1 Tiamo Resort, South Andros Island, Bahamas
A National Geographic lodge, Tiamo Resort manages the fine balance between luxury and unsullied nature. On large but barely habited South Andros Island (which is best reached by seaplane), it comprises 13 sustainably built thatched-roof villas — some with private swimming pools — which surround spectacular coral reefs. Fellow guests may be there for the bonefishing or the diving, but there is plenty to appeal to the bone idle as well, including 6km of white-sand beach and a restaurant that plucks fish from the sea.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $700 a night (tiamoresorts.com)
2 Bahama House, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Famous for its pink sands and general air of exclusivity, Harbour Island is one of the Bahamas’ outer islands. The 11-room Bahama House, which opened in March, makes a solid push on the nostalgia front, with picket fences and mid-century furniture, while bringing fun (and a tiki bar) into the mix.
Details B&B doubles cost from $440 (£328) a night (033 3230 4217, mrandmrssmith.com)
3 Curtain Bluff, Antigua
This hotel, which has had a $13.5 million renovation, is an all-inclusive for people who would usually shudder at the thought. It’s at the larger end of boutique (there are 72 rooms and suites), but the setting is unique, with two beaches — one calm and Caribbean, the other stronger and Atlantic. It is still family-run and the owner lives on site and regularly invites guests to her house for cocktails.
Details A week’s all-inclusive, including flights, starts at £3,125pp (01752 880880, tropicbreeze.co.uk)
4 Inn at English Harbour, Antigua
With sweeping lawns reaching down to a beach the shade of clotted cream, this hotel — started by a British West Indian Airways pilot in the 1960s — has one of the best positions on Antigua. Comfortable, a little old-fashioned even, it is awash with colonial-era charm and well-made rum punches. A big pool adds to the feeling of space.
Details A week’s half-board, including flights, starts at £1,675pp
(020 7359 3938, realholidays.co.uk)
5 The Other Side, Eleuthera, Bahamas
This isn’t a resort but a “campus”, albeit one with a generous bar and restaurant. There are three sleeping “tents” with seating areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and air conditioning. There are also three “shacks”, which bring the same sense of space but have more wood in the mix. A swimming pool edges out into the ocean.
Details B&B doubles cost from $550 a night (ontheos.com)
6 Compass Point, Nassau, Bahamas
A riot of colour just downstream from breezy Nassau, Compass Point, on the edge of Love Beach, is uberrelaxed. Started by Chris Blackwell of Island Records, it has a series of huts that are painted every colour under the sun on the outside, but are calm and creamy on the inside. Compass Point’s musical heritage lives on with high-octane sound systems, poolside bars and restaurants.
Details A week’s B&B, including flights, starts at £1,795pp (0800 3160194, bon-voyage.co.uk)
7 Little Good Harbour, Barbados
At the far end of the Platinum Coast, Little Good Harbour is worth seeking out. This hotel, with 21 suites ranging from one to three bedroom cottages, is built around the Fish Pot, one of Barbados’s best restaurants. All have kitchens, but the ones in the newest Vineyard Suites are particularly high spec. Guests can buy fish straight from the boat in the nextdoor village of Shermans. Two swimming pools, a small spa and a narrow but delightful stretch of sand complete the package.
Details A week’s room only, including flights, starts at £1,700pp (020 3553 0265, scottdunn.com)
8 Sea-U Guesthouse, Barbados
Ignore the pun-tastic name and relax into the setting: a colonial-style building in the surfy Bathsheba area of eastern Barbados. Without making a fuss, this guesthouse, owned by a German travel writer, gets all the basics right, from the hammock-slung garden and honesty bar to the amazing food. Breakfast includes homemade banana breads, pancakes and every type of local fruit. Not all rooms have air conditioning, but there are ceiling fans and sea breezes. A village with roadside food stalls and beach bars add to Sea-U’s considerable appeal.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $119 (seaubarbados.com)
9 Bequia Beach Hotel, Bequia
Looking on to Mustique, little Bequia offers a gentler, quieter alternative than its neighbour. On Friendship Beach, this 57-room hotel is all verandas, whirring fans and electric pink furniture. The hotel includes two restaurants, as well as a beach bar on nearby Princess Margaret Beach, a yacht and a charter plane to bring guests to the island, with flights from St Lucia and Barbados.
