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Darn Good Digs in the Caribbean

The Caribbean's best independently owned bed and breakfasts, small hotels and inns for budget-minded travelers, all with rooms under US$150. Darn Good Digs stand out for their originality, spectacular locations, scrumptious food, and great vibes.

BarbadosCayman IslandsGrenadaJamaicaPuerto RicoSabaSt. LuciaU.S. Virgin Islands


  =   Editors' Choice



BARBADOS

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Christ Church, Barbados: Peach and Quiet
Nominated By: Barb, Toronto, Canada, November '08


Peach and Quiet is now closed, though new owners might possibly reopen it.

Price Range: US$99-$109 # of Rooms: 22 Kid-Friendly: 12 years and older


What makes Peach and Quiet so Darn Good? With no televisions or telephones, and away from the island's busy tourist areas, Peach and Quiet offers simplicity at its best! Highlights include the Mediterranean-inspired architecture, fantastic food, honour bar, turtle watching platform, and pool with gorgeous ocean views. Plus, Margaret and Adrian, Peach and Quiet's owners, live on site and are very happy to help you in any way they can, including organizing tours or car rentals.

Location: The hotel is located on the southern tip of Barbados, fifteen minutes from both the airport and St. Lawrence Gap, a hotspot for restaurants and nightlife. Built on a rocky shore, Peach and Quiet is just a short walk away from two sandy beaches and has a protected rock snorkeling pool right in front of the hotel. This part of the southern coast is also great for surfing and kiteboarding.

Rooms: Whether garden or ocean view, the twenty-two rooms are simple, comfortable and charming. All rooms have their own covered terraces or balconies, making them feel more like suites. Rooms don't have air conditioners, but fans keep them cool.

Food: Breakfast is always a treat at Peach and Quiet. The buffet includes a wonderful selection of fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, and the best fresh-baked breads ever! Dinner, served al fresco on the candlelit terrace with the surf in the background, is magical and the perfect way to end the day. The food is always so fresh and delicious, and is very reasonably priced.

Vibe: Peach and Quiet is very laid back and a great place just to hang out and rejuvenate. Live entertainment is provided on some nights, which makes for wonderful evenings under the stars. One night, a guitar duo had us all dancing, and another night, we enjoyed a steel drum band and history of Barbados extravaganza.

Things to Keep in Mind: The public bus stops near the hotel if you want to explore the rest of the island. Also, Peach and Quiet is closed from May to October (unless you want to book the entire hotel!).

Read more. See the map.
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CAYMAN ISLANDS

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: Turtle Nest Inn
Nominated By: Mary McLaughlin, Havertown, Pennsylvania, USA, November '08


Price Range: US$99-$329 # of Rooms: 18 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Turtle Nest Inn so Darn Good? We stayed in an ocean front apartment with a full kitchen, which wasn't under $150, but was well worth the price! The Turtle Nest staff is absolutely wonderful, and guests can snorkel in the coral reef right out front.

Location: Turtle Nest is located on the southern coast of Grand Cayman Island in Bodden Town, just ten miles from the airport. The inn sits on a quiet beach, away from the hustle and bustle of George Town, Grand Cayman's biggest town, and Seven Mile Beach, home to many of the island's luxury resorts. Grand Cayman is famous for its coral reefs and world-class diving, and guests interested in doing some serious underwater exploring can be picked up right at the Inn by the Ocean Frontiers dive company.

Rooms: The eleven units include village view rooms, and larger ocean view apartments with full kitchens and one or two bedrooms. The Inn's swimming pool is located just behind the beach and is open around the clock. The water in front of the Inn has a reef, so while it is not suitable for casual swimming and rafting, it makes for great snorkeling.

Food: The Inn doesn't serve food, but all apartments have full kitchens, and the village view rooms have microwaves, mini-fridges, and toasters. Guests can also use the Inn's gas barbecue right on the beach. Just four doors down is Seaside Paradise, the Inn's closest restaurant and a great place to eat or take out island food.

