A Butlins family holiday in Skegness, Minehead or Bognor Regis is usually pretty good value. There's plenty of budget accommodation and more activities are included in the upfront price than you get with Center Parcs.
However, at peak times a family of four can easily pay well over £1000 for a week's Butlins holiday.
Here are our favourite ways of keeping the cost of Butlins holiday down - and how to squeeze out the best value from your holiday.
1) Pick your accommodation carefully
Choosing the right accommodation is the most important thing in getting value for money from a Butlins holiday.
The cheapest option is usually a ‘room’ but you don’t get any cooking facilities or a lounge with that. For a few pounds more you get a ‘suite’ which includes a lounge but still doesn’t have a kitchen.
An ‘apartment’ with a kitchen is the next upgrade and that is what we go for. Even if you get a dining package, it is useful to have somewhere to prepare snacks or a late night bowl of cereal. The difference in price compared to a 'room' is often quite small – particularly for an off peak holiday.
For example, a week in September 2022 for a family of four in Minehead is £240 for the cheapest room or £269 for the cheapest apartment. That is £29 well spent in my opinion.
Booking as early as possible is important with Butlins. If you wait too long then you’ll find that the cheapest accommodation has been booked up and you’ll have to pay extra for upgrades which you might not need.
If you upgrade you can expect to get things like towels provided, an extra TV in a bedroom or a bit of outside space. However, the main difference is that the more expensive accommodation tends to be a bit more modern and has more interesting décor. We’ve written a full guide to the different types of accommodation at Butlins and what you get for upgrading.
My advice is to think about how much time you will spend out and about and whether you plan to pay extra for a dining package. If it’s the summer and you are a busy family with plenty of energy then I would just go for a Standard Apartment or a Silver Apartment, particularly if you are getting a dining plan.
If it’s off-peak and the weather isn’t so good then you might spend a bit more time in the accommodation. Also, if you plan to cook for yourself then you’ll get better value out of more expensive accommodation. In those circumstances, I would upgrade to something like a Gold Apartment or a Seaside Apartment. The difference in price will be much smaller outside of the peak season.
2) Make the most of the free activities at Butlins
Butlins includes a lot more activities for free than Center Parcs in my experience. However, you can still save yourself a packet by sticking to the free stuff.
A typical free day at Butlins could include:
Meanwhile, a splash-the-cash day out could end up costing quite a bit for a family of four. For example:
For those five activities, you’ll pay a total of £138. Butlins activity prices are cheaper than Center Parcs in my experience, but it’s still a lot extra to pay when you could be doing a lot for free.
Without wishing to tell grandma how to suck eggs, my advice is to agree in advance what you’ll pay for to avoid an unwanted tug on the arm as you walk past the go-karts.
As an aside, the bundled passes such as the ‘adrenaline pass’ can save you a few pounds if you planned to do all the activities anyway.
3) Self cater or get a dining plan. Don’t do 50/50.
Dining plans work out much cheaper per meal than eating in the pay-as-you-go restaurants at Butlins. I would avoid doing a 50/50 split of self catering and dining out as you won’t get the best value.
For example, we looked at a four night break in early October 2022 and found it was £140 for a family of three people to add on two meals a day. We then looked at the cost of eating out for two days at the Beachcomber Restaurant at Skegness and found that it would cost you about £120. That was based on two main courses, a kids meal, three puddings, three soft drinks and two coffees plus breakfast.
So, you’ve already spent £120 and you still need to self cater for another two days.
4) Get a Kids Pass
If you sign up for a Kids Pass you can get an extra £20 off at Butlins. There are some terms and conditions – for example, you can’t use it on a two night stay or rooms for two.
You’ll pay £1 for a trial of a Kids Pass. If you don’t cancel then the current price is £4.99 a month.
5) Join the Butlin’s Premier Loyalty Club
Butlins run a scheme called the Butlin’s Premier Loyalty Club, which gives a discount for frequent visitors. You can’t really game the system and you are automatically enrolled rather than applying for it.
The idea is that if you visit three times in three years then you get an extra 5% discount. The good news is that the offer can be applied on top of other deals. If you visit more often then you get extras such as vouchers to spend onsite.
Theoretically, you could visit for cheap-as-chips off peak breaks to quality for the discount and then apply it to a longer on-peak break. For example, a midweek holiday in a standard room in October 2022 in Minehead starts at £92. If you did something similar three times then you’d get the 5% after spending £276.
You could then book a week in a top-of-the range Bayside Apartment at Minehead for £2759. The 5% discount would save you £138 – or roughly half the cost of your midweek breaks.
Honestly, it’s more of a nice extra for loyalty rather than something you can 'hack'. However, if you have already visited twice in two years then it might be worth planning another short break.
6) Don’t buy all your food from the on-site shops
This won’t surprise you, but the prices in the onsite shops are not as cheap as an off-site supermarket. The prices are more like a corner shop.
7) Check for deals and discounts
The Butlins website has an offers page which is worth a look. Butlins discounts codes are quite hard to find, but there are sometimes good deals to be had, such as money off dining plans.
8) Book the last week in August
If you want to visit Butlins in August, you'll pay the highest prices of the year. However, there is sometimes a drop in price if you visit during the last week of the school holidays. Most people don't want to go away and the weather is a little bit colder - even in sunny Skegness...
As an example, a week in a Fairground Apartment starting on 12th August 2022 would cost £1556 for a family of four.
The same holiday starting on August 26th 2022 was £1286. That's a saving of £270.
It doesn't always work out cheaper, but it's worth a look.
...I won’t even bother pointing out that it’s cheaper to visit Butlins outside of school holidays. You knew that already and there's nothing you can do about it - unless you fancy a playground telling off from the headteacher.
Images are from Butlins.
Holiday Park Guru Blog
Occasional thoughts on holidays in England, Wales, Scotland and further afield, including the latest deals, discounts and last minute offers.
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