Last week we ventured down to Minehead, Somerset, to enjoy our second stay as Butlins Ambassadors at their South-West Resort. To say we were a teeny bit excited was an understatement! You see, when we were selected to become Butlins Ambassadors last year, I admitted that I had always been a little skeptical about Butlins and a bit of a snob about ever having a holiday there. Thankfully the team took a punt on us, and boy are we glad they did! We have become total Butlins converts now, and I can hand-on-heart say that a holiday to one of their 3 resorts really is a wonderful thing, especially when you have children.
Last October, we stayed in the Butlins Bognor Regis Resort for 4 nights during half term, Adam, myself, the children and my Mum. We had a great time (which you can read more about HERE and HERE), and it really did make me rather excited about our trip to Minehead. We loved going with Mum, and decided to invite Adam’s Mum and Dad for our break. If you get on with your parents/parents-in-law I really do recommend a 3-generational break (especially when you have small children!). It meant we all got to try different things, and no one was ever left alone with the little ones, which can often happen when perhaps one of you wants to go off and try something out/have a go on a ride.
I’d done a bit of research as a Butlins Ambassador, and knew that Minehead was the biggest resort, although all three have very similar restaurants/ activities available/ settings, and thought a seaside setting in July would be lovely (the complex is directly opposite the most gorgeous, sandy beach). What I was also keen to try out were the brand new (as in only a few weeks old!) Lake View Chalets which are situated in the purpose-built West Lakes Village. Harking back to the golden days of Butlins and British holidays, when a chalet was very much de rigueur, these are a swish, modern update on an old accommodation classic.
After a 4.5 hour car journey from South-East London, the relief of seeing the familiar-looking giant Butlins Pavilion was immense! We were swiftly directed to the West Village check-in Car Park, whereby we were greeted by friendly staff (one handing out balloons, always welcomed by little ones!). I was super-relieved when the girl working at check-in allocated us our chalet, and told us we could drive one of our cars round to it as we had a permanent parking space for the duration of our stay-hurrah! No more wrestling with a luggage trolley from a long distance (one of my only gripes about Bognor), and we could unload the car with ease. I was also impressed to discover that you could hire Little Tikes scooters for Freddie and Sasha for our break if we wanted, and I also spied a HUGE selection of family board games in the cupboard that could be borrowed free of charge, which I think is a truly excellent idea!
It was a great first impression.
Our chalet was a 3 bed Lake-view one, and we had been allocated the first floor. I personally wasn’t bothered about being on the first floor with our two children as the barrier is really high (they barely jump into the swimming pool on their own, let alone launch themselves off the balcony!), but I’m sure you can request a ground floor if you’d feel more comfortable from a safety point-of-view. All the chalets opened out on to well kept, grassy areas, which was lovely as you could sit and have a drink on your terrace/balcony and watch the children safely run around in front of you, with no worries about cars etc.
Check out our view!
The chalet we were allocated had 3 bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin and 1 room with bunk beds), 2 bathrooms (the Holy Grail of shared holiday accommodation!), and a fabulously spacious open-plan kitchen/diner/living room, that led on to the balcony. The only mistake we had made was booking a chalet with the bunk bed room. I thought Freddie would be fine on the top bunk, but it was REALLY high (to make room underneath for storage, a great idea), so we weren’t happy with him being up there, and S was certainly far too little, despite insisting she gave it a go! In the end we put the children in the twin room, Adam’s parents in the double, and Adam and I took the bunk room (who says romance is dead on holiday?!). I think these bunks are probably more suited for age 6 upwards, but I guess it depends on your child.
So, first impressions of the chalet?
Really, really bloody good. We had really liked and overall enjoyed our Gold Apartments at Bognor, but these chalets are on a whole other level! I really wasn’t prepared for just how AWESOME they were. I spent a good half hour on arrival just looking around, and soaking up everything about them.
The look is slick and modern with a ‘beachy’ theme, and there are plenty of nods to vintage Butlins, the seaside, and the iconic company logo.
Our colour scheme comprised of cheerful greens, blues, whites and yellows.
I loved the mural on the wall in our living room area, which was a seaside theme depicting the Minehead seaside aspect. This space could hold 6 people easily on comfy chairs and the L-shaped sofa, and the position of the (flat screen) telly on the wall meant we could all relax on an evening if we weren’t out.
The furniture and fittings were modern-retro (I’m sure that’s a ‘thing’?!), and I loved the chairs and dining table and the light fitting above it (we have similar in our upstairs hallway at home!).
Our kitchenette was small yet functional, and perfectly capable of helping you rustle up an easy dinner, should you choose to stay in and dine, and most importantly, comes complete with a dishwasher!