Details A week’s B&B, including flights, transfers and water sports, starts at £1,480pp (01373 814244, justbequia.co.uk)
10 Sugar Reef, Bequia
Spread over a 28-acre coconut plantation, Sugar Reef was recently given a very attractive update, with plenty of pinks and blues and a 1950s-style charm. The five-bedroom French House can be rented by individuals or by a group and has its own swimming pool. There are also three simple, light rooms with four-poster beds by the beach. The Beach Café dishes out seafood-centric meals using produce from the estate and locally caught fish. There’s no dress code and no hassle.
Details B&B doubles cost from $120 a night (sugarreefbequia.com)
11 Petit St Vincent, the Grenadines
Reached by light aircraft from Barbados and then a short boat ride, this private island has 22 cottages, two restaurants and a spa. The rate includes full board (you will only pay for drinks, and there’s a cellar with 4,000 bottles to tempt you). There’s no swimming pool and minimal wifi, but the beaches are gorgeous and there’s a diving school run by Jacques Cousteau’s son. Relaxation is a serious mission here; guests return year after year.
Details A week’s full board, including flights, transfers and watersports, starts at £4,656pp (01244 897516, elegantresorts.co.uk)
12 Young Island Resort, the Grenadines
Reached by a short ferry from St Vincent, the 29 cottages on 13 acres of Young Island will give you all the peace and quiet you want. The decor may not be cutting edge, but it ticks all the boxes. You can while away the afternoons on the gold sand beaches and dine under thatched roofs at night. And it’s fun, thanks to nice touches such as the swim-up bar moored just offshore where drinks are served in coconuts. For a private island, it offers very good value.
Details A week’s all-inclusive, including flights and transfers, starts at £2,035 (0344 557 3870, virginholidays.co.uk)
13 Belle Mont Farm, St Kitts
Belle Mont in St Kitts arrived with a rush of eco-innovation in late 2014. In terms of luxury, it’s a departure for this part of the Caribbean, aiming to be sustainable, with food from the farm served at communal tables. The cottages, a confection of white linen and hardwood floors, four-poster beds and verandas, come with cinema screens and there’s also a championship golf course.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $291 a night (bellemontfarm.com)
14 Golden Rock Inn, Nevis
Tiny Nevis — a ferry ride from St Kitts — is beginning to capitalise on its Mustique-style star potential, and this 11-room hotel is one of the reasons why. Owned by a pair of New York artists and designed by Ed Tuttle, responsible for some of the best Aman hotels, it has a sense of history and enormous style. Be sure to eat in the Rocks, the hotel’s restaurant, where a local menu, including jerk pork with pineapple, blends with waterfalls and lily ponds and an air of general fabulousness.
Details B&B doubles cost from $250 a night (goldenrocknevis.com)
15 Paradise Beach, Nevis
This year five new beach houses will add capacity beyond the seven sleek and secluded villas already in place. Although there is a beach bar for breakfast and lunch, the hotel will stock your villa with provisions before you arrive, and private chefs are on tap for the evenings. Want to eat your way around Nevis without moving a muscle? Concierges will arrange deliveries from local restaurants. Next to the Four Seasons, Paradise Beach shares the same mesmerising views but comes with a much more low-key ethos.
Details A week’s B&B, including flights, costs from £3,675pp (01244 355527, inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk)
16 Paseo 206, Havana, Cuba
Owned by an Italian and his Cuban wife, and earlier this year, Paseo is the first hotel in Cuba to become a member of the Small Luxury Hotels group. A 1930s mansion in the embassy-rich Vedado district, with tiled floors and a serene mix of Italian/Cuban design, it comes with splashes of classic furniture. There are eight suites; the rooftop one a private terrace. The Eclectico restaurant is well regarded.
