in our room
Ice creams at Scoop – £15
Candy floss, popcorn & sweets – £4
Archery – £5
Arcade games – £5
Dune Buggies – £2
Bowling – £14
I don’t think £70 spending money is bad at all for a week’s holiday with two children. We could easily have spent more than this if we’d given in every time they’d asked for something, or if we’d had extra cash to spend. We could easily have spent much less than this too, as there is so much already included in the price of the break – but what is a family holiday without a few ice creams and games on the arcades? If we’d been spending ‘virtual’ money, using cards here and there I don’t think we’d have noticed how quickly it all adds up, but instead we drew out £100 in cash before we arrived and made sure we didn’t go over this amount.
So, the total cost of our week at Butlins (including all the extras above) was £1548. Was it worth it?
This breaks down to £96.75 per person, per night. For everything which is included in that price I would say yes, it was worth it for a fun, action packed family holiday. If you’d prefer a holiday which includes days out and sightseeing, then probably not, as you wouldn’t have time to take full advantage of everything on resort and get your money’s worth.
If we had £1548 to spend on a family holiday then yes, we would spend it to visit Butlins again. However, in reality we don’t have that sort of money to spend on a holiday. As I stated earlier, there are often offers available and cheaper rooms than the one we stayed in. A term time weekend break would be the best option for us.
What exactly is it that makes us want to visit Butlins again?
1. The staff. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a smile and made to feel welcome. Redcoats made sure the children (and adults) were entertained, even when just wondering around the resort. Restaurant staff always came over to chat and ask how our holiday was and what we’d been up to that day. Hotel staff came to check everything was ok with our room on the first day. The friendly atmosphere of the resort really does make all the difference.
2. The range of activities on offer. There was so much to see and do that we didn’t have time to fit it all in. The majority of these activities are included in the cost of the holiday and you don’t need to leave the resort at all. There’s also plenty to do indoors and the poor weather didn’t really affect our enjoyment.
3. The food. I’ll be honest, I have had better meals at other hotels and restaurants. However, some of the meals (especially the desserts) were very good and there were lots of options – healthy and not so healthy – in the hotel buffet. The lowered counter was perfect for kids and they loved being able to help themselves to what they wanted for breakfast. The service in all the Butlins restaurants we visited was fantastic – we didn’t have to wait long at all to be served and the staff were so friendly.
4. The smiles. The children were so excited to be at Butlins. They loved sleeping in bunk beds, using the balcony, going to the fairground, the shows, swimming – we had very few tears or tantrums. The kids didn’t have too many either…
While Butlins may not be my ideal holiday personally, it is my ideal family holiday. There are few places we could take the children and have such a fun, stress free time while not having to worry about extra costs and whether they’d eat well (especially the little one who is very picky). While we all love being outdoors (in all weather – puddle jumping is our speciality), it’s nice to have a change and do something we wouldn’t normally. The children absolutely loved all the entertainment at Butlins and to be honest, Mum and Dad enjoyed it way more than we thought we would too. And when it all got a bit too much, we could just pop down to the beach for half an hour, which was surprisingly peaceful for May half term.
Our top ten money saving tips for a Butlins holiday:
- Draw out spending money in cash and stick to your limit.
- Take snacks for the week – you won’t need much for lunch if you fill yourselves up at breakfast and eat early in the evenings.
- If you don’t want to spend extra on meals, stick to the hotel buffets which are all you can eat.
- If eating in one of the other restaurants, some of the desserts are quite big (such as The Ultimate Fondue in the Diner) and can easily be shared between two or more people.
- If you plan to do lots of extra activities, look into the special passes Butlins offer, such as the All Action or Adrenaline passes. The Flexi pass would have been ideal for our daughter as it includes the activities she enjoys, such as Archery and the Bungee Trampolines and you basically get 3 sessions for the price of 2. This is something we’d definitely invest in next time.
- Use the What’s On guide (or the Butlins app if you have an iPhone) to plan the activities you’d like to do before you visit – choose as many of the free activities as possible and if they require booking make sure you do that on the first day to avoid disappointment.
- Make use of the free DVD hire from the hotel reception (refundable £10 deposit is required)
- Save up a jar of coins in the months before your break to use in the arcades.
- Think twice before buying popcorn and drinks for the shows – the shows aimed at children generally don’t last very long and once the show starts their attention will be taken away from wanting snacks.
- You can save money on the overall cost of the break by looking out for offers on the website or staying in one of the cheaper rooms – you’ll be surprised how little time you actually spend in the room anyway.
We were invited to stay on a 4 night break at Butlins as part of my role as a Butlins Ambassador. All opinions are my own.