December is the perfect time of year to escape the winter
My destination of choice is the Caribbean island of Barbados, just under 8 hours from London. The northwest coast up from Bridgetown is the best place to stay. Upscale hotels have flocked to this side of the island for the most beautiful sunsets and calmer seas.
Every year the magazines are filled with photos of celebrities vacationing in Barbados in the winter and Mykonos in the summer. These islands are top choices for a reason!
I choose Barbados because…
Of the easy access from London, with direct flights from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Because of the incredible vacation I had the first time I went that’s kept me coming back. Because of the charm, quality and service of the hotel we love. Because it boasts the best restaurants in the Caribbean. Because of the warm and safe turquoise waters, activities, and so much more…
Barbados prides itself on a community of repeat visitors
I’m a repeat guest at Cobbler’s Cove, a boutique luxury hotel belonging to Relais & Chateaux in Speightstown, a 40-minute drive from the airport. Like most guests, I always request to stay in the same suite as the very first time, called Clinkets. It’s a garden-view suite, but what a garden it is.
After swimming all day in the sea and lounging at the beach, we love to retreat to the garden in the evenings and crack open a few bottles of beer or a bottle of wine on the balcony. The hotel also does a cracking Rum Punch! Evenings are warm and beautiful, the sky full of stars and so much natural life heard from the rustling palms, island birds and song of the whistling frogs!
Cobbler’s Cove also has the softest and most comfortable sun loungers I’ve ever had the privilege of relaxing upon. Nothing beats a fresh Pina Colada and a good book while floating on a cloud in heaven.
The best time to go is low season
The first two weeks of December are still low season, that’s when we prefer to go. High season kicks in a few days before Christmas, with prices more than doubling. Book in advance to take advantage of the early bird discount.
Cobbler’s Cove also has a full board option
This is no “all-inclusive”. The hotel’s Camelot restaurant is gourmet dining at its finest and lives up to its reputation as the best restaurant on the island. Full board includes whatever you want for breakfast, pancakes, eggs any style, Benedict or Royale, fresh fruit… as well as a full three-course lunch and dinner. Drinks are not included.
Cobbler’s Cove also does a weekly barbecue, catch of the day, and special nights for eating and meeting other guests. One evening they had an incredible caviar buffet. Eight different types of caviar, all you can eat, served alongside as many ice-cold shots of Grey Goose vodka as you can handle. The price was around £100 pp, but included at no extra cost in our full board.
Other Recommended Dining Options…
If paying a la carte, expect to pay around £60 for a three-course dinner at Camelot. This is a great option if you are keen to try other restaurants on the island, such as world-famous The Cliff (£135), Cin Cin by the Sea (£60), The Tides (£70) and Daphne’s (£60), among others.
These restaurants, including Camelot, follow a formal dress-code, the same as any good restaurant at home: no shorts or sandals for men. Dinner is typically served early, with guests taking their seats at 7 or 8 pm. Reservations are highly recommended. It’s not a crowded island, but tables do sell out, sometimes weeks or months in advance.
We met Two Guitars on our first visit to the island. They are the islands most popular two-man band that used to play at the hotel. One night, we requested Layla by Eric Clapton, but they told us they’d only play it if we followed them to their next venue. This started us off on an exciting boozy adventure to Sandy Lane to hear them play.
Unfortunately, Sandy Lane no longer allows guests of other hotels to visit unless you have booked dinner beforehand.
Activities and Things to Do
Whether you’re looking for a week in the sun or planning your honeymoon. It can be action packed with boat trips, swimming with turtles, snorkelling over shipwrecks, water-skiing and windsurfing, or it can be more relaxed. Harrison’s Cave pictured below is another fun day-trip idea.