The Best Hotels in Antigua
The best hotels in Antigua are all about beach access and poolside lounging. Fulfill your private island fantasies at Jumby Bay, set on a private 300-acre island 10 minutes by boat from Antigua. Antigua’s Curtain Bluff Resort has one of the island’s most envious settings straddling two beaches, while guests at the St. James Club & Villas hotel have to choose between the beach or six different swimming pools. Foodies should be sure to book a reservation at the restaurant at Carlisle Bay.
Five Islands Village, St John's, Antigua & Barbuda
Soaking tubs big enough for two and double walk-in showers provide a clue that this beachfront all-inclusive, located less than 20 minutes from the airport on a peninsula just to the southwest of St. John’s Harbour, encourages families to look elsewhere. And while only the Premium Beachfront Suites have those particular romance-inducing amenities, there are other features, such as hideaway tropical dining, that will convince honeymooners and other couples that they have stepped into their own Gauguin landscape. Hence, the most secluded rooms, each with its own plunge pool, are called the Gauguin Cottages. Even among Antigua’s 365 beaches, Galley Bay’s is a visual standout that is longer and less crowded than most. The ocean here can get too rough for swimming, but the beach seldom fails to please for sunsets. Guests with limitless energy can choose from complimentary activities such as tennis, sailing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Or they can save their energy for honeymooning.
Valley Road, Jolly Harbour, Antigua
Sugar Ridge is much about the view. One of those rare Caribbean hotels that doesn’t sit at the edge of the sand, this boutique luxury resort, ranging up a hillside on Antigua’s west coast, not only overlooks palm-lined beaches and the marina at Jolly Harbour but also looks out across the greens and blues of the Caribbean toward St. Kitts, Nevis, and Redonda. The rooms, in clusters of four, two upstairs, two down, are Caribbean modern, with a focus on the four-poster, netting-draped, king-size beds. There are two restaurants, two pools, an Aveda Spa, and a fitness center so large it’s almost as if they were expecting a sports team to show up. And beach lovers fear not. A complimentary shuttle will have you down to the shore in minutes.
Mamora Bay, St. Paul's, Antigua and Barbuda
One of the largest, and most laid-back, of Antigua’s resorts, St. James Club & Villas, on Mamora Bay, about five minutes from English Harbour, has long been a favorite of couples and families. As at many all-inclusives, the dining can occasionally bring back memories of school lunch programs, but the free Kidz Club and four wedding gazebos let everyone know it is their kind of place. On one of the two beaches, Mamora Bay, the waves gently lap; on the other, Coco Beach, the surf crashes. Among the six pools, two are adults-only, and one is just for kids.
Jumby Bay Island, Antigua and Barbuda
A private-island resort six minutes by boat off the coast of Antigua, Jumby Bay is one of the Caribbean’s top luxury, all-inclusive stays, and one of its most environmentally aware. A $28 million renovation in 2010, which included the addition of 28 suites and a first-ever spa, gave it all the digital-age essentials: 42-inch flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, Bose sound systems, free Wi-Fi. Yet its underlying spirit of environmental responsibility, highlighted by its hawksbill sea turtle preservation program and its banishment of wheeled vehicles except for golf carts and bicycles (every room comes with two bikes), continues to reign. Rosewood manages the resort, but it belongs to an association of island homeowners, some offering their properties for rent. So if, say, a 1,346-square-foot beach-view pool suite isn’t big enough, it is possible to do as celebs such as Hillary Swank, Jim Carey, and Paul McCartney have done and plop down up to $20,000 per night for a private villa or estate home. Couples can be perfectly content here, but it is especially attractive to families, who appreciate programs like the Rose Buds kids’ club.
Freeman's Bay, no 1, English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda
Even during Antigua Sailing Week, when English Harbour is chock-a-block with yachts from all over the world, the 28-room Inn at English Harbour remains serenely detached from the chaos. The inn is five minutes by water taxi from the center of things at historic Nelson’s Dockyard, but its tucked-away location on a white-sand beach backed by 19 leafy acres (and a no-kids-under-10 policy) ensures tranquility. Four snug rooms, with marble floors and queen beds, occupy two beachside cabanas, while 25 more generously proportioned suites, all with dark mahogany floors, four-poster king-size canopy beds, and verandas or balconies, are in three wooden buildings sitting farther back among the tropical greenery. Although the Terrace Restaurant and Stone Bar are in the property’s original stone house, the rooms, despite their colonial look, are relatively modern, which means there is a flat-screen TV, an iPod docking station, and Internet access.
Jennings Extension, St. Mary's, Antigua
By law, every beach in Antigua is public. But at this all-inclusive resort surrounded by 140 acres of undeveloped land on the island’s west coast, guests feel “their” beach belongs almost exclusively to them. The hotel is a 35-minute drive from the airport, and it’s accessed by an unpaved road. Seclusion is a big part of the appeal at this adults-only (except in July and August) hideaway. Its 27 minimalist but spacious cottage suites begin on the beach and are scattered up a hillside that overlooks a picture-perfect bay. All the cottages have outdoor showers, king-size beds with mosquito netting, and at least a partial view of the sea. Expect to see a lot of honeymooners and other romantically inclined couples here, but don’t expect to see much of them, except at meal times, when the foodie-approved mix of European, American, and Caribbean dishes draws out even the most recently married.
Carlisle Bay, P.O. Box 288 St. John's, Old Rd, Old Road, Antigua and Barbuda
Opened in 1962, Curtain Bluff is Antigua’s oldest luxury resort, and one of the island’s finest. It is the kind of place guests return to through the generations, with the same expectation of timelessness they’ve experienced for as long as they can remember. Located at the southern end of the island on a promontory that divides an often roiling Atlantic from a much calmer bay, the resort offers sea views from every room, two beaches, a top-notch tennis center, a pair of restaurants that can boast one of the Caribbean’s most outstanding wine cellars, and a staff whose commitment has often been passed from parent to child. And except for spa treatments, a premium bottle of wine, and the occasional Cuban cigar, there is little that’s not included in the rate, making a stay a better value than the price might at first indicate.
Old road, Antigua and Barbuda
Opened in 2003, Carlisle Bay is set on a lush, isolated section of Antigua’s south coast and has a 21st-century design that feels more contemporary than Caribbean. With muted shades of grays, whites, and greens, the hotel projects an uncluttered, understated luxury. Its most remarked-on feature, though, is the way it appeals to both couples and families by keeping the two separate. Each group has its own cluster of rooms at its own end of the beach, and never the twain have to meet, except perhaps for lunch at Ottimo, the poolside Italian restaurant. The crescent of beach is tucked into a sheltered bay, so the waves seldom do more than whisper up onto the white sand, against a backdrop of forested hills. It’s all very restful, but the long list of free non-motorized watersports and the extensive kids’ club ensures everyone has plenty to do.