There are as many different styles of hotels in the Caribbean as there are islands. High-end beach resorts abound, with stonking views of that sparkling sea, rooms just steps from the sand and every type of facility you can think of from spas to watersports. Want to shake things up a bit? How about a jungle lodge, a creaking old villa or a treehouse retreat? The one thing every type of accommodation shares is the warmth of the welcome and the easy hospitality on offer, whether you stay in an intimate family-run guesthouse or an award-winning designer pad. You’ll have a hard job saying goodbye when it’s time to pack your bags and leave.
Main photo: Baoase on Curaçao (Michael van Drunen)
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1. O2 Beach Club, Barbados
Reopened at the end of 2021 following a dramatic facelift, the cool, 130-room O2 Beach Club lies on 300m of powdery white sand in the heart of St Lawrence Gap, a strip of buzzing rum shacks and beach bars in the south of Barbados. Decor is bold but super-stylish, not least the soothing grey and yellow tones of beachfront Elements bar, and the dramatic black marble walls in Oro, the fine-dining restaurant. Two of the three pools are adults only, and if you go for an ocean-view junior suite you will have the novel possibility of being able to swim up to your room.
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2. Baoase, Curaçao
This classy hotel is a five-minute spin from Curaçao’s Unesco-protected capital Willemstad. The beachfront enclave spells luxurious privacy with butlers and in-room treatments. Profuse greenery and impressive landscaping help to separate the 23 rooms, suites and villas; a good place to cocoon oneself. Balinese statues and the big Buddha at the entrance of its man-made islet 400ft offshore add character. Friendly staff man the mineral pool and international restaurant.
3. Paseo 206, Cuba
Tastefully furnished, friendly, art-filled Paseo 206 is the most sophisticated of Havana’s small collection of newer private hotels and has charming Italian-Cuban owners. The little Vedado-neighbourhood mansion is a gathering point for expats and upmarket locals. Its 1930s vintage comes through in Carrara fireplaces and an elegant staircase, picture-book windows and Cuban-tiled floors. Ten suites include a rooftop eyrie with a terrace and hot tub. Out front, restaurant Eclectico creates Italian dishes with Cuban ingredients.
4. Bahama House, the Bahamas
A short stumble from Pink Sands Beach, Bahama House is Harbour Island’s smartest boutique hotel, with 11 rooms carved out of a jumble of 19th-century cottages and a villa round a pretty courtyard. Interiors come with wicker pieces and funky lamps. The hotel’s parent company specialises in tailor-made adventures, so you might go ocean fishing before returning to the well-stocked rum bar and pool.
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5. Hotel Villa Marie, St Barts
The first outpost for Maisons et Hôtels Sibuet outside France, the super-stylish Villa Marie opened at the tail end of 2016 only to be devastated by Hurricane Irma less than a year later. Rebooted, this purveyor of modern French hotel style is the laid-back luxury choice on the Caribbean’s most chic island, courtesy of Jocelyne Sibuet’s flair for interiors. Turquoise, bougainvillea pink and canary yellow tones warm the 21 cottages and suites, with objets d’art and soft furnishings from Indonesia, north Africa and Spain, elegant roll-top baths and spectacular views over Flamands Bay.
6. Geejam, Jamaica
Arrayed across a wild hillside in an Eden-like rainforest near Port Antonio, Geejam is a fabulous expression of Jamaica’s talent for rustic luxury. This secluded resort started as a music studio, and has welcomed stars such as Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, Florence Welch, John Legend and Drake. Over the years it expanded, with more stylish cabins and villas decorated with record collections and mid-century furniture. In 12 new 650 sq ft rooms, wood design details blend with the forest and turquoise waters below.
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7. The Great House, Antigua
A pleasing antidote to Antigua’s larger resorts, the Great House is centred on an exquisitely preserved 350-year-old shuttered Georgian residence within the 26-acre Mercers Creek estate in the north of the island — one of surprisingly few such properties in this part of the Caribbean in which you can stay. A recent renovation has produced four new garden cottages with Antiguan pyramid roofs, vaulted ceilings and private terraces. Palm trees surround the pool; wellness classes include yoga, meditation and dance.
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8. Belle Mont Farm, St Kitts
This hideaway on the fertile slopes of Mount Liamuiga, among 400 acres of mostly organic farmland and tropical forest, combines luxury with sustainability. The 84 guesthouses and ten villas come with an infinity pool and are attended by round-the-clock assistants and concierge. Fridges are stocked with local produce and fine wines, but foraging for herbs and produce as you wander is also de rigueur — even on the 18-hole golf course. The main pool has a ceviche bar and dreamy views of Sint Eustatius and Saba islands. A spa with yoga is another plus, as is private farm-to-table dining from the resident chef Christophe Letard.
