I was impressed by Cobblers Cove’s old school glamour even before I’d even arrived. As we pulled away from the airport, the driver’s phone suddenly squawked the brassy tones of the Goldeneye theme midway through him telling me about one of the hotel’s most notable guests, Dame Judi Dench – aka M. After a heated debate about Bond and a 45-minute drive along Barbados’s glitzy west coast, we arrived in Speightstown, the home of Cobblers Cove.
The boutique hotel might not look like much from outside but once within, it’s an English country house in the Caribbean where 007 himself wouldn’t look out of place. From the reception, a corridor takes you to the manicured gardens, encircled by elegantly shuttered rooms with spacious patios and balconies. The original building, the Great House, is the colour of a raspberry fool and sits front and centre, overlooking a pristine beach. Formerly known as Camelot, the Great House built by local sugar planter and politician Josh Haynes in 1941 as a beach retreat for his family, carefully developing the gardens and eventually retiring here. After Haynes’s death, the house was bought by the Colleton family and then converted into a small hotel which, by the early 1980s, had built up a reputation for billionaire-worthy luxury.
I stayed in Skeetes, a pretty room with shuttered doors that opened out onto a generous private garden and a wonderful sea view. The décor was pale, pretty and impossibly tasteful – a bit like a West Indian version of the interior of a Chelsea mews house. I instantly felt comfortable, thanks in part to the cheeky bird intent on pinching the fruit slices from my rum punch. The bonhomie extended to fellow guests, many of whom wanted to stop and chat – perhaps in no small part due to the effects of the cocktails and excellent wine list. I loved the infamous Cobblers Cooler: a killer concoction of multiple Bajan rums and Caribbean fruit. I couldn’t even finish one but the old timers seemed to have no problem chugging down three before dinner.
Most of the eating at Cobblers Cove happens at the Camelot Restaurant: the hotel’s pretty, sea-facing restaurant where Chef Michael Harrison serves up a menu based on fresh, local ingredients. The breakfast offering is eye-poppingly generous, and I absolutely loved the cinnamon French toast with banana and candied walnuts. Lunches were light and fresh withe crispy snow crab cakes with mango and lime mayonnaise and blackened mahi mahi with avocado salsa among the highlights. But the best bit of all was the afternoon tea, complete with freshly baked scones and a decent cup of earl grey.
In between eating their way through the menu at the Terrace, most guests are content to lounge on the beach or by the pool, Cobblers Cooler in hand. I, however, fancied doing something a bit more energetic so headed off to try some water-skiing on the white sandy beach. Just off short, there’s diving and snorkelling to be had while on dry land there’s a well kept tennis court and a gym. Later, I strolled along the beach into nearby Speightstown, a charming town with lovely boutiques and cafes.
Cobblers Cove might not have the flashbulb glamour of other Bajan hotels and it be might more Roger Moore than Daniel Craig, but what it does have is lashings of old school charm and class. Excellent service, plenty of rum punch and its own private reef complete the picture. You won’t meet Rihanna or Pierce Brosnan, but you know what? I always preferred Roger Moore anyway.
NEED TO KNOW…
Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offers seven nights with breakfast at the 5-star Cobblers Cove, Barbados in a Cobblers Garden Suite, including flights with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick with group transfers to the resort. Prices start at £1,554 per person, based on two sharing. To book please quote: KU918.