Tuesday 1 April 2014

Butlins Bognor Regis Review

I mentioned in my previous post just how much we loved Butlins, but there are so many reasons why that it needed more than one post.  From the accommodation to the customer service, we were so impressed and often it was the little things that made the holiday so easy and enjoyable


Our room in the Shoreline Hotel was on the fourth floor and our floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the skyline pavilion, some shops, the kiddies park and the sea.  It was perfectly set out for parents of toddlers, with a 'den' down one end with bunk beds, plenty of storage and a TV, and the parents end was the other side of the bathroom, with a TV, and some comfy chairs and a table in the window.  We all found the beds particularly comfortable, and the biggest little one couldn't resist testing out the mattress springs as well.  With a corner protector on the sharp edge, a step in the bathroom and a little duck too, the room made travelling with toddlers much easier.  The decor was fresh and modern and we were all really impressed.  

Getting around

We chose the Shoreline hotel as it was specifically geared up for the littlest of people, and this meant its location was perfect for little legs.  The lobby of the hotel was only a two minute walk from the skyline pavilion and all the action and we actually ended up going without a buggy which was fine even with two under 3s.  The restaurant downstairs in the hotel served breakfast and dinner and Papa John's and the Spar supermarket were less than 60 seconds walk from the hotel too.  Everything was so close that we never had to walk far, and it only took 5 minutes to leave the resort and find the sea front as well.

What is for Toddlers

A better question would have been what isn't there! Bognor Butlins seem to have thought of everything, and I don't think the boys could have dreamt up anything else.  There are two playgrounds, one specifically for the littler ones and the other has more challenges and bigger slides.  There is a soft play in the centre of the skyline which also has two sides, one for the older children who are more independent and one where the adults can get involved too (any excuse!).  There are shows designed for the under 5's, indoor rides and the water park and all of this is included in the price.  There are also lots of slot machines, and Dylan loved playing with his pennies whilst Archie enjoyed the bright lights and noise from the sidelines.

There was messy play every morning where the boys enjoyed finger painting and squelchy goo, and next to this was a soft play for babies room, with soft shapes and toys for those who are not as active yet.  The only improvement I would possibly suggest would be some sort of toddler cafe serving fresh healthy food, light bites and fruit inside the skyline as the Burger King and Costa were all too tempting.

The Shows

There were a variety of shows on throughout our stay and we enjoyed the skyline gang in 'beside the sea', Fireman Sam  and Scooby Doo amongst others.  We were gutted to miss Mike the Knight (especially the bloke!) but we were so busy that we didn't manage to fit everything in!  There was a 7pm showing of Scooby Doo, but we were invited to an exclusive 2pm one along with other families of younger children which was perfect for the toddler audience and was interactive enough that Dylan sat through the whole 90 minutes.  In fact, Dylan spent most of the week asking to watch another show.  At two and a half I had presumed he would be too young for most of it, but it seemed to be his favourite part and he enjoyed the farmyard sing along and Angelina Ballerina too.  The shows were just the right length of time for the littlies and there were red coats on hand to encourage and interact as well which made it even better.

The Fairground

There were four indoor fairground rides aimed specifically at toddlers although anyone under 1.5 metres could ride them.  Dylan must have ridden each one at least three times every day and we never queued once.  Archie went on three of them too and loved being able to join in with the bigger kids.  He smiled and waved all the way round and the seat belts were secure enough and the staff willing to stop the ride if he tried to climb out that I was happy to let him have a go.  I was really impressed that at 13 months he could take part in this - as was he!

Outdoors the fairground catered more for older children, although Dylan still had a go on a couple of rides as most were for over 0.9 metres. Unfortunately many of them were shut during our visit which was a real shame, but I presume in the height of the season they are all available.  The bloke and I had a great couple of hours on our own one day whilst the boys were with their grandparents and we enjoyed the rides that were open and  again didn't have to queue at all.  I was really impressed that these were included in the holiday and weren't charged extra.

