Cobblers Cove is Barbados at its finest: pastel-shaded suites set around a tropical garden and pool terrace, overlooking a secluded strip of golden sand on the island’s coveted west coast. Pink and blue pinstripes and an afternoon tea tradition lend it the air of a classic English country club – but don’t worry, the vibe is understatedly elegant rather than anything approaching snooty (and the weather is sure to be better, too). By day, indulge at the spa, thrill-seek with watersports, or grab a snorkel and try to find Nemo. Just make sure you’re back by sunset for a potent rum punch.
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome bottle of rum punch in your room on arrival
Noon, check-in from 3pm; both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £584.60 ($780), including tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of $17.50 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast, served in the restaurant or in your suite; typical options are a full English fry-up, crab eggs Benedict, and cinnamon French toast with bananas and walnuts.
Cobblers Cove has absolutely no connection to beach-dwelling shoemakers – the name comes from the cobbler bird, which you’ll still see fishing off the shore of the hotel. The on-site Saltwhistle Boutique stocks designer beachwear and souvenirs made by local craftspeople.
The hotel closes from 31 August to 14 October each year.
At the hotel
Swimming pool, watersports beach, gym, spa treatment room, boutique shop, minibar (free at arrival), tennis court, free WiFi and parking. In rooms: Minibar, air-conditioning, tea- and coffee-making facilities, Ren bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Camelot and Colleton are the only two suites in the Great House, occupying the two turrets; each one comes with its own rooftop terrace (Colleton Suite has a plunge pool overhung with bougainvillea too). The next-best views are from the Ocean Front suites, which look out over the umbrella tops to the sea.
The kidney-bean-shaped pool is on a sprawling terracotta terrace, with three sets of steps down to the beach. The snooze-ready sunloungers are as appealing to look at as they are to lie on – the vintage white frames are topped with extra-thick padding and towelling cov… Zzzz.
You’ll have the in-house Sea Moon Spa to yourself if you book in a session in its single treatment room; options include body scrubs, mineral facials and couples treatments, using skincare products from Ren and Sothys.
No need to pack your snorkel and flippers – you can borrow them at the beach – but bring an underwater camera for selfies with the turtles.
Spa treatments can be taken in your own suite, on request. Common areas and many suites are accessible for wheelchair users.
All ages welcome. Under-fours sleep free, otherwise an extra bed (available in the Cobblers Garden Suites, Ocean View Suites and Ocean Front Suites) is US$175 a night, each child. Most activities (sailing, kayaking, surfing) will be best suited to teens.
The ethos here is to invest in local industries, for the good of the island as a whole. Fruit, veg and meat comes from nearby organic farms, and fish is whipped straight out of the sea by resident fisherman, Barker. Bajan artists contributed many of the paintings, and the furniture is repaired and reupholstered by a local artisan.
The prime spot is along the seafront edge of the restaurant – just watch out for adventurous birds eyeing up your breakfast.
Refined and respectable, but nothing too stiff – seersucker jackets and flowing floral dresses fit the bill.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served with lungfuls of sea air at Camelot restaurant, where painted bamboo chairs and starched white tablecloths overlook the glittering water. Bajan-born chef Jason Joseph prepares local and international cuisine in the kitchen, including seared yellowfin tuna and fisherman Barker’s catch-of-the-day. Every Tuesday is barbecue night, which means steak, ribs and seafood sizzled on the grill and served under the stars.
The circular bar is in the shade of the Great House terrace, not that you’ll venture up there much when there’s service to your sunlounger. On the beautifully illustrated menu is the house rum punch, made to the classic Bajan recipe, ‘one sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak’. The signature drink though, is the Cobblers Cooler, made with grenadine, banana, orange, pineapple and several glugs of rum. Please drink responsibly…
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am, lunch is from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, and dinner is from 6.30pm to 9pm. The bar is open all day and evening, from 8.30am to half past midnight.
Any item from the lunch menu can be brought to your room, within restaurant hours.
Cobblers Cove is on the sunset-facing west coast of Barbados, in the parish of St Peter, between quaint Holetown and the crumbly charm of Speightstown.
There are direct flights from North America and Europe to Barbados’ Grantley Adams airport; major carriers include Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and American Airlines. Cruises and package tours are synched with flight schedules – try to avoid rush hour on Saturday afternoons if you can. From the airport, it’s a 45-minute drive to the hotel; call the Smith24 team to arrange a transfer (US$70 each way).
