St. John may be the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, but it’s positively overflowing with charm. Historically, the unspoiled island has always lacked the sprawling mega-resorts that populate so many other Caribbean islands, and after 2017's devastating Hurricane Irma, some of the larger iconic stays that were around were closed indefinitely. Though St. John is definitely still in the process of recovery, dozens of hotels — largely boutique and independent — are on hand to give a warm island welcome to visitors. If you're planning a trip to explore the stunning Virgin Islands National Park, pristine beaches, hummingbird-dotted mangroves and turtle-filled waters of St. John, consider these top-notch properties.
01 of 09
The Sea Shore Allure offers travelers the best of both worlds: the seclusion of a true island getaway (but with plenty to do in the surrounding area) and the feel of a boutique hotel with the amenities of a luxurious resort. There’s a stunning outdoor pool with spa jets and an adjacent tiki bar and grill, as well as an eight-person hot tub situated right along the bay. Guests are also welcome to head up to the private sunbathing roof terrace or down to a private pebble beach, where free beach chairs, coolers and unlimited towels are available.
Families staying here will be happy with multi-bedroom suites and nanny and childcare services upon request. The eight villas are soundproofed for a rejuvenating night’s sleep and beautifully appointed from fine white linens and gourmet kitchens to rainfall showers and Brazilian hardwood detailing. Those looking for more luxury can hire an in-villa private chef, take advantage of perks like in-room wine chillers (available in multi-room suites) or... ask for a pampering massage treatment in their sunset-hued room. Nothing is too big an ask here — guests can even have a rental car brought to the hotel for them.
02 of 09
On relatively expensive St. John, Hillcrest Guest House — overlooking the sailboat-filled Cruz Bay and surrounded by forested hills — is one of the best wallet-friendly options. Built in 1966, it’s also one of the oldest, and still family-run. The beach and the bay's restaurants and bars are just a four-minute walk downhill (though full disclosure: the walk back up is quite steep). Four suites are currently available. Among them, the Front Suite has the best views of town and the Orchid Suite comes with a well-equipped kitchenette. Simply furnished but cozy rooms all have canopy beds, wrought-iron furnishings and island touches like tropical prints and wicker chairs. Each suite comes with everything needed for the beach, including towels, coolers, snorkels and fins — and, upon arrival, is stocked with Cruzan rum, wine and beer. If you're a caffeine fiend, that's no problem. Rooms have French presses and espresso makers, as well as a few breakfast items. Upstairs, a... screened-in lounge provides guests with a spot to curl up with a book in the evening.
03 of 09
The Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel may have just 10 rooms and one penthouse suite, but it has a whole lot of charm. Accommodations are cozy — like the guestroom of a close friend’s home. They're also immaculately clean and simple, with homey touches like white quilts and little luxuries like pillow-top mattresses. The hotel’s location in the heart of Cruz Bay means guests are never too far from stellar restaurants and bars, and it’s only 250 feet away from the ferry — making it one of the most convenient options on an island where lodgings can sometimes feel remote without a car.
If you don’t want to venture far from your room, there are two great restaurants on the hotel's ground level. DaLivio serves fresh homemade pasta, and Sogo’s features a menu of traditional Caribbean dishes. For breakfast, the hotel offers a great continental spread that can be enjoyed from a second-floor balcony overlooking the harbor’s colorful rooftops. The stay is also a pioneer of sustainability, with... rooftop solar panels catching and converting the island sun into electricity that powers 85-percent of the property. Four solar drum hot water heaters also ensure showers are toasty when wanted.
04 of 09
Treetops is basically a kids’ wildest dream. The bed and breakfast is tucked into the hillside of a secluded valley and surrounded by forest with a large wooden patio offering gorgeous views of the landscape. Rooms are simply designed with wicker furnishings, colorful island-print linens and whitewashed shiplap ceilings. Each unit also comes with complimentary beach chairs, towels, coolers and snorkel gear for guests to use. A wonderful breakfast, unlimited Keurig coffee and parking are included, and guests can grill on the property’s gas barbecue. Given the height of the decks, it’s not ideal for really young children, but older kids will have a blast. If the kids aren’t kept busy exploring the nature around them, the friendly owners can also arrange snorkeling and diving charters on their lobster boat, Pot Luck. One thing to note: given the relatively remote location, a car is all but required for a stay here.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Built among Danish plantation ruins from the 18th century, Estate Lindholm is an intimate inn with just over two dozen rooms. Overlooking Cruz Bay, away from the hustle and bustle of the harbor, it's a perfect option for couples in search of a secluded hideaway. The inn is also adults-only, so peace and quiet are assured. Guestrooms are done up in traditional island style with crisp white linens, wicker accents and dark wood against cool tile floors. Each “luxe-relaxed” room also has a private balcony to take in the lush gardens during the day and to watch the stunning sunsets in the evening.
