Haven and Butlins – which is the best to stay at?
While I have been on many Haven resort holidays over the years, I have never been to a Butlins resort, well that was until last week when I visited the very first Butlins in Skegness. So I thought I would share my experiences with you.
To clarify I have stayed once at Butlins, Skegness, but stayed at several Haven resorts, both camping and staying in a caravan.
The one good thing about Haven is the number of them around the country. There are 35 sites around the UK, compared to Butlins who have three, but a number of sites aren’t always the issue.
Arriving at the parks. Both don’t allow you into your accommodation until late in the day, Haven does allow you to walk around the park and use the facilities, but when it comes to checking in you usually have to wait for a while in a queue with other people trying to check in. Butlin on the hand, don’t allow you into your accommodation till 4 pm but they do allow you to check in at 11 am and obtain all your holiday passes allowing you to explore the park. One plus point at Butlins is the drive in. This drives through for checking in enabling you to keep the kids in the car and not stand in queues. If children are tired after the journey to the park they can continue to sleep whilst you check in.
One of the best features at Butlin’s has to be its fairground and there are a great number of rides available for all ages. I am not saying Haven doesn’t have a fairground, but the big difference is the vast majority of the rides at Butlin’s are free and are included in your holiday package whereas at Haven you have to pay each time you go on the rides.
There are very limited daytime shows at Haven, but the park sites are usually in great locations to go and explore the local area. Butlins, on the other hand, has a lot of daily shows to keep you entertained on-site, from Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank and Fireman Sam, all your child’s favourite characters live on stage, I did notice that some parents were drinking alcohol during the day shows. I didn’t notice many parents doing this on the Haven resorts. What Haven is missing in daytime shows it does make up for with little play parks scattered around to keep the kids entertained.
Both come with free on-site swimming which is great and the Haven sites pools have always been clean and have good splash pools, however, Butlins takes this to a whole new level and has some amazing rides. Butlins definitely wins on the pool front.
This is where Haven really stands out, their evening entertainment is far superior and much more enjoyable to watch and take part in. Butlins does offer you a choice of entertainment on the evening shows this may be good if you have older children, but as a father of a young child then Haven offers the best young children’s evening show in my opinion.
Both offer great accommodation. On Haven, I have stayed in my own tent and in several types of caravans and never had a problem with them being clean and tidy. Butlins accommodation was very clean and tidy, but the bed was really uncomfortable and some of the cupboard doors in the kitchen felt they would fall off at any minute, but this is just a minor point.
It has been over a year since I visited a Haven site so this could have changed. On all the occasions I have visited Haven sites there has never been accessing to wifi and in this day an age – I need my internet. At Butlins it’s only slightly better, they do offer 30 minutes free wifi a day, you can then pay for more internet if you require it (I never did, as believe it should be free all day and included in the price of the holiday).
While Butlins definitely wins on the daytime activities with far better swimming pools and shows, from an overall experience I would still go for my main holiday to a Haven site as there are still quite a few more for me to visit. It’s not to say I wouldn’t return to a Butlins park, it’s just I won’t be rushing back in a hurry. If only Haven made their fairground rides free and improved their pools then there wouldn’t be a need to visit any other parks.
I guess I might have to visit a Park Resorts holiday park to see how it compares. Maybe I will visit next year and let you know.
- Great locations around the UK
- Allow people camping or caravanning
- Nice selection of places to eat
- More of a family feeling compared with Butlins
- Lots of little parks/play areas for the kids to have some fun
- Charge to get on the rides
- Have to join massive queues to check in
- No Wifi
- Free rides for the kids, great
- Nice accommodations
- Great shows during the day
- Great swimming pool
- Drive through checking
- Huge selection of places to eat, even better if you pre-purchase a meal plan (I believe they have bronze, silver and Gold packages) – loved their version of Nandos.
- Free wifi, but only 30 mins a day worth
- Felt like more of a lads holiday with a culture of drinking
- Beds in apartment were extremely uncomfortable
- Some of the cupboard doors felt like they would fall off every time you opened them