Exploring the Ruins of Sam Lords Castle in Barbados

While my husband and I were in Saint Philip last year visiting the Crane Beach, our cab driver told us that if we had time, to try to find the famous Sam Lords Castle in Barbados.

He explained that it was an old, historical home that had been used as a hotel for many years, before recently burning down in an unexplained fire.

We never did make it during that trip, and to tell you the truth, I had completely forgotten about it…

In July, after arriving at The Crane Beach in Saint Philip, we found it covered in kelp. It was also quite windy and between the two, we didn’t see the point of making our way down the beach. When we visited in 2011 to find the beach covered in kelp, we made a go of it and ventured out. It was too difficult to swim and laying out? Not very fun in a bed of seaweed.

Ariel I am not!

My heart was a little broken to find that after actually having the opportunity to set foot on one of the top ten beaches in the world, I wasn’t able to enjoy it. Again.

As we were walking back to our car, we saw a little pathway and decided to see where it led. We had driven all the way around the other side of the island to find The Crane, and didn’t want the trip to have been a complete waste.

This is what we found!

Now, the underlying sand wasn’t nearly as pearly pink, and the waves were even more powerful on this side of the beach, but…

It was incredibly lovely.

And then we remembered – we were somewhere near that mysterious Sam Lords Castle in Barbados…

We set off in search of the castle, not remembering exactly where it was or how we were supposed to get to it.

We did a little old fashioned exploring.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, but we did see a sign that literally said “Sam Lord Castle” and so we followed the signs.

Simple enough. We hoped that what we were looking for was actually Sam Lord Castle.

When we found the entrance (photo above), we knew we had the right place.

Now, our cab driver from last year told us that it was an old castle, an old hotel, and that there had been a fire.

What we did not know was how bad it was…

As we found our way through the woods, this is what we found…

I was stunned.

It is so difficult to capture on film the magnitude of what we saw before us.

While Sam Lord Castle isn’t incredibly enormous, it has a presence about it, even in ruins, that takes your breath away.

It was literally burned to its foundation. All that was left was the original walls.

Chris and I walked around towards the back and realized what an incredible structure it must have been at one point.

We found the remnants of extravagant landscaping in the back of the hotel.

We found an empty pool, spots where Jacuzzis must have once been housed.

Winding paths leading nowhere…

Just as we were about to leave, we noticed a path leading towards what we assumed would be the ocean. I was a bit frightened, so I let Chris lead the way.

Yes, I was a little chicken. So sue me. The entire vibe of Sam Lord’s Castle creeped me out.

There was what we thought must have once been an elaborate walkway, with carved coral rock and benches for resting and enjoying the ocean breeze.

The beach was magnificent.

It seemed that some local fishermen had set up shop on the deserted beach behind the Sam Lord Castle estate.

My favorite thing about this?

The tire swing.

I did my research after we were back at the Hilton and found that in its day, the Sam Lords Castle hotel had very posh bungalows all along the beach, with private cabanas, bars and the usual beach amenities.

Do you notice how all of the palm trees are swaying? The wind is so constant on this part of the island that the trees grow that way.

It is quite lovely.

Of all of the places I’ve seen in my travels, I have to say that Sam Lords Castle in Barbados was one of the most interesting.

I can’t wait to go back and do a little more exploring!

Jenn is a 30-something South Florida native with a restless heart. When she’s not writing on her lifestyle blog, TheRebelChick.com, she’s always busy planning her next adventure to share here on Happy Travels!

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Comments

  1. Mary Kate says

    I enjoyed Sam lords castle in the 90s. Wanted to take my sins there. So sad, on of my favorite places in the world

  2. Linda Beighton says

    Have just looked at your photo’s of Sam Lords Castle and am absolutely heartbroken. My husband and I were married in the grounds and stayed at the castle for two glorious weeks on 14th July 2000. Our wedding, flowers, cake and photographs were all arranged by lovely people there who could not do enough for us and our wedding night was spent in a four poster bed in the castle. We have a beautiful Wedding Album full of memories of the day in and around Sam Lords. I knew it was derelict but was hoping it would soon be back to it’s former glory, many of your photos I have of us in our wedding ‘finery’. It is so sad to see the Castle like this and I just wish you could have seen it at it’s best.

    Regards
    Linda

    album is full of beautiful memories taken

      • Divapat says

        Barbados is my family’s ancestral home and my mom took me there for the first time in 1972. I had just gotten my Bachelor’s degree and the trip was a graduation present. We rented a car for the three weeks we were there, got a map, and took the island on our backs! One of the first places we visited was The Castle. Museum aficionadas from way back, we fell in love with the place. Years later, my husband (who I met during that 1972 trip!) and I purchased some land in St. Phillip. From our two plots, you could see The Castle in the distance. How sad that only a ruined shell remains. Does anyone know if the historical society or CLICO has any plans to rebuild or restore? It would be a shame not to…

  3. Shawna says

    So beautiful, I am currently in Barbados for a few months, & we did drive down there one night( on to the beach and everything) we couldn’t see much or get any great pics, but seeing the structure of the castle at night was extremely eerie,but amazing at the same time. I cannot wait to go in the daytime so I can also do a little exploring =)

  4. CYR says

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos. My family stayed at SLC in 1990 when I was 13. Not only was the place incredible but the people working there and living nearby couldn’t have been more friendly. An incredible place, and it kills me I’ll never be able to stay there again.

  5. Edward says

    My wife and I honeymooned her nearly 30 years ago, in 1983. I was searching to suprise her with a return trip this autumn and to my suprise found it had burned. Wonderful memories of a beautiful retreat and great staff. So sad. Edward

  6. Chris says

    So sad to see Sam Lords Castle in this state – Heartbreaking. Myself and my Children spent two wonderful Holidays there in 1999 & 2000. The Staff were absolutely wonderful & we all have many happy memories of our stays there. Hopefully one day it will be restored to its former glory.

