A-List Luxury in Barbados: The House
Enter the property from the road and you feel almost as if you're stepping into a castle - a massive stone structure that requires one walk over a wooden bridge-like structure. But inside, you're home. Quite literally - the name implies what one gets, service that's as casual and unpretentious as if you were in the home of a good friend, albeit one with quite a bit of staff.
Settle into comfortable white couches arranged living-room style around dark wood coffee tables (the whole look is very Pottery Barn meets beach house) or opt for check-in in the comfort of your room.
Rooms are spacious, with expansive balconies or terraces, so we'd suggest opting for a junior suite, which offers a large living area, powerful air conditioning (a must), plus amenities like over-sized soaking tubs, flat-screen televisions and in-room Nespresso machines. Despite being almost on top of the beach, rooms are quiet and private, perhaps due to the hotel's small size.
Should the need for privacy really strike, ask for one of the four garden suites, facing inward towards the hotel's central courtyard. Each of these rooms comes complete with a private plunge pool, perfect for a late night dip.
Awaken each morning to a Champagne breakfast served buffet-style in the hotel's living room, including both hot and cold dishes that range from the expected (bacon and eggs) to the Bajan (fried flying fish or plantains with veggies and onions). Each booking comes with a short Jet Lag massage for each guest, which can be ordered at your convenience in a variety of locations throughout the hotel or its sister property, Tamarind, which recently re-opened after a $10 million renovation. If you're traveling with children, this property allows guests under 18.
Gallery: The House Barbados
Activity junkies, don't fret - there's plenty for you to do as well. All watersports except for jetskiing are complimentary. Should the urge to go off property strike, the hotel can arrange diving or snorkeling excursions. We'd suggest the Good Times Catamaran cruise, a half-day journey that includes reef and wreck snorkeling, sightseeing, and swimming with the island's friendly turtles, plus a hearty lunch and unlimited beverages.
Come nightfall, order from the all-day dining menu, walk next door to Tamarind's 246 restaurant for delicious yet simple food with a fusion of Asian, American and Bajan cuisine or opt to dine at Daphne's, the fine dining standalone restaurant that serves as the hotel's main food and beverage outlet. Offering one of the best "on the beach" dining experiences of the island, this celebrity favorite restaurant serves upscale Italian cuisine. Order the house special seafood carpaccio appetizer before moving on to the grilled lobster with sweet potato "chips" and spicy mayo and a side of the zucchini fritti. Should you have room for dessert (who doesn't?) get the tiramisu - it's one of the best we've ever tried.
Then, head back to your room for a restful night's sleep with the soothing sound of waves crashing against the sand as your nighttime musical accompaniment. After all, you'll be doing it all over again tomorrow.
The House, Paynes Bay, St. James, Barbados. 246.432.5525. Rates from $450. www.thehousebarbados.com.
This writer visited The House on an outing sponsored by Elegant Hotel Group, the parent company of The House and several other properties. The writer's opinion is totally her own.