Parisian glamour chills out with a dose of relaxed Caribbean cool at St Barths' Hotel Christopher, a clifftop, ocean-facing luxury getaway that fits right in amid the sprawling private villas that surround it. The Sisley-run spa and the island’s largest swimming pool (fresh-water, infinity and picturesquely situated) provide constant temptations for you to drag yourself from the granite baths and ocean views of your room, and the island’s sophisticated shopping and dining try to pull you from your quiet retreat.
At the hotel
Swimming pool, spa, fitness centre with classes, DVD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, DVD player, minibar (free upon arrival, refills charged), tea- and coffee-making facilities, bathrobes, Sisley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Obviously we’d spring for the Ocean Panoramic Suite if we just had to have the best views, but we’re also especially partial to the Ocean Deluxe Terrace rooms, whose cape location makes make them feel especially private. Plus, they’re the only non-suite rooms to have the sleek granite soaking tubs we’d like to bathe in multiple times a day.
St Barth’s largest pool, Hotel Christopher’s fresh-water infinity swimming pool overlooks the ocean from its clifftop location. If you can’t bear to give up the panoramic view from your sunlounger, drinks and food can be delivered to you throughout the day.
The oceanfront Sisley Spa – run by the designer Parisian cosmetics brand of the same name – offers a full range of its signature Phyto-Aromatic treatments to soothe your body and mind.
A French dictionary, if you’re not entirely comfortable with your français; not only is it the local language, but the majority of the staff are French.
In addition to the Sisley Spa, the hotel has a fitness centre that overlooks the ocean, and where yoga, pilates and aqua training classes (reservations required, €50 each) are held regularly.
Small pets under five kilograms can stay for free. See more pet-friendly hotels in St Barths.
Those under age four can stay in their parents’ room for free and the restaurants have a kids’ menu. Up to two extra beds can be added for 120€ per night each, including breakfast. The pool has a shallow end and the concierge can arrange babysitting.
The hotel's restaurants Taino and Mango, serve up an abundance of fresh seafood alongside breath-taking ocean views amid cooling sea breezes. Home of the decadent breakfast buffet, Taino also offers a refined dinner menu that runs the gamut from Caribbean-style lobster to elegant European dishes. Poolside Mango is the low-key lunch and daytime destination in between swims and spa treatments where favourites include mahi mahi with tartare sauce, lobster ravioli and their beach burger 'Le Pointe Milou', which is made with steamed mahi-mahi, curry cream cheese and spinach sprouts; finish with one of their freshly baked tarts with exotic fruits and light vanilla cream.
Each restaurant has a bar with the same signature seaside elegance, and Mango’s doubles as the pool watering hole throughout the day. Tropical cocktails, light wines and icy beers are the name of the game – and the perfect accompaniment to those ocean views.
Breakfast is from 7am to 10:30am; lunch from noon to 3pm; pool bar menu from 10:30am to 12 noon, and from 3pm to 7pm; dinner and drinks from 7pm to 10pm.
Limited versions of the restaurant menus are available in your room when they’re served at the restaurants. Overnight, a selection of sandwiches and salads can be ordered.
Getting to St Barths is a slight mission – and just part of the exclusive charm. The nearest international hub is Juliana Airport on St Maarten, 25km away, or you can fly via Antigua or Guadeloupe. There, you’ll make your connection to St Barths’ Gustaf III Airport (SBH) on Air Caraibes (www.aircaraibesexpress.com; +590 (0)590 87 14 80) or St Barth Commuter (www.stbarthcommuter.com; + 590 (0)590 27 54 54), both of which offer scheduled and charter flights.
Hire a car in order to explore the island, as the hotel is situated in a residential area a 10-minute drive from the closest town, and a 20-minute drive from the capital.
Worth getting out of bed for
You don’t have to leave the hotel to stay busy – if, that is, your idea of staying busy involves lots of time relaxing. The Sisley Spa could easily occupy much of your time with its extensive menu of facials, massages and various body and skin treatments. Similarly, the pool is the perfect spot to park yourself for a day with a good book and a steady stream of drinks, while the yoga, pilates and aquabiking classes mean you don’t feel too sloth-like.
If you start to go a bit stir-crazy, though, St Barth’s has plenty to keep you occupied. The concierge can help you arrange excursions from snorkelling and scuba diving to sailing and fishing. Take a picnic down to one of the surrounding beaches – Shell, Gouverneur and Saline are our personal favourites – and lounge about there, or stretch your legs on the rugged, 30-minute hike from Gustavia to Combier Beach, one of the island’s most seclude stretches of sand. Get your dose of culture in Gustavia and St-Jean, with their spate of designer boutiques and trendy cafés and bars.
Nearby On The Rocks, at Eden Rock hotel, is one of the island’s to fine-dining destinations, with ocean views and an innovative menu from celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (+590 590 29 79 99). The jet-set's top spot is, without a doubt, Le Ti St Barth (+590 590 279771), a fun-loving island institution of consistently good food, well-mixed cocktails and entertainment that includes a cabaret and regular DJs. In Gustavia, Bonito (+590 590 279696) at Rue Lubin Brin has a hilltop perch with dazzling views, wonderful tapas and an imaginative drinks menu. Service is relaxed, to the point of slowness, so don’t come here in a rush.