Details B&B doubles cost from £308 (slh.com)
17 Sailrock, Turks and Caicos
Due to open again in mid-December after repairing its hurricane damage, Sailrock, which originally opened on less-developed South Caicos last year, is all about less-is-more glamour. There are only 17 villas and one restaurant. Rooms still have plenty of gadgets, but ultimately they are designed to distract guests as little possible from the milky white sand and the glorious reef beyond.
Details B&B doubles cost from $750 a night (sailrockresort.com)
18 Goblin Hill Villas, Jamaica
This group of 28 villas is in Jamaica’s easy-going Portland area, with 11 acres of grounds looking over Frenchman’s Cove. Each villa has a housekeeper to cook and do the shopping. The villas share a swimming pool and two tennis courts; there’s also a bar. San San Beach, which is shallow and calm (and charges an entrance fee), is ten minutes’ walk away.
Details One-bedroom villas cost from $185 a night (goblinhillvillas.com)
19 Rockhouse, Jamaica
With help from African drumming classes, superb restaurants and sterling management, Rockhouse manages to feel special without being precious. On Pristine Cove outside Negril, the best of its 34 rooms and villas are on the cliff front, facing towards the sunset with bathing platforms just above sea level. The three restaurants plus a fresh juice bar use produce grown on the eight-acre estate. This is one of the Caribbean’s most Instagrammable hotels.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $95 a night (rockhouse.com)
20 Mockingbird Hill, Jamaica
The ginger beer is homemade, the local fish crusted in coriander and coconut. Mockingbird Hill is centered on food like no other hotel in Jamaica. It has ten rooms, all as quiet and serene as the surroundings, an organic plantation in the Port Antonio area. It’s not a fly-and-flop destination: there are hikes to take, including those down to Frenchman’s Cove or Reach Falls. A small spa in the grounds rounds off the experience.
Details B&B doubles cost from £186 a night (hotelmockingbirdhill.com)
21 Laluna, Grenada
In the wafty-linen-and-morning-yoga tradition, Laluna has 16 villas, ranging from one to five bedrooms, many with swimming pools. There’s also a private beach. Laluna’s restaurant is one of Grenada’s nicest; the Italian owner imports olives, wines and cheese from his homeland and blends it well with Grenada’s strong food culture.
Details A week’s room-only, including flights, starts at £1,579pp (0344 493 0120, ba.com)
22 La Sagesse, Grenada
La Sagasse has only 12 rooms, some in the main house, others in cottages dotted about the estate. All are a few paces from the stunning beach. La Sagesse’s restaurant is on the beach too and serves grilled lobster and vegetables provided by its organic farm. While it may feel remote, a ten-minute walk brings you to a bus stop, and the capital, St George, is 30 minutes away.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $145 a night (lasagesse.com)
23 Calabash, Grenada
By dint of being small, the first boutique hotels in the Caribbean were able to snaffle positions by the best beaches, and Calabash is no exception. On Prickly Bay, its 30 cottages form a crescent around a delightful beach, while five villas provide extra privacy and space. There are two restaurants, one overseen by Gary Rhodes, a spa and superb facilities, including swimming pools and tennis courts.
Details A week’s B&B, including flights, starts at £3,420pp (0344 557 3870, virginholidays.co.uk)
24 Eden Roc, Dominican Republic
The spectacular 32km beach of Punta Cana that has brought mega-resorts to the Dominican Republic is also home to this 34-room bolt hole. Exclusive and private, with a vast freeform swimming pool, it is much better value than other parts of the Caribbean. A member of Relais & Châteaux, it’s also very foodie, and has three restaurants, as well as a Jack Nicklaus golf course near by.
