So this post is wayyy overdue as we went on our familymoon in September 2017!! But with so much happening so soon after our honeymoon I have just never had a second to even think about it. I was looking back over photos and it reminded me to finally get on the case with writing about our trip. Especially since we have just had our first anniversary last month!! As if we have been married over a year already!
So it was really difficult deciding what to do for our honeymoon as it wasn’t just about us really, we also have our 4 year old to think about and he is obviously a very big part of our lives so it didn’t seem right jetting off somewhere for ages without him. I wanted to bring him on our honeymoon but the husband was keen to have ‘just us’ time. We don’t get a lot really and deep down I did agree with him. So we came up with a compromise, a weeks familymoon with our son and then a week just us away somewhere. Trying to decide where to go was another challenge. We wanted something that was more about our son than us for our familymoon as this was his holiday. We decided to stay in the UK and we wanted something that was lots of fun with lots to do, that wasn’t too much of a drive. Our honeymoon was chosen based on luxury and I will be writing all about the one my husband and I went on after this post too.
I saw an advert on the TV for Butlins and noticed that they were advertising Justin Fletcher visiting there and I immediately thought my 4 year old would absolutely love this. We had no experience of Butlins prior to this and looking at photos it all looked quite nice and fun with plenty to do. So I rang up the customer number to find out dates for Justin and once we found out the date for September we went straight on and booked them. I paid for a slightly nicer room and also paid for our lunch and dinner to be covered each day with a buffet. I remember thinking it was fairly reasonable for a week which worked out around £600/700.
A bad start!
If I am honest I hadn’t fully researched in to what was or wasn’t included but saw all the photos of things that looked exciting and I thought this will be brilliant. I certainly wasn’t expecting luxury but I thought we will be constantly entertained and that is all that matters! I have to be completely honest, Butlin’s was definitely not what we were expecting at all and we were in for a bit of a shock. We didn’t have the best start before even going as we found out we had been told the wrong dates for Justin attending, when we complained about this they were very unhelpful and really quite rude. The main reason I booked Butlins in the first place was after seeing Justin was going to be there if I am honest, because originally we had been looking to go elsewhere.
After going back and fourth and getting nowhere with Butlins customer services I eventually went to social media and that seemed to get me a lot further. I eventually got some form of an apology for the terrible customer service after asking them to listen to the calls where the person gave me the incorrect info (as they were basically calling me a liar). Suspiciously that 1 call hadn’t recorded so they couldn’t refer back to it so they made out that what they were doing was as a gesture of goodwill to be nice rather than because they were in the wrong. They did make me feel like I was a huge pain in the arse and like I was making it all up to get something free. I told them that if I could go elsewhere on those dates to see him instead I would and that it wasn’t about getting something free. But unfortunately the week we booked he was in a location that was an 8+ hour drive and we just didn’t want to do that with our 4 year old when the one we were booked in to was about a 2.5 hour drive.
They also asked if we would change our dates to when Justin was there but we couldn’t as we had our familymoon booked in for when we believed Justin would be at our local Butlins and we had purposefully booked our honeymoon around the Butlins break. Since we were going abroad we couldn’t really change it and had a small window of when we could go. So they then started reluctantly offering us some upgrades and the best offer was to upgrade us to the better food package (thank GOD we did) and they also offered to put a little teddy in our room for Reid, so I accepted thinking oh well at least that is something! They also said they would try put us on a ground floor so we didn’t have to venture up and down stairs.
When we arrived..
When we got to the room (which was UPSTAIRS!) it was small but what I expected to be honest, so I wasn’t disappointed, however, guess what wasn’t waiting for my son in the room? Yep, you guessed it, the teddy. I couldn’t even be bothered to mention it to anyone as my previous experience with customer service wasn’t great so I just thought oh well, as long as we still are upgraded on our food. The beds were fairly comfortable to be honest so I was pretty happy with them but the rooms could have done with a bit of an inspection as there were various things that really weren’t acceptable like rusty screws sticking out of the wall In the bathroom and some sockets not working. There were quite a few things but I tried not to focus too much on the negatives as I really wanted to have a good time with our son still.
We didn’t realise when we arrived that there would be no hair dryer and not even a little fridge (we had forgotten to bring our hairdryer with us). Now I wasn’t expecting the Ritz and I even expected one of those horrible hairdryers that are on a cord on the wall in the bathroom and are rubbish, but there wasn’t anything. I’ve been to things similar to this for less cost and even they had a crappy hair dryer. And you would think considering its predominantly families with young kids staying there a little fridge would be important in the rooms. So we had to rent both a hairdryer and fridge and they were not cheap at all. You did get some money back at the end but pulling out £40 as soon as you get there isn’t exactly fun. I didn’t exactly mind renting it but would have rathered it was built in the cost you pay from the beginning rather than being separate. Yes some idiots would steal stuff like that but it should work like a hotel, that you get charged for anything missing from the room.