Vibe: Turtle Nest feels like your own island home.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Inn is not within walking distance to many shops or restaurants, but everything on the island is within a thirty minute drive. Guests have the option of renting a car with the room.

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GRENADA


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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Carriacou, Grenada: Bayaleau Point Cottages
Nominated By: Sophie Stewart, London, UK, February '10


Price Range: US$65-$145 # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Bayaleau Point Cottages so Darn Good? Staying at Bayaleau Point Cottages is like staying with friends, incredibly creative and nice friends who live in one of the most amazing spots in the world and who enjoy taking you on boat trips around the Grenadines.

Location: Carriacou is a small island in the Grenadine Archipelago and is reachable by a twenty minute flight or a ninety minute high speed boat ride from Grenada. Carriacou is possibly the sleepiest island in the Caribbean and if you really need to get away from it all, then the Bayaleau Point Cottages are the place to stay - no TV, no air con, no problem. The Cottages are set on a quiet hillside on Carriacou's Windward Bay and are within easy walking distance to the small fishing and boat-building village of Windward. The property has a little beach suitable for swimming, and the island has several sandy beaches ripe for exploring.

Rooms: The four colorful cottages are small and simple, but gingerbread pretty and are decorated with Caribbean art. The red, yellow, and green cottages were hand-built by Dave, the owner, and the blue cottage, which has a baby blue annex perfect for teenagers, was an original slave dwelling. Each cottage can sleep four and contains a full kitchen, and the property has a communal deck overlooking the sea where guests can relax or enjoy a meal.

Food: Happy hour drinks, such as the magical Magic Elixir, and evening meals, such as fresh grilled fish followed by home-made ice cream, are served out on the deck and are available with advance notice. In addition, Carriacou has several restaurants, super shops, and a daily fruit and vegetable market, and Windward itself has a few small stores within walking distance to pick up the essentials.

Vibe: It's another way of life and oh how I miss it! You can chill in a hammock, chat with locals, or get busy by helping to build a boat. This is prime Grenadines territory and an excursion on Mostly Harmless, the Inn's own home-built boat, will transport you to such honeypots as the Tobago Cays and Mayreau for snorkeling, swimming, a picnic lunch, and rum punch.

Keep in Mind: While the location of Bayaleau Point Cottages is fairly isolated, the local bus service on the island is surprisingly good. Rental cars are also available if you choose.

Read more. See the map.
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Traveler Favorite

Lance Aux Epines, St. George's, Grenada: Spicetree Suites
 Nominated By: Emily Crowe, North Hatfield, Massachusetts, Oct '08


Price Range: US$885 (weekly rate) # of Rooms: 2 Kid-Friendly: Yes


Why so darn good? "The price, the location in charming Grenadian neighborhood, the fact that it's locally owned by a lovely Grenadian/American couple, the full kitchen facilities, the high speed internet, a/c in the bedrooms, etc. One of the suites has a private plunge pool, too. The decor is a nice mix of Caribbean/African." Read more.




JAMAICA

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Negril, Jamaica: Rockhouse Hotel
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, February '08


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at Tablet Hotels


Price Range: US$125-$395 # of Rooms: 34 Kid-Friendly: Children over 12


What makes The Rockhouse Hotel/Restaurant so Darn Good? The Rockhouse is as hip as hip can be. It is located on the beautiful cliffs of Negril, and has cool rooms, a gorgeous pool, and a great Jamaican restaurant famous for its incredible sunset views. Although the Rockhouse owners do not live in Jamaica, they have created the Rockhouse Foundation, through which over $500,000 has been invested in Negril schools.

Location: Negril is a funky town ninety minutes from Montego Bay. The Rockhouse is located in Negril's hip West End neighborhood, perched on a cliff just south of the town's famous seven mile stretch of glorious white sand beach.

Rooms: For Darn Good Digs prices you can stay in either a studio room (water views) or a standard room (garden views). The rooms are decorated in a simple, yet colorful Caribbean style, and all have private outdoor showers heated by solar hot water heaters.

