Coral Reef Club, Barbados

Location: Set in 12 acres of glorious gardens on Barbados’ West Coast, Coral Reef Club is a short walk from the inviting shops and restaurants in and around Holetown.

First impressions:  Dating back to the 1950s, this country house hotel is the epitome of old-school luxury. With its pared-down, laid back elegance the hotel has attracted a loyal following of British guests who return each year. 

The facts: Meandering lanes overflowing with frangipani and bougainvillea lead to pristine coral-stone rooms and individual cottages. The main buildings housing the restaurant, lounge and bar line the waterfront. The beach is somewhat narrow, but the tranquil pool surrounded by fragrant gardens more than makes up for it.
Our junior suite Anthurium, one of the few sea-facing rooms on the property, had a homely feel, with books piled high, bamboo branches propped up in a corner and cosy wicker armchairs. The spacious veranda shaded by palm trees was an idyllic spot to sip cocktails at sun set. There are no televisions in most of the rooms, but they are available on request. Plantation Suites and Luxury Cottage Suites come with their own plunge pools.
Each week the O’Hara family, who have managed the property since the 1950s, host a pre-dinner drinks reception at their home on the grounds. The atmosphere is like a reunion for regular guests, but new visitors are made just as welcome.  It’s worth catching the Thursday barbecue evening with live music.  
The service is distinctly old school here, with staff attentive to the degree that I didn’t sit down once with someone helping tuck my chair in. The lovely waiters, many of whom are as much part of the furniture as the palm trees, knew me by name by the second day of my stay.

A good base for: Guests keen to uncover the history of the island might enjoy a trip to the 300 year old Sunbury Plantation House and visit the four historic lighthouses that once led ships to safety.

Wow:  The recently-added spa, housed in its own colonial-style building in the hotel’s gardens, is a delight. The four treatment rooms, named after spices such as lemongrass and ginger, make the most of their natural light and some have their own little garden where guests can relax after their treatments. The Oxygen Awakening facial left my sunlight and jet-lag ravaged skin tingling with health.

How much: £277 per night for a garden room during summer
• The hotel has a special Diamond package to celebrate its 60th birthday. Prices start from £1455 per person inclusive of return airport transfers, exclusive of flights. Valid until October 9.

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