ST BARTHELEMY, the most chic and sexiest island in the Caribbean, very French (rather than French Créole/Caribbean), exclusive and well developed, with excellent beaches. A few but excellent hotels, literally hundreds of excellent villas, also some good self-catering rooms and apartments. Superb restaurants, people-watching and plenty of activities.
ST BARTHS GUIDE, THE DEFINITIVE CARIBBEAN TRAVEL GUIDE FOR ST BARTHS
St Barths is unfeasibly stylish and sexy. Nut brown beauties, men and women, dally in bars, zip by on motorbikes and open-topped Smart cars and stroll the beaches in a mere nuance of a bathing suit. This island is a getaway for stars and the winter home to millionaires. It is the most fashionable island in the Caribbean. It is expensive and exclusive, but it has immense style and atmosphere. The food is excellent, life is stylish, the island is completely safe and the shopping is the best in the Caribbean. All that France does so well has been transported across the Atlantic to a blip in the Caribbean.
St Barths lies about fifteen miles south east of St Maarten/St Martin, the main access point from the States or mainland Europe – British visitors tend to travel via Antigua. The island is just six miles by two or three in size and extremely rough and mountainous but surprisingly beautiful. The beaches, some developed and some completely undeveloped, are excellent.
Officially the island is called St Barthélemy, but it is usually known by familiar abbreviations - Saint-Barth in French, St Barths or St Barts in English. Unexpectedly for the Caribbean, St Barths has a Swedish heritage, though it is barely visible any more. You will see it just in a few pretty old buildings in Gustavia (named after Gustav III, the Swedish King at the time of the lease) and in the old street signs – Droninggatan, Kongsgatan and Ostra Strandgatan.
Instead, nowadays the atmosphere is overwhelmingly French, French from France rather than French Caribbean. Despite a long-standing political connection to the larger French island of Guadeloupe (which changed in 2007 when it became a Collectivité d’Outre-Mer), St Barths has almost no Créole aspect at all. The islanders, the Barthéleminois as they are called, are predominantly white, descendants of a few poor and hardy settlers, and they own the majority of the business. There is a large constituency of home-owners (of all nationalities) and then there is a population of mainly French, who work on the island. The vast majority of visitors to St Barths are from the States, and a large proportion of them are from Manhattan.
Today there are some 8700 residents, around 4200 of whom are descendants of the original Barthéleminois. A century ago, when the island was in the doldrums, the population of the island was a fraction of what it is now. But it goes even higher. In the height of the winter season, though, when the island is full to bursting, the total population can reach as much as 18,000 people. No wonder there is no parking space.
St Barths is quite exclusive (in that it is an expensive island). Some may find the island a little unreal - certainly it owes very little to the Caribbean – or just plain pretentious. The yachts in the harbour over Christmas are a sight to behold, massive hardware that teeters between magnificence and supreme vulgarity. Lunchtime entertainment, accompanied by a couple of bottles of white wine, is often a fashion show. Still, if you are prepared to spend quite a bit of money, the beauty of St Barths is that it doesn’t matter to most visitors and once you are on island it is quite low-key. The millionaires park their jets in St Maarten and then go barefoot in St Barths. You probably won’t recognise them in their bathing suits anyway.
As in so many things, accommodation in St Barths turns Caribbean tourism on its head. Although there are hotels (and several excellent ones among them), rooms in hotels make up far less than half of the bedrooms available on the island. Instead the bulk is made up of villas, rooms in cottages with self-catering facilities, villa resorts and apartments. The reason that it can work like this is that St Barths is a small island, with everything close together and because the island has a huge number of good restaurants. You do not necessarily need a dining room on the premises. Like most things in St Barths, accommodation tends to be expensive, but if you look around there are places that won’t cost you a lifetime loan.
It is definitely worth considering taking a villa or self-catering accommodation in St Barths, and it is a thing that people often do anyway on a return visit to the island once they know the lie of the land. There are groups of apartments in every price category and then there is an almost unlimited supply of villas in every location around the island.