What made our arrival even worse was when we had to wheel the fridge ourselves on a trolley, carry it up all the stairs, install it ourselves and then take the trolley back. Surely that isn’t right health and safety wise to have people doing that (it wasn’t that light!). We also were delighted to discover after all that, the fridge didn’t work so we had to take it back and get another one and do the same thing again. People reading this thinking, YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE YOUR RESEARCH. Yes, I realise that again whilst I am complaining about these things it’s my fault for not checking this kind of stuff…I just still don’t think its right regardless. I really am not a snob expecting the world, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Maybe my expectations were unrealistic, I don’t know but I really don’t think that is the best way to start your holiday regardless.
We paid extra to have someone deliver fresh towels each day and to come and give the place a quick clean. And yes, I am going to grumble about this again as honestly, it was just awful. The towels were the one thing I did ring up about as the towels they brought were so disgusting. I get that white towels are going to have stains on them that can’t be washed out but when there is crusty food on there and stuff that can be picked off the towels that really isn’t acceptable. When I rang to mention this they were very apologetic and did bring us new ones so at least customer service in that instance was a lot better.
As I say the decor wasn’t great with nails sticking out of walls (which I cut my finger on), lots of marks on walls and mould in showers etc. Everything just needed a freshen up, but to be honest as long as it was generally clean that was all that mattered. The cleaning service we paid for was pretty rubbish however. They always turned up to clean when we were back at the room and never in the times we were out. If it was a bad time they wouldn’t go away and come back, they just stood there waiting for you to leave so they could get in. So quite often we had to say not to bother as when one of you is in the shower its a bit awkward.
Now on to the entertainment. This is very mixed for me as I have both very positive things to say and negative. I’ll mix it up by starting with the positives for a change. Some of the shows they had on were really good. I especially liked the theatre ones and they really went all out for those and also loved some of the tribute acts on an evening. Bruno Mars and Pink tribute act was on when we were there and both were really good. The Teletubbies did make an appearance every now and again which my son loved and they did look great as they were the proper costumes and not rubbishy ones. There was always something on all day and night but it did get very repetitive, especially the entertainment in the day and the kids disco bit on a night. We didn’t let that bother us too much though, we just tried to make the most of things as much as we could. I do feel like the Choco Late song is permanently ingrained in my brain however.
Considering we went at a time when it is apparently quiet, you still ended up fighting for chairs and decent seats where you could actually see things. I can’t imagine going in the school holidays! The floors were so sticky and my shoes really stuck to the floor which wasn’t pleasant and the place just generally didn’t smell or look very clean. I feel like having a few drinks did help us to relax a little and not sweat the small stuff. So we did drink most nights I will admit…but just a few drinks as they weren’t cheap and we were responsible for a child at the end of the day. We spent most of our money on drinks and we really didn’t drink much at all. We also spent a fortune on bubble guns and flashing toys…which, unless you are the worlds worst parent you are obliged to buy. As every kid on the dance floor has one and your child is obviously hard done by if you don’t buy them. The kids with toys usually target those without them and either hit them with the toys or wave them in their face until they come running to mummy and daddy to pitch exactly why they must have one of these toys. The items from the shop are of Poundland quality yet you could find yourself spending £10 on a toy that lasts probably 1 evening and never works again. I love Poundland but I love the fact that what I am buying cost £1….so who cares if it doesn’t last.
There were lots of fair ground rides around, however most weren’t operating. There were certain times in the day when stuff was on but not everything was on and some rides were shut the whole time we were there. So everything looked a bit depressing and not very exciting when you were walking around those bits. The rides we did go on were fun and probably my favourite thing to be honest. We also liked the miniature golf which we had to pay for as it’s not included. My husband said this was the only bit he really enjoyed.
There were other things like rock climbing, a cinema and arcade (just some examples), all which had to be paid for and I felt like this was all the stuff that was actually fun. All the stuff we would have really enjoyed but as things were either so expensive or only open for a bit once or twice a day we struggled to do much of it. We were almost bankrupt just from buying those rubbish toys every night. And we just felt like we spent our days wandering around trying to work out what to do that wasn’t the same thing over and over. We found ourselves actually wanting to spend time in our little room. Even Reid asked to go back to the room quite a bit during the day as he was sick of the same things, which really surprised us as it doesn’t take much to entertain him. I ended up loving that little room as we could just chill, watch a bit of tv or a movie on the laptop and eat lots of snacks.