Food: The Rockhouse restaurant is a destination unto itself. The restaurant specializes in what it calls "new Jamaican cuisine", updating old classics like ackee and saltfish and jerk chicken. Meals are delicious and reasonably priced. The restaurant seems to dangle over the water and the sunsets are to die for! The Rockhouse also has a more casual restaurant by the pool which serves lunch.

Vibe: The Rockhouse is cool, hip, and laid back. You can swim in the cliffside pool, lounge on the deck chairs scattered throughout the property, take the steps, ladders, and bridges down to the water for swimming or snorkeling, or relax at the spa.

Things to Keep in Mind: Make sure you book in advance because these digs fill up fast. The Rockhouse does not allow children under twelve and does not have a sandy beach.

Read more. See the map.
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jake's resort jake's resort jake's resort jake's resort

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Treasure Beach, Jamaica: Jake's Resort
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, February '08


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at Tablet Hotels


Price Range: US$95-$950 # of Rooms: 26 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Jake's so Darn Good? Jake's cottages are supremely funky, and most overlook the beautiful rocky shoreline. We dug the outdoor restaurant which serves delicious Jamaican dishes, as well as the mellow bar adjoining the pool. Somehow Jake's manages to be ultra-cool and family friendly at the same time. Jake's is owned by the family of Perry Henzell who produced and directed the '70's cult movie "The Harder They Come".

Location: Jake's is located in Treasure Beach on the south coast of Jamaica, 2 ½ hours from Montego Bay. Treasure Beach is a little fishing village and has some laid-back guesthouses and restaurants. An awesome thing to do while chilling out at Jake's is to take a 20 minute boat ride to Pelican Bar, a little drinking establishment standing on stilts on a sandbar in the sea.

Rooms: We stayed in Abelone 2. It wasn't super fancy, but it was oh so fun. The cottage was pink and had a giant window that opened up so we could just lie in bed in the shade and watch the waves. All of Jake's cottages have whimsical designs, are painted in vibrant colors, and are decked out with private deck chairs.

Food: Jake's has two restaurants on site. We tended to eat at the restaurant by the pool, which was just delightful. The servers were very friendly and the Jamaican food was healthy, fresh, and reasonably priced. Jake's other restaurant, Jack Sprat, serves up pizza by the pie.

Vibe: Jake's is super mellow, friendly, and hip. Many kids were running around when we were there, yet there were also many hipsters hanging out at the bar.

Things to Keep in Mind: Jake's has a couple of pleasant beaches, but you shouldn't expect sparkling white sand. But really, who cares, you're at Jake's! Some of the less expensive rooms have garden, not sea views.

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PUERTO RICO

mary lee's by the sea mary lee's by the sea mary lee's by the sea mary lee's by the sea

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Guanica, Puerto Rico (southwest coast): Mary Lee's by the Sea
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, March '08


make a reservation inquiry directly with Mary Lee

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Price Range: US$110-$300 # of Rooms: 10 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Mary Lee's by the Sea so Darn Good? The apartments are where it's at at Mary Lee's. They are huge and decorated to the nines in a funky Floridian style. We had great fun exploring the bay and mangrove islands in a kayak that we launched right from Mary Lee's dock, just a stone's throw away from our porch.

Location: Mary Lee's is located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, two hours from San Juan and just up the street from the Guanica Dry Forest, a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. This truly special place is the largest remaining strip of tropical dry coastal forest on earth. The reserve has great hiking trails, remote beaches, and renowned bird watching, but what we enjoyed most was spotting all sorts of crazy looking cacti.

Rooms: Bright and colorful fabrics cover the couches, beds, tables, curtains, chairs, you name it, in all of Mary Lee's gigantic apartments. Most of the apartments have several rooms and would be great for a family or a big party. When you feel like getting some fresh sea air, you can relax in your outdoor sitting area, most of which have sea views.

