Where to stay in Barbados

Old school luxury set in magnificent tropical gardens and a charming plantation-house B&B on the island of Barbados.

The Coral Reef Club

What's so special

This country house hotel has been run by the O'Hara family since the 1950s. Situated in 12 acres of gardens, it offers a very different kind of holiday to the typical brash, vast resorts on the island. As a result, it has a loyal clientele of British visitors.

How they rate it

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The Coral Reef Club "delivers graceful, old-school luxury better than any other Barbados hotel", says Fred Mawer in The Daily Telegraph. The gardens are fantastic, with paths meandering past "frangipangi, bougainvillea, palms, ponds and much else besides there are regular tours of the grounds".

The bedrooms and communal areas are "for the most part the epitome of unshowy elegance, with colonial-era prints on coral rock walls". Meanwhile, the newish spa blends into the style of the rest of the hotel beautifully. The 88 rooms are situated in a dozen buildings dotted around the grounds.

The menu

"Diners are cosseting, candlelit occasions, and the food is satisfying and rich." Dishes include broiled fillet of red snapper or honey and cumin roasted duck breast.

The cost

Prices for a double room start from £315. For more information, visit www.coralreefbarbados.com, or call 020-8339 6888.

Sweetfield Manor


What's so special

Barbados may be known for its lavish, celebrity-filled resorts, but it is possible to enjoy a stay on this beautiful Caribbean island without taking out a second-mortgage on your house. Sweetfield Manor is a charming, mid-range hotel where you'll get a much better feel for Barbados than you'll get in a large resort.

How they rate it

"This plantation-house B&B blends a colonial feel with quirky touches that really lift the spirit," says Jane Anderson in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. When booking consider opting for the Hummingbird Nook room, which is situated in the former servant's quarters and has a rear deck with "a hanging daybed overlooking the free-form pool in the garden". There is also an "observation deck from which to watch the resident green monkeys gadding about".

The menu

Sweetfield Manor's owner, Anni Clarke, is an "expert cook" who "whips up a gourmet start to the day, say, prosciutto-wrapped eggs and lemon-ricotta pancakes". Clarke and her husband also know the local restaurants inside out, so can recommend "the very best tables for dinner".

The cost

A double room costs from £185, B&B. For more information, go to www.sweetfieldmanor.com, or call 00 1 246 429 8356.

How to predict your holiday weather

Whether we're booking a relaxing beach break on a British bank holiday or an adventure holiday abroad, we all like to have an idea of what the weather will be doing when we arrive. But how do you interpret all the weather data you'll find on the internet? Forecasts only tell half the story, says Mark Hodson in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

"Average temperatures can be misleading." For example, in Las Vegas in August the average temperature is a "toasty" 32C, "which sounds perfect until you find out that the average high is an uncomfortable 39C and the average low a brisk 23C".

So the first tip is don't believe the average daily temperatures quoted on websites or in books. "Find average highs and average lows for a more accurate picture, and check the humidity." Try Holidayweather.com, which has "well-designed charts".

Next, don't presume that rain will ruin your holiday. When checking out how wet a country is, don't just look at the total rainfall per month. Havana, for example, "gets more rain in February than London, even though the Cuban capital enjoys an average seven hours of daily sunshine".

And rainfall in the Caribbean and the tropics tends to come in short sharp bursts. "A sudden downpour is less hassle than constant drizzle." So, don't ignore total rainfall figures, but do remember to take into account the average hours of daily sunshine as well.