I nearly fainted when I saw gorgeous subway tiles in the main bathroom, just like ours at home, and it was ENORMOUS. Perfect for wrangling with tired, small children in the bath after a long day out and about. Again, it was the little details that were appreciated, like loads of fluffy, white towels stacked sky high, and bath mats, shower hats and loo roll with a fancy bow (something I look for all the time, obvs 😉 ).
I was obviously expecting something relatively shiny and new, but was completely taken aback with just how well-designed the chalets are. I know we had 3 bedrooms so obviously ours was a decent size, but it was the general feeling of the living space that was a surprise- the hallways were massive. We didn’t feel on top of each other or cramped once, which I feel is an often overlooked, yet important detail when it comes to the comfort factor when you’re on holiday.
On a design note, the clever clogs behind the chalets needs a Christmas bonus this year. The storage aspect has been so well thought out, with the beds raised off the floor and with special areas to put your suitcase once you’ve unpacked (tripping over your suitcase in the middle of the night when you go for a wee is guaranteed to give you rage). We were also all disproportionately happy at just how many hooks there were for hanging coats/towels/bags in the hallway (15 in fact, Adam counted! #geek). And I think all parents will notice and appreciate little details when it comes to making life easier in a living space, such as a purpose built, decent-sized shelf right by the front door, where you can chuck bags/swimming gear/shoes, and this is exactly what our chalet had.
Moving on from important things, such as, er, hooks, one of the things I loved most about the West Lakes Village was the setting. Despite being part of such a big complex, you would really never know. It appeared that most of the chalets were occupied throughout our stay, and we saw guests milling about and pottering around their chalets, but it was still so peaceful. Ideal for when you wanted just to chill out on the balcony, as we did on a couple of evenings. I adored the fact that the feel reminded me of my own childhood holidays to English and French self-catering sites/camping- relaxed yet with a gentle ‘buzz’ in the background of families enjoying themselves.
There are special activities and family games daily, exclusively for West Lakes Village guests, such as arts and crafts, and family cricket and boules games. One game of boules attracted a decent crowd right outside our balcony, and I loved watching everyone play and have a good time. Such a picture postcard moment that I could have bottled!
Every day one of us would take Freddie and Sasha for a walk around the village, either in the evening, or first thing in the morning whilst everyone else was getting ready.
As you can see in the previous photos, we had a very attractive lake view, and the children loved watching the ducks and many tame rabbits that hopped about at all times of day. It was a great sight to wake up to each day.
F & S loved walking back and forth over this little bridge, again and again, saying hello to various ducks and seagulls! We also went trainspotting, as every hour a little steam train puffed past which we could see from our chalet, and which delighted train-fan Fred no end 🙂
How lovely are these chalets, right on the lake?
Just over the bridge, there was a wooden gazebo with a giant ‘Connect 4’ game under it. Freddie and Sasha were too little to reach the top to put the counters in, but loved playing with it all the same!
Which way shall we go next?!
The bridge back over to our chalet. The whole village is so attractive, and my Mum-in-law and I commented how beautiful the landscaping was, with the plants, flowers and trees and their position within the village. Again, so much thought has gone in to the design, and we also noted that not one chalet appeared to be closely overlooked by another, no mean feat when it comes to maximising the number of chalets on offer.
A quick wave to Daddy on our balcony!
So, what was our overall opinion of the West Lake Village, and most importantly, our chalet?
Well, quite honestly, I wouldn’t go back to anything else now at Butlins, we were well and truly spoiled! I really valued the peacefulness after a full-on day of activity, and the actual chalet really did feel like a home-from-home, so hanging out in the evening was a pleasure. One night Freddie was poorly at dinner, so I took him back alone for the evening whilst the others stayed out with Sasha, and once he was tucked up in bed, enjoyed a glass of wine on the balcony.
If I had to be picky about anything, it would be the fact we couldn’t get Wifi signal at all here despite being given a code for it (although 3G is good), and we thought a mirror above the sink in the smaller bathroom would be a practical touch. The village is a slightly longer trot away from the restaurants and Pavilion, which might not suit those less able to walk, but we managed fine, and then brought a buggy out for Sasha in the evening.
Apart from that, we really had no complaints, and having somewhere so nice to stay really enhanced the enjoyment of our holiday. I would thoroughly recommend the chalets to anyone thinking of coming to Minehead Butlins, and in particular those who have young children, and therefore might want somewhere nice to relax once they’re in bed.
Pleased stay tuned for my next Butlins Minehead post, all about enjoying the resort with preschoolers!
Our family were guests courtesy of Butlins. We stayed for 4 nights mid week term time, in a 3 bed Lake View Chalet with a premium dining plan included. All thoughts and opinions are my own.