Food: Mary Lee's doesn't serve food, but all the rooms have fully equipped kitchens and access to barbecues. Don't forget to pick up groceries before you arrive. We also recommend that you make a pit stop at the little empanada hut on Guanica Bay along the road to Mary Lee's. If you are not in the mood to cook dinner, it is just a short drive to a couple of restaurants, including a somewhat fancy one at the nearby resort.

Vibe: Mary Lee's by the Sea felt like our own little hideaway on the Puerto Rican coast. We relaxed, did our own thing, and hardly saw a soul.

Things to Keep in Mind: Although Mary Lee's is on the coast, you need to drive or take a boat to get to the beach.

Read more. See the map.
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maravilla maravilla maravilla maravilla

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Las Marias, Puerto Rico (western mountains): Maravilla
Nominated By: Stacy at Butiki Teas, Hamilton, New Jersey, USA, October '11


Price Range: US$110-$210 # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Maravilla so Darn Good? My husband and I stayed in the "luxury" cabin for six nights and chose the luxury all-inclusive option, which includes an unbelievably amazing breakfast, lunch, and multi-course dinner each day. The view of the lush rainforest during breakfast is spectacular, and our dinners by candle-light were very romantic. Maravilla's owners, Margo and Mark, along with their staff, are so welcoming we can't wait to go back some day!

Location: Maravilla is located in the rainforest at the end of a long, winding road through hills planted with coffee, oranges, and plantains. Hiking trails wind through the property (a Mecca for bird watchers) past streams, waterfalls, and swimming holes. While guests may easily spend their days lounging in their hammocks or wandering the jungle trails, many take a day or two to explore more of western Puerto Rico. Popular trips include the surf town of Rincon or the cute little coffee town of Maricao. San Juan is two and a half hours away, but Aguadilla has a closer airport.

Rooms: Maravilla offers three choices of accommodation: the cabin, a cottage room or suite, and camping. We stayed in the cabin, which has an open kitchen and sitting area allowing for a spectacular view of the rainforest. The cabin has no electricity and is lit by propane lanterns and heated by a gas fireplace on chilly days, all adding to its charm. The cottage has two upstairs rooms that can be rented together, a living room, and a small balcony. Downstairs is a full kitchen, and dining area where the breakfast buffet is served. For those who choose to camp, Maravilla supplies tents, air mattresses, linens, and lanterns.

Food: Margo prepares unbelievably delicious food. We went vegan, although Maravilla also offers raw and vegetarian options. Some of the highlights for us were the coconut crusted tofu over noodles, the sesame and walnut crusted tofu, and the fried green tomatoes with pepper jam. Desserts were to die for, and we looked forward to the breakfast buffet every morning with its fresh-baked pastries and tropical fruits picked right on the property. Margo was very accommodating with meals and packaged several breakfasts and lunches for us when we went on day trips.

Vibe: Natural, lush, and laid-back.

Keep in Mind: Our advice is to splurge for the luxury all inclusive option if you can so worth it. Also, plan to spend a few days at Maravilla exploring the beautiful property we took many day trips but wished that we had spent more time just relaxing. And finally, if you are staying in the cabin, you may want to bring some extra lights.

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Traveler Favorite

Naguabo, Puerto Rico (east coast): Casa Libre
 Nominated By: ScubaRN7, Hurley, New York, July '09


Price Range: US$80-$100 # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Casa Libre so Darn Good? "A bed and breakfast on a hillside overlooking a bay, a pool with a waterfall, a lovely bedroom and bathroom, any breakfast of your choice AND the absolutely best host and hostess you could possibly imagine... within hours you consider Josue and Patti friends. I was charmed with this little tucked away oasis. I enjoyed a day in the sun by the pool, an afternoon with the hostess walking two beaches, a local cafe lunch, and then cocktails. Casa Libre is an experience I will share with all my friends traveling to Puerto Rico, and I plan on returning there on my next dive adventure in the area." Read more.