Hotels & Resorts
There is just a handful of hotels on St Barths and many of them are delightful. At the top of the range they are extremely comfortable and often stylish, among the best known hotels in the Caribbean. Interestingly, none of them is of any size - only one hotel on the island has more than 35 rooms – but this makes them familiar and in some cases charming and intimate. You will find that the best known hotels are pretty expensive, so if you would like somewhere less expensive to stay, then you are probably better to go for a villa resort or an apartment.
A small, stylish, lively and extremely fashionable hotel set around its own rocky promontory on St Jean beach, right at the heart of
St Barths’ north coast. Glitzy atmosphere.
Key Features: Eden Rock is a top St Barths hotel witih 32 rooms, suites, houses and cottages all with flat-screen satellite TV, DVD player, CD player with selection of CDs, mini bar, coffee/tea maker, internet access and WiFi. 2 Eden Rock Estate villas - Villa Rockstar and Villa Nina. Lovely beach restaurant and bar, the Sand Bar & Pub (breakfast and lunch) and French fusion On-the-Rocks restaurant (dinner) and bar. 24-hour room service. Non-motorised watersports. 65ft Princess motor yacht available for hire. DVD and book library. Air-conditioned gym. In-room massage & beauty treatments. The Rockshop and Loveshop boutiques. Eden Rock Art Gallery and studio with artist in residence programme.
From €490/night in summer
Hotel Guanahani & Spa
St Barths’ only large hotel, with brightly coloured gingerbread style cottages and rooms set in sixteen acres of gardens sloping down to two lagoons on the island’s north shore. Plenty of activities, with watersports and entertainment.
Key Features: A 69 room St Barths hotel, full-service spa, two pools, one with a jacuzzi, some private pools, two restaurants (one on the beach, one gastronomic), bars with entertainment, two beaches, watersports on lagoon beach, two tennis courts, gym, twice-daily maid service, boutique.
Hôtel Le Toiny
A secluded and very elegant small hotel with cottages ranged across a hillside in the east of St Barths. There are just fifteen extremely private suites each with a pool and decorated in gracious style, accompanied by a superb restaurant, Le Gaïac. Hôtel Le Toiny is the ultimate in sophisticated Caribbean seclusion.
Key Features: A most elegant St Barths hotel with a discreet air, excellent gourmet restaurant, Le Gaïac, fifteen large and extremely elegant suites, each with private pool, kitchenette, plasma TV, DVD and iPod docking stations. Full service spa. Open air barber shop. Fitness centre.
From €550/night in summer
Isle de France
A small, gracious hotel tucked away in Flamands on St Barths’ north shore, set on a superb stretch of sand. Its setting is exquisite, half on Flamands Beach and the rest in a very pretty tropical garden tucked into a steep sided valley.
Key Features: Small, sophisticated beachfront St Barths hotel, 39 rooms and suites: 19 on the beach side, 20 in the garden. Molton Brown spa, pretty restaurant above the beach, an atmosphere of understated elegance
From €450/night in summer
An extremely stylish hotel with 37 very comfortable suites and villas overlooking a pretty beach and lagoon in the east of St Barths. Styled by Parisian designer Christian Liaigre, Le Sereno is an enclave of contemporary beachfront calm on an already very fashionable island.
Key Features: A very stylish St Barts boutique hotel with 37 air-conditioned suites and three villas, styled by Parisian designer Christian Liaigre. In-room amenities by Ex Voto Paris, personal iPod and docking station, LCD flat screen TV and DVD, safe, WiFi and 24 hour room service. Freshwater beachfront pool. Restaurant (breakfast, lunch & dinner). Lounge and Martini Bar. Blanc Bleu boutique. Air-conditioned fitness centre. In-room spa services available by Ligne St Barth.
From €480/night in summer
Small Hotels & Inns
With the lack of space on such a small island, most of the hotels on St Barths are small, which gives them an extremely personable and often very romantic atmosphere. Not all are set on the beach, but they each have their own strong character and in some cases a great deal of style, with decoration by international designers. Some of them (Eden Rock, Le Toiny and Isle de France) are among the Caribbean’s best known hotels, but because of their size they also fit into Definitive Caribbean’s Small Hotel and Inn category.
A small but luxurious hotel set on the steep hillside overlooking Gustavia, fourteen one and two bedroom suites, each with their own pool and a superb view of the harbour and the sunset beyond. Close to the action of the town and its restaurants.
