Butlin's at Bognor- First Impressions

So we are here! All checked into The Wave Hotel at Butlins in Bognor and just 7 hours of our first day in we feel we have already had a holiday's worth of fun and food!

The Wave Hotel, Butlin's Bognor
DH with 5 of our 7 children outside The Wave Hotel, Butlins, Bognor.
DS#2 is camera shy and DS#1 at work.
We have never been to Butlin's- apart from DH who has vague memories of a trip decades ago- and I'll be honest I never thought I would. I hate organised fun, package holidays, "he's behind you" kind of shows. Despite being a largely outgoing friendly type I generally don't want to make friends on holiday, or join in with pre-arranged trips or themed meals with "local" entertainment.

I am happy with a tent, a hot chocolate and a sunset generally. Throw in a beach and some sun and at a push a pool and I am in heaven. The thought of a "holiday camp" with forced cheeriness and lots of joining in filled me with horror. I was unsure about the standard of accommodation and food and, releasing my inner snob, the people I might meet. Oh Blimey I sound a right cow don't I?

The Games Port, Butlins Bognor
Grumpy in Butlin's Game Port.
But I pride myself on honest reviews so I want to be honest from the start - I expected Butlins to be tacky and a bit, well, Hi-de-Hi. Not helped by the fact we had a very bad experience years ago at the other well-known branded camp booked through a newspaper special offer. We stayed in a chalet which I deemed not fit for human habitation. W complained - were told most people lived in worse conditions so they felt it was good enough. We left early.

But dear reader I am eating humble pie. Butlin's so far has far and away exceeded our expectations. We arrived at The Wave Hotel just after 12 and our room was ready.

We did have to queue to check in but while we waited the kids made full use of the Game Port where there are Wii's Apple Macs, DS consoles and much more. The Reception staff were very helpful and explained everything to us efficiently.

Our rooms - we had an initial problem whereby we couldn't access the other half of our interconnecting rooms which was quickly sorted. The children loved their submarine style bunk beds and our 18-year-old and his little Bro settled themselves into their twin room while we unpacked in our double.

We loved the elephant towel sculpture on our beds and you would have laughed to see my naked husband hurrying through the interconnecting door to when I was settling Grumpy into bed to excitedly urge me to come and see the disco light shower! He was so delighted to shower under lights which changed from blue to green to red......he doesn't get out much.

elephant towel sculpture, The Wave, Butlins, Bognor

So much to tell you - too many words to type. Highlights of the day- Grumpy and his siblings with beaming smiles on the rides. Normally we avoid fairgrounds- expensive when you are a family of 9. But here of course most of the entertainment and rides are included in your holiday price.

The soft play area in the Skyline Pavilion was much larger than we expected which meant hours of play for the three youngest while I sat and relaxed and DS#3 and DD#1 went off with £1 each to play in the Amusement Arcade.

Butlins fairground

And food? We apparently picked the worst time to head to The Deck- we arrived at 6pm which they advise you to avoid. But the teens wanted to go to the VIP (teens kid's club) welcome meeting at 7-7.30pm so it was eat at 4pm or risk the busy time.

And we did have to queue but not for long and we were seated at a lovely big clean table with no eye-rolls from the staff when they saw our larger family. Normally when they see the blonde heads filing through the door they often quickly decide there is no room at the inn. The lovely hostess looked unfazed and to fill the time while they sorted us a table she explained the system and then we headed off to the buffet amazed by the choice. Not all deep-fried brown stuff 'n chips either!

I had a shepherds pie stuffed with veg with crunchy broccoli followed by a gorgeous profiterole cheesecake thing. DH went for the carver option which today was gammon which he teamed with roast potatoes, new potatoes and veg. He said it was gorgeous. Desert for him was apple crumble and ice-cream which he described as "to die for".
Butlins food all inclusive
See? Grumpy will eat something other than brioche and ham!

DS#2 had a freshly made burger and an Asian fusion of noodles and rice and stir fry. DS#3 had cod and chips and raved about the fish and DD#1 was delighted with her freshly cooked pasta with a cheesy sauce. DD#2 raided the salad bar and had pasta salad, grated cheese, a bread roll and butter and freshly carved gammon and baked beans! Grumpy chose a burger and a sausage and chips and beans followed by an apple and ice-cream.  DS#4 also chose burger and chips and loved his pudding of doughnut and cake.  Not so healthy maybe but we are on holiday.

They all loved the drinks stations and we were pleased to see the "free" choices were not the usual fizzies (although you can buy them if you prefer) so we chose apple and orange juice, water, a forest fruits squash and hot chocolate. DS#4 found a new job as drinks runner refilling all our glasses often!

We finished our first day booking some activities for the next day while the teens attended a VIP club event then tucked the younger children up in bed watching DVD's as a treat. Grumpy summed the day up for all of us I think saying:"I'm soooo happy!"

Disclaimer: As a Butlin's Ambassador my family was invited for a free 4-night break which is the basis for this review. Views and opinions remain impartial, honest and my own.

Check out all of my Butlin's news and reviews here.