Our Christmas Fantasy Break at Butlins Skegness

by - Tuesday, January 08, 2013

During the holidays, the Glamumous family enjoyed a Christmas Fantasy break at Butlins Skegness. We'd booked a three night self-catering break in one of Butlin's lovely Silver apartments from 19-22nd December. Despite having to arrive a day late (I really didn't want to miss Princess' Christmas concert!) and the terrible wet weather, we had a fantastic time!

Neither me or the children had visited a Butlins resort before, so were quite curious and excited about what we should expect. Having explored the website and poured through every detail in the "About your stay" brochure we were sent, we thought we had a pretty good idea of what to expect when we arrived, and yet were still very pleasantly surprised.

Starfish Quay 

Our Silver self-catering apartment was situated in Starfish Quay, a five minute walk from the main Skyline Pavillion, though we were able to park the car close to our stay. Luckily we were allocated a ground-floor apartment (though I hadn't paid the extra to secure it) which made it easy to get Babyman around in his buggy.

Once inside, we were quite impressed - it was clean and homely, with a sizeable kitchen and combined lounge area. We'd been advised to bring our own towels, but everything else was provided for us, including a cleaning pack (with cloths and a small bottle of washing up liquid); four complete place settings and all the usual kitchenware you'd expect. In addition to the cooker and fridge, there was a toaster and microwave, plus single serving sachets which would have been plenty to keep me in coffee had I not already brought my own.

The kids bedroom comprised of two comfortable single beds, plus a single wardrobe and drawer space, while the master bedroom had a lovely double bed, dressing table and double robe. Babyman is a co-sleeper, so we didn't opt for a cot (which would have cost £10 extra for our stay). The bathroom was tiny but comfortable enough, with only a shower which was fine considering we were only staying the two nights.

Our lounge was lovely, with patio doors leading out to the green square in the centre of the apartment blocks. In summer it would be ideal to open up and watch the kids playing outdoors. While our TV worked and had many Freeview channels tuned in, the remote control did not, so we had to change channels using the buttons on the side (which wasn't so bad).

Skyline Pavillion

During our stay we spent most of our time in and around the Skyline Pavillion, which houses much of the entertainment and eateries at Butlins Skegness.

As you may imagine, the Pavillion was always very busy - there seemed to be some form of entertainment on every minute of the day! We enjoyed several shows on the Skyline Stage which were mostly aimed at younger kids. There's a large seating area with tables in front of the stage which was always packed out, so I'd advise getting there well in advance of any shows you particularly ant to watch. 

At the Centre Stage there are regular shows (such as pantomimes and the Winter Wonderland show), though we were so busy with other activities we didn't get the chance to see any. Queues to get into these shows were enormous with guests waiting for ages before start times to ensure they got a seat. Purchasing a Skyline Pass may be of benefit to those who want to make the most of the entertainment available, and is something we'll certainly consider next time.

We were happy to find several independent market-style shops around the Pavillion offering gifts and crafts at very reasonable prices. I'm not sure if they were there just for the Christmas season, but it was nice to see alternatives to the (more expensively priced) resident shops.


Since we only stayed two of the three nights, I was unable to book dining plans in advance and was advised to check availability in the restaurants to see if we could eat there in the evening (I wasn't too keen on cooking as it was my holiday too!).

On our first evening we went to the Ocean Drive restaurant and paid on the door for our meals. Babyman ate free since he was under two, and I believe it was £11.95 for Big Lad and myself, plus £7.95 for Princess. 

Now, the Glamumous family like going to Taybarns restaurants when we have the chance, and may have been spoiled by the quality and price of meals there which - as at Ocean Drive - is an all-you-can-eat affair with starters, mains and desserts available to cater for every taste.

Unfortunately we were all a little disappointed with our experience at Ocean Drive. There wasn't nearly as much choice as we'd hoped for, and the meals themselves were "okay". Big Lad tried fish and chips first, but didn't like it at all and went back for the roast beef carvery. He skipped dessert altogether (which is really unlike him) as by the time he got there the hot dessert station had closed - and this was only a half-hour after the restaurant opened!

While we'd planned on eating breakfast at one of the restaurants, instead we visited the Spar mini-market to buy supplies to cook at the apartment. I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't overpriced in the slightest and stocked everything we could need (even fresh fruit and bakery goodies).

On day two we ate lunch from Rock and Sole, where you can buy delicious fish-and-chip shop meals for a great price. Our evening activities went on rather late, so we were thrilled to find we could order take-out from Papa Johns delivered to our apartment! We ordered a family meal deal for £24.95 which was absolutely lush and even came with a tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I'd highly recommend this for any family - it was great value and service, with probably enough food for a family of six to enjoy!


Our visit to Splash was cut short by Babyman who wasn't particularly happy at his first visit to a large swimming pool! Parts of Splash were closed for the winter while being refurbished for the summer months, though we felt it didn't impact the enjoyment of the centre.

Babyman did love the soft play area though which we visited afterwards - I literally had to pull him away so we could get some lunch! It's not open all of the time so be sure to check the opening hours, though it's well-staffed with loads of sections for young and older children to enjoy.

Bowling was reasonably priced, though it's necessary to book in advance to guarantee a lane. With hindsight I'd have booked for the morning as there are earlybird offers which bring the cost down even more.

Big Lad and Princess both thoroughly enjoyed the Archery activity which cost £5 each and can be booked from the Leisure Centre. They both won a medal (included in the price). I stayed to watch but would have loved to join in! Big Lad participated in the Target Practise session (air rifles in a safe environment) which he adored, while I accompanied Princess to have her hair braided and a mini-makeover in the Pavillion. 

To be honest, there were so many activities on offer that we'd have had to completely structure our day to enjoy everything we'd wanted. Instead we were more relaxed, spending time as a family and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

Festive Family Fun

Being only a few days before Christmas, there was a festive spirit everywhere we went in the resort. Christmas tunes were being played everywhere, and the younger two enjoyed a visit to Santa where they received a chocolate selection box and posed for a lovely photo. 

In our welcome pack there were cards for the children to write a message to Santa which could be posted in the Pavillion which unfortunately we forgot to do! We discovered afterwards that Santa did indeed reply by means of letters posted to the apartment (or hotel room), so will be sure to remember for next time.

Final Thoughts

On our final morning as we walked to the Pavillion, Big Lad and Princess told me it was the best holiday they'd ever had. And I'm inclined to agree!

The only disappointment (if I can really call it that) was our experience of the restaurant, though I suspect during the summer months there may be a better selection (and quality) of food on offer. 
Butlins is not the place to go if you're looking for a quiet,relaxing family holiday. It's a full-on, rather noisy experience where everyone seems to be going at 100 miles per hour! That's what we wanted from our short break: a fun-filled, activity packed holiday to really get into the spirit of Christmas, which Butlins was able to deliver with near perfection.

Keeping three very different kids happy during a holiday is no easy task, yet there was plenty for them all to enjoy - which resulted in a very contented, happy mum! We can't wait to visit again next Christmas!

Please note: this is NOT a sponsored post! Instead it is a completely impartial, honestly written article about a holiday the Glamumous family paid for and thoroughly enjoyed.

Reviewed by Amanda Kennedy on .

Rating: 4.5

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