Key Features: A top notch St Barths hotel with 14 one and two-bedroom suites, kitchenettes, private pools, good dining room and wine cellar, gym, sauna.
Eden Rock Hotel
A small, stylish and extremely fashionable hotel set on its own rocky promontory above a lively stretch of St Jean beach, right at the heart of St Barths’ north coast. there is a real sense of Caribbean magic about its miniature, extremely pretty setting. Eden Rock is one of the Caribbean’s very few Relais and Chateaux.
Key Features: A top St Barths hotel. 32 rooms, suites, houses and cottages all with flat-screen satellite TV, DVD player, CD player with selection of CDs, mini bar, coffee/tea maker, internet access, WiFi and 24 hour room service. 2 villas - Villa Rockstar & Villa Nina. Non-motorised watersports. 65ft Princess motor yacht available for charter. DVD and book library. Air-conditioned fitness centre. In-room massage & beauty treatments. The Rockshop and Loveshop boutiques. Eden Rock Gallery – studio with painting lessons. Lovely beach restaurant and bar, The Sand Bar & Pub (breakfast & lunch)and a gourmet restaurant and bar, On-the-Rocks (dinner) with a glitzy atmosphere.
From €490/night in summer
Hotel LeVillage St Jean
A friendly, family-run hotel set on the hillside above St Jean Bay, at the heart of fashionable St Barths. Hotel Le Village has mostly (one- and two-bedroom) self-catering cottages with just a handful of hotel rooms, all nicely decorated in bright and bold tropical style. It is well priced for St Barths and close to the centre of the action.
Key Features: Small, family oriented St Barths/St Barts resort with rooms and self-catering cottages set in pretty tropical gardens, with air-conditioning and ceiling fans, private balconies, direct dial phones, free WiFi access and equipment for children. Library. Restaurant (open for breakfast), bar and lounge with plasma screen TV. Pool and Jacuzzi, Well-Being cottage for massage and beauty treatments, gym. Yoga and Stretch classes available. Bocce (boules) pitch. Village and shops close by, St Jean beach three minutes.
From €135/night in summer, includes breakfast
Stylish hip hideaway in Lorient Bay, ultra cool, minimalist ambience, with nine fully equipped rooms and private terrrace in pastel cottages around a palm fringed pool. Visionary owner Jean-Marc Israel was a former guest, and enrolled French graphics designer Ichetkar in the latest makeover. The result is a classy, clean lined establishment, elegant furniture, lots of timber flooring and great arty murals. A first rate restaurant, bar and library attract a cosmopolitan clientele, and a boat and car are always at hand.
Key Features: A delightful St Barths hotel with just nine rooms in pretty cottages under the palms. Two pools, open-sided, minimal style central area with bar, reading room with library, TV, DVD (plus library), breakfast served but no restaurant.
Villas are St Barths’ strongest feature. There are something like 300 of them for rent (with another 150 or so other private houses that are not let out), and they are scattered all around the island. They come in all sizes, standards and in all architectural styles, from classic gingerbread to ultra-modern. And with a fair few famous owners too. Clearly on an island this size, not many of the villas can be on the beach, but you will generally be guaranteed a pool and a fantastic view. One surprising fact, (though it is perhaps in keeping with St Barths, where everything is so compact, after all), is that few villas have more than about four bedrooms. There are however, quite a few one-bedroom villas that make for an ideal romantic getaway.
With so many villas on the island there is a general shortage of staff on St Barths and so you shouldn’t necessarily expect help every day of the week in any but the smartest villas.
La Fleur Sur La Mer
A large and extremely elegant five-bedroom villa in excellent Caribbean style, with 360 degree views from a hilltop in Colombier in the west of St Barths. La Fleur Sur La Mer is laid out in a series of white clapboard cottages with the living area and the master bedroom ranged in one line looking south-west, and the other four bedrooms set around a courtyard looking the other way.