You can still see the rusting remnants of railway track along parts of the coast, but the last trains stopped puffing in 1937. Too many banana leaves on the line, perhaps.
Beach bums will be quite content snoozing away at the hotel, but for exploring the island, a car is very handy. It’s easiest to pick up and drop off from the airport; call Smith24 to book. There’s parking right outside the hotel lobby.
Bajans love buses – specifically, the bright yellow ‘reggae buses’ which whizz down the winding roads blasting laidback beats. There are blue, government-run services too, which are an awful lot more sensible. Caribbean cruises regularly begin or end at Bridgetown, the island’s capital. If you’re sailing your own vessel, drop anchor at Bridgetown and be sure to check in with the harbourmaster to complete the legal formalities.
Worth getting out of bed for
On breaks between sunbathing sessions, head to the watersports hut and meet Bradley, who has all the gear and lots of ideas. Guests get one free lesson in waterskiing, kayaking and sailing each day; other options include scuba diving, and fishing with the resident fisherman, Barker. Or, stick on dry land – there’s yoga on the beach, a tennis court across the road, and dreamy golf courses nearby. To explore the island, take advantage of Cobblers’ impressive roster of bespoke tours. Esteemed local historians Sir Henry Fraser and Miguel Pena take guests to the Bridgetown’s blockbuster Unesco sites, as well as arranging private visits to colonial plantation houses ordinarily off-limits to the public. Chef Jason Joseph runs a market tour to work up your appetite for dinner, or you can set sail on a catamaran, bound for nearby coves. Channel your inner Titchmarsh (we’ve all got one) with a trip to Hunte’s Gardens set deep in Caribbean rainforest, and Andromeda Botanic Gardens near the pretty village of Bathsheba on the wild and rugged east coast. Insta-ready St Nicholas Abbey is a preserved sugar plantation house with a rum distillery for tastings attached. Mullins is the pick of the local beaches, along with the more secluded Gibbes.
The Lonestar (Mount Standfast, Saint James) was once the kind of petrol station you’d stop at even if you didn’t need petrol – it backs onto a particularly paradisiacal strip of sand, with palms leaning over the lapping waves. You can still fill up there too, but now your options are a whole lot tastier – including Thai green curry, salt-fish risotto, and the house special shepherd’s pie (cooked to exacting British standards). Surf ‘n’ turf paella is the star of a sea-to-table menu at The Cliff Beach Club (Derrick’s, Saint James), or you can put on your Sunday best and head next door for fine dining at The Cliff. Hugo’s (Speightstown, Saint Peter) is the latest upscale eatery on the west coast, offering delicate modern seafood in hand-painted interiors.
Mullins Beach (Saint Peter) popular for all kinds of reasons, not least the copious watersports and plentiful sand descending gently into the sea. But it’s the imaginatively named beach bar, Mullins, which makes it an all-day destination – there’s nothing like a curried chicken roti to refuel after jetskiing. You can take a paddleboard straight out of 111 East (Speightstown, Saint Peter) for a pootle around the bay… or you can just watch someone else put in the effort, while you sit back in the beach hut with Speightstown’s best coffee or a cool beer.
The locals will give you a warm welcome (and probably a straight-up slug o’ rum) at John Moore Bar, an authentic, unpolished beach shack in Porters, Saint James. Nikki Beach (Six Mens, Saint Peter) is a glitzy beach club which lures a young, trendy crowd with sushi boats and signature mojitos.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Barbados and unpacked their rum cakes and sugar cane, a full account of their Caribbean break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Cobblers Cove in Barbados…
Cobblers Cove has an unusual knack of making you feel at home from the moment you arrive, and by the time you leave, it feels as though Cobblers belongs to you (in some small and unfortunately not legally binding way). The first person who actually owned it was Joss Haynes, the sugar cane plantation owner and politician who built the Great House in 1944 (he dubbed it ‘Camelot’ at the time – the name lives on in the hotel’s restaurant). In 1968, Alan Godsal and Lady Elizabeth Stopford bought the site and transformed it into a luxury boutique hotel of the day – we’re not sure how well the WiFi worked, but we bet they did a damn fine prawn cocktail. Nowadays, it has passed to their son Hugh, who has revamped it with the help of the infallible general manager Will Oakley, and his warm and welcoming staff team. The modern refit brings fresh design and upscale facilities, but Cobblers’ distinctive charm is happily preserved.