Our break at Butlins included a Hotel Dining Plan. Staying in the Shoreline Hotel, this meant we could eat downstairs in the hotel restaurant, or we could ask at reception for vouchers to eat in any of the other restaurants on site.
The hotel restaurant was a self service all-you-can-eat style buffet. There were hot and cold options, healthy and not so healthy choices and even a lower counter so the little ones could help themselves.
The Princess and The Pickle really enjoyed eating here, especially The Princess who would always have a mountain of food on her plate and eat every last crumb! We ate here the first evening and only paid extra for the Fruit Shoots we ordered - everything else was included and pre paid. The Pickle loved Billy Bear's Ice Cream Factory where he could make his own ice cream and add toppings of his choice! We also ate breakfast here every morning except Thursday. On Thursday we enjoyed a Character Breakfast at Papa John's with Billy and Bonnie Bear, as this was also included in our dining plan. The bears came round to each table and posed for photos, before getting all the children up to dance around the restaurant! The Pickle loved Billy Bear but wasn't sure about getting too close to him, he did have fun showing him his toy dinosaur though! The Princess proved she wasn't too cool for a cuddle and gave Billy a big hug!
It was easy to sort out vouchers to eat in the other restaurants, all we needed to do was ask at reception each morning and our vouchers would be valid any time after 4pm that day (although there are a limited number of vouchers per restaurant per night, so it's worth booking them all on the first day). It's also worth noting that the vouchers only cover food, not drinks and the value is £13 for each adult, £6.50 for childrenover 5 and £3.25 for children under 5. You will need to pay extra if you go over the value of the vouchers, but we found we only spent around £5 - £10 extra in each restaurant. However, I do think the under 5s voucher should be a little higher in value as all of the children's meals were more than £3.25.
We also discovered the vouchers could be used to order a takeaway from Papa John's, and teamed with the free DVD hire from the hotel it made a perfect evening in our room to recharge our batteries! Our dining vouchers stretched to 2 small (6 slice) pizzas and 3 sides without spending any extra. There is a 'create your own' option with plenty of topping choices and the meal was delicious. We skipped dessert that evening in favour of the healthier fruit and yogurts we'd taken with us.
We really enjoyed our meal in The Diner, complete with rock n' roll music and singing waitresses. Myself and the kids can be a bit picky with food and asked for a few things without the sauces/spiced butters they were advertised with, but it was no trouble at all. The highlight of the meal was The Ultimate Fondue which The Princess and The Pickle shared - chocolate lollipops, marshmallows and fruit to dip in the chocolate and toffee sauces - all for £5.45. The Choc n' Pop Cheesecake was also delicious and the Egg Cup Profiterole is perfect if you can't manage a big pudding (plus you get to keep the egg cup!)
The service in The Diner was great and the staff were so friendly, taking the time to come and sit with us and chat to the children and make them laugh. Generally the staff at Butlins do go out of their way to make sure you are having a great time, it's what Butlins do best!
A more relaxed place to eat and enjoy a traditional pub meal was the Beachcomber Inn. I was particularly impressed with the children's pick n' mix menu here, as there were lots of healthy options and great for fussy eaters. The Pickle was very happy they had waffles here! The children's meals were also very good value at £3.75, but a vegetarian option on the pick n' mix mains would make this even better.
There were activity sheets and crayons to keep the little ones amused while we waited for our meal - not that we had to wait long at all, it was unbelievably fast service!
It is worth mentioning that we ate at around 4.30 - 5pm each evening. This is a quieter time and we never had to wait for a table. It also meant we could enjoy some of the evening entertainment afterwards and the children wouldn't be too late to bed. Eating early also meant we didn't need much for lunch and the snacks we took with us lasted the week.
There were plenty of places to grab a snack during the day if we needed to and one of the best was Scoop, the new ice cream parlour. We loved the bright decor and the cow benches outside! They sell tubs, cones and hot waffles with so many delicious flavours - the mint choc chip on a waffle was pretty amazing and The Princess enjoyed the Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream with Strawberry Sorbet! The prices are a little higher than you'd normally find at the seaside, but being real Italian gelato ice cream I'd say it was worth it!
The Hotel Dining package would have cost £264 for a family of four staying for four nights during half term. If split equally this works out at £16.50 per person, per day for both breakfast and dinner, which isn't bad at all, especially if you stick with the all inclusive hotel buffet for each meal.
You can see more of my Butlins posts by clicking the button below.
We were invited to stay on a 4 night break at Butlins as part of my role as a Butlins Ambassador. All opinions are my own.