Wednesday 11 June 2014

Which Butlins accommodation should you choose?

Having been to Butlins quite a number of times now I have stayed in most grades of accommodation and I often find that when I talk to people about Butlins they ask me where they should stay. “Are the hotels best if I’m going to Bognor Regis and if yes, which one?” and “Is there much difference between a standard and a silver room?” are the sorts of question I receive, so I thought it was high time that I shared my perspective of all the accommodation grades in one post and I’ll also link to some other reviews to help you gain a wider perspective.

Types of accommodation

Probably the first thing to clarify is the types of accommodation that you can book at Butlins. In my experience all three resorts have very similar rooms but there might just be small differences, whereas Skegness might have showers in one grade of accommodation, Minehead might have baths in the same and often the external views of the accommodation is different. So it is always worth reading carefully what it says on the web when you book if you have specific requirements.

First off there are the rooms, these generally do not have a lounge or kitchen area and they are the accommodation you book when you want to stay half board and have your meals provided by Butlins. Apartments are for self-catering guests and these will feature a kitchen and dining area; how well equipped they are will depend on the grade of accommodation you book but I’ll go into that more in a minute. You can add meals to your package when you stay in an apartment but be aware this is going to cost you quite a bit more as you get a lot more space than in a room. Lastly at Bognor Regis there are three hotels and these can be booked as room only or add on breakfast or half board accommodation and at Minehead there are the luxury Blue Skies apartments.

Grades of accommodation

– This is the most basic accommodation that Butlins offers and the last time I stayed in standard was in April 2012, so it has been a little while but knowing Butlins I can only expect that it has got better rather than worse. They are exceptionally good at updating things and refurbishing their bedroom stock. At some holiday villages I would not want to stay in the basic but I can honestly say we were happy in our standard accommodation, it was slightly more dated than other grades and the décor and furniture is more basic and plain.

Silver – Pretty much like the standard accommodation to be honest but better decorated in a more contemporary style and the web says the main difference is that you get a microwave in the apartment. Personally we found that when we stayed in a silver bungalow at Minehead last year we got all sorts of extras like an iron and board, hairdryer. For value this is probably my favourite grade of accommodation. You can read my Silver Bungalow at Minehead review or check out Hex Mum’s review of a Silver room at Skegness.

Gold – There is a separate reception for the guests staying in the gold accommodation, which is a nice touch and means you can easily find someone close at hand to answer any queries or to book activity sessions. This accommodation is fairly similar in its styling to the silver grade but you also get a dishwasher in the apartment and also iron and board, hairdryer, widescreen TV with DVD, second TV in the master bedroom, personal safe and early check-in from 3pm. There are towels and toiletries provided in the bathroom and the rooms also come with daily housekeeping. Some also have balconies or terraces but generally you pay a little more for these.  You can read my review of a gold apartment at Minehead or check out A Strong Coffee’s review of a Gold apartment at Skegness.

Deluxe – This is the best grade of the traditional chalet style accommodation and the décor is very tasteful. Cream walls, brown leather sofas, glass shelves, black-out curtains, silver door handles and switches etc. You will find everything in the Deluxe grade that you find in the Gold with early check-in, daily housekeeping, towels provided etc. There are also normally a balcony or terrace area provided and they all come with a dedicated parking space, which is really convenient and outside your door. Unlike the Gold accommodation, there is not a dedicated reception for Deluxe. In my opinion unless a parking space makes a lot of difference to you then I personally think Gold is the better option. You can read my review of the Deluxe Suite at Bognor Regis.

Hotels – Bognor Regis – There are three hotels on site with the Wave being the newest, then the Ocean and the Shoreline being the first that was built.  I personally have only ever stayed in the Wave but my understanding is that the Shoreline Hotel is best for those with younger children as you can breakfast with Billy Bear and put him to bed at night, it is also right next door to the Billy’s playground area. You can read One Dad 3 Girls review too.

The Wave hotel is better for older kids as it has a games downstairs with things like Wii’s, Macs etc and the bedrooms all have a pod for the kids to share with bunk beds and DVD’s at the end of each bed. The styling of the Wave is very funky and modern and there are interconnecting rooms for big families and also self-catering apartments which sleep up to 6. You can read my review or Lakes Single Mum’s of the Wave hotel and Inside the Wendy House reviewed one of the Reef apartments.

The Ocean Hotel is the most luxurious of the hotels with a spa and butler service, I’ve not stayed here yet but this is the one I’m dreaming about. You can check out the reviews from Twins Tiaras and Tantrums or The Boy and Me's.

Blue Skies – Minehead – I’ve seen the apartments from the outside but never been in but boy do they look fantastic but having checked out the prices a few times they should do as they are considerably more expensive.  I can see why though as the sea views are uninterrupted and really stunning. 

Final considerations -

*  When you are booking what I would say is not to make any assumptions, look at the price for all accommodation grades as sometimes you are surprised when you do a search, as accommodation you would not expect comes up cheaper, for instance I stayed on holiday this year in May and found that a Deluxe lodge (meant for self-catering, so it has a dining area/ kitchen) actually came up slightly cheaper (£40) than the Deluxe Suite we stayed in.

*  Think about the age of your children and how much time you will spend in the accommodation.  If you have older kids and you know you are activity hungry then chances are you will spend all day busy and all evening at the shows and just use the accommodation to sleep in, that way a standard room might just make sense and will be so much cheaper. For us we know our younger children need to be in bed by about 9pm most nights and thus we like to have a lounge to relax in once the kids are in bed. 

We've always really enjoyed our Butlins breaks but now it is time for something different and Helen at Actually Mummy is making me think that Center Parcs would be find to try. Check her Center Parcs holiday review out.

Disclosure: I am a Butlins Ambassador this year and as such we were provided with a 4 night break for 5 people for the purpose of undertaking a review. I have not been told what to write and I remain honest.