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Where to stay in Barbados - best beach and location

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After much debate about which island to go to (I was leaning towards St. Lucia for its beauty and my husband was leaning towards Anguilla for its beaches), I think we have finally decided on Barbados! We are hoping it is a good combination with beautiful beaches, but also some culture and landscape.

That said, we are now trying to narrow down our hotel/resort choices. We had considered an all-inclusive, but is that not necessary for this island? I have read so much about the different restaurants and beaches that I feel we'd probably rent a car and wouldn't need an all-inclusive for the entire time. Does that sound right?

So, here is our want list:
- fantastic beach: beautiful sand, plenty of room to lounge, easy enter to the water, swim-able (which makes me question the south side a little bit...), and right at the resort (we want to be able to get there from our room ASAP - LOL)
- clean rooms (preferably updated, but we are okay with older, just not run-down)
- near a little action: but here is another question: is it safe to walk around Bridgetown and the Gap at night? Would we drive it at night (we have driven on the left and are not too worried about it as long as the car rental has cars with the steering wheels on the left)?
- a/c and at least one pool
- restaurant onsite and a beach bar close-by
- safe
- okay with kids, but wouldn't mind a romantic feel since its just the two of us this time
- budget: $300/ night (give or take including taxes and fees) for 7 nights
- hotel or resorts only (we have rented condos and villas before and love it, however not interested in either for this trip).

The two hotels that have stood out to us so far are the Hilton and the Bougainvillea. Any comments on either? Our thoughts are that the Hilton won't have any island charm and the Bougainvillea is too outdated. However, since both look to have amazing beaches, etc we probably can't go wrong, so is one in a better location than the other?

Also, just a side note: I'll probably post more questions later once I've done more research but if anyone wants to comment now on great activites, I'd appreciate the input. Like I said, I haven't done too much research yet, but we do enjoy snorkeling, catamaran cruises, culture, and scenery. Maybe surf lessons?! Any "not-to-miss" or "skip-that" suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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