Are Butlins holidays good? Butlins Bognor Regis vs Minehead Review – and money saving tips!

Are Butlins holidays good? Welcome to my Bognor Regis vs Minehead Review! As we snuggle up back at home after yet another fun week at Butlins Bognor Regis, I thought I’d give some insight into why we’ve been so many times and add some money saving tips to make your trip more affordable too!

So, are Butlins holidays good? My kids would say absolutely – I must add that I’m not affiliated with Butlins at all, Finn and Lola are just super fans that want to go back every year! 😂 I’ve added photos old and new, and as much info as possible to help with your stay – as well as our review of both the Bognor Regis and Minehead sites.

I’ll be answering questions like: Is Butlins expensive; which activities are included for free, how can you prebook shows; when / how can you check in; which Butlins accommodation is best? And lots more!

Why choose Butlins?

We’ve been to Butlins at least six or seven times now as Finn and Lola absolutely adore it because it’s essentially kid heaven! I actually think it’s great value for money, as long as you avoid the summer holidays – where the cost can be on par with a trip abroad.

The other school holidays are generally a lot more reasonably priced, and term-time breaks are super cheap. There’s so much on offer to entertain the kids day and night – there’s really no getting bored on a Butlins break!

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Is Butlins expensive or good value for money?

The great thing about Butlins is that the holiday price includes so much. It can easily cost £100 for a family day out at a castle or to visit a zoo, but you get a lot for your money in comparison when you book a Butlins break – and there are no ‘per person’ prices either!

Last year’s stay at Bognor Regis (November 2022) was our cheapest yet! We paid just £88 for a Monday-Friday stay for the four of us – I’m not sure why it was so cheap but we certainly made the most of it and booked it in a heartbeat! This year we paid £114 (end of November 2023) – so a little more but still very cheap, though there were even cheaper dates available earlier in the month.

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Back in June, we had our first visit to Minehead Butlins (Bognor is closer to us so we usually go there) – paying around £150 for our Monday-Friday stay, and it was brilliant value as always. We had a few places that we wanted to visit in Devon / Somerset and, after looking at caravan parks in the area (which didn’t have anything below £300), I suddenly remembered that there was a Butlins near there. And sure enough, £150 later (after the £20 discount – see below) we were booked in for the week.

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If you can get an inexpensive deal, you do get a lot of bang for your buck – it would cost us more to stay in a budget hotel for a week with no activities. Having said that, I think for the quality of the accommodation (some of which could do with a revamp) and the fact that the whole site felt a bit tired and neglected on our last visit to Bognor, I could never justify the high summer holiday prices – for us it’s cheap and cheerful and good fun for the kids.

If you can find a bargain week (we’ve got friends who booked for £60 for a Mon-Fri this year!) then a stay at Butlins can be incredible value for money – and it’s blooming good fun too! 😍

 

Which activities and rides are free at Butlins?

There are so many activities included in the price at Butlins, so you can visit knowing that you won’t need to spend a fortune when you get there – in fact you could get away with spending nothing extra at all just by bringing your own food. You can go on the rides or visit the pool etc as many times as you like without spending a penny so it really is every kid’s (and parents!) dream!

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Free activities include:

  • A fairground with loads of rides – my two love the bumper cars!
  • A fantastic pool complex with slides, flumes and a lazy river.
  • Craft activities
  • Puppet shows
  • Evening entertainment shows
  • Soft play
  • Indoor rides
  • Silent Cinema
  • Daytime shows for the younger ones

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Bognor Regis’ swimming complex is the best we’ve come across on a UK holiday; there are so many slides, flumes and play areas, and multiple pools – one with waves too. The kids spend hours in there every day when we’re away, and have to be dragged out! It’s definitely one of their favourite reasons to visit Butlins. The beach is nearby to all of the resorts too. And, you can book sport and craft activities led by the staff.

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Some activities are available at an extra cost, but we’ve found that most things aren’t too expensive which is great. We usually let the kids do a couple of paid activities, and then for the rest of the time we make the most of the freebies! They adore the petrol go-karts (£7 per kart) now that they’re tall enough to drive themselves!

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Paid activities include:

  • Arcades
  • Go karts
  • Bowling
  • Adventure golf
  • Kid’s driving school
  • Aerial adventures
  • Laser tag
  • Archery
  • Pottery painting

There’s a lot of work going on at Bognor Regis Butlins at the moment – they’re adding more activities, though it does look like the new additions will all be payable activities rather than those included within the cost of the holiday. So make sure the kids save their pocket money!