Key Features: Elegant, well appointed Caribbean holiday villa with magnificent 360 degree views. Swimming pool. Large sundeck with sun loungers and dining area. Master bedroom with heated spa pool. Large living room, formal dining room, fully equipped professional style kitchen – stainless steel range, dishwasher, microwave, blender, coffee maker and toaster. Air-conditioned home theatre with cable TV, DVD, VCR and CD stereo system with surround sound. Fax machine, high speed internet access and WiFi. Air-conditioned gym. Covered veranda with sitting area and wrap-around wood decked terrace. Spacious layout and good range of amenities make it ideal for large family get-togethers, friends or a small group.
A four bedroom villa in Mont Jean on St Barths that uses the best of classic Caribbean style to create a very comfortable and friendly holiday home. Beverly has an original layout off a corridor that leads to a magnificent cliff-top drawing room with dramatic views over the Atlantic.
Key Features: Spacious luxury Caribbean villa with impressive sea views and hillside setting. Swimming pool (30ft x 15ft), paved sun terrace. Great Room with formal sitting and dining areas to large well equipped kitchen with breakfast bar, gas cooker, fridge, microwave, blender, dishwasher, toaster, coffee maker. Cable TV, VCR, CD player, fax machine, high speed internet access.
Elevated terrace with sitting area, dining gazebo and Weber charcoal barbecue. Good indoor and outdoor living space and ideal French island villa for a large family or group of friends
Villa BOR (SIB BOR)
A very friendly-feeling holiday home with three bedrooms (4th bedroom available) set above St Jean on the north coast of St Barths. Villa BOR has a ‘seaside’ feel, with some weatherboard (interior) walls and ‘distressed’ furniture, but also some classic antique pieces in the master bedroom. Delightful St Barts villa for family and friends. Ideal honeymoon spot in summer (one bedroom rate).
Key Features: A very popular, extremely well presented St Barthelemy villa with lots of character and glorious sea views. Swimming pool off well furnished covered veranda and drinks terrace, large sundeck with dining gazebo. Comfortable sitting room with dining area (seats 10) can close off for air-conditioned use - has ceiling fans. Well equipped family kitchen with wood worktops, gas hob, cooker, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, coffee maker. Cable TV, VCR, CD player, fax machine, high speed internet access and barbecue. Charming holiday home with welcoming ambiance for families, friends or couples.
A striking, sleek and extremely stylish three-bedroom villa set on Marigot Bay in St Barths. Eden House is ultra modern, with clean and minimal lines, painted largely in dove grey, with splashes of fuschia and electric lime green. A very impressive and liveable villa.
Key Features: Rare seafront location among St Barts villas with a sandy, palm grove sun terrace above the waters edge. Swimming pool with sun deck. Open-plan living room with Bose Lifestyle entertainment system, satellite Plasma TV, DVD, CD system, ADSL internet access and WiFi, dining area and fully equipped chef-style kitchen with 6 burner Smeg stove, 2 fridges, 2 dish washers, juicer, microwave, blender, toaster and barbecue. Large covered furnished wooden deck with dining area. Bedrooms with flat screen TV/DVD and Bose CD/radio. Toiletries by World of Jo Malone ™.
Meli Melo (SIB MMO)
An exceptionally stylish three-bedroom villa with excellent views from on high, north over St Jean Bay and south over Salines and the islands south of St Barths. Meli Melo is sleek and ultra-modern, with clean and minimal lines, but also a pleasure to live in. It is a spectacular house in a spectacular ridge-top setting.
Key Features: A sophisticated, ultra modern, Luxury Caribbean villa rental with spectacular views. Large sundeck with swimming pool, large covered living and dining terrace (seats 8). Rear lawn for additional sunbathing with double hammock, dining deck to seat 12 and gas barbecue grill. Stylish sitting room with wall mounted plasma satellite TV, DVD, CD system, surround sound, high speed internet access, WiFi and iPod, open to sleek, chef-style kitchen with breakfast bar, 5 burner gas stove, microwave, dishwasher, expresso machine, coffee maker, blender, wine cooler and icemaker. All bedrooms with flat screen TV/DVD. A super-glossy villa for discerning adults.
A modern, very stylish three bedroom villa with excellent covered living space set on a hillside overlooking Lorient and the north coast of St Barths. Villa Coco has an elegant, mainly minimal style, a subdued colour scheme and a very open layout, with open-sided sitting and dining areas giving onto a deck and cliffside pool.
