Forget Holetown and St Lawrence Gap, this winter it’s all about Speightstown on the north-west coast. A former seaport, this colourful colonial town is known as Little Bristol, as it conducted much of its rum and tobacco trade with the English city in the 1800s. It’s seen a real resurgence in recent years, with a host of new restaurants, beach bars and art galleries opening up, including The Top Deck (thetopdeckbarbados.com) by chef Jason Howard, a quarter-finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2015. Alongside posh Caribbean haute cuisine, it will also have a hip Barbadian-style sushi bar when it opens in January.
Meanwhile, Hugo’s (mains from £24, hugosbarbados.com), the island’s super-slick beachfront restaurant, celebrates its first birthday at Christmas, as does exclusive beach club Nikki Beach in nearby Port Ferdinand. Celebrate and book their now-legendary Amazing Sundays brunch with unlimited champagne (£86, nikkibeach.com) and party hard with the island elite.
Not such a rum deal
Also new this year is the Abidah by Accra (doubles from £287, theabidahhotel.com), a chic adults-only retreat that opens in Christ Church on December 15. The 44-room all-inclusive resort is just ten minutes’ drive from the airport and a short stroll from Oistins for the infamous Friday night fish fry.
Over on the Platinum Coast, Elegant Hotels’ Colony Club (eleganthotels.com) opened the island’s first Rum Vault in November to celebrate the resort’s 70th anniversary. It offers around 150 different varieties — you can navigate them via the dedicated rum sommelier or just strap in and work your way through the menu on a specially curated rum flight.
Stranded at the Drive-In
Can’t wait for Cannes? Then check out the Barbados Independent Film Festival (BIFF) from January 11 to 20 (barbadosfilmfest.org). Now in its third year, it takes place in the Walled Garden Theatre as well as various venues around the island. There will be more than 40 films on show, including ones by local film-makers, plus masterclasses and discussions with leading directors and producers. If you miss it, hire a mini moke vehicle for the night (from £60 a day, stoutescar.com/hire-a-mini-moke-in-barbados) and catch a new release at the retro Globe Drive-In (£6, globedrivein.com), the Caribbean’s only drive-in cinema.