The Caribbean islands are a dreamy collection of sun-soaked nations with tropical beaches and vibrant culture. Deciding you should visit is easy; exactly where to go is less so. Dream vacations are to be had from Barbados to Jamaica, from Grenada to Haiti and everywhere in between. Make your holiday extra special by eschewing the large resorts for a boutique hotel; here are the best of them.
A Caribbean city break need not be a contradiction in terms when you stay at the Hodelpa Gran Almirante. Located in the centre of Santiago de los Caballeros, the hotel has a second-floor pool with urban views from its canopied daybeds, rather than overlooking a beach or jungle. It’s close to nightlife, shops and eateries, and there’s also an on-site tapas bar, breakfast buffet and 24-hour room service, perfect for post-partying sustenance. With 153 bedrooms, it’s at the larger end of the boutique hotel spectrum.
Crafted from limestone and pinewood, Sweetfield Manor was once the home of Barbadian merchant families. It’s now a faithfully restored boutique with lush landscaped gardens and an outdoor spa where massages and yoga take place. An al fresco courtyard houses Pavão, a Caribbean and international fine-dining venue, while the rooms are split between the historic manor and its outer buildings. When you’re not chilling in the lagoon pool, head to Carlisle Bay, home to water sports and snorkelling.
Designed by local architects and artists, the Karibe Hotel is found in quiet Juvenat, around a 40-minute drive south of capital city Port-au-Prince and 10 minutes from Pétion-Ville. The 174 rooms include long-stay apartments and there’s a jungle spa, a fitness centre offering muscle-boosting classes and a Creole-inspired fusion restaurant. The rooftop lounge is a nightlife spot after dark and a place to recline by day, with a pool overlooking the city centre, mountain range and bay area.
The Rabot Hotel sits on an organic, sustainable cacao farm in St Lucia. Guests are accommodated in 14 private ecolodges with four-poster beds and inside-outside architecture providing a meditative rainforest experience. The property is part of the Hotel Chocolat chain, which means guests can create their own chocolate bars from the estate beans, or indulge in cacao spa treatments.
This early 19th-century cut stone mill provides 11 rustic bedrooms with exposed walls and pops of vibrant colour set over two storeys. Spread across a large area of high hillside, the verdant artist-designed gardens contain a green freshwater pool. Guests can dine on fresh local fish and lobster at the Rocks restaurant, either within the garden enclosure or on a deck facing the seafront. Keep your eye out for the resident green vervet monkeys and hummingbirds.
The fertile fruit, vegetable and kitchen gardens of the Petite Anse Hotel provide ingredients for the on-site farm-to-table restaurant. Owners Philip and Annie Clift have created a cottage-style resort with guided walks held every Sunday, followed by a barbecue luncheon. A stream runs through the estate, alongside a tropical pond and pool, with plenty of idyllic nooks and crannies, making it a popular choice for weddings, honeymoons and romantic breaks.
This eco-friendly resort is in the capital, St George’s, just five minutes’ drive from the airport and 10 minutes from Grand Anse Beach. Book a customised wellness package or holistic retreat at the Sankalpa Yoga Studio. Tours, tastings, yacht charters and cooking classes are also available, as are organic treatments at the Blue Haven Spa. And guests can shop for artisan crafts, gifts and snacks at the Truebluetique.
Jakes is a family-friendly boutique retreat with quirky oceanfront bungalows, cottages and villas, and sporting a vibe incorporating elements of Jimi Hendrix, Antoni Gaudi and Jamaican beach life. Two restaurants use the best ingredients in the area – collected by the local community – to put on an ever-changing menu of authentic Jamaican cuisine. Head to Jack Sprat bar to kick back with a cocktail. There’s also a spa, kids’ club, creative classes, yoga and a barefoot feel that’s far removed from that of the busier resorts of the island.
This luxe boutique hidden within the exclusive Puntacana Resort features a selection of villas designed by the late Dominican fashion couturier Oscar de la Renta. The setting for his work could have hardly been prettier, with the Caribbean Sea gently lapping soft sands. Guests at Tortuga Bay benefit from the amenities of the wider resort, which includes six fine-dining restaurants, an Oscar de la Renta boutique and the Six Senses Spa.
If you need more inspiration, check out some exquisite hotels in Santo Domingo or beautiful boutique hotels in Puerto Rico – they’re all bookable with Culture Trip. Alternatively, add Anguilla to your Caribbean itinerary; see the best hotels in Anguilla now.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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