Dense green rainforest, dark volcanic beaches and the iconic twin peaks of the Pitons make St Lucia the sultry beauty queen of the Caribbean. This magnificent island might be a honeymoon favourite but it's not at all manicured: the roads are hilly and tortuous, the fishing villages ramshackle, the mood exotic and piratical. Come here if you fancy plunging into nature – hiking through damp rainforest, diving in the Soufriere marine park, visiting sulphur springs – then flopping down in a small and welcoming hotel. Most properties here are on the west coast with, unusually, those in the hills just as attractive as others on the beach. Here's our top ten.
Best hotels in St Lucia
With a one-in-a-million location between the World Heritage-listed Pitons, this luxurious all-white beach and hillside resort near Soufriere has a pampering and soul-soothing ambience. There are 96 rooms, cottages, bungalows and villas, plus 18 one-to-four-bedroom residences and two grand beachfront homes, but little sense of congestion thanks to the tranquil gardens and perfect white sand beach. Private plunge pools, a tree-house-style spa, butler service and an elegant Great Room restaurant complete the feeling that you’re staying somewhere quite exceptional.
Created by British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat, this lofty adults-only hotel is set on a 140-acre working estate south of Soufriere and has a fine view of Petit Piton. Foodies will love it – the Boucan restaurant uses farm-grown organic cacao beans to enrich and enliven familiar dishes, and there are excellent tours to learn how chocolate is made. Built from wood and stone, the 14 rooms have a restful, pared-down style with no TV or A/C, while amenities include an infinity pool, innovative spa and complimentary shuttle to the beach.
This tranquil, cosseting and well-kept 30-room all-inclusive inn is set in lovely gardens sloping down to a calm beach beside La Brelotte Bay. Scattered around 12 acres, its cottages feature gingerbread fretwork and traditional shingle tiles, and have an unfussy and comforting style. The inn attracts numerous British regulars who are convivial – meals are generous with good wines that change every night. There's a pool, yoga classes and water sports, and a weekly programme of (chargeable) excursions includes boat trips and visits to a distillery and craft shops.
This confidently-run boutique resort rests on cliffs at the northern tip of St Lucia with steps nearby that lead down to a small public beach. Set in three acres of tropical grounds, its buildings have a whitewashed Spanish look, and include pretty garden rooms and junior suites through to airy, spacious one- to three-bedroom villa suites – the top-end ones come with roof-top terraces and private pools. Cuisine is a big draw here and the dress-up Cliff at Cap restaurant is renowned for its Caribbean-French menu. There's also a spa, two pools and water sports, as well as a kids’ club in summer holidays.
One advantage of staying on St Lucia's southern coast is you don't have a long and costly airport transfer – this four-star all-inclusive resort in Vieux Fort is just a five-minute drive away. A smart choice for families, its 240 rooms, eight restaurants and five pools are spread around an 85 acre site dotted with palm trees. Attractions include the largest water park on the island plus a fitness centre, tennis courts and spa. Sensibly, there's an adults-only wing too, and if you're into kite-surfing, this an ideal spot to go soaring above the waves.
Marigot Bay is a quiet, sheltered inlet popular with yachts – a beautiful spot but one where it helps to have a car. Guests need to take a free two-minute ferry ride to reach this homely, British-owned inn with a pool and three en suite rooms in a restful Caribbean style. Breakfast is included along with an honesty bar, and there are several bars and restaurants close by, as well as a shopping village, spas and marina. Being near the centre of the west coast makes this a good base for exploring, and there are walking trails for when it's time to stretch your legs.
This historic and still working organic cocoa plantation lies hidden away in the rainforest south of Soufriere. The 134-acre estate has 15 cottages with wooden floors and four-poster beds, including some with a plunge pool. Two restaurants serve Creole-style dishes – including roti and vegetarian options, plus there's a spa and cascading pool. It’s a particularly good choice for hikers, birdwatchers, chocoholics and travellers happy to be immersed in nature – plus children are welcome and there's a daily beach shuttle.
Families will enjoy this all-inclusive beach resort in Choc Bay, to the north of Castries, not least because it works hard to satisfy everyone’s holiday needs with its kids’ clubs, water sports, exercise classes and spa. The 335 rooms come in eight categories spread around 25 acres of tropical gardens that face an attractive beach, including hillside ocean-view suites with a panoramic view. Specialising in fish and seafood, over-water Morgan's Pier is one of six restaurants on site, and there’s a beach party and barbecue every Wednesday.
If you like boats, this high-rise waterfront hotel in Rodney Bay Marina has plenty in sight from its 115 nautically-themed ‘cabins’. Since April 2018 it’s been part of Hilton's Curio Collection, and the Riviera styling is reflected in its multi-level pools and top-floor, dinner-only Positano Santa Lucia restaurant serving Italian classics. The slickly-designed rooms come with robes and an espresso machine, while facilities include a gym and spa. You can walk to nearby shops and restaurants and a complimentary powerboat ride takes you to the beach at Pigeon Island, where towels and chairs are provided.
A smart pick if you like a lot to see and do on your doorstep, this colourful resort in Rodney Bay Village borders Reduit Beach, the most popular sands on the island. The 78 rooms come in three-storey blocks and have a balcony or patio, with the suites offering a full kitchen. Amenities include a spa, fitness centre and complimentary access to the Splash Water Park, while the Hi Tide restaurant serves Caribbean and international dishes – you'll find plenty more bars, shops and dining options in walking distance.