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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Utuado, Puerto Rico (central mountains): Casa Grande Mountain Retreat
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, February '08


Hotel Website: www.hotelcasagrande.com     Phone: 787-894-3939


Price Range: US$95-$115 # of Rooms: 20 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Casa Grande Mountain Retreat so Darn Good? With its network of private cabins weaving through the lush mountains of central Puerto Rico, Casa Grande is darn green. Whether hanging out on your private balcony, taking a dip in the refreshing pool, or enjoying a delicious meal at the outdoor restaurant, a sea of deep green trees envelops you. To top it all off, Casa Grande has won several Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Green Inn Awards. Now that's green!

Location: Casa Grande is twenty-five minutes from the nearest town and two hours from San Juan. Some of our favorite day trips in the area include the Rio Camuy Cave Park and the Arecibo Observatory. We also took a boat ride on Lago dos Bocas, just fifteen minutes away.

Rooms: The cabins are big, airy, simply decorated, and they all have ceiling fans and balconies with a hammock, great for relaxing and wiling away the day.

Food: The delicious restaurant on site, Casa Grande Cafe, serves traditional Puerto Rican dishes, and much more. For breakfast we ate the freshest fruit salad ever with mangoes, oranges, grapefruits, bananas, and papayas all grown right on the grounds. While there is indoor seating, we recommend eating on the veranda overlooking the forest, where you can get drunk on the cool mountain air alone.

Vibe: Casa Grande is a super relaxing mountain escape. The staff is friendly and the tropical gardens are gorgeous. The owner, Steven, leads a Yoga class every morning.

Things to Keep in Mind: The road from Utuado, the closest town, to Casa Grande is long and curvy. Also, young children are more than welcome, but parents should be aware that the wooden railings on the balconies have wide gaps.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Vieques (Isabella Segunda), Puerto Rico: Casa de Amistad
Nominated By: Peg, Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA, November '08


Price Range: US$75-$110 # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: 10 and older


What makes Casa de Amistad so Darn Good? Casa de Amistad is a true island oasis at a great price. If you want to feel so comfortable that you can get coffee in your pajamas, then this is the place for you! With their house just next door, your hosts, Owen and David, are at your call, yet completely unobtrusive. They have stocked their guesthouse with everything you might need for the perfect beach vacation, including snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, and coolers for a picnic lunch. We just came home from a seven day stay and already want to return!

Location: The island of Vieques, six miles off Puerto Rico's east coast, is full of gorgeous beaches and unspoiled nature. Casa de Amistad is located in the town of Isabella Segunda, just two blocks from the ferry dock and close to many bars and restaurants. Vieques can be reached by ferry from Fajardo or plane from San Juan.

Rooms: Casa de Amistad's seven rooms all have comfy beds, air conditioners, and private bathrooms, although two are not en-suite. Common space abounds, such as the sweet street-side porch for people watching and morning coffee. Guests can also swim in the backyard pool, lounge in front of the satellite TV, and take in the sun on the rooftop deck.

Food: While the guesthouse does not serve food, there are two grocerias within walking distance and several restaurants nearby. The inn has a café for morning coffee, a kitchen to cook your own meals, and an honor fridge stocked with bottled water and Medalla beer.

Vibe: Casa de Amistad is the place to lay your head after a long day enjoying the beaches, sailing, or riding the local Paso Fino ponies. It's cozy here and you'll feel right at home.

Things to Keep in Mind: Rent a jeep! The best beaches are on former naval bases and are not on bus routes. Also, the guesthouse has beach towels for guests to use. The first is free, and each exchange is two dollars.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Vieques, Puerto Rico: La Finca Caribe
Nominated By: Matthew Fleck, Brooklyn, New York, USA, June '08


Price Range: US$87-$185 # of Rooms: 10 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes La Finca Caribe so Darn Good? La Finca Caribe is incredible! We loved hanging out with our fellow travelers and soaking up the beautiful scenery. This place really attracts great people and we made fast friends. Plus, the outdoor showers are amazing.