Splash Water World

I don't take the boys swimming at the moment as the ratio of two of them and one of me doesn't work at all, but having four adults about meant we really got to enjoy the water park.  Both the boys were a little apprehensive to start, and weren't keen on the waves, so next time I would make sure I visited during one of the specific mother and baby sessions.  There was a kids area which was loud and colourful with water falling everywhere and a variety of slides.  Both the boys were too intimidated by this but I think a more confident toddler and definitely a child over 4 would absolutely love it.  There were other slides for older children and adults and we had a great time on those whilst the boys had a splash with their grandma and grandpa.

Unfortunately we didn't realise that the pool shut at 5pm and so when it was time to leave we had quite a queue for the changing rooms.  There are plenty, but there are only 5 family ones and with a wriggly one year old, we need the space as well as somewhere to lie him down.  I also found that the showers were too hot for the boys so I had to take them back to the hotel to wash their hair afterwards.

The Restaraunts

We had a dining package that allowed us to choose where to eat our evening meal.  We tried the Shoreline Hotel on the first night and were really impressed with the great variety including the pasta cooked fresh to order.  On the second night we had a delicious buffet at Papa Johns and the pizza was amazing.  We found the restaurant a little dark though.  On the third night and again on the fourth, we dined at The Deck and I would recommend this so highly.  The restaurant was huge and the buffet selection was so impressive.  On one night we had the choice of pate, prawn cocktail or soup to start, and then fish and chips, carvery, beef stir fry, pork in mushroom sauce, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, freshly cooked burgers, chicken and vegetable kebabs, freshly made pasta, sausage and mash as well as lots more that I can't remember and the puddings were well presented and so good that we may have all had seconds (and thirds).  Not only was the three course meal included, but there was juice, squash and hot drinks on offer too, all inclusive in our voucher or for less than £10 per head if you didn't have a dining plan.  If we return, I will be booking every meal at the Deck as we were all so impressed.  It is best to book ahead as they get popular and you can book as far in advance as you like, providing it is before 4pm on the day you want to eat.

Each restaurant also had a child's section which included the classics like chicken nuggets and fish fingers alongside Annabel Karmel healthier meals like pasta bolognese.  Of course the kids don't have to stick to this section and could eat whatever they liked, but for fussier children it is reassuring to know that there are the basics on offer.  In the Deck, the children are given sectioned trays rather than plates which made it easier to give them lots of little things to try.  There was also free Heinz baby food available and children's cutlery.

The staff

I mentioned in my previous post, but this may be the area I was most impressed with.  Every single member of staff was polite, helpful, well presented and willing to go that extra mile to make our visit special. The lifeguards waved out the window at my smiley baby, the changing room cleaner stopped to talk to my toddler, the red coats were as entertaining and impressive as their reputation and everyone in the restaurants went above and beyond to ensure we had the most amazing holiday.  We tried our hardest to catch one out, to find a frown but quite honestly I cannot fault the customer service.

Adult Time

We took my parents along which made the holiday all the more relaxing as they loved having time with the boys.  The whole resort is designed for families, but it would have been nice to have a child free zone for when we had the chance to escape them.  There is an adults only bar from 11-12 every night but that is the only time you are guaranteed not to have children around.  This didn't bother us that much as we went to spend time as a family.

Overall feel

I don't know if it is because everyone is on holiday, whether it was the brilliant staff or another reason (it definitely wasn't the weather!) but the whole atmosphere was so positive and friendly.  I didn't see any of the usual tears or tantrums that you may expect when going somewhere with so many toddlers in one place and the shops were not full of begging and whinging children.  Both parents and children were happy, friendly and the atmosphere was exactly what you would want when taking toddlers away.  

I have to admit that Butlins has utterly exceeded my expectations.  We spent a wonderful 5 days at Bognor Regis, and only left the resort for a few hours for a walk along the seafront.  There was so much to do that we barely needed to spend a penny as it was all included and both boys were in their element.  The holiday really was for them and it didn't disappoint.  I definitely intend to revisit and next time we will do the same dining plan as it worked out perfectly for us.  I love Butlins as a toddler friendly destination.


  1. I really must take a trip here... looks like an awesome time was had by you all xxx

  2. I love all the photos. Looks like a blast. So jealous. Definitely worth taking a trip there for sure.


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