Key Features: A striking St Barts home rental with a cool, contemporary air and excellent views. Pavilion-like living and dining areas, fully equipped chrome and slate kitchen includes espresso machine, microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker and toaster. Large Weber barbecue grill. Satellite TV, DVD, VCR, CD player, high speed internet access and fax machine. Exercise room. Swimming pool with submerged platform and sitting ledge, large pool deck, lower level sun terrace and lawn area. A stylish hilltop retreat for grown-ups.
A striking, very open two-bedroom villa made of natural wood, set on the hillside in Pointe Milou on the north coast of St Barths. Villa Bayugita is a symphony of tropical woods with a living space that opens up almost completely to get the best of the view. Stylish, comfortable and original in design.
Key Features: Unique, split-level, open-fronted French Caribbean island hillside villa with stunning views. Upper deck with plunge pool. Sun deck with heated Jacuzzi. Open fronted living/dining area (table for 6) to pool deck with adjacent second sitting area with modern kitchen – granite worktops, breakfast bar, gas cooker, dishwasher, food processor, microwave, juicer, blender, coffee maker and toaster. Satellite TV, DVD, ADSL internet access, fax/telephone and gas barbecue grill. Both bedrooms with flat screen TV/DVD, CD player. Excellent villa for stylish outdoor living and entertaining.
A large, very comfortable and friendly-feeling two-bedroom villa set in Pointe Milou on the north coast of St Barths. Mandarine Bleue has a strong West Indian and seaside style with excellent indoor/outdoor living space. Lovely setting for a carefree getaway for couples or a family.
Key Features: An enchanting villa in St Barts in a mix of Caribbean and seaside style with panoramic views. Swimming pool within extended sun deck leading from covered veranda with sitting area, dining area, wet bar and barbecue. Lofty open-plan living room with sitting and dining areas. Fully equipped kitchen includes microwave, dishwasher, blender, toaster and coffee maker. Cable TV, VCR, CD player, fax, high speed internet access and WiFi. Perfect for relaxed get-togethers for families or friends. Lovely spot for a honeymoon.
Villa DKD (SIB DKD)
A two-bedroom villa with strong contemporary style set on the hilltop in Pointe Milou in St Barths, with views to the Atlantic one side and along the north coast to St Jean the other. Set on two levels, Villa DKD is an open, very comfortable and liveable St Barths rental ideal for couples.
Key Features: An easy living, ‘designer’ St Barths villa rental of high quality (featured in Architectural Digest). Heated swimming pool (42ft) in a large sundeck with gazebo. Open sided living room with media centre – cable TV, DVD, CD stereo system, small office with fax machine and high speed internet access - WiFi. Sun room with dining area, wet bar and awning over deck. Upper level breakfast room off kitchen extends to sitting area with day bed under canvas. Fully equipped stainless steel kitchen with breakfast bar, gas range, Lieber refrigerator, microwave, blender, coffee maker and toaster, separate deck behind kitchen with gas barbecue grill. Custom fittings by Philip Starck and Christian Liaigre.
Villa JAD (SIB JAD)
A bright, cosy two-bedroom villa tucked away on the hillside in Pointe Milou in St Barths. Villa JAD has some classic Caribbean style, with antique furniture and louvered windows, but it is also easy and liveable. It looks onto a secluded pool deck and the view.
Key Features: A compact, classic Caribbean style St Barths villa rental with sea views towards St Martin. Small swimming pool with sundeck off covered dining veranda. Open-plan living room with sitting area and fully equipped kitchen. Cable plasma TV, DVD, CD player, radio and barbecue, small rear garden. Ideal honeymoon hideaway.
Villa LED (SIB LED)
A relatively simple but comfortable two-bedroom villa set on a ridgeline in Colombier in St Barths. Villa LED is a modern St Barths house with bright Caribbean décor and good outside space, including a pool and gazebo in the garden.
Key Features: A cosy, nicely presented Caribbean vacation cottage in a pleasant garden with a swimming pool in a wooden sundeck and large adjacent dining/sitting pavilion. Additional dining/sun deck on the hilltop with views to Gustavia Harbour. Small sitting room leading into dining area and well equipped kitchen. Front covered veranda with breakfast table and a large rear deck. Barbecue, cable TV, VCR. Walking distance to a local bakery. A charming, relaxed vacation spot suitable for honeymooners.
