Your Ultimate Guide to St. Barts
You can believe everything you have heard about St. Barts: This Caribbean hideaway in the French West Indies really is that glamorous. We teamed up with Rachel Zoe to bring you all the ingredients for the perfect tropical vacation: stunning beachfront hotels, waterfront cafes, chic shops and more.
As you walk through the lobby of Le Sereno on Grand Cul de Sac beach, its centerpiece unfolds beyond you: a palm-fringed infinity pool that reflects the sea and sky. Minimalist designer Christian Liaigre is the genius behind the hotel's pared-down aesthetic, which allows for maximum enjoyment of the surrounding landscape. Waking up in a mosquito netting-draped bed looking out to the water beyond is something you have to experience once in your life. Even if you're not staying here, the restaurant is not to be missed, with its Mediterranean vibe and dishes like risotto with red Sicilian prawns and marinated salmon carpaccio with orange and fennel salad.
In honor of its 30-year anniversary, Le Guanahani has been given a discreet $40 million facelift (how very St. Barts) that has touched everything, right down to the design of the hotel's logo. The overhaul of the candy-colored cottages was inspired by the iconic Panama hat, and the rooms now have a travel-themed décor that includes furniture styled after vintage steamer trunks. There's a great kid's club for the youngest guests and a Clarins spa for mom and dad. Have dinner under the stars with your feet in the sand at the beachfront restaurant, Indigo.
Cheval Blanc Saint-Barth Isle de France
This hotel had always been a beloved place to stay on St. Barts, thanks to its location on the longest and widest beach on the island. Only the hotel used to look a little fussy and outdated. No longer. The LVMH group recently brought the hotel into its fold, and with that comes all the luxury you would expect of a company that also owns brands like Louis Vuitton and Moët & Chandon (and a price tag to match).
For many visitors to St. Barts, privacy is paramount — and that's where the island's many villas come into play. There are a number of rental agencies, but one of the best is Sibarth, which will set you up with everything from a 24/7 concierge to Hermès toiletries. And if you don't feel like packing, you can leave your luggage here to wait for your next stay.
St. Barts epitomizes summer style. Taking your look from sand into sunset can be effortless with the addition of just a few accessories. Swap out your flat sandals for gold platforms, add statement earrings to match and up your glam with with a bold lip or bronzed smokey eye.
Rachel Zoe Jess Fringed Knit Dress
This white knit dress with fun fringe detailing and a sexy plunging neckline is a St. Barts essential. The 70s-style statement piece does all the work for you, just pair it with some sandals and you're good to go.
Rachel Zoe Nadia Drop Earrings
These 14k gold-plated drop earrings with white howlite easily transition lounge wear to night on the town wear.
Rachel Zoe Nadia Cuff Bracelet
It's the little things that elevate your basic beach outfit to St. Barts glam. This head-turning art deco, gold and crystal cuff makes day-to-night a cinch whether styled with jeans and a crochet top, or heels and a sleek LBD.
Rachel Zoe Babette Lace-Up Sandals
The future is here and you no longer need heels to amp up an outfit. Slip on these trendy sandals with metallic hardware detailing and rest assured they're a comfy and stylish choice.
Opened back in the 1980’s, Maya’s is an institution on St. Barts. This waterfront restaurant on the edge of Gustavia caters to the fabulous crowd and is known for its deliciously healthy cuisine and a menu that changes daily. There's also a to-go version of Maya's in the shopping center across from the airport, so that you have a quick bite on the run or take food with you on the plane home.
On the Rocks
Set on the rock that gave the Eden Rock hotel its name is this unforgettable spot from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who is as much a celebrity as the people who come here. When you enter On the Rocks, artwork with messages like "life is great" hangs on the wall — and life is pretty great when you're dining on tuna à la plancha with candied fennel or roasted local lobster medallion in a coconut and lime emulsion. Make sure you get a table with views of the surrounding Saint-Jean Bay.
On a perch overlooking Gustavia and the harbor beyond, the open-air white-on-white Bonito is the place for amazing sunsets. And its world-fusion menu is just as spectacular as the setting, with dishes like salmon tiradito with white truffle salt and spiny lobster risotto. After dinner, a DJ spins into the wee hours.
Chef Jean-Claude Dufour is the genius behind this romantic little hideaway tucked in a garden of palm trees near Saline Beach. L'Esprit Saline can be hard to find, but it's worth it when you're dining on smoked foie gras with gingerbread or braised turbot with coco milk and Aquitaine caviar. The menu changes daily, depending on what ingredients Dufour can get.
St. Barts is surrounded by so many beaches that it can be tough to decide where to go, but if you have to pick just one that has it all, it’s Shell Beach. The highlight here is Sunday, when everyone on the island gathers for an all-day beach party. Have lunch and mojitos at Do Brazil, set right on the sand, and don't miss its in-house boutique, full of the kind of breezy caftans that are the official wardrobe of St. Barts.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Shell Beach is Colombier, which is also known as Rockefeller's Beach because David Rockefeller used to own property that surrounded the beach. It's still fit for a billionaire and takes effort to get here. You can only arrive via yacht (or rent a boat from Gustavia) or by a 30-minute hike down a steep but scenic path.
Shopping in Gustavia
You haven't shopped until you've shopped on St. Barts, and the main town of Gustavia is where you'll find all the big names — Hermès, Cartier — mixed in with local designers like Lolita Jaca, which designs boho-chic caftans, and Bijoux de la Mer, known for its pearl jewelry. For the ultimate souvenir, head to Laurent Effel, which makes a sandal emblazoned with an outline of the island of St. Barts.
Set right on white-sand Saint-Jean beach, Sand Bar is as much a restaurant as it is a bar, thanks to its menu from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Grab one of the lounges, order a bottle of rose (mais oui), and stick your toes in the sand, with the surf just beyond. There's nothing quite like it.
You can't come to St. Barts without a stop at this legendary beach club with locations around the globe. Nikki Beach is known for its signature teepees, white curtain-draped beds on the sand, and DJs spinning its very own brand of chill-out lounge music. The party here seems to go 24/7.
Le Ti St. Barth
One of the wildest nights out on St. Barts is at Le Ti St. Barth, which hosts a burlesque show every evening. Need we say more? Bring your sense of humor and be prepared to dance on the tables until dawn. And if you're on St. Barts during a full moon, this is the place you need to be for the over-the-top Full Moon Party.