While other elite hotels along the western reaches of Barbados’s sun-dappled coastline sprawl, The Hotel, a boutique establishment standing right on the water’s edge, is taut and trim. It’s like you after a dozen Pilates classes and a month-long diet of Perrier and lettuce: taut, trim, firm, immaculately put-together.
Compact yet luxurious, The House instinctively feels like a home-away-from-home, a feeling reinforced by the lack of a formal check-in process. Instead, like a few other boutique hotels that seek to create a sense of informal ease by removing barriers – the Opposite House in Beijing springs to mind - you sit with a member of staff to discuss, over a chilled glass of bubbles, what you’re looking for during your stay – what your requirements and needs are. (This approach, not to sound churlish, can have its drawbacks. When, seeking to zip off to catch our flight back to London, we tried to check out of the hotel, we waited nearly half-an-hour for someone to arrive. Sometimes the old ways still work best).
And this is key, because there is so much to benefit from and enjoy at this little gem of a place. You can enjoy a complimentary jetlag massage out in the open air on the sun deck while the sea breeze drifts over you. Later on, you can choose from range of massages – the deep-tissue one I had from Tonya was really out of this world. The rooms, while compact inside, were of the sort of quality you come to expect at this level. Nothing exceptional, just solid, excellent luxury with great views and amazing terraces, and buttressed by good and thoughtful service.
It’s outside though that The House really comes into its own. Its beachfront views are possibly the best on the island, shaded by swaying palm trees and located on a dreamlike crescent-shaped bay that glistens white in the moonlight. A bevy of likely chaps hang around on the beach, happy to take you out kayaking, snorkelling, sailing or, in our case, to swimming with the turtles.
The bar is open all day, as are the various bijou bars and restaurants, which operate in a sort of revolving loop virtually around the clock. Daphne’s, owned by Richard Caring and The Hotel’s unofficial restaurant, offers top-notch cuisine, and has long been an staple among both locals, expatriates, and tourists. A small bar abuts the open-plan lounge area, which, with its drapes, cooling fans, and comfortable lounge seats, is a great place to either soak up or escape the midday rays.
As the shadows lengthen, the clientele wanders along to Daphne’s, with others opting to head a few minutes down the road to Scarlett’s, a rather garishly themed establishment (hence the name) that offers good, solid fare and excellent cocktails. Options abound in the evening. Take a jaunt to the south of the island to Oistins Fish Fry, or head north to any one of the eateries that cluster around Half Moon Fort and Speightstown. Or get a water taxi from The House’s watery back-door, and chug along to the Colony Club for a five-star dinner. The Hotel seems to have thought of everything – those faced with a late checkout are even given a free hospitality suite allowing you to shower and change before leaving.
One final thought. Most hotels, even those purporting to offer six- and seven-star service, tend to target a broad cross-section of the human populace, in large part by offering a multiplicity of services. Fair enough. But some hotels just seem tailor-made for specific events and moments in life. Spend a day in The Hotel, and you can see to whom it clearly caters – or, put another way, who would enjoy it most. The slow pace, the unhurried air of everyone who stays and works here, the sense of romance that pervades the sundecks, bars and restaurants in the evening, the devastatingly good massages, the plush, deep, heavenly sheets and thick mattresses. It’s designed for those who just got married, or those celebrating the successful completion of another year of the binding of their nuptials.