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Review: The House, Barbados – a Marriott Bonvoy all-inclusive resort

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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.

The House Barbados review

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.

The hotel website is here.

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 Barbados location

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:

The House Barbados

Step inside and you have a beautiful tropical paradise:

The House Barbados courtyard

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:

The House Barbados lounge

…. 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:

The House Barbados private pool

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 House Barbados hallway

The first door on the right is the bathroom. Straight ahead is the living room:

The House Barbados living room

Here is the reverse view:

The House Barbados living room 2

Next door to the living room is the bedroom, in this case with twin beds:

The House Barbados room

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:

The House Barbados beds

Both the bedroom and the living room have balconies:

The House Barbados balcony

Behind the bedroom is a walk-in wardrobe:

The House Barbados 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:

The House Barbados bathroom

Again, the bathroom is large. There is a shower over a tub. The shower features various jets:

The House Barbados shower

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.

The House Barbados toiletries

and

The House Barbados Elemis

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:

The House Barbados pool

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:

The House Barbados beach

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 House Barbados terrace

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:

The House Barbados sunset

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.

The House Barbados water sports centre

This is also where the water taxi to the other Elegant Hotels departs:

The House Barbados Elegant Hotels water taxi

The House has a small hotel gym although I don’t think it gets much use:

The House Barbados gym

…. 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!

The House Barbados spa

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:

The House Barbados positano gazpacho

I then tried the crab linguine, which was slightly disappointing and not to the same high standard. The restaurant can definitely do better:

The House Barbados positano linguine

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:

Treasure Beach Tapestry smoked salmon

For the main course I had the charred pork which was delicious:

Treasure Beach Tapestry pork

And finally, to finish off, bread pudding which was again very good:

Treasure Beach Tapestry dessert

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:

The House Barbados afternoon tea

…. as well as some canapes for sunset:

The House Barbados canapes

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:

The House Barbados breakfast

On the hot side there’s an egg station that can do omelettes as well as bits for a full english:

The House Barbados breakfast (2)

Panda the cat likes to hang out at breakfast and if she’s good she gets a little bit of butter:

The House Barbados cat

Conclusion

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

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 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.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(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.)

Comments (31)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Jo says:

    We recently visited Waves and completely agree with your comments on the staff. Every single person was outstanding. Couldn’t do enough for us and always so cheery and friendly. They work unbelievably long hours too. Apparently, the only thing Waves is missing is a Panda 🐱!

    • Mirp says:

      How was Waves? Did you go with kids? I understand some of the rooms you hear road noise. And then there is another section across the road that is adult only called “Spa rooms”. Which type of room did you have.

      • Jo says:

        Hi Mirp. We were in an oceanfront room. It was spotless, modern and huge with no noise at all (road or other guests) and incredible sea views – whales from the balcony while having morning coffee and amazing sunsets. No kids with us but there were lots of kids there, mostly well behaved! The beach is lovely and the adults pool across the road was really peaceful. Never an issue getting loungers.

  • Phil G says:

    You need to lower your expectations if you stay anywhere other than Sandy lane. Surely our expectations are made by the resort and holiday companies portrayal of the place – which often is pure lies. They seem to do this with impunity.
    Also the prices they charge are comparable with the luxury places in the Middle East / Far East and as in our experiences – nowhere near the quality or holiday experience

  • TimM says:

    Another enjoyable review.

    The rates do appear hard to justify and Trivago is not showing any discounted alternatives. The problem with the Caribbean has always been that it is too near the U.S. and that inflates prices across the board. It is actually far cheaper to cruise around the Caribbean than to stay there.

  • yorkieflyer says:

    I was a fan of Barbados 25 years ago, sadly there has been a lack of investment both public and private, the customer has been taken for granted and it’s not a value for money proposition in my view

  • Tracey says:

    The royalton AI chain, with its adult only hideaway sections, are now also owned by Marriott.

    • Cosmo175 says:

      Royalton are currently building a property in Holetown so Marriott really will be cornering the market in Barbados.

  • Tim says:

    We stayed there in November. The staff are excellent, but the hotel is tired. There is no kitchen at the hotel, and after a few days, being on AI is a bind as the food becomes very samey. The kitchen is in the hotel next door. There are so many excellend restaurants on this side of the island, it’s a shame to restrict yourself to fairly average meals in the hotel. Note however you must pre-book these restaurants, as they get totally booked up!
    The bathrooms are all tired. ther aircon units are from thre 1980’s. It’s a very tired 4* not suited to be an all-inclusive. The staff, once again, are all very good indeed though.

  • AJA says:

    I like the look of this and the fact that it is adults only. The trouble is prices starting at £450 per night it is expensive, especially with the comments that the place is looking a little tired and the food being a bit samey after a few nights. Combined with the cost of airfares and Barbados looks poor value which is a shame.

    • Cosmo175 says:

      I think an apartment or villa is a much better option in Barbados as there are so many great dining options. I’m a big fan of Glitter Bay, which is next door to the Fairmont. The apartments are all individually owned but the communal facilities are excellent, with a nice pool, beach bar and restaurant that is open during the day and most importantly it is directly on the beach (one of the nicest in Barbados), with waiter service at your lounger. Barbados, and in particular the west coast, is not a cheap place though and when self catering you’ll get a shock at the prices in the supermarket.

  • jj says:

    Outside compounds, what’s Barbados like for crime and being hassled as a tourist? Do you continually get approached to buy drugs or tourist tat on the beach, for example? Are your personal belongings safe when you fall asleep in the sun or go for a swim? I’ve never been to the Caribbean but hear bad things about some islands.

    • Rob says:

      Totally fine in my experience over 3 trips.

    • Tim says:

      Barbados is totally fine.

    • Peter K says:

      When I went 5 years ago it was explained to me that Barbados is “low crime, not no crime”. Basically you’re fine but take the usual precautions of not being alone walking the streets in the dark etc.
      Wasn’t hassled anywhere. Had a street seller near our hotel cheerfully calling to us. We actually bought something as he had nice products and thereafter if he spotted is he waved and said hi, but didn’t try to sell anything else.

    • SPC says:

      We stayed near Oistins over a decade ago and it felt safe enough. Stayed in St Lawrence Gap about 8 years ago and that was less pleasant. Bothersome sellers during the day and some super sketchy folks at night who appeared to be trying to sell us drugs/molest my wife in equal measures. There was some sort of police box nearby but wasn’t always manned. Bad apples everywhere I guess.

    • Jeff77 says:

      A friend went recently for the cricket and said people tried selling drugs to him all the time but it was a perfectly safe place

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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