Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This tres chic, 1950s-inspired boutique hotel attracts young couples with an eye for design.
Guests encountering La Banane for the first time may have a few doubts upon first arriving. A turn into a shopping center leads to a non-descript alleyway blocked off by a chain, where, to the left, only a tiny graphic -- La Banane’s logo -- on a curved white stucco wall gives away the hotel’s entrance. Hit the call button and, suddenly, a heavy wooden panel opens, revealing a secret paradise exploding with lush tropical flora.
A short walk through the weaving thicket gives way to the main hotel. Small as it is, the impact is huge. A spacious deck, flanked by two pools leads to an open-air library and lounge. Here, banana yellow walls are artfully stenciled, vintage Eisenhower chairs are covered in funky mint and brown patterned upholstery, and tables are covered with art books and stuffed parrots. Trendy international tunes pump through the speakers and, behind the bar, a bartender is hard at work with his shaker, serving the island’s young and beautiful locals.
The ‘’tres chic’’ vibe continues in La Banane’s nine bungalows, each freestanding and featuring its own private terrace. Whitewashed beams form vaulted ceilings while baby blue walls, lobster orange fixtures, and Danish mid-century furniture manage to combine the austerity of modernism with a breezy and colorful tropical feel. In the bathrooms, blob-shaped turquoise tiles line massive showers, each of which has its own outdoor terrace and garden filled with palm trees, bamboo, and fragrant frangipani.
La Banane’s young staff is as exuberant and attractive as the hotel’s decor, and yet the vibe is casual and friendly. Checkout time is described simply as “mid-day,” with nobody pushing you out the door and everybody generally willing to accommodate a late afternoon departure. Stellar additions include free transfers to and from the airport or ferry dock, and free beverages in the mini-fridge.
That there is no restaurant, gym or spa is something design lovers will easily overlook -- especially when factoring in the rates, which are low for St. Barts. Sure, you could pay a little bit more for a mid-price resort like Hotel Manapany, which has all the showy amenities, but you’d be giving up the tiny details that make La Banane so charming.
Of course, there is also the lack of beachfront. However, Lorient Beach, one of the island’s prettiest and quietest, is just a five-minute walk away.
Near Lorient Bay on the northern side of the island, with plenty of small businesses nearby
Smack in the middle of the island on the northern side, just past Lorient, La Banane is located in a rather non-descript shopping center -- not exactly a luxe setting, but it certainly ensures quiet and calm nights. It also gives guests the ease of a grocery store, restaurants, a gift shop, a spa, and an ATM all just steps from the hotel’s front gate. Within 5 to 10 minutes on foot are additional attractions: patisseries and boulangeries, burger joints and boutiques, and a lovely little beach that doesn’t seem to attract too much of a crowd. Be sure to spend some time ambling through Lorient’s flower-strewn cemeteries and historical 19th-century church. The hotel's central location also puts it in close range of other St. Barts destinations -- Gustavia, St-James, and the airport are all less than 15 minutes away.
The island of St. Barts is just eight square miles and filled with beaches, wildlife, plant life, luxury yachts, designer boutiques, and celebrities. The rich come here to relax, sun, and mingle on their yachts. It's truly a paradise.
Sexy and Parisian -- but watch out for the mosquitoes
The details in each of the hotel’s nine secluded bungalows read like a who’s who list of art and interiors: In each room, lovingly restored vintage pieces from Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, Serge Mouille, and other design greats can be found. The result is retro chic, and very bright -- lots of white and crisp pale blues.
The bungalows themselves are spacious and minimalist -- a lamp here, a chair there. And the beds have mosquito netting (very necessary given all the insects flying about). The space has an open plan, with an open (and large) bathroom -- which leads right out to the private terrace, which is lush, with bamboo and palm-filled gardens.
Technologically, however, the rooms are rather weak, with tiny flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and not much else. Nobody comes to St. Barts to watch TV all day, but an iPod dock would have been a nice touch.
You’ll be tempted to leave your whitewashed shutters open all day just for the sound of the wind whooshing through the jungle outside, but beware of the hordes of mosquitoes that come with such lush landscapes. The hotel is as diligent as can be about the problem, with exterminators frequently visiting; however, no amount of bug spray will keep you safe. If you do leave your doors and windows open, be prepared to make a sport of killing the little buggers, and just be thankful for the mosquito nets, which housekeeping arranges at turndown.
Of the two types of rooms, the smaller Extra Bungalows can feel a bit cramped in the bedrooms (though the bathrooms are quite spacious). For more space, book one of the Deluxe Bungalows, which feature writing desks, additional armoires, larger terraces, and a few additional perks like robes and Nespresso machines with free coffee.
Few amenities, but the lounge and pools are hot attractions
This retro-chic boutique hotel located just a skip away from Lorient Bay makes up for a lack of amenities with a hipper-than-thou scene. It's a Parisian escape on St. Barts, with rooms inspired by 1950s Paris -- white and pastel blues and tile, open bathrooms, art books, wall murals, and vintage minimalist furnishings. The nine freestanding bungalows all have indoor/outdoor showers and private terraces, and two small pools are surrounded by palm trees and white lounge chairs. This place is tres chic -- not to mention sexy. It's a good choice for couples looking for a getaway with ambiance.