The owner, Brion (the property has been run by generations of his family) and property manager, Gordon, greet guests during continental breakfasts and can offer tips on where to eat as well as where to snorkel (gear is available to borrow). Adventurous couples can visit the island’s famous Honeymoon and Salomon beaches via a short hike along Virgin Islands National Park trails. At the end of... the day, beaux can treat themselves to the garden spa or a dip in the inn’s freshwater pool.
06 of 09
Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, set on a tree-covered hill overlooking stunning turquoise waters, is the ultimate in St. John luxury. There’s a gorgeous pool with views of the sea through its white stone balustrade, lush tropical gardens and serene spa treatment rooms. The Eco Serendib Spa is, in fact, the only one in the Caribbean to carry Sodashi’s all-natural, organic products which you can test out during a mineral soak in the mosaiced tub by artist Susan Jablon or during a luxe outdoor cabana massage.
The property’s eight rooms — all with king-size beds, 500-600 thread-count sheets and Andrew Morgan Collection bedding — are individually decorated. But in all, you'll find both modern and island touches like geometric neutral prints, wicker and dark wood. The Presidential Suite is a step up from the rest with a Kohler Infinity Edge “Tea for Two” chromatherapy tub and in-mirror TV. After a restful night’s sleep, guests can take in stunning views over the bay from breakfast — or hire... the hotel's personal chef and butler for a private meal. Not to miss is the hotel’s Epicurean Theater, where professional chefs host demonstrations and cook meals for an audience of 10-12 guests. Eco Serendib is also a leader in sustainability on the island with solar panels and a beach restoration project.
07 of 09
St. John Guest Suites is one of the best B&Bs on the island, and it’s thanks in large part to the owners, Beth and Jim, who live on-site with their dogs. Whether a visitor is a first-time solo traveler or a veteran, the two go out of their way to make them feel welcome and comfortable. While some may want to rent a car to explore, it’s conveniently just a five-minute drive to downtown Cruz Bay where there are plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as harborside people-watching.
With just four villas, the property is quiet, but that means a relaxing sleep is in store. Cheerful guest rooms, which are kitted out with tropical-print curtains and wicker chairs, are a haven for visitors thanks to their down pillows, 100-percent cotton luxury linens and king-size pillowtop beds. The hotel's curved infinity pool — which overlooks St. John’s hills, bays and turquoise water — is an ideal place to take a dip or curl up with a long-anticipated read. The owners can also arrange for... poolside yoga lessons or a massage.
08 of 09
Gallows Point Resort is redefining boutique luxury with its oceanfront, lush garden property. Free shuttle service is offered between the Cruz Bay ferry terminal and resort which comes in especially handy for travelers with meetings in the island’s main port. Each unit is one bedroom — though they're incredibly spacious at 950-1,075 square feet. Guests can expect fully appointed kitchens — perfect for those staying longer — and views of either the Caribbean Sea or Cruz Bay. The decor combines neutral tropical influences, like wicker and cream-cushioned sofas, with fun splashes of modern color courtesy of beautiful textile art. Off the clock, guests can relax in the stunning oceanfront pool and hot tub, take advantage of yoga and pilates classes (held by the pool twice a week) or catch up on news back home via in-room satellite TVs. Free Wi-Fi works great throughout the property and free parking is available for those renting cars.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Garden by the Sea lives up to its name with lush palm trees and a charming sea-green exterior. Owners Eileen and John (and their adorable dogs) are incredibly friendly and get high marks from visitors for their generous breakfast spread which includes banana pancakes, pina colada french toast and quiches. The cottage's spacious deck almost transports you to a jungle: it’s surrounded by the flora and fauna of a bird sanctuary and looks out over Frank Bay. The spot is ideal for enjoying a drink from the honor bar and mingling with other guests. The tranquil property has only three guest suites, and the two downstairs units offer outdoor showers for post-beach-trip use. Rooms are charmingly decorated with a beachy vibe — think colorful paneled walls in turquoise, green and yellow, and rattan furniture. Beds, which are decked out in high-quality linens, are said to be extraordinarily comfortable. The cherry on top here? Free beach chairs, coolers and towels which make trekking to the... sand a treat.
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