Recently our family went on a short break to Butlins in Bognor Regis on the south coast. I thought it might be useful if I wrote a short blog post on some of the more geeky aspects of our stay!
We'd been a few years ago, stopping in the Shoreline Hotel and our children had enjoyed it, so we thought we would go back and try out the new Ocean Hotel that has recently been opened.
Firstly the hotel is really very nice. You can forget any preconceived ideas you have about Butlins being a budget holiday, you can make your stay cheaper by booking in to one of the self-catering chalet/apartments if you wish. However if you want the luxury option then the Ocean Hotel is for you!
Back to the new hotel, our room was an Atlantis Room which is designed to sleep two adults and two children, the room was fairly spacious, very clean and they have a great little alcove or den area as Butlins call it, for the kids beds.
It's like their own bedroom but without doors, they have their own LCD wall mounted TV with Freeview, great lighting and even some funky blue lights under their beds! There are two power sockets in this room.
The main room has a larger LCD wall mounted TV again with Freeview, they also seem to have some dedicated sports channels.
The hotel contains a high quality spa, according to my wife!
Our room had a good sized balcony, with 4 chairs and a small table outside. We had a great view looking out across the park and straight out on to the sea.
There is a kettle with tea, coffee, decaf-coffee and hot chocolate. They seem to supply lots of sachets daily too, along with 2 or 3 packets of small biscuits. There are two free power sockets adjacent to the kettle here.
In this same area there is a large mirror, hairdryer and small fridge too.
Our room had air conditioning, it seemed to work well, though it does require you to leave your room access card in a 'card reader' just inside the door way. This also allows the room lighting to be powered too, I cannot confirm as to whether it turns off the power sockets in the room when the card is removed? One thing to note is that the air conditioning does not cool the children's 'room' very well.
In the room I was able to receive a good HSDPA signal on my T-Mobile HTC Desire phone. The hotel also has free Wi-Fi and again the signal was very good in our room. I did a speed test on the Wi-Fi from my Android phone and was able to achieve just over 3MB/s download speed and a decent 2MB/s upload speed.
One thing to note about the Wi-Fi is that you must open a web browser and accept the Wi-Fi usage policy before you are allowed access via any network port. The timeout also seems a little keen to me, if you leave your device idle for more than 20 or 30 minutes you must authenticate again. There is some content filtering on the Wi-Fi, Youtube for one is blocked. If you find any other ports or major sites which are blocked please let me know below.
Across most of the Butlins complex the same Wi-Fi system is present, I did not test this as extensively as I'd like, after all this was primarily a holiday! My phone maintained a very strong mobile signal on the T-Mobile network and was almost always HSDPA speeds only occasionally falling back to 3g and very rarely to gprs.
I'm not sure where the local cell towers are but judging by the often full HSDPA 'bars' it can't have been far away.
There is a small funfair on site and most rides are included in your admission fee.
There are plenty of entertainment shows on each evening, as you'd expect the X-Factor and Britain's got Talent plays a big part here!
The pool complex has several water slides of various sizes and the "Master Blaster" is particularly good fun, it's a 2 person ride in a small dinghy, there is a timer clock which shows the days fastest time and your time next to it. This did not always register our time for some reason, if you figure out why this is, please let me know. Also if you manage to get your dinghy over half way off the end of the final slowing down straight, as my son and I did, then let me know too! The pool does get very busy and the queue for the slides can get long, so go early and you will be ok.
Excellent free Wi-Fi coverage across the site and in the Ocean Hotel. Content filtering is enforced and YouTube is blocked.
Excellent HSDPA T-Mobile signal across most of the site.
There were 4 mains power sockets in our room, might be worth taking a 4-way mains strip if you have a lot of gadgets to power/charge.
Two LCD TV's in the room with Freeview.
There is a phone in the room which will accept incoming calls via the main switchboard.
Fairly decent air-conditioning in our room, Ocean Hotel.
Costa Coffee on site in the main pavilion. £2.40 for a latte, so a touch on the high side I'd say?
Excellent Kaleidoscope bar & restaurant in the hotel.