There is a surprising number of villa resorts around the island, self catering accommodation that shares some common facilities. They may not have a restaurant, because there are so many restaurants around the island anyway, but there may be a pool or a bar. Maid service will also be provided. Villa resorts do vary in price, giving a good range, but if you are looking for somewhere less expensive, then you can try under Cottages and Apartments.
Breakfast is usually provided in a villa resort, brought to your room, but other meals won’t be. If you don’t want go out all the time but equally you don’t want spend your time cooking while in, then there are catering companies on the island which will provide cooked meals for you. Some even offer service to your room.
Emeraude Plage is a small enclave of self-catering bungalows and cottages that stand ranged around a sandy garden fronting onto St Jean beach. They are quiet and private, and relatively simple, but also within a shout of the action of St Jean.
Key Features: A well-positioned St Barths villa resort, 21 bungalows, 3 suites, 2 villas and 2 cottages plus a studio, all with kitchenettes and private terrace, air-conditioning, fans, TV, WiFi, daily maid service, Reception, library, good parking (essential in St Jean)
Les Ilets de la Plage
A small and stylish villa retreat tucked away at the quiet end of St Barth’s liveliest beach, St Jean. Les Ilets has eleven simple and elegant one, two and three-bedroom villas directly on the sand and on a hillside behind. Very low key, but easy access to the best of the action.
Key Features: St Barths villa accommodation in a quiet resort setting, superb beach, 11 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, set either on the sand or on the hillside, fully equipped kitchens in a covered and spacious open-air living area, air-conditioned bedrooms, small music system, breakfast and daily maid service, central swimming pool, WiFi access, reception and library.
From €350/night in summer
Cottages, Apartments and Condominiums
There are also many clusters of apartments and cottages that offer a self-catering option in St Barths. These may also have some central facilities, but it is not likely to be more than a Reception and a pool and occasional maid service. With its large number of returning visitors who are happy to look after themselves, there are many different options if you want to stay in an apartment and there is good variety in the price too. They represent the best value for staying on the island.
Auberge de Terre Neuve
A small group of well priced apartments set in a local garden high above Flamands beach on St Barths’ north coast. The ten one bedroom apartments are self-contained and quite simple but comfortable.
Key Features: The ten one bedroom St Barths rental apartments are self-contained and quite simple but comfortable. TV, DVD, fully equipped kitchens, barbecues, beach towels and chairs provided, good packages with cars
From €85/night car included
Hotel LeVillage St Jean
A friendly, family-run hotel made up of cottages and villas (with a handful of hotel rooms) set in St Jean Bay, the heart of fashionable St Barths. Set on the hillside above the small town, the cottages at Hotel Le Village are nicely decorated in bright tropical style and are well priced for the island.
Key Features: Small family oriented St Barths hotel with rooms and self-catering cottages set in pretty tropical gardens, with air-conditioning and ceiling fans, private balconies, direct dial phones. Le Cesar restaurant (open for breakfast and dinner), bar and lounge with plasma screen TV, pool, jacuzzi, Well-Being cottage for massage and gym, free WiFi access in all rooms. Village and shops close by, St Jean beach three minutes.
From €135/night in summer including breakfast
Les Ondines sur la Plage
A modern block of one and two bedroom apartments right on the sand and calm water of the lively Grand Cul de Sac beach. Spacious and comfortable, with fully equipped kitchens and a friendly atmosphere
Key Features: Air-conditioned, covered terraces, watersports nearby
There are a couple of guest houses on the island but, this being St Barths, they are by no means cheap.
Hotel La Normandie
A very simple but perfectly comfortable, and probably the least inexpensive, place to stay on St Barths. Located behind the town of Lorient, it has eight simple rooms with a reception area and pool and is a short walk from the shops and a beach.
Key Features: A good Caribbean guest house or put another way, a comfortable St Barths hotel without the glitz, 8 air-conditioned rooms with fridge, coffee machine and tv, central pool and loungers, reception manned form 8am-2pm and from 6-7.30pm. Some rooms can take three people, beach two minutes walk
Sailing and Cruising
No hotels in St Barths offer a stay-sail option.