This is our review of the ‘adults only’ The House resort in Paynes Bay, St James, Barbados. The House is a relatively rare thing – an all-inclusive resort which can be booked with hotel loyalty points.
This is the third and final part of our ‘HfP in Barbados’ review series. You can read our business class flight review on Aer Lingus from Manchester to Barbados here and our review of the Sandals Royal Barbados resort here.
The trip was put together in conjunction with visitbarbados.org who arranged the flight and hotels for us. HfP paid for all of its additional expenses.
First, a little bit of history. In 2019, Marriott bought the Elegant Hotels Group, which included The House and six other all-inclusive resorts on Barbados. This was a way of jump-starting its move into all-inclusive offerings via its new Marriott All Inclusive brand.
Over the past couple of years Marriott has been integrating the resorts and The House is now part of Marriott Bonvoy.
The long term plan, at least in 2019, was to refurbish some or all of the resorts, relaunch them under Marriott brands with long term management contracts and then sell the properties to an investor. For now, however, they remain under their own names and under Marriott ownership and have not been refurbished in any major way.
Where is The House located?
The House is directly on Paynes Bay of the ‘Platinum West Coast’, regarded as the more attractive side of Barbados due to the lack of wind and calmer sea. It is approximately 30-45 minutes from the airport, depending on traffic.
The House is surrounded by other Elegant Hotels resorts. If you walk north up the beach you pass the Tamarind resort, which is family friendly, followed by Treasure Bay, another adults-only property.
Just round the bay you’ll find the uber luxury Sandy Lane (not an Elegant Hotels property). Sandy Lane is the only place on Barbados where you will find the quality of ‘finish’ that you would expect at, say, the top beach hotels in the Middle East – you need to lower your expectations if you stay elsewhere. You will pay well over £1,000 per night for the privilege in peak season, however, plus a chunky sum for food and drink on top.
A little further south you can find Crystal Cove and Waves, again both part of the Elegant Hotels group and now Marriott Bonvoy.
The result is that, although The House is a boutiquey 4* resort with just 34 rooms, you have access to five other hotels within walking distance. All the properties have their own style and character, and you can dine at any one if you are staying on an all-inclusive rate. The only exception to this is Colony Club which has an additional surcharge.
Feedback on some of the Elegant Hotels properties is variable, depending on which one you choose, so do your research before booking. I was positive about The House, however.
Arriving at The House, Barbados
The hotel makes an impressive welcome, with a large stone wall reminiscent of Bajan military history forming the front of an internal courtyard:
Step inside and you have a beautiful tropical paradise:
There is no formal reception desk or concierge – it really isn’t necessary with such a small number of rooms and a very small number of daily check-ins. Instead, the front of house staff consistently float around the main restaurant-lounge-lobby area:
…. which is also where you’re checked in. You have a choice of drinks on arrival.
Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived at 2:30pm so we enjoyed the shade of the lounge and I got some work done.
Suites at The House Barbados
An hour or so later our suite was ready. We were given an ocean view one bedroom suite on the second (top) floor.
Because of the set up of the building, virtually all the rooms are ocean facing. On my reckoning there are less than 10 non-ocean facing rooms, a couple of which come with their own unique plunge pools:
There is no lift in the building, but it is only two floors up from ground level and the hotel staff carry your bags.
The one bedroom suite is big. I wonder if it was a two bedroom suite at one point because it comes with two bathrooms, one of which has two sinks. At some point in the resort’s history I’m sure it was billed as a family room. Now that it’s an adults-only resort it appears to have been converted.
Here is the hallway, with large wardrobe on the right hand side:
The first door on the right is the bathroom. Straight ahead is the living room:
Here is the reverse view:
Next door to the living room is the bedroom, in this case with twin beds:
Both rooms have TVs. Connectivity was average, although there were no dedicated bedside plug sockets. Luckily the bedside lights had a spare plug but it was a bit of a pain to reach:
Both the bedroom and the living room have balconies:
Behind the bedroom is a walk-in wardrobe:
And the other bathroom. Both bathrooms are virtually mirror images of each other so I’ll only show the one. This one had two sinks:
Again, the bathroom is large. There is a shower over a tub. The shower features various jets:
Toiletries are a combination of Elemis and Herbology. I’m not sure why there were two different brands effectively doubling up your options, although the Elemis conditioner was notably absent.
As you can see, the style of the rooms is a little more rustic. It’s not quite as slick and modern as Sandals Royal (individual air conditioning units hanging on the walls etc) but it had a certain charm. With a refurbishment it could be very classy, I think.
Pool, beach and gym
The pools are suitably small, given the size of the resort and the fact it is adults only:
To be honest, I didn’t use the pools once – with the beach and crystal clear ocean literally metres away it felt unnecessary!
There are enough loungers for everyone:
Every so often the staff from the bar will come round and offer drinks or ice creams. These don’t appear to be at regular intervals, just whenever they have a spare moment.
The tide comes quite high up the beach so at high tide it is only a lounger length deep. The beach is west facing so you get stunning sunsets:
Just along the beach is the water sports centre, shared with Tamarind. Water sports are free, including motorized ones. We had a 15 minute whip around the coast in some inflatable rings which was a laugh.
This is also where the water taxi to the other Elegant Hotels departs:
The House has a small hotel gym although I don’t think it gets much use:
…. as well as a small spa. Depending on your room category all inclusive guests get either a 30 or 60 minute jet lag massage which was lovely. Anita has thumbs of steel!
Restaurants and dining at The House
The main restaurant at The House is a buffet, but there’s also an Italian restaurant sandwiched between the resort and the Tamarind resort called Positano. This is included in the all inclusive package.
To start I had the red pepper gazpacho which was fabulous:
I then tried the crab linguine, which was slightly disappointing and not to the same high standard. The restaurant can definitely do better:
The other main courses looked a lot better, to be honest.
On the second night we went to the Tapestry restaurant at Treasure Beach, two resorts down. This was impressive. I had a smoked salmon starter, which was very small and came on a bizarre right-angled plate:
For the main course I had the charred pork which was delicious:
And finally, to finish off, bread pudding which was again very good:
This was the best meal of all the hotel meals I had in Barbados.
Lunch from the a la carte menu at The House was also decent:
The House also serves afternoon tea:
…. as well as some canapes for sunset:
Breakfast at The House
A small buffet is set up for breakfast. This includes champagne. The buffet is fairly small, with a range of cereals, yoghurt, some cheese and smoked salmon, small pastries, and fruit and berries:
On the hot side there’s an egg station that can do omelettes as well as bits for a full english:
Panda the cat likes to hang out at breakfast and if she’s good she gets a little bit of butter:
I have to say I was impressed by my stay at The House. Whilst the standard of the rooms is a little, well, rustic, overall I loved it.
By far the standout part of my stay was the staff. They were super personable – especially Agnes and Andrew – and it was clear that a lot of the other guests had become friendly with them too. It created a lovely casual family atmosphere that I really appreciated.
The cross-dining opportunities were also great and meant that you had the best of both worlds – a small boutique resort but plenty of other restaurants to go to should you want to explore a little further afield. I would definitely come here again.
Prices at The House start from around £450 per night, or between 70,000 and 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. You get an all-inclusive package irrespective of whether you use cash or points. You can find out more, and book, on the hotel website here.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (May 2022)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)