Details A week’s B&B, including flights, starts at £2,659pp (01244 355527, inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk)
25 Casa Colonial, Dominican Republic
This member of Small Luxury Hotels comes with a private beach and rooftop infinity swimming pool, but it has reasonable rates. There are only 50 suites, all suitably luxe, with marble floors and understated colonial furnishings, plus spa and beach-facing garden. There are complimentary transfers to the adjacent Playa Dorada golf course.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $160 a night (casacolonialhotel.com)
26 Castara Retreats, Tobago
Perched above a proper Tobagan fishing village, this hotel has everything you want from the Caribbean. The 16 rooms are gorgeous, with hardwood floors, shutters and verandas with hammocks. All have kitchenettes should you wish to self-cater, but Castara’s restaurant is everything you would want it to be, with jerk chicken and freshly grilled fish that has been caught by the villagers.
Details A week room-only starts at £1,059pp, including flights (020 3553 7543, theprivatetravelcompany.co.uk)
27 Boardwalk, Aruba
With charter flights, Aruba in the Dutch Antilles is easy to get to. Mega-resorts have colonised most of the choice beaches; Boardwalk is sandwiched between a Marriott and the Ritz Carlton. It has just 14 casitas, all with kitchens and barbecue areas. There’s a swimming pool in the garden and a generous supply of hammocks, while a three-minute walk brings you to a private section of Palm Beach.
Details Room-only doubles cost from $138 a night (boardwalkaruba.com)
28 Ladera, St Lucia
With possibly the most spectacular setting in the Caribbean, Ladera sits high in the hills, between the two Piton mountains. It drips with honeymoonish charm. It was St Lucia’s first boutique hotel and has led Caribbean eco-design ever since. All rooms are open on one side to the elements, including frogs and hummingbirds, although four-poster beds with mosquito nets keep insects away. A shuttle will take you to Sugar Beach and its more conventional luxury, but Ladera’s bar, restaurant, plunge pools and atmosphere will bring you back.
Details A week’s room-only, including flights, starts at £2,689pp (01293 832459, sovereign.com)
29 Ti Kaye, St Lucia
Overlooking Anse Cochon Beach, Ti Kaye is St Lucia’s most secluded beach hotel. The 33 villas are perched on a hillside to get the maximum impact from the views. A set of steps brings you down the beach where you will find a restaurant and a bar. Expect great diving and proper Caribbean food (the johnnycakes at breakfast produce rave responses). You can hire a car and explore, but you may just want to stay put to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and superb sunsets. No children under 12 are allowed.
Details Room-only doubles cost from £192 a night (01179 467072, i-escape.com)
30 Fond Doux Plantation, St Lucia
Near Soufrière, this collection of 15 cottages is a working plantation that produces cacao alongside guava and citrus fruits. Eight have their own plunge pools, but there’s also a main pool and a spa. Two restaurants serve up the estate’s produce in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s not glitzy, but it is gorgeous.
Details B&B doubles cost from $275 a night (fonddouxestate.com)
After Hurricane Irma
More than 70 per cent of the islands were unaffected or had minimal damage from the hurricanes in the Caribbean this summer. Instead, Irma and Maria took devastating aim at a small section of the region, striking Anguilla, St Barts, Barbuda, the Virgin Islands and Dominica.
Nicki Goldsmith at Virgin Holidays says: “There’s a misconception among the British public that Hurricane Irma wiped out the Caribbean. The majority of core tourist hot spots such as Jamaica, St Lucia and Barbados were not impacted.”
Airports have reopened on the affected islands, including the Princess Juliana Airport in St Maarten, which serves many of the Leeward islands, and hotels are beginning to follow suit. Some of Anguilla’s hotels are planning to reopen before Christmas while others, such as Malliouhana and the Four Seasons, will be closed until after Easter.
Most of the big hotels on St Barts are expecting to open later in 2018. Some parts of the Virgin Islands and Dominica may take as long to recover, but have reconstruction plans in place.