To close out our amazing trip aboard Explora Journeys, we spent two days in Barbados at the Hilton and wish we had just flown straight home.
**Special Note** If you read nothing else on this review, please ensure you do not miss the service section.
Positioned on Needhams Point, the resort is in a great location with its natural beach. it’s about 30 minutes form both the airport and the cruise port. Nearby is Cuzz’s fish stand. This is the highlight of our trip to Barbados, and it probably will be for you too if you stay at this property.
Address: Bridgetown, Saint Michael BB11000 Barbados
Phone: +1 246-426-0200
The hotel has a coffee shop in the lobby with prices about 50% above Starbucks and half the quality. Also, good luck getting into this spot as open hours are posted but its often closed during key points throughout the day, like at 10 AM during breakfast/coffee rush, or around lunch time.
Other retailers are in the lobby of the property trying to make it and I wish them well, but we were rather underwhelmed. The hotel probably has a fitness center.
There are ice machines located around the two towers of the hotel, though you may have to move towers to find one open.
The pools were large, there were several (some not even pictured) and made for an enjoyable respite on a hot day. There’s a tiki bar nearby but it only serves the three closest loungers to the bar. You read that right. It’s not that they don’t offer poolside service, they do, but only to select chairs without any clear reason why.
This property is served by several apps that sell access to the pool for about $50/day. I’d refer them here but you needn’t pay. No one checks wristbands or supervises access, have at it.
The beach was stunning but only some areas were suitable for swimming with families. I loved the sugar sand beach and the rolling waves, but it was tough for grown adults to stand up in many areas. It was beautiful, and getting into the water was an athletic event. I did enjoy this beach quite a lot and it made for amazing sunset views.
Breakfast for Hilton Gold and Diamond elites is available on site on one of the property’s many restaurants. You can forget about early check-in and late check-out, more on that below. Priority check-in? Sure, there’s a line for it but it doesn’t matter to the staff nor other guests so in effect it doesn’t really exist. Good news, I received extra bonus points for my stay as an elite because they overcharged me!
At first glance, the hotel looks like any other Hilton resort, somewhat upscale and recently refurbished. As you can see in this happy accidental photo, the cleaning (TV) was interesting.
The bathroom looks modern, clean, and updated upon entry. There is both a shower and a separate tub, a welcome sight. The shower is large which is also appreciated.
However, upon closer inspection, the shower head in particular was badly in need of cleaning and some of the cracks were beginning to show. An unnamed member of my party didn’t want to shower because they doubted how clean they could really be from a shower head that dirty. They may or may not have opted to wait two full days to return to Florida. This reviewer wouldn’t take the same approach but the shower head should be clean and form open consistent water spouts. When they veer left, right, up and down, it doesn’t inspire confidence.
While it’s in no way reflective of the hotel, I did experience an earthquake while on the toilet in this exact bathroom. The 5.1 magnitude quake was about 30 miles off the coast but it was enough for me to make bold decisions as I evacuated the building with my family.
The balcony was fine and in fairness to the hotel, I was delighted to see that we had a bay view though not the ocean. It was calm and serene but also overlooked the parking lot.
The service at this hotel was absolutely embarrassing. Before we get into any entitlement conversations, let’s just cover the basics. Should elites have access to their room early? Sure, if it’s available. Should everyone have access to their room by 4 PM? Absolutely. What about 5 PM? Yes, of course. At 6 PM? Stop it already.
We had arrived early in the day and were able to use the facilities but had babies with us and desperately needed a break from the sun. Two of our three rooms weren’t available until after 5:30 PM (those with infants) and one member of our party still didn’t have a room until nearly 7 PM when we had a stern conversation at the front desk.
She was offered a $100 Barbados credit at reception, but to receive it was asked to go up to her room and accept the credit over the phone from the same receptionist, only to come back to the front desk to pick up the chit and walk to the restaurant next to the front desk to redeem it. Cool.
Upon redemption (a macaroni and cheese, order of chicken wings, fries, pork skewers, and fish tacos with a handful of sprites and two mixed drinks) the credit didn’t cover half of the cost. It also took 80 minutes to arrive and, shocker, was mostly left untouched as it wasn’t nearly up to the level of Cuzz’s cutty sandwiches available for about $6. Also, redeeming that valuable voucher was more of a heated discussion than an argument, but a smooth transaction it was not.
See the people to the right of this pillar? It was nearly 8 PM and they still didn’t have access to their room. That flight crew at the front desk? Same situation.
One more important thing and kind of an odd service note for a hotel with the gall to charge $500/night, there were no towels in the room. Usually this is not a problem, and conveniently, housekeeping was still readily available in the halls as it was 7 pm. However, one cannot simply ask for the towels that were not provided from a nearby housekeeping cart. This isn’t done. One must call down, and someone from the front desk must approve the request (for towels that should have been in the room from the start) to be brought to the room. Sure enough, about 5-10 minutes later we received a knock at the door with fewer than the required number of towels. Fun.
I bothered to ask, curiosity may be my downfall, as to why I couldn’t just get the correct number of towels from the amply supplied carts. “Because we are only given the exact number needed.” Ok, but then wouldn’t you still have the correct number for our room? This was met with a blank stare and that mystery wakes me at least twice a week since our stay. Here’s is the replacement allotment for two adults, one child, and one infant. Scrub a dub dub.
I’m going to write this section because I always do but if you have read this far – hopefully you’re shopping other properties on the island for your visit. The property asks (and sells out!) at $500/night in high season, even higher after the near usury fees that Barbados charges cloaked as taxes ($75-100/night.) This Best Western masquerading as a Hilton demands 70,000 Honors points on most stays but more if they are close to a sell out. On occasion, the Conrad Maldives can be had for 90,000 points for context.
We stayed on a travel advisor rate, heavily discounted, and tried to check out early on our two-day stay to pay more at the Radisson next door. By coincidence, we stayed at the Hilton to evaluate it ahead of a group trip we are hosting and after staying at the property, we decided to switch to the Courtyard by Marriott instead.
What do you think?