Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Even cheap rates can’t save this old, musty hotel with virtually no amenities
You’ll enter the Horizon View Beach Hotel either through a dirty alley halfway between Frontstreet and the boardwalk, or directly on Frontstreet. Pass some jewelry shops and right next door to a Lacoste shop, is a small sign that says “Horizon View Beach Hotel Reception.” Walk through the doors and you’re faced with cement stairs or a gritty elevator, both of which will take you one floor up to the hotel’s office.
By now your expectations are probably pretty low, having noticed the decrepit look of the building. Upon checking in, you’ll appreciate the quiet and friendly manner with which the staff greets you; however, once handed your room key, TV remote, and a bottle of water, you’ll be on your own for the duration of your trip. Should you wish to purchase Wi-Fi or use the Internet in the office, you might have occasion to drop by again, but otherwise, you’ll be virtually anonymous for the remainder of your stay.
Once in the rooms -- which range from average-size studio rooms to rather-large suites with separate bedrooms and kitchenettes -- the decor doesn’t change much. The doors are painted a nice dark blue, and the bedspreads and furniture upholstery add quite a bit of bright color, but quite obviously, this decades-old hotel has seen better days -- furniture is tropical-kitsch in wood and wicker, and the bathrooms are terribly small.
Perhaps because of these pitfalls, the rates are among the cheapest in town. But the prime location in Philipsburg makes this a good choice for the younger travelers who care more about experiencing the area than luxury accommodations.
Sandwiched between shopping and the beach in a tourist mecca
One side of the Horizon View Beach Hotel fronts the beach and tourist-filled boardwalk, while the other faces Frontstreet, one of the more popular shopping drags on the island. Here, you’ll find the usual beach junk and souvenirs, as well as a host of upscale boutiques from Tiffany and Cartier, to Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. The nearby port is not only a hub for visiting cruise ships, but also a great place to pick up a day tour of neighboring islands such as Saba and St. Barts (don’t forget your passport). Along the boardwalk, cute beach cafes selling cheap beers and unexceptional food abound, though most of them close for dinner. Several upscale restaurants, as well as a handful of casinos, are within walking distance -- but those in search of nightlife action might find evenings a bit too quiet in the immediate vicinity.
Old and musty with dirty bathrooms and dated furnishings -- but at least each comes with a balcony
Unlike the barren hallways and public areas, the rooms at least have some tropical flair. But overall, the feel is just as worn and stale. Colorful bedspreads, upholstery, and curtains make a stab at cheerfulness, but filthy bathrooms, minimal furnishings, scratchy