by Carrie Rinderknecht
When your seeking out great nightlife in Barbados the first place to look is St. Lawrence Gap, in Christ Church Parish. This area is the hub of nightlife and the best place for nocturnals seeking all colors of fun; whether your particular medicine is a New-York vibe piano bar, a chill reggae lounge or bachannal (what Bajan's call "commotion") housed in a 10,000 square foot three-level club.
On Wednesday nights a sure bet is The Red Rock Bar Time Out in the Gap Hotel (South Coast), formerly the Whistling Frog Bar & Restaurant. Donning it's namesake since April 1st it remains the go-to for mixing food, great music and sports boasting five screens. Stop by for happy hour from 5-8pm as the crowd warms up or arrive later for STUSH a production featuring DJ Fuzz. No admission to this party and ladies drink for free from 10pm-midnight!
If you want a full throttle dose of West Indian culture also try the Bajan Roots & Rhythms dinner and stage show at The Plantation Theatre (South Coast); thoroughly spectacular and one interactive party with plenty of opportunities to join in the fun. Every Wednesday (and Friday) night at 6:30pm for $97.50 you can marinate in a mini Carnaval atmosphere complete with a steel-drum band, fire eating, limbo and a Barbadian buffet style dinner. Not to be missed.
Thursday nights dance under the sky's lights at the open-air Reggae Lounge. Starting at the first of the New Year, live bands will be showcased. This place comes highly recommended by a fun, young fashionista at a Bajan boutique – so if you want to get your dance on to calypso, reggae or R&B drop on by. Drinks are free on Thursday with Fetaholics. Doors open at 9pm. The Lone Star Hotel (North Coast) is a sought after place to dine with a roofed deck fronting the ocean, caviar platters with five varieties and often patrons of the following varieties: Euro-chic, uber-rich, and the rock-and-roll, media and entertainment industry. Although some shy away from places where the service may seem "relaxed" if you aren't a celebrity, a patron had generally good things to say. "We had been recommended this restaurant by friends to celebrate a special wedding anniversary. Although it doesn't look much from the outside the grand staircase transports you down to a beautiful romantic seaside setting. The layout is elegantly sophisticated and the food is good quality."
Fridays you can go the club/live band NY-ish scene at Bump & Wine (if you can get past the name) or you can start a pilgrimage down 2nd street gracing those at The Mews, Lexy's Piano Bar, and Elbow Room with your presence (West Coast). Bump & Wine (South Coast) is a music-lovers atmosphere serving free drinks all night with $30 admission. Belly up to the 140-seat bar and give the live bands a listen from 10pm – midnight. Threads of Scarlet is currently on the marquis every Friday. It is a hipster's paradise with absolutely the best view in Bridgetown overlooking the heart of the city. You heard me gentlemen, I'm giving you a freebie if you're looking to impress.
If you want to start your evening with panache, book rezos at The Mews (West Coast), a Friday night hotspot where you'll see locals, restaurant owners or perhaps Minnie Driver or Rihanna both of whom have hailed from the island. Move on to drinks at The Elbow Room, Spagos or the ‘can-do-no-wrong' Lexy's Piano Bar owned by former Broadway star Alex Santoriello and which remains among Barbados' top hot-spots bringing international piano bar entertainers and a slice of New York. Whichever establishment you frequent whether starting your first course or imbibing champagne at the fourth stop of the night, you are guaranteed merriment the whole way as drinkers tend to spill out into the street to mingle, creating a sophisticated ‘street party' type of atmosphere.
Perhaps you have enjoyed the tropical breezes of the island and even let your hair down a little with the natives. As Saturday night rolls around, some have been known to contract fevers as a restless desire stirs in many a Bajan to break the status quo – and to the hilt. If you are young and restless or find in yourself the same malady then you must head to Taboo (The Venue Formerly Known as Boatyard). This huge complex has a South Beach vibe and asks $35 for ladies or members and $45 for general admission. Drinks are free from 10pm-3am. To up the ante at Taboo you can also reserve a table, bed or champagne suit at www.taboobeachbds.com. Another competing option is Club Xtreme - 10,000 square feet of chaos (the good kind) and has spaces for lounging, gaming and dancing. (South Coast).
If the young ruckus is not for you, you might be content to stay on the West Coast. The Cliff Restaurant has a reputation that precedes it in terms of the food, service, ambience and location. Reservations are sometimes required six months in advance, but by almost unanimous accounts, this elegant, cliff-top situated culinary dream is worth the wait. A couple of empty-nesters are especially partial to The Cliff: "On our first visit to Barbados we were fortunate enough to find such a wonderful and beautiful place to dine. The setting at night is like something out of a movie set, something you will never see anywhere else in the world. Our service and food were wonderful. Yes, it is very pricey, but worth every penny. We go back every year now."
If you find yourself near the West coast on Sunday or stay in any of Little Good Harbour's luxury cottages and villas you must stroll by The Fish Pot for an evening dine and nightcap. To bliss out here is the easiest thing in the world. The Fish Pot is perfectly appointed on the water and always seems infused with positive energy where you won't hear silence and forks clinking but families laughing and waves crashing. As one frank diner put it, "If you don't love this restaurant, there is something wrong with you not the restaurant.
If you gravitate towards the South Coast where the action is, Harbour Lights remains an iconic venue for veteran partiers of the island and is hands-down the best open-air beach club. It's hopping on other nights without fail, but Sunday nights seem to be the hip night and the antidote for natives who like to sweeten the deal of the work week inevitably greeting them. You will find no rookies on a Sunday night at Harbour. Although dancing to tunes on a moonlit beach is the perfect pre-emptive strike to the Monday morning blues, people do start clearing out at 10:30 or 11:00pm. So for you "work hard, play hard" types, have a late brunch at Brown Sugar in Bridgetown, and mimosa your way into a spot at Harbour early evening. Your Monday blues will thank you.