9. Hummingbird Beach Resort, St Lucia
Hummingbird is classic Caribbean, the way the islands used to be, offering a striking position on Soufrière’s beach without an expensive price tag. Friendly and peaceful, it has eight basic but comfortable rooms that range from cottages with balconies and fans overlooking the ocean to those offering the postcard Pitons panorama. But you won’t be hanging around in the rooms; you’ll be going on volcano tours, rainforest walks, snorkelling forays and sailing outings, having massages or lolling by the modest pool with its Pitons view, or drinking rum punch to a reggae soundtrack in the unpretentious bar or local-favourite Lifeline restaurant.
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10. Silversands, Grenada
An upmarket arriviste on the ivory sands of Grand Anse beach, Silversands offers a slick way to enjoy the delights of the “spice island” (waterfall chasing, magical diving, and tours of old spice plantations, organic farms and ancient rum distilleries). It has 43 suites, and hillside and beach villas hidden amid its foliage; at 100m, its outdoor infinity pool is the longest in the Caribbean. Two restaurants showcase produce from line-caught fish to handpicked herbs and Grenadian craft beers, rums and wines. The hotel also works with local operators and guides to connect guests with the island’s culture and landscape.
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11. Castara Retreats, Tobago
This ecolodge is perched over Castara Beach in a fishing village on the reef-filled Bay of Castara. The two-acre garden nudges up to one of the oldest protected rainforests in the world. The 16 self-catering options include treehouses built from cypress and cedarwood, fishermen’s shacks and apartments of various sizes. Expect open-air bedrooms, hammocks and expansive decks for watching freewheeling frigatebirds. All have views of forest, beach, sky and peaks, and admit cooling breezes, the calls of motmot birds and the crash of the surf.
12. Cobblers Cove, Barbados
One of the best-loved hotels on Barbados, Cobblers Cove hogs a quarter-mile of sugar-white beach on the less busy west coast and has three acres of lush, well-tended gardens. Over the past five years, the designers Sam de Teran and Soane Britain have given a facelift to the pool, pavilion and 40 suites — now, powder-pink interiors come with pretty white woodwork, hand-printed linens and island-made rattan furniture. The Bajan chef Jason Joseph serves island-inspired dishes using produce from 254 local farmers.
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13. Secret Bay, Dominica
Dominica is an unspoilt haven of jungle. Sitting at the edge of it all, looking out to sea is Secret Bay, with six sustainable Guyanese hardwood-built villas and bungalows, plus a two-storey treehouse. Lounge in hammocks, join yoga in the open-air pavilion, snorkel, paddleboard or take cooking classes. The beachfront restaurant Zing Zing’s menu depends on the produce available that morning. Breakfast baskets and home-cooked meals are delivered to your door. If you wander to the tiny beach below, you can kayak to an even better one, and have it to yourself for sunset.
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14. Como Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos
This is the resort that defined rock-star beach living in the late 1990s, though gentle tides, white sands and surreally turquoise waters bring peace. Interiors are rustic-elegant in floaty shades of white. Options in the two restaurants include Como Shambhala Cuisine: raw foods and reduced salt and dairy. In the spa — overlooking mangroves where ruby-throated hummingbirds buzz — shiatsu, ayurvedic detox and intuitive counselling unfold. Beyond the hotel’s 63 rooms are 11 private villas to rent, including one owned by Donna Karan. There is an adults-only swimming pool.
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15. The Atlantis Historic Inn, Barbados
This ten-room hotel in a 19th-century house is on the wind-whipped Atlantic coast of Barbados, where rugged hills fall into the sea. The laid-back Aussie owner Andrew Warden also runs the west coast’s Little Good Harbour hotel and the Fish Pot restaurant. The Atlantis was built in the 1880s as a resort hotel for the new Barbados railway from Bridgetown, and today’s version recreates the simple Barbadian beach holidays of yesteryear. Bajan cuisine is a big draw — miss at your peril the West Indies Buffet Brunch: suckling pig, rice and peas, pork belly, flying fish, callaloo, plantain and rum cakes.
