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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.

  • Abhi says:

    Spent 8 nights here in August 2021. A good hotel, probably one of the better ones in Barbados given what we saw along the beach but definitely not worth the £450 we paid.

    Felt like the staff were on holiday with you, service varied and the property was incredibly outdated. We ate out 70% of the time in an all inclusive resort which tells you about the quality of the food.

    For a level 8 marriot hotel this is unacceptable.

    • Harry T says:

      I agree with you but the category relates to the demand for redemptions at the hotel, not the quality of the establishment.

  • Babyg says:

    just look at photo – https://www.headforpoints.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/The-House-Barbados-Elemis.jpg it looks grim… how is this kind of “rustic-ness” acceptable for a cat 8? I feel if you paid of this property you would be disappointed.

    • Mike says:

      Unacceptable NOT rustic

      (although I may explain to my wife that I was going for the rustic look when I grouted our en-suite!)

    • Abhi says:

      Absolutely. It was our honeymoon and we were disappointed! Spent most of our time outside of the hotel as Barbados is actually quite nice

  • Dawn Page says:

    I’d heard great things about The House, but can only think that Rhys being on a press trip was shown a room that wasn’t as dated as the one I stayed in. Tim has said it all, by making it AI, Marriott have ruined it and yes, Barbados has so many good restaurants, why would you book AI? The staff are fantastic, including Richard, Ricardo and Andrew..but it’s very much a 3-4 star now, albeit with a great team.

    On Barbados, it is better to book an apartment and explore the restaurants, even if you don’t want to drive, taxis are plentiful.

    • Doommonger says:

      Get down to Pats Place or Uncle George for the Friday fish fry, in Oistins, a few beers and couple of large goobers and you won’t care whether your staying in Sandy Lane or a beach shack.

      Love and Peace.

      Doomster

  • Mark says:

    £10,810 for ten nights in February on hotels.com… I think we’ll stick with the Butterfly Beach at less than 10% of that and pay as we go on food and drink!

  • Sally B says:

    I had 2 weeks at Treasure Beach in September and never once had a meal that looked like the one that was served – the food was poor quality and repetitive. On Sundays the same menu is used for lunch and dinner – its called Easy Sunday and it appears to be for the benefit of the staff not the guests. We spoke to guests who were staying at the House and they came to Treasure Beach for the food as apparently it was better than that served in their restaurant (Positano had not opened at this point). The Tapestry restaurant was dirty and in the hotel as a whole with the exception of one or two members of staff no one could have cared less about the guests. Every guest I spoke to at the hotel had complaints and the state of some of the lower floor rooms was a downright disgrace and were prone to flooding after rains.

    I suspect that as your trip was Barbados Tourist Board arranged there was an effort “to please”

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Or they’ve improved since last year? Let’s be honest hospitality all over the world was on its knees last year and guests returning will improve the staffs service and the hotels quality (less penh pinching)

      I’m not saying they didnt make an effort to give him a good room but I think it’s highly unlikely they put on an entire menu for him.

      • Jeff77 says:

        “guests returning will improve the staffs service and the hotels quality”

        Only if they can get the staff to cope with the increased number of customers. Many places can’t do service will be even worse

  • SGJNI says:

    The Excellence properties are FAR superior, both for hard product and F&B, BUT, you do want to book the higher category’s . The Playa Mujheres complex in Cancun knocks the stuff out of these, but , it is AI and stuffed with Americans.

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

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