Newest Review: ... and Columbus Quarters which are essentially the same room but the Columbus quarters are slightly more expensive and have either a sea ... more
Fab time at the Shoreline!
Butlins (Bognor Regis)
Member Name: Lbird99
Butlins (Bognor Regis)
Advantages: Great Rooms, Lots of activities for toddlers, fun whatever the weather!
Disadvantages: Can be a bit of a cash cow!
I booked our breaks via the website www.butlins.com. I went via Top Cashback which gives a minimum of 5.05% back on your break. From the home page you select book now tab and you are taken into a form to select where and when you want to go, and who is going and it will then search for all. As Bognor is only about 90 minutes away from us we only tend to go for a short break, so all our trips have been 2 night breaks at the Shoreline Hotel. There is also the Ocean Spa Hotel, as well as standard, silver, gold and deluxe apartment to choose from. However they only do the 2 night breaks in the hotels. We chose not to book any meals, but we could have gone Half Board for an extra £19.45 per adult and £9.90 per child per day, but I felt this was not great value at almost £100 extra for a short break. Also you can book to eat at the hotel restaurant if you wish to on an ad hoc basis.
When you have selected your break, you can then add extras such as spa treatments, insurances and activity vouchers, before entering all your guest details. Payment can be made by all major debit and credit cards and there are no additional fees for any cards. If you are booking more than 8 weeks in advance then you only need to pay £25 deposit per person as well as any insurance and activities, and then the rest 8 weeks before you go. You can log on to your account any time before the balance is due and pay off chunks as small as £10 which I think is a great idea, especially if you have booked for your main holiday. If you book less than 8 weeks before you go then you will to pay the full balance.
When you have booked your holiday you will get your confirmation via email, which you will need to print and take with you, or you can show the booking on your phone when you arrive. 3 weeks before you go they will also send you a booklet with useful information about things to take with you and the facilities on site.
Arrival & Check In
When we arrived at Butlins we were greeted at the main gate by a Red Coat who enquired about our journey before directing us to the correct car park. The Hotels each have their own car parks, with disabled parking near the entrance.
Check In for the hotels, gold and deluxe is 3pm. All other accommodation is 4pm. You can arrive and use all the facilities from midday. We checked in at our hotel reception, and it took about 3 minutes. We were given two door key cards, our entertainment passes and what's on guide, and advised of how to book the restaurants if we wished to. Then we were off to our room...
Before this year the last time I had visited the Bognor site was for my hen weekend in 2003, well before the snazzy hotels were built, so this was a whole new experience for me. The Shoreline hotel is shaped like a big ship and is right on the seafront, with rooms spread across 4 floors. We have stayed in both the Hooks Cabin and Columbus Quarters which are essentially the same room but the Columbus quarters are slightly more expensive and have either a sea view or a ground floor patio. I am more than happy with a Hooks Cabin, but they tend to get booked up quickly - I guess no one else thinks an extra £20 or so for a sea view is worth it either!
The rooms are pretty spacious, and there is a separate children's sleep area with two junior cross over bunk beds which sleep children up to 14. Bed guards are provided free of charge and the children get their own TV and DVD player. In the main area of the room there is a King size (or Twin) bed with Duvet and a selection of pillows, and a two chairs and a coffee table by the floor to ceiling windows. There is also a small fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, a hairdryer plus a widescreen TV with DVD player. The bathroom is a decent size with a bath with shower over it. Towels and a small selection of toiletries are provided. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the rooms, having stayed in a few family rooms at Premier Inns and similar these are vastly superior.
When my parents came with us in March they booked a State Room, which are right at the back of the hotel facing the sea and come with a huge balcony with telescope. The Main bedroom is massive and there is a proper lounge area with sofa and a bigger TV. There is also a second bedroom for the children rather than just an alcove. It was lovely but was almost £200 more than we paid so I don't think it was worth the extra unless it is a special occasion or you are not short of money!
The corridors at the hotel are carpeted, and as it is geared up for families with younger children there was never any late noise when we visited. There are snacks and drinks vending machines in the lift lobby's on each floor in case you get peckish in the middle of the night. Also the Cash Machine in the hotel is free as opposed to the pay ones in the skyline!
Most of the entertainment is in The Skyline, which is a millennium dome type structure which hosts the evening entertainment clubs, various bars and restaurants, a huge amusement arcade and the Tots funfair.
The Tot's funfair is where we spent most of our time - it is smaller than the one at Minehead but was still more than enough for little man. There were Flying Airplanes, Tea cups, red Cars that go around a track and a Ladybird merry go round. The little ones have to ride alone which can be a bit daunting at first and watching the mums cringing as they abandoned their tots on the rides reminded me of me at Minehead last year! Unfortunately he couldn't ride the teacups here as there were no seat belts on them and with his limited mobility I'm worried that he will slip out the seat to the base of the cup. I have raised this with Butlin's and they are going to look at this at the end of the season, as they had restraints on the cups at Minehead. The tots funfair opens from 9 - 6 which is perfect for the little ones, although we found we then spent a bit on the little arcade rides once the fair closed!
There is a small soft play area with a separate section for little ones, with ball pits, slides and tunnels. The section for the little ones was a bit uninspired, but the bigger bit looked a lot more exciting and my little dinky boy cannot wait to grow so he can get in there. However for a freebie, it is not a bad way to wear them out for half an hour!