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Although Butlins is really geared up for primary school age kids and younger, they do have activities to keep teens amused too. There’s definitely plenty to do for children (and adults!) of all ages – it’s a great base for a UK family break.

 

What’s the entertainment like at Butlins?

In our experience the evening entertainment at Butlins is pretty good, and they have several shows a night to choose from. The standard is much higher than other UK holidays and caravan breaks we’ve had in the past.

My son loved the wrestling night – and tickets outside of Butlins for the four of us would be around £50 if this was a paid show. There’s also a year round pantomime, a silent cinema and tons of other shows. In the past the entertainment changed fairly regularly too, so you could have a different experience each time you visit, but for our last few trips it has been quite repetitive, so that’s something to consider if you’re visiting multiple times.

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Having said that, we’ve been lucky enough to see the fabulous Cirque du Hilarious show (which would also cost upwards of £50 for a family of four), Diversity, The Animal Guyz (Animals vs Dinosaurs) and also Andy and the Odd Socks, whose songs the children were still singing a year later! 😂

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We’ve found that the entertainment is generally better during the school holidays than during the Christmas Fantasy or term-time breaks, so that’s something think about. Although, we love The Animal Guyz who we’ve been fortunate enough to see on our last two trips. And, Lola had a great boogie to the Abba tribute band – she’s a big Mamma Mia fan!

Our Easter Holiday break probably had the best shows, looking back on our different visits. The summer holidays are filled with big names and the bigger budget shows, but these come at a premium because the summer break is a lot more expensive than the rest of the year – we’ve never visited at that time of year.

 

How / when can we book shows and activities?

Butlins will email you 4 weeks before your break to enable you to see which shows and activities will be available during your stay. On their app, you’ll then able to book time slots for the shows and craft / sport activities etc and plan what you’d like to do, and when, before your visit.

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Don’t worry if you change your mind though, you can cancel and re-book other show times etc easily on the app. We’ve never had an issue with over-subscribed evening entertainment, but it’s worth noting that the free activities (things like craft) get booked up very quickly so they’re definitely something to sort as soon as you receive the email.

Everything you’ve booked can viewed on the app throughout the trip, and you’ll just need to show the applicable QR code on each booking when you enter for the shows / activities.

 

When / how can we check in / out at Butlins?

Check in will either be 3pm or 4pm, dependent on your particular booking, but you can basically arrive whenever you like from 1pm on check-in day, and then use the facilities until your accommodation is ready. (Pack a separate swimming bag and you can pop to the pool!)

Check-in at Butlins (for both Bognor Regis and Minehead) is a super easy ‘drive through’ service, where you’ll be given everything you need for your break. And, when it’s time to check out, simply post the key into the check out box at the exit when you leave. Check out time is 10am.

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Inside the apartments, there will be a small welcome pack with things that are useful for a self-catering holiday – like a bin bag, dish cloth, washing up liquid and a tea towel. There are also some sachets of tea/coffee/sugar to get you started. (We always bring sellotape and extra bin bags to put up at the windows just in case the curtains are rubbish too!)

 

When should we visit Butlins?

The best thing about Butlins is that there’s so much to do indoors, this means that you’re guaranteed to have a good time even if the weather isn’t perfect – you can wait out the rain and have fun whilst you do so.

Some of the Butlins sites are also cheaper than others, so just keep your eyes peeled for a great deal. We visited Minehead Butlins in June, and thought it was a great option for a summer holiday.

For school holiday bookings: After Christmas, they usually have special offers and school holiday times are included in these. The long weekend is also great, we did a three night stay for £220 one February half-term. For Easter half term a few years ago, we paid about £450 for a Mon-Fri stay. Once you’ve visited, they’ll also email over extra incentives to persuade you to book again, such as £50 off, which can be used on top of the already discounted prices.

For term-time bookings: If you’re able to go term time, you can visit Butlins very cheaply, and they have weeks which are just for tots (under fives) featuring acts like Justin Fletcher. Because our children are home-schooled, we’re fortunate to be able to benefit from very cheap breaks.

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Christmas Fantasy breaks: The Christmas Fantasy breaks are for all ages – these run from late November through to the New Year. Christmas Day – New Year is expensive, but the earlier dates are cheaper. We’ve paid between £88 and £166 for a Mon-Fri silver apartment during November/December which is just amazing value for everything included.

Although it’s winter, there’s so much to do indoors that a bad weather day isn’t a prob. And, when it’s dry, just wrap up warm and make the most of the fairground. So, what’s Butlins like at Christmas? With the Christmas lights and music playing in the fairground, alongside festive shows / activities we’ve found Butlins to be pretty magical. The children get a free Christmas gift and they have a snow storm in the centre, which Finn and Lola adored when they were younger!