  7. Ed Smith says

    Great pictures, so sad to see it had burned. Our family stayed in the 80’s and as our rooms were not ready until the next day we were allowed to stay in the castle for the night. My wife and I had Sam Lords room.Reportably it was haunted by Sam Lord himself! What a view of the gardens the next morning.
    It was my understanding that Queen Elizabeth once spent a night at the castle on a visit to Barbados.

  8. Joseph Napolitano says

    HELO THERE
    JUST happened to be thinking of SAM LORD”S this morning when I Googled it again to see if anything had been done since that disaterious fire. My family and I would often rent a home next to SAM’s and often go over to swim at their beach and the hotel for dining and swimming. IT was a breath taking grand hotel.. full of Caribbean charm…SO very sad it feel into neglect and finally burned….many many wonderful memories there for us.

  9. Joseph Napolitano says

    JENN
    It certainly was !!!! A real trip back through history with that relaxed Caribbean flavor. The beautiful pools grounds and dining room open to the air and of course that beach which had a shark pool. It was great because we could walk from our house next door through the palm trees at night to be entertained or dine right there at SAM’s and then for a lots less there were the great nifty low key restaurants just outside the main gate where you could dine on MAHI MAHI and COUS COUS half nothing

  10. Joseph Napolitano says

    JENN
    yes indeed The shark pool was at the bottom of that wall between SAM’s beach and the villas above where our villa was located. There was such a warm charm about SAM LORD’s and being so far removed from the hustle and bustle of BRIDGETOWN made it feel like you had your own piece of heaven.
    On another note this tragedy at SAM’s reminds me of another hotel we found abandoned on the northern edge of BARBADOS…I think it was called NORTHERN EDGE Hotel or something…it is now very derelict but had this huge Olympian swimming pool with at least a 20 foot deep end…amazing and when we stumbled across it was being squatted in by locals…
    ALSO if you have ever been to BERMUDA … ST GEORGE’s port there was a CLUB MED right there on a hill overlooking the town…again and other derelict abandoned resort built into an old fort with all kinds of underground caverns running beneath it.. even a cave that was converted into a night club…stage and bar built right into the rock walls AMAZINGLY spooky and ghostly…a PERFECT HORROR FILM location….that has since been imploded by the BERMUDIAN officials to make way for a new resort( that too is in limbo from my recent reseach)

  11. Jane Thomasf says

    As a flight attendant for British Airways I regularly stayed at Sam Lords in the 1990’s, it felt a bit cut off from rest of Barbados but now I realise how lucky we were. My darling husband and I were married there in 1999 on the jetty/grounds although we stayed in another part of island. Sadly my husband died in 2010.

  12. Hayley says

    I got married at Sam Lord’s Castle in 2000, it was fantastic. Such a shame about the fire, we have always said we would take our children back there for a visit.

  13. Jim says

    Wow…now I’m depressed. My wife and I honeymooned there in September 1989. At the time, it was a Marriot property.

    Out of curiosity and nostalgia, I Googled Sam Lord’s Castle this morning and came upon this. Your pictures are sad and beautiful at the same time. I feel lucky to be able to say that my wife and I were once guests there.

  14. Frank says

    We honeymooned at Sam Lord’s in 1984. What a heartbreak to see such an historical landmark destroyed. What a truly wonderful piece of history how lost and most likely soon forgotten. Wish I had the funds to rebuild/ restore.

  15. Paul says

    Devastated to see this!!

    I rented Sam Lords castle back in 1994 for 6 days for my companies conference. It was such a special place with so much history!! Quite possibly one of the most iconic places I have been/stayed. Me and my wife were heading back to Barbados next year and I’m gutted that she won’t get to see it in its full glory!! Such a shame that it has ended up like this, this place is a huge part of Barbadian history and I’m very disappointed that they have spent millions on their caves but left this landmark to rot.

  16. Truus Biddlecombe says

    We had our wedding dinner on the 14th May 1975 at Sam Lords Castle and were hoping to return next year for our 40th. Very sad indeed!

  17. Dan says

    Very sad I was there for my honeymoon in the 90s and it was a great place… not sure why the government would let this happen

  18. Michelle says

    Ah, this has made me cry. We were married 10 August 2000, all our wedding photos are in & around Sam Lords Castle. Seeing it derelict & overgrown is unfortunately symbolic of our marriage as it no longer is either. I hoped one day to return with my children to relive a wonderful time. It’s good to have the memories. I hope in the future it will be returned to its former glory.

  19. Pascal says

    Very sad!! Got married there in November 2000. Was making plans to bring kids back in 2012 and that’s when I found out about this. We didn’t go because visit the castle because we didn’t want the kids to see it that way and my wife only wanted to remember it the way it was. Very very sad. Was an amazing place and we have such great memories of it and now to see all of this makes me really sad.

  20. jeanne says

    Thank you for posting such wonderful photos of the area around Sam Lord’s Castle (though it’s sure sad to see the abandoned place since the fire). My husband and I spent our honeymoon there in June, 1977, and we hold such wonderful memories of the place. I must say however, that a few of your photos helped me clearly remember some of the grounds, though I hadn’t captured some of those locations when we were there, so I’ve added a few of your pics to my Barbados album. (Thanks)!
    I actually had no idea today when I googled Sam Lord’s Castle that it had burned in 2010. I was taking a look to see pricing and how the place was being maintained for an eventual return. Guess not now.
    (KInda funny that we stayed at Sam Lords’- but traveled over to the hotel side of the island for the day and had lunch at “your” hotel- the Hilton). In any event, thanks again for your posting!

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