We didn't use the clubs while we were there, but there was a stage in the middle of the skyline which has entertainment going on from about 10 until 8 which was fine for us. The entertainment here was more geared up for the younger ones and we watched shows featuring Fireman Sam, Barney, Bob the builder and Thomas. There are also opportunities after the shows to have your picture taken with the characters which you can buy, but they also let you use your own camera.
We tended to get a drink from Bar Rosso in the evening and just sit and watch whatever was going on. Selected drinks are cheaper before 7 including a selection of draught and bottled alcoholic drinks, and as we are not big drinkers it didn't cost us too much. We also used the sports bar which was showing the cricket world cup and darts for hubbie when we went in March. The pool tables and bowling Alley was in here too, and I thought they were reasonably priced especially compared to Center Parcs last year.
We took Little Man swimming at the splash waterworks which is just outside the skyline. It was a bit of a daunting swimming pool for him as it is huge with an array of multicoloured slides and flumes. We just stayed in the shallow area where there were little fountains and slides, and the water was lovely and warm
It would be brilliant for older ones with wave machines and rapids, and this great looking ride where you go around in a dingy above the pool. The facilities were really clean and although they say they sometimes limit the amount of swim time in busy periods this didn't happen to us at all. I think because it stayed dry while we were away it never got too busy!
There did not seem to be as many places to Eat at Bognor compared to Minehead, but the selection was okay. We tended to eat at Papa John's in the evening as they did a dinner buffet which was perfect for Little Man and if we bought him a kid's buffet and a drink he got a visit to the ice cream factory for free! The buffet had a varied selection of salad and Pizza, including a chicken and BBQ ssauce one which sounds revolting, but was very moreish. Hubbie and I tended to share a large pizza with some garlic bread, and the Pizza's were absolutely lovely, I would say better that Pizza Hut. A meal for the three of us with drinks came to less than £25 which I thought was reasonable.
There is also a Burger King, a cafe serving Costa Coffee's and Panini's, and various snack stands dotted about. The Sun and Moon pub serves average pub grub but tends to get really busy. We avoided it after trying once as it felt a bit like feeding time at the zoo, as it is quite dark and dingy inside, however it has a nice adventure play area outside so we liked to grab a drink and let Little Man exert some energy. It is based on wood chips though, so if it has been raining a change of clothes may be advisable!
There is a new Brian Turner restaurant which has opened since we last went, so we haven't tried it. However, we have heard from friends that it is quite expensive and not that suited to family dining.
We never tried the Skyline restaurant at our hotel, as there seemed to be an unpleasant fishy smell every evening. Luckily we couldn't smell it from our room!
If you are self catering then there is a spar supermarket on site, although it is quite pricey. There is a Tesco about 5 minutes drive away, and a Morrison's in Bognor Town.
There are lots of other activities going on at Butlins, but they are not really suited to a toddler so we have not used them. These include Multi sports court, Archery, High Ropes & Rock Climbing, Go Karts, Outdoor Funfair and Cinema. There are charges for some of the activities so check before you go.
There is also a hairdressers, various toys and gift shops and a fish pedicure place has recently opened there too but I'm not sure if I could face it!
Out & About
Bognor town is about 5 - 10 minutes walk away, and has everything you need if you want to kill an hour or so at the shops. It has a reasonable selection of shops along a pedestrianised high street including Boots, Peacocks, WH Smiths, and lots of charity shops if like me you love to rummage for a bargain. There is also a full range of take away outlets and coffee shops, and a really nice bakery in a covered alley which takes you from the beach to the high street - there is also a sweet shop and some little niche boutique shops here too.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays there is a small market which is nice for a nose around and is the place to get any Rock and Sweets to take home as they are much cheaper than the Camp. If you keep walking along the seafront you will come to a small pier and funfair where there is a nice fish and chip shop!
For hardened shoppers, you can drive to Gunwharf Quays Outlet centre in Portsmouth in less than half an hour which also has a great selection of Bars and restaurants, and the Spinaker Tower which gives great views across the harbour (across to the Isle of Wight on clear day!) and various boat trips.
Bognor Regis is not far from Brighton and Littlehampton which is worth exploring if you are there for long enough.
Unfortunately it is a pebble beach so it is not that great to sit out on, but Little Man loves to chuck stones into the sea and go looking for rare shells for Granddad's fish tank!
So would I recommend it?
As you can probably tell, I am a big Fan of Butlins at Bognor - however I don't think I could stay much longer than our 3 day mini-break before it began to get really repetitive! It is great for toddlers as there is a lot of free activities, but I think for older children you would need to have deep pockets! I think that Butlins Minehead is a better site, but they do not do the 2 night breaks and it is too far for us to visit for such a short amount of time.
Our breaks have all cost between £145 - £170 for 2 nights in the Shoreline hotel. This is not much more expensive than a Premier Inn but for a much better room, and all the facilities thrown in I think they are great value breaks. I am also now a premier member which means I get 5% off of all future breaks booked, which is a nice touch.
Butlins often have offers on their breaks so it is often worth waiting to book until they have a good sale on - they normally do something every couple of weeks. If there are a few of you then the Adults or Kids go free offers normally work out well.
Anyway, sorry for the Epic review. Hopefully I have covered everything you would ever need to know about Butlins Bognor with a toddler! Thanks for reading.
Summary: Commercial and Cheesey - but great british holiday Fun
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