The food, well as I said above, I was so pleased we had been upgraded. I didn’t realise the package we originally booked was literally like having a sunday dinner/carvery every night. I do love a carvery but not sure I could manage one every single day. The upgraded food package was much better than what we had originally booked. This package had much more variation and suited me fine. I think my husband got a bit sick after a while, but I stick to the same things anyway so both Reid and I were good. We probably did eat a bit too much though so we piled the weight on. The cleanliness of the restaurants were pretty good to be honest, I don’t have any problems there.
There was a beach there which we did sort of venture to but with the weather not being so good we only went to have some photos on the big props situated at the entrance of the beach. I can’t really comment much on the beach itself but the bit we did visit was a good laugh and a good photo opportunity! I found a nice giant lounger which I got quite comfortable on and could have stayed there for ages…if the weather hadn’t been bad.
There is a lot more I could talk about but I feel like I have probably mentioned most of the key things. I hate writing posts that aren’t really cheery but my blog is always going to be honest and I can’t bring myself to lie to readers. I know there are probably plenty of people reading this thinking, ‘I don’t know what her problem is, we love Butlins‘. And probably people thinking I am a right stuck up cow. But I think it was a combination of not doing enough research, a bad start with bad customer service, problems whilst we were there and the fact the place was operating at about 50% so not the best atmosphere, that gave us a negative impression. I will say however that the red coat staff were always really good and full of energy. My son did love dancing with them on an evening and the shows they put on they really do put the effort in. So well done to the staff as they did have to deal with a lot including heavily intoxicated parents being a nuisance on the dancefloor.
Unfortunately we actually left our mini holiday early, we had one night left to go and we just couldn’t bare another night. We felt we had got out of our trip all that we could and whilst we did have plenty of nice times together when making the most of things we just felt it was time to end the trip. When we told the person on the info point that we were leaving early and needed to hand things back like fridge etc. they asked if we’d had a nice time. My husband and I looked at each other and and managed to produce probably the most unconvincing ‘yes, thanks’. Normally I loveeee to give feedback but after the experience we had just booking Butlins it was very clear that they don’t really care whether the customer is happy or not so it felt like a waste of time. The guy on the desk was nice enough and I just thought, I can’t even be bothered to start. Plus some of my grumbles were probably partly my fault so didn’t feel it was worth it.
On a different note……What I wore:
I had no idea what to wear for for Butlins. Especially since we were going in September and at this time the weather could go either way. So I could have either been sweating like a pig or looking like a drowned rat. Either way I was determined to be prepared for both! My go to place for clothes was Primarni! I actually go through phases of liking things from Primark. Some times I find nothing and sometimes I can get a whole new wardrobe. It depends on the time of year for me and also the size I am (as I change size all the bloody time!).
Choosing what to take was difficult as I wanted to wear stuff that was comfortable but that didn’t look hideous and that was practical at the same time. I decided long tops and leggings or skinny jeans and a nice top teamed with a leather jacket or cardigan was going to be the bulk of what I packed. I also took a few different shoes but didn’t want to go too OTT. White trainers, nice sandals and some wedges were packed for the trip. All fairly practical depending on weather and all wouldn’t break my feet whilst chasing after my son constantly. I bought a grey cap also to hide any hideous hair when it rained as I hate coats with big hoods. I felt leather jacket and cap worked pretty well and it didn’t matter if the rest of my hair got wet. At least it stayed off my face and the top was dry and warm!
Thinking of booking?
So whilst my Butlins experience wasn’t the best we still look back over some of the cute photos we took and can laugh about it. The important thing was we managed to spend quality time with Reid. The trip however just made my husband and I look forward to our totally amazing honeymoon even more which was to follow shortly after Butlins. We needed some R&R just from going there and that was exactly what we were planning on getting on our Honeymoon, just the two of us.
I should say that whilst I am not a Butlins fan I know many many people love it so for those of you thinking of going, I recommend reading all reviews, watching all videos on youtube and doing more research (which clearly I didn’t) before deciding to book. If you have stumbled across this review don’t be put off until you have done your research. Also check to see if reviews are better at certain times of year, as we went after school hols so maybe this made a difference. If you are more organised with things like hair dryer and expect some of the things I have included in this post, maybe you will have a much better time. I can only comment on my experience but I believe that for every person who hated it someone else will think its brilliant!
So if you have been to Butlins, let me know below if you loved it or hated it and which one you went to!