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16. Casa Bonita, Dominican Republic
The antithesis of the Dom Rep’s all-inclusives, Casa Bonita is a country retreat turned cosy family-run hotel on the wilder southern coast, next to the country’s biosphere reserve. Encircled by mountains, jungle and sea, and serenaded by birdsong, the hotel was built with island materials, and the restaurant serves local seafood and vegetables from the hotel’s patch. In the spa, the therapists work their own herbs and ingredients into the treatments. All 13 homely, laid-back rooms and casitas have sensational mountain or sea views. Busy yourself hiking, biking, snorkelling or surfing, or hang out by the infinity pool in gardens of coconut palms and mahogany trees.
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17. Bequia Beach Hotel, St Vincent and the Grenadines
This upmarket, family-owned hotel on Friendship Bay was inspired by Oliver Messel, the architect who created the classic Caribbean look for Mustique’s villas. So expect grown-up luxury in the 59 rooms, suites and villas. Bequia is beloved of yachties, and the hotel’s owner Bengt Mortstedt is a sailor — the hotel’s new high-tech 114ft Italian superyacht, Star of the Sea, can carry 20 for a day’s sail, and sleeps up to 12 for longer private journeys. The hotel’s four-bedroom villa has its own pool and deck.
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18. Kanopi House, Jamaica
Here you sleep in the jungle canopy, in a romantic treehouse, wrapped up in 100ft banyan trees. No trees were harmed in the creation of this idyllic den, though: the hotel has a deep green philosophy. Meals are eaten communally and might include line-caught local fish and vegetables from the mountain garden. Each of the eight treehouses is different: Almond Tree has a big carved-wood four-poster bed, and Spanish Elm has its own living and eating area and large deck. Children over seven are welcome. The hotel is a stone’s throw from Blue Lagoon, where the Brooke Shields movie of the same name was filmed.
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19. Eden Rock, St Barts
One of the most glamorous hotels in the Caribbean, Eden Rock sits proud on its rocky promontory. After hurricane damage, the Oetker Collection owners added new rooms and suites, some with pools, bringing the total to 37. Artworks from the New York Academy of Art, a new bar, and a restaurant and spa given the Martin Brudnizki design treatment complete the picture. The menu remains in the hands of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, aided and abetted by ABC & Jojo restaurants, New York’s mindful-eating favourites. The three-cabin Eden Spa rolls with a yachty theme along with the local health and beauty brand Ligne St Barth.
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20. Le Jardin Malanga, Guadeloupe
In glorious isolation on a former coffee plantation in little Francophone Guadeloupe, the peaceful Le Jardin Malanga is full of atmosphere. It has three guest rooms in the main 1920s house, including one suite, and three outlying cottages. There’s an infinity pool with a view, and a little Creole-French restaurant making use of produce from the estate. TV and wi-fi are restricted to public spaces, and you’ll want a car to reach the nearest beach, a 20-minute drive away. The Trois Rivières area in southern Basse-Terre is on the cusp of Guadeloupe National Park, so wonderful hiking trails are on your doorstep.
21. French Coco, Martinique
On Martinique’s Atlantic coast, French Coco sits on the edge of the Caravelle peninsula’s nature reserve in the unimposing fishing village of Tartane. All but one of the 17 suites has its own plunge pool opening on to a little garden. Soft linens and creature comforts merge with Creole wood furniture and private terraces. Active types will appreciate the tennis, yoga and hiking options, and there’s the chance to cook with the bilingual chef. Set just away from the local beaches, French Coco is all about the butterfly-filled gardens dripping with fragrant jasmine and lemongrass.
22. Olveston House, Montserrat
When it was owned by the Beatles’ producer George Martin, who also counted the nearby Air Studios in his portfolio, Olveston House hosted everyone from Elton John to Sting and Paul McCartney: witness the gold LPs that line the walls. It was reincarnated in 2009 as a simple, good-value and unpretentious guesthouse, with six large rooms on one of the Caribbean’s most unspoilt islands. There are five acres of tropical gardens and a breeze-cooled wraparound porch from where you’ll see gambolling iguanas and Montserrat’s epic volcano. With barbecues, pub nights, roasts and high teas, there’s a warm vibe here, thanks in part to the gossipy restaurant where locals gather.
23. Jade Mountain, St Lucia
Jade Mountain redefines the concept of a room with a view. Every one, carved out of island rock, looks out on to the Pitons, the twin volcanic bluffs that pierce the horizon. Twenty-nine “sanctuaries”, most with infinity pools, are open to the elements, with jutting wooden decks designed for privacy. Emerge to experience the small, pampering spa and to eat: lashings of seafood, and vegetables from the owner’s organic farm. Guests also have access to all the services of Anse Chastanet, the sea-level resort below that has the same owners.
