If you’re looking for a slice of real life in Barbados, stay in one of these top hotels that offer a local experience, including everything from family-run properties in fishing communities to luxury beachside resorts.
There’s more to Barbados than ivory beaches, five-star resorts and rum. Whether you’re a nature lover looking for free boat trips to turtle hotspots, you’re keen to discover colorful Caribbean history in a family-run inn, or you want to experience the luxury the island is famous for, this is Culture Trip’s pick of the properties that offer a taste of all types of Bajan life.
Dating back to 1887, this remote resort is believed to be the oldest continuously running hotel in the Caribbean. On cliffs above the pink-hued sand of Crane Beach, the coral-rock property sits within more than 40 acres (16ha) of tropical gardens. The complex is home to neo-colonial suites with mahogany furniture, kitchens and sea-view terraces. Explore beyond your room and you’ll find a huge tiered pool, a separate adult-only pool, a spa, gym, tennis courts and seven dining options.
Little Good Harbour offers an intimate stay in the Shermans fishing community on the Northwest Coast of Barbados. Its cottage-like suites have wooden shutters and full kitchens, and are surrounded by gardens filled with bougainvillea, palms and Asian sculptures. Cool off in its two pools, enjoy complimentary kayaks and snorkelling gear and relax in its spa. The Fish Pot restaurant, originally a 17th-century fort, serves freshly caught seafood on a deck along the beach.
This traditional family-owned property, in the historic area of Bathsheba, was built in the early 1800s. It boasts just five rooms, which are all architecturally unique and built under a restored domed roof. Constructed from natural coral blocks, the rooms have ocean views, original skylights and period staircases. Breakfast is served in the restaurant and there’s a sundeck and a small pool overlooking the beach, which is known for its natural tidal pools.
Savannah Beach Hotel is in the Garrison Historic Area of Barbados, which has Unesco World Heritage status. The hotel started as a sheriff’s house in the early 19th century and became a hotel named Seaview in 1887. A substantial refurb in 2000 brought out the building’s original plantation brick and cast-iron balconies, with French doors and antique wooden furnishings. Today, the hotel also has two pools set in landscaped gardens, three restaurants, a gym, kids’ clubs and a spa.
From watching fishermen at work in the bay to browsing the local arts, craft and food markets, you’ll have Bajan life on your. doorstep at South Gap Hotel, in St. Lawrence Gap. The hotel offers studios and suites with ocean views and is just a few minutes from the soft sand of Dover Beach. Most rooms have a balcony, chic separate living space and modern kitchen. Plus, there’s a pool, restaurant and bar on-site.
Ocean Two Resort offers contemporary suites with fully equipped kitchens on the South Coast for an undisturbed, self-catering stay in Barbados. Most suites face the ocean and have large terraces and open-plan living areas. If you fancy a cocktail mid-dip, there’s a long pool with a swim-up bar, and the free water sports and choice of restaurants will keep you entertained and well fed. Head to the rooftop for sweeping coastal views and a refreshing adult-only plunge pool.
One of the highlights at this pastel-pink hotel is Café Luna, a rooftop terrace with sea views serving Caribbean, Asian and Mediterranean dishes by lantern light. The hotel is set in the fishing village of Oistins, which has a Friday night fish fry-up and food stalls. There’s a central pool and spa in this peaceful adult-only resort, while rooms are clad in mosaic tiles and furnished with comfy sofas. Book the pricier luxury ocean suites if you’d like your own kitchen and plunge pool.
Mango Bay, in Holetown, is run by locals who offer homely yet plush Caribbean accommodation – including a Penthouse suite with its own patio plunge pool if you’re looking for luxury. Take a complimentary two-hour boat trip along the West Coast – your driver will show you to local spots where you can swim with turtles. Back on dry land, you’ll find Bajan cuisine and afternoon tea to live music. There’s a deep pool and spa with a selection of Caribbean treatments.
As one of the most famous hotels in the Caribbean, Sandy Lane oozes luxury – and is the perfect spot to acquaint yourself with the lavish side of island life. The resort has three golf courses and a seemingly endless spa with 11 treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy pool and steam room. Its multi-layer pool is surrounded by coral rock and there are nine tennis courts, plus a range of water sports and multiple bars and restaurants. The hotel is frequented by celebrities, who return for its rooms that are decked out with marble bathrooms and large terraces.
The Colony Club is built in colonial style with coral-stone walls and lush, exotic grounds. Lagoon pools are surrounded by foliage – one even features a swim-up bar that you access by slipping through a waterfall. Enjoy live Caribbean steel pan music at night, as well as water sports, a game of tennis or relaxing treatment at the spa. Dine on fresh seafood at the open-air beachfront restaurant and stay in one of the luxurious swim-up poolside suites.
If your idea of Barbados is a tranquil getaway, you’ll feel at home at the House. Book a room or suite at this stylish, adult-only hotel. It’s behind Paynes Bay, one of the best beaches on the West Coast, and offers no-request-is-too-much service, including jet-lag massages and afternoon tea. There’s a central living and dining space that opens onto a limestone deck overlooking the beach, which is perfect for sunbathing. Sip on a cocktail at the tropical bar and cool off in the split-level pool.
Serving European and Caribbean comforts including seafood risotto and rum bread pudding, The Lone Star’s beachfront restaurant is the real highlight. Since the building used to be a garage, everything is car-themed, with photos of vintage vehicles in the bar and six rooms named after cars. Although there’s no pool, the hotel backs right onto swish Alleynes Bay, one of the most pristine West Coast beaches. Service is top-notch and includes a refreshing rum punch on arrival.