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How can we save money on a Butlins holiday?

If you book through Kids Pass you can save an extra £20 off of your Butlins break at any of their sites. Sign up for a trial for just a quid, and it’ll save you money on all sorts of things! It’s definitely worth it for UK holidays, and you can cancel afterwards if you want to – although it’s only a few quid each month so many be worth keeping anyway! Use my link to get a 30 day trial for just £1! 👉 Start your kids pass trial.

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Which Butlins accommodation is best?

Bognor Regis

To be honest, we’ve often just booked whatever’s cheapest at the time. 😂 At Bognor Regis, we’ve stayed in the silver rooms, the apartments a few times, and the Shoreline Hotel – here are some photos so that you know what to expect from the accommodation.

The Shoreline Hotel: The hotel was fab and we really enjoyed it – the kids had a little bunk room and it was decorated beautifully. The whole room was really well thought out and spacious with blackout curtains too – there were some lovely extra touches for the children too such as a disco light and a pirate play wall. The rooms also have a small fridge, which helps if you’re self-catering, but generally staying in the hotel does make it harder to self cater which can make things dearer.

The hotels are definitely of a higher standard and better maintained than the apartments, and you can often book a room fairly cheaply too, but for those of us on a budget not having somewhere to prepare food makes them less practical and so for us we tend to book an apartment instead.

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The Silver Rooms: The silver rooms are perfectly doable but the space is tight and it’s quite basic – you get the bedrooms and a bathroom. Again, it’s fine for a cheap break away as you’ll only be sleeping there, but with no self-catering facilities that is something to think about. For the hotel and the silver rooms we’ve always taken a toaster with us, some cereal, carton milk, spoons and plastic bowls so that we could have a cheap breakfast in the room.

 

The New Style Silver Apartments: The apartments are a better option for stays longer than a weekend I think. Although it’s not as cool as the hotel (and we’ve found the apartments can be quite tatty from wear and tear) you get a kitchen and dining area, as well as a lounge area, so it’s easier to function as a family with the extra space. Plus, being able to prepare and cook meals is a big money saver. There are supermarkets nearby so you can grab a food shop and only eat out then if you want to.

I’ve included some photos below from our last visit – there’s certainly no frills and they could use a bit of a makeover but the space is clean and functional, and perfectly adequate as a base for eating and sleeping. (Though these apartments and beds are smaller than in the silver accommodation.)

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The Silver Apartments: We actually didn’t book a Silver Apartment, but there was a problem with our original accommodation so we were relocated after one night, and I wish we’d discovered these sooner. This particular apartment had three bedrooms (sleeping 7), the rooms were all larger so the beds were full size and there was a lot more room to move around.

It also had more seating etc which was fab as we usually visit with family and so tend to get together for meals. This apartment was also in better condition than the new style silver apartments, so if we visit again we’ll be booking one of these as they are similar in price but of a better standard and less tatty.

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Minehead

Comfort Plus Apartment: This was a great base for our holiday. We had plenty of space, housekeeping regularly cleaned it and made the beds, and towels were included. We were on the top floor and separated by a stairway to the neighbouring apartment so it was quiet and easy to sleep too. We preferred this apartment to those we’ve stayed in on the Bognor Regis site.

There was a small park directly opposite the apartment, which was handy for the kids when they wanted to roam. But, our favourite feature of all was the balcony! It was baking hot when we visited, and being able to sit out in the sun, or enjoy a game of cards and a meal in the evenings when it had cooled down was just brilliant. We felt like we were abroad!

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Where should we eat – are the Butlins dining plans worth it?

We’ve always self-catered so we haven’t used the dining plans offered. They seem pretty expensive to me – when we booked our recent Mon-Fri break they offered us a REDUCED price of nearly £300 for the four of us 🙄 – you can definitely feed yourselves for a lot less.

If you’ve got the budget it’s probably a nice feature to have all of your meals catered for, though my friend wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the food when they used the dining plan. But if you like a budget break away, like we do, then feeding yourselves will always be a winner!

Food wise, the normal restaurants are pretty decent and they’re priced similarly to chain restaurant type places. We sometimes eat out once or twice but generally cook our own food to save money. There are other cheaper options like pizza places, Burger King and fish and chips on site too. There are supermarkets close by so it’s easy to do a shop for the week and self-cater.

The mini-supermarkets on site have a good range too – they’re not as cheap as your standard Aldi and Tesco prices, but they’re not extortionate either if you need a few bits. For lunch, they have reasonably priced hot food like sausage rolls and pasties in the shop, so that can make things more affordable if you fancy a day off from making sandwiches. And, at Minehead, there’s a Lidl a few minutes walk away with fresh baked goods like mini pizzas, so that would be a cheap and easy lunch too.