Location: La Finca Caribe is on a hill in the middle of Vieques, a small island just six miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico, and the views of the forest down to the Caribbean Sea are fantastic. Over half of Vieques is designated a National Wildlife Refuge, which translates into miles and miles of amazing, unspoiled, white sand beaches. Vieques can be reached by ferry from Fajardo or plane from San Juan.

Rooms: The main guesthouse has six rooms, and four additional cabins are scattered throughout La Finca's lush, fruit-tree and flower-filled grounds. While most rooms have shared bathrooms and are fairly simple, the newly built Casa Nueva offers a few more creature comforts. La Finca also has a pool if you are all beached out.

Food: Although La Finca doesn't serve food, it does have a big open-air kitchen and a well-stocked communal bar. Guests can enjoy their meals at one of the many colorful outdoor tables situated on the deck. If you are not in the mood for cooking, a restaurant is nearby and the village of Esperanza is less than three miles away.

Vibe: La Finca provides loads of pillows, hammocks, and cushy seating areas where travelers mingle, and share stories and margaritas. Our hosts were terrific and they gave us many helpful hints and suggestions about things to do in Vieques.

Things to Keep in Mind: You pretty much need to rent a car on Vieques for maximum beach exploration, so make sure you rent one in advance! Also, La Finca has a three night minimum stay in the guesthouse and a week minimum stay in the rest of the cabins.

Read more. See the map.
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SABA


Traveler Favorite

Winwardside, Saba: Juliana's Hotel
 Nominated By: Brian, Portland, Maine, June '09


Price Range: US$105-$290 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Juliana's Hotel so Darn Good? "Juliana's Hotel is a diver's paradise. Wim and Johanna are wonderful. Saba's scenery just gets better underwater, and Juliana's offers dive courses, room rates and great drinks after a day at sea. Relax in the village of Windwardside, and let the world drift away. At Juliana's you feel right at home - it's your own Antillean escape." Read more.



St. Lucia


apartment espoir

Traveler Favorite

Castries, St. Lucia: Apartment Espoir
 Nominated By: B. Gibbons, Regina, Saskatchewan, March '12


Price Range: US$78-$198 # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Apartment Espoir so Darn Good? "Location, location, location. Enjoy a spectacular view from your own terrace. Walk five minutes one way and live like a rich tourist on an exclusive beach. Walk five minutes the other way and live like a local, shopping and eating with wonderful friendly St. Lucians." Read more.



U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands: Carringtons Inn
Nominated By: Jennifer, Chicago, USA, November '08


Price Range: US$100-$165 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: No


What makes Carringtons Inn so Darn Good? Carringtons overflows with warm hospitality and island charm.

Location: This former winter home of a wealthy family is perfectly perched on a hill overlooking the town of Christiansted on St. Croix's northeastern coast. Christiansted was once the capital of the former Danish West Indies, and its well-preserved colonial architecture still lines the downtown streets. The Christiansted National Historic Site also maintains several historic buildings, such as the West India & Guinea Company Warehouse and the Danish Custom House. White sand beaches, dense rainforests, and coral reefs abound on St Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rooms: Carringtons has five rooms, three larger rooms with king-size beds and views of Christiansted harbor, and two smaller poolside rooms with queen-size beds. Two of the larger rooms, Flamboyant and Periwinkle, have private balconies. In addition, the Inn's pool and adjacent honor bar are excellent places to kick back and relax.

Food: Breakfast is lovingly prepared by innkeepers, Claudia and Roger. Wake up to a hot bowl of cream of wheat with fresh fruit and yogurt, followed by a home-cooked hot entree. The Cruzan French toast, made with St. Croix's own locally distilled rum, is spectacular! For meals out, Christiansted has a good number of restaurants and bars in town and on the boardwalk.

Vibe: Carringtons is quiet, laid-back, casual, and friendly.

Things to Keep in Mind: Carringtons is one mile from downtown Christiansted, and just minutes from the nearest beach. The larger rooms with harbor views get rave reviews and might just be worth the splurge.

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