Inside Butlin's Bognor Regis: What to expect from a family stay, what there is to do, how much it costs, how to book – pictures and video
Was there going to be enough to keep my family of four entertained for a few days? Was this just going to be a run-of-the-mill British seaside holiday? To answer both questions in order: absolutely, and absolutely not!
Butlin’s is known by most Brits as holiday camp resorts first opened by Billy Butlin back in the 1930s. They’ve been a staple British staycation destination for decades, and the resort at Bognor has been welcoming guests since the 1960s.
But if you thought that’s where the story ends, think again, because Butlin’s has moved on a lot since then.
If you haven’t been before, strap in, because there’s a lot to get through. And if you have, why didn’t you tell me just how much fun can be had just down the road from where we live?!
Yes, the famous Redcoats still play a big part in any trip to the resort. They have their own Night at Reds club venue, and they also help at all the other entertainment venues, organise discos and generally contribute to the merry-making.
But there’s also a whole host of other entertainment, too. During our stay, TV presenter Stephen Mulhern was the headliner, and we made sure we were front and centre for his magic show.
It took place in Studio 36 – what can only be described as a massive warehouse turned giant entertainment venue. It seats about 2,000 people, and every night it hosted shows ranging from roller-skating boy bands to battles between huge animals and dinosaur characters.
And that’s not the only big entertainment venue. There’s also Centre Stage, which puts on nightly shows. It’s great because you’re spoiled for choice, but it does sometimes mean tough decisions have to be made about which show you’ll watch.
There are also things like puppet shows for little ones, pantomimes and character meet-and-greets. My son was beside himself after seeing Optimus Prime!
And how else did we spend our time? Well, there’s the huge Splash swimming complex that opened in 2019 and features a wave pool, slides, family raft ride and rapids. It’s epic, and your children will not want to get out. To be honest, the Seaside Gardens Rapids were so much fun that I wasn’t that keen on getting out, either!
There are fairground rides (I’d forgotten how much fun a helter skelter is!), craft and activity sessions such as slime-making or sand art, sports clubs, archery, zip wires, a climbing wall, high nets, go karts, bungee trampolines, a huge indoor soft play area, rides for younger children, a circus, a bowling alley, shopping, face painting, hand moulding, a huge arcade (the 2p machines were doing a roaring trade – my children were addicted and even though we burned through at least £10, they ‘won’ lots of little prizes) and lots more.
And sessions are tailored by age group, so my son could try out football with children of his own age (5-7) while my daughter was old enough to do the high-wire activities like the zip wires and the high nets (8+). It was so much fun seeing them try new activities, and to join in with some myself. I tried the climbing wall with them, and thought it would be a piece of cake – but it’s way more challenging than it looks. Next time they take one on, I will definitely be more understanding if they can’t make it all the way to the top.
Our days were packed. We tried as many activities as we could – some do come with an additional cost – and every night we went to bed happy and exhausted.
To book a trip, or for more information, visit the Butlin’s website.
Butlin’s has chalet-style accommodation, plus three hotels on site. We stayed in The Wave and our room was spotless. I loved that the kids had a little separate room off our bedroom, and they loved the bunk beds with a TV for each bed.
For those not wanting to do self-catering, you can add a dining package to your booking. We had half board, which meant breakfast and dinner were sorted in a buffet restaurant opposite our hotel. With such a busy schedule, it was so convenient being able to rock up and eat as soon as we were all hungry.
At lunchtime, we were free to try the quick-service locations across the resort if we needed sustenance in the middle of the day (we probably didn’t after a breakfast that included fried bread, but when on holiday...). There’s a Papa John’s pizza outlet, as well as a fish and chip restaurant and a couple of pubs. We also loved the brand-new Skyline Eats food court inside the huge indoor Skyline Pavilion. Offering Costa, Subway, Burger King, Scoop and Chopsticks, each of us could have exactly what we fancied and all sit together. It was fab.
There is a lot to take in, but we found the Butlin’s app to be really useful in planning and keeping track of our break. We were able to pre-plan what we wanted to do, and book our nightly entertainment and many of the activities in advance. It then it keeps track of those bookings and plans them in a daily calendar for you. The map is also great, and gives you directions from where you are to anywhere else in the resort.
To be honest, we can’t believe we haven’t done a break here sooner – we’re already thinking about our next one!
This break was gifted, but a four-night stay in October half-term for a family of four starts at around £129pp.