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For the evenings, take snacks and drinks with you to the entertainment. The prices are reasonable inside the venues, but you can’t beat multipack supermarket prices, so that saving would definitely add up over the week.

I spent £70 on a food shop for our meals, drinks and snacks (taking it all with us) on our last visit, and aside from £20 spent in the fish and chip shop, we didn’t venture into the supermarket nor buy any other food or drink on site for the whole trip.

If you do want a night off from cooking, the most affordable dinner option on-site is likely to be from the chippie; or venture further afield for a cheap and cheerful restaurant meal. At Bognor Regis, the local Brewers Fayre is just a few minutes walk away – with two adult meals for less than a tenner, and kids meals at 3 courses for a fiver. Minehead also has one just around the corner, and a Morrisons with a cafe too – Morrisons do great deals on kids’ meals.

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Which Butlins is best?

We’ve never been to Skegness, but we have visited both Bognor Regis and Minehead. The proximity of both Butlins sites to the beach is brilliant but we loved the beach at Minehead which is directly across the road from the resort. (And beach days are a fab way to have fun without spending a penny!)

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We preferred the local area in Minehead – which is the biggest of the Butlins sites – you can get everything that you need on foot without needing the car. There were supermarkets, restaurants, fast food and the steam train within a few minutes walk – the location was fab, and it’s such a lovely seaside town. Being in Somerset, Minehead Butlins is generally a more scenic location too with lots of nice places to visit in the area.

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The swimming pool complex is better at Bognor Regis as it’s newer and larger – the pool at Minehead was still lots of fun but the kids definitely prefer the Bognor pool. Out of the two sites, Finn and Lola prefer Bognor Regis, as I think it’s set up more for older ones, and it’s also ‘winter friendly’ – there’s a lot going on with the pool etc so visiting out of season isn’t an issue.

I would say Minehead is more set up for the summer, and it would be a good choice for a break during the warmer months. They have an additional outdoor paddling pool – the temperature when we visited was in the mid-high twenties, so that area was really popular while we were away.

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With the paddling pool and the large indoor rides area for the little ones, I think if I had younger children that Minehead Butlins would probably be best for toddlers, and would cater to their needs better than Bognor.  So, I think it really depends on the time of year that you’re visiting and the age of your children.

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Accommodation wise, we preferred the apartment that we had at Minehead, though the hotels at Bognor Regis are great and not something that they have at Minehead. With all that said, both sites are lots of fun so simply visiting the one closest to you (hence why we’ve been to Bognor Regis so many more times) is a perfectly good option. We’ve enjoyed our trips to both!

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Butlins or Haven?

‘Is Butlins better than Haven?’ is such a difficult question – we’ve had great holidays at both Haven and Butlins. Butlins can be better value for money, as so much is included, so it’s easy to have an affordable break without lots of extra costs while entertaining the kids. On top of this, particularly with off-peak term-time breaks, we’ve found that Butlins is often cheaper than Haven. Plus the evening entertainment is far better than anything we’ve experienced on any other UK break.

The swimming pool complexes at Butlins also often far out-do those offered in the caravan parks – making it easier to entertain the kids in our unpredictable English weather. And, the weather doesn’t stop you from having at good time at Butlins, with so much to do on the resort. (I can’t really comment on the adults only Butlins big weekends, as I’ve never been to one, but I’ve heard they’re good fun too!)

Having said that, we absolutely loved our holiday at Haven’s Hafan y Mor holiday park, in North Wales, which also had a fantastic swimming pool complex on par with Butlins. The local area was beautifully scenic – it was a great base for an outdoorsy holiday, there was lots to do on the resort and out and about too, and we loved climbing Mount Snowdon.

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In terms of locations, Haven offer far more choice with their parks all over the country, so if you’re looking to explore the UK then they’re probably the better option. And in peak periods, like the school summer holidays, a Haven holiday will actually often work out to be a cheaper option than a Butlins break.

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We’ve also found that Haven accommodation can be of a better standard – in comparison to the apartments at Butlins – they do have some very nice caravans which, in our experience, are usually well cleaned and maintained. I think, until recently, Butlins was actually owned by Haven, but it’s since been sold back to its previous owners, so it’ll be interesting to see what changes that brings.

In all honesty, Butlins and Haven both have their pros and cons – I’m happy to visit either, and would make the choice depending on where in the UK we’d like to visit, the cost, the time of year and what type of holiday we’d like to have.

 

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