Splashing out at Butlin’s Bognor Regis: things to do, food and the amazing pool

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside...

Butlin's Bognor Regis

by Georgina Terry |
Updated on

Do we still really love to be beside the British seaside, in a year when foreign travel has been…tricky…to achieve?

Do we honestly love to be by the sea, during a rainy October half-term?

Do we really like to stroll along the prom-prom-prom – oh, you get the idea.

Turns out, the answer could very much be yes.

We, a family of four: two adults, a four-year-old boy and a baby who turned one while we were there, packed our swimming costumes and heading to Bognor Regis for our first ever Butlin’s break.

What is there for to do at Butlin's?

arcades at Butlins
Arcade games at Butlin's ©Butlin's

First and foremost, kids will completely love it. Absolutely everything on our break was geared towards them. There was a playground right next to our hotel and two more within the complex, a mostly free fairground, a humungous softplay areas, and multiple free shows a day.

There are also lots of activities that carry an additional charge including a football academy, mini golf, a climbing wall and zip line.

There is, however, nothing for the adults to do exclusively. And no creche, kids' club or babysitting service. If you’re hoping for a little grown up conversation, you’re in the wrong place, pal. We heard a rumour about a spa in one of the hotels we weren’t staying in (there are three hotels on site) but not until too late. Still, family holidays are all about spending time together, right?

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What is there for kids to do at Butlin's Bognor Regis?

Soft play at Butlin's
Soft play at Butlin's Bognor Regis ©Butlin's

While bigger kids will be in paradise, there's not so much for the tinies to do, other than the - excellent - pool (more on that later). The softplay area was too hectic for our baby but maybe it’s a bit less rough and tumble when it’s not half-term.

Speaking of softplay, take the warnings about loud bangs during the Brainiac show seriously. They are very loud and right next to the softplay area, so maybe plan softplay at a different time to the show.

Swimming at Butlin's Bognor Regis

Pool at Butlin's Bognor Regis
Pool at Butlin's Bognor Regis ©Butlin's

The pool is 100 per cent the stand-out attraction at Butlin's Bognor Regis. It's free to visit and you don't need to book in advance. A sign outside warns that there may be queues at busy times but - weirdly - the only time we had to wait was at a supposedly quiet time. Maybe we were held outside while an ominously named 'code yellow' was being dealt with...

Our little boy was delighted that he was tall enough to go on all of the rides except one. His favourite was the rapids, which was pretty chilly to queue for as the slides are outside and the queue forms next to the re-entry point, but remarkably warm to ride, even at the end of October. I think his record was five goes in a row. Mine too.

There was also plenty for the baby to do, with two pools heated to 30 degrees. One had a selection of four gentle slides, the second had boats for climbing on and a really teeny slide for the tinies. There's even four hot tubs but don't expect any chill time in them, there's always people - like me - getting in with their kids.

If I was being picky, it would have been nice if there was an area just for lane swimming so that the adults could take it in turns to get a bit of exercise in. But this pool is definitely built for family fun. Very much on the upside, this meant that all of the changing rooms were r-o-o-m-y, and there was even a baby feeding area in the 'changing village'. I fed poolside in the cheery beach style huts, but I am a breastfeeding bad-ass.

What shows are there at Butlin's?

Animals FX at Butlin's
Animals FX at Butlin's ©Butlin's

There’s a great selection of shows at Butlin’s but the one that really stood out for us was Animal FX. It’s an absolute hoot, with plenty of laughs for the adults and jaw-dropping moments for the kids.

Hot tip: get to the venues early. At least 30 minutes before the start time, would be my advice. “The queue wasn’t this long for Kasabian,” said a man behind us as we stood in line for Animals FX. While you book tickets in advance, it’s first come, first served, when it comes to finding seats so a bit of a scramble.

The Shoreline Hotel - Columbus Quarters at Butlin's Bognor Regis

The Shoreline Hotel - Columbus Quarters at Butlin's Bognor Regis
The Shoreline Hotel - Columbus Quarters at Butlin's Bognor Regis ©Butlin's

We stayed in this family-centric hotel, in a room with a double bed and a curtained off area with bunkbeds for the children. There were thoughtful touches like an inbuilt kids’ toilet seat and coat hooks at child height, plus fun things like an octopus sofa and matching eight-legged stool. The bed was comfy, the shower was great, and the fair-sized fridge was a pleasant surprise.

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Dining packages at Butlin's

Dining packages Butlin's Bognor Regis
Dining packages at Butlin's Bognor Regis ©Butlin's

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We were on the hotel dining plan that covers breakfast and dinner and is priced from £22.75 per adult and £13.95 per child. Both meals are buffets (is there anything better than a breakfast buffet? No, no there is not) and you can go up as many times as you want, provided you sanitise your hands each time you go in. There's free Ella's Kitchen baby food pouches too, which is a nice touch.

Our little boy loved the buffet. Not only the kids' section, which had a pasta dish each night and a selection of protein (fish fingers, chicken nuggets - that kind of thing), potatoes and vegetables every time.

Word of caution: there was vegetarian food on the adults' buffet but not the kids'. And nothing was labelled as vegan so maybe check in advance if that's your veggie vibe.

Off peak breaks start from £95 and includes live shows and lots of activities including pool access and unlimited fairground rides. Price based on a four-night Showtime Midweek break for a family of four sharing a two-bedroom silver room in Bognor Regis, from 7 February 2022.

To book visit www.butlins.com

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