St Barts' atmosphere

St Barts’ atmosphere

My personal list of best addresses in St Barts – World Meanderings (n°25)

By Frederic de Poligny

 

A-strawberry-mojito-Up-Yours.

A-strawberry-mojito-Up-Yours.

As you must know St Barts (or St Barths) is a very small island, meanwhile without any public transportation and a roads’ net made of thousands of curves going up and down steep hills, walking is not an option for resting holidays. Even if hiking in St Barts is great for those who love more sportive vacations. Taxis are safe and very professional, but a bit expensive. Renting a small car is the most convenient. Choosing a quad is quite fun!

In any case, my first advice for first time visitors is to get right away to the Tourism Office at the entrance of Gustavia harbour. This is the place to find a map of the island and all information you could need. Keep the map and if you don’t want to read the dozens of leaflets that they will provide you with, you will find below my personal “Best of St Barts” list.

Gustavia in St Barts

Gustavia in St Barts

Any visitor to St Barts has to know that the island only offers luxury accommodation. Authorities prohibit huge hotel resorts, so the number of available hotel rooms is low and advance booking is compulsory. There are also many ultra luxury villas of all sizes to rent for families or groups of friends.

Beach of the Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France

Beach of the Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France

Where to stay? Or where to enter the Garden of Eden?

 

If I have to put one name on top of my list, it’s the “Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle-de-France“.

But the second name on my list is very close.

Shelly Beach at sunset

Shelly Beach at sunset

Right on Flamands Beach, with its colonial Caribbean style, everything being white with little touches of light grey and pale rose, the Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle-de-France offers beautiful rooms, suites and villas facing the sea and also a few bungalows hidden in the lush vegetation of the tropical garden. The feet-in-the-white-sand lunch at the beach restaurant, La Cabane de l’Isle, is a must. The Executive Chef Yann Vinsot also provides its al-fresco cuisine at the signature restaurant La Case de l’Isle that is a sought-after spot for all gourmets in St Barts. For the comfort of its hosts the hotel has a beautiful Spa that also includes a unique exotic outdoor pavilion, where guests could enjoy massages and body treatments specially conceived by Guerlain for Cheval Blanc. But what make this place so attractive are the quiet atmosphere, the quality of the ultra-luxury service, the attention to details and the kindness of the whole staff that knows how to be as discreet as efficient. www.stbarthisledefrance.chevalblanc.com

Suite at Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France

Suite at Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France

Then next, comes a great competitor for the title of n°1 ultra luxury hotel in St Barts, the “Eden Rock Hotel”. Built on a rocky promontory that sheers the beautiful St Jean Bay in two white sandy pristine beaches, the Eden Rock offers rooms, suites, each one different from one another, plus two ultra-luxury beach villas. There, at the Eden Rock red is the signature colour. The service is also close to perfection. And here too gastronomy matters. The Executive Chef Eric Desbordes offers a casual cuisine with finest light contemporary touches at the beach restaurant, the “Sand Bar” and after sunset when the “On the Rocks” restaurant perched on top of the rock opens, his gastronomic cuisine enjoys the gourmets’ palates. The Eden Rock Hotel is listed as a Relais & Châteaux.

Eden Rock

Eden Rock

www.edenrockhotel.com

 

The “Guanahani Hotel” rooms are built on a steep hillside. The lower ones, close to the swimming pool and the double sand beach are often booked long time in advance. Guests are so lazy under the Caribbean sun! www.leguanahani.com

 

The “Christopher Hotel” right on the seaside is a nice option for a resting stay. My advice is to book a standard room facing the charming swimming pool and the sea. This type of room has a nice outdoor private terrace with a sort of Balinese bed. No beach there, the coast is rocky, but the swimming pool under palm trees is very attractive. Perfect for resting holidays but for party-goers remember that in St Barts everything is next door. www.hotelchristopher.com

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I want not to forget to include in my list, the “Toiny Hotel” that will soon re-open after a fully refurbishment of all rooms. As a member of Relais & Châteaux the Toiny offers the luxury and elegant service that its guests are looking for. The view from the swimming pool overlooking the sea down by the hill is unique. www.letoiny.com

 

All these hotels organize private transfers from and to the airport for their guests. They offer great cuisine in their restaurants, but there is no all-inclusive accommodation in St Barts. Visitors always want to try some of the gastronomic options that the island is famous for and every hotel concierge is happy to help them to make their reservations.

 

Christopher Hotel

Christopher Hotel

 

Gastronomic pause in St Barts

 

The most trendy beach restaurants for lunch are La Case de l’Isle at the Cheval-Blanc-St-Barth-Isle-de-France and the Sand Bar at the Eden Rock. On St Jean Beach there are also the Nikki Beach and less internationally known, La Plage, the restaurant of the Tom Beach Hotel with a young and festive atmosphere. www.tombeach/com

 

Right on the mall but charming Shelly Beach, the only beach in Gustavia, the capital city of St Barts, Do Brazil offers all day long nice food and great musical ambiance. But Do Brazil is famous to be the place to enjoy, a glass in hand, the best sunset of the island.

Swimming pool  of the Toiny Hotel

Swimming pool of the Toiny Hotel

www.dobrazil.com

 

For dinner, the choice is large.

 

My preferred address is undoubtedly Le Tamarin”, hidden in a green haven on the Route des Salines. Le Tamarin offers a gastronomic cuisine as delicate as inventive. The cellar is filled with incredible wines. And the team of waiters managed by Paco and Julie the charming owners couple, is as gentle as efficient. The ambiance is elegant and relaxed! Advance booking is compulsory. www.tamarinstbarth.com

Shelly Beach at sunset

Shelly Beach at sunset

In Gustavia, Bonito is a white restaurant, very chic, open only for dinner. Famous for its creative cuisine, a mix of French and South American recipes, Bonito offers a beautiful view over Gustavia. Its barman presents a brilliant choice of cocktails and if you want a real romantic dinner with your loved one ask for a table on the semi-circular balcony. www.ilovebonito.com

 

Bagatelle right on the quay of Gustavia is an attractive restaurant serving a tasty cuisine all day long. It’s also a nice place to have a drink, and residents as visitors love to stop by. If you are only able to come there one time, choose the Tuesday dinner. Every Tuesday night the chef Sofiane creates a “Wine Paring Dinner” with 5 courses and 5 wines, that is not to be missed. www.bagatellestbarths.com

Gustavia

Gustavia

For those who appreciate Asian cuisine, the Black Ginger, in Gustavia too, offers a nice selection of Thai recipes, prepared for European taste, with less spices than in Thailand. But the Thai cooks are always happy to make it spicier on demand. www.blackgingersbh.com

 

I want not to forget to give a special mention to “Chez Rolande” near Flamands Beach, that is the only authentic Creole restaurant. The restaurant, open for lunch, is as simple as the cuisine is tasty. Try the accras de morue (fried cods), the ragout de cabri (goat in a creole sauce) and why not end your lunch with a delicious mango crumble?

Bagatelle restaurant in Gustavia

Bagatelle restaurant in Gustavia

This is my personal list, but feel free to make your own one. There are many other places to discover on the island.

 

For more info about St Barts: www.saintbarth-tourisme.com

 

Text & Photos © Frederic de Poligny

Chez Rolande

Chez Rolande

 

 

 

 

 

About Frederic De Poligny

Annick Dournes and Frederic de Poligny are two French tourism journalists who travel the world for many years. They will share with you their very favourite experiences of worldwide travels. Those about France, their native country, will be found on a regular basis in their chronicle "Meanderings through France".