TRAVEL REVIEW: Butlin's still serves up the very best of British fun for families

The huge indoor swimming pool provides fun for all the family.
The huge indoor swimming pool provides fun for all the family.
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It's impossible to think of Butlin's without conjuring up images of knobbly knees competitions, cheery Redcoats and 1950s holidaymakers swapping home for a chalet for a well-earned break.

The company is probably fed up of seeing travel reviews harking back to the above and endless references to Hi-de-Hi! but Butlin's is a British institution, as traditional as fish and chips, red phone boxes and cups of tea - and that's what makes its so brilliant and loved by families of all ages.

Butlin's is great for visitors of all ages.

Butlin's is great for visitors of all ages.

It is now more than 80 years since Sir Billy Butlin opened his very first camp back at Skegness in 1936 - and the simple and basic world he created back then is but a distant memory, save for an original chalet which is now a Grade II listed building and takes pride of place on site.

It was to the Lincolnshire coast and Sir Billy's original camp that I headed to with my two sons and also their grandparents for a family half-term break.

Several years since we last visited, I was unsure how my two lads - now 14 and 12 - would get on, seeing as soft play areas, children's character shows and organised sports are now firmly behind them.

I need not have worried. The Butlin's mantra, Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight (stamped into the pathway at Skegness) still applies - and whether you're eight months or 88 years old, there's always something to do.

The Skyline Pavilion is the beating heart of the camp.

The Skyline Pavilion is the beating heart of the camp.

Settling into our wonderfully comfortable accommodation in The Keys part of the resort, it wasn't long before the lads wanted to get out and explore.

Having been before, we were lucky in that we pretty much knew where everything was - but if you haven't been for several years or have never been, it is easy to find your way around.

Pretty much everything is focused on or situated within or nearby to the Skyline Pavilion, the huge white tent like structure which is the busy, beating heart of camp life.

A beeline was made towards Hotshots, a bowling alley and sports bar, where a few games of pool were quickly racked up before we moved on to the nearby amusement arcades.

There's fun to be had outside too.

There's fun to be had outside too.

But before you start thinking you'll be dipping into your wallet every five minutes, don't worry. Butlin's is one of those places that can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.

There's plenty of free stuff to do - while at the other end of the scale, you can push the boat out if you want to as well.

With a vast catalogue of what's on across the whole five day break, there truly is something for every child - whatever they are into. Football, archery, pottery, children's TV characters such as the Teletubbies, live music and entertainment, swimming and much, much more.

Oh, and that's not to mention bars, restaurants, shops, a cinema, pubs, a snooker hall, fairground and several outdoor play areas.

Whatever the weather, there's family fun to be had.

Whatever the weather, there's family fun to be had.

It was at Green Baize, the snooker hall, where my boys had their very first taste of snooker - although the vast number of fouls suggest a visit to Sheffield's Crucible Theatre may be some way off yet!

There was also table tennis, darts and tennis to have a go at - and all of them free.

Then it was onto the fairground where I was dragged onto a number of white knuckle rides - although I did gain some revenge on the nearby go-kart track!

We'd opted for the all-inclusive food package and dined each morning and night in The Yacht Club, where for both breakfast and dinner there was a mouthwatering array of starters, main courses and puddings to choose from.

So no worries for picky eaters - every taste and palate was catered for.

And for lunch, we were big fans of Fire House, a relatively new addition to the Skegness camp, which served up some wonderfully tasty chicken dishes in contemporary and colourful surroundings.

A trip to Butlin's can be as relaxing or as hectic as you want it to be.

A trip to Butlin's can be as relaxing or as hectic as you want it to be.

Handily, its placed just opposite what's probably the most popular part of Butlin's and that's Splash Waterworld, the indoor (and partly outdoor) fun swimming complex that's always teeming with swimmers young and old alike wanting to ride the flumes or just splash about in the huge pools.

There's just so much to enjoy all day, every day that it's impossible to get bored or not find something to do. And that's without mentioning a trip to the beach (which we didn't manage because of the somewhat chilly weather), climbing walls, aerial adventure courses, family fun bikes and go karts to hire, an ice cream parlour, pubs and so much more.

Butlin's still serves up the very best of British family fun - and if you're after a great family holiday, you really can't go wrong.

We love it - and you will too!

* Prices for a three-night break from £160pp, four-night break from £209pp (both based on four sharing Silver self-catering accommodation).

Visit www.butlins.com for further details and to book