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24. Skylark Negril Beach Resort, Jamaica
A new fresh and fun little sister to Negril’s clifftop Rockhouse, the 28-room Skylark Negril Beach Resort has a spot on the white-sand Seven Mile Beach, widely considered a world-beater, with the best sunsets in Jamaica. Snorkelling and paddleboarding are on tap. Contemporary and upbeat, Skylark is decorated in bright jewel colours and has its own Miss Lily’s, the first Caribbean outpost of New York’s Jamaican jerk smokehouse and grill. The Skylark Spa uses natural, Caribbean-made products.
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25. The Island House, Nassau
An antidote to the larger Bahamian resorts, the Island House is an elegantly simple, art-filled boutique decorated with bamboo and custom-wood pieces, with cute details such as wicker swings in the landscaped gardens. It’s quite “bells and whistles” for a small place. The 30 room-and-suite hotel has a pool flanked with white loungers, private beach access, two restaurants, a café, wine shop, art-house cinema, lap pool, yoga studio (which also does ballet barre classes), squash courts, a Bamford Spa and even a workspace for holidaying workaholics. There’s an amazing southeast Asian restaurant, Shima, and Mahogany House offers Mediterranean food. The Coffee Bar is a bakery and deli.
26. Montpelier Plantation, Nevis
The wedding venue of Horatio Nelson and his ill-fated first wife Fanny Nisbet, Montpelier is a beautiful 300-year-old plantation house — a reminder of the wealth that Nevis once amassed from slave-produced sugar. The hotel’s lofty perch in its 60-acre estate yields fabulous views. The 19 bedrooms are in spacious cottages with verandas, decorated in white with rattan pieces. The beach is about a 20-minute drive away, which means Montpelier is about walking, reading and hanging out by the pool. Or making new friends: communal evening drinks and canapés precede three-course candlelit dinners.
27. Guana Island Resort, British Virgin Islands
Gently bucking the trend of the British Virgin Islands’ more famous, high-luxury resorts, Guana Island is a secluded barefoot hideaway with laid-back vibe and castaway chic. Eighteen cottages with whitewashed walls, rattan furniture and jasmine-shrouded terraces sit along the clifftop. Rooms are low on technology; instead guests go hiking in the island’s private nature reserve, watch iguanas plod around the beach, or hang out in the residents’ club, which is carved out of the stone-built remains of an old Quaker plantation settlement. You’ll have more fun than the Quakers did, though: the cocktails are great and so is the seafood.
28. Point Grace, Turks and Caicos
Point Grace is set on, and named after, a 13-mile stretch of beach that is regularly billed as one of the best in the world, and forms part of a national park. The sand is as soft as talcum powder, and the sea bathwater-warm, shallow and brilliant turquoise. Point Grace has 28 luxurious suites and penthouses with up to four bedrooms; all 28 are at least 1,000 sq ft and decorated with local art. Days are spent on the glorious beach or in the Thalasso Spa, and at the two restaurants — one fine dining, one brasserie style. This is a quiet spot, and although other hotels line the beach, it’s easy to find peace here.
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29. Zemi Beach, Anguilla
Anguilla is tiny, but Zemi Beach still manages to feel luxuriously remote on its stretch of glorious beach in Shoal Bay East. The 54 high-tech rooms, nine villas and two infinity pools are primed for ocean views. A kids’ club, large gardens and good menu of watery activities (from sailing and kite surfing to swimming with dolphins) make it particularly family-friendly. There’s a Thai-inspired spa and hammam in a 300-year-old barn, and an in-house “rummelier” — in fact, there’s a room devoted entirely to rum if you want to try a half-century-old Appleton.
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30. Mont Plaisir Estate Hotel, Trinidad
In wild and wonderful northeast Trinidad, this under-the-radar eco retreat on a brilliant-blue bay has 13 unpretentious but comfortable rooms, including family-friendly “dormitory” options sleeping up to six. The garden is filled with fruit trees, from Thai durians to Vietnamese mangoes. The nearby village community is involved in all the hotel’s activities, and nature dominates; leatherback turtles and colourful birds populate the coast. Service is excellent and the intimate restaurant serves Caribbean comfort food — don’t miss the “Trini breakfasts” that include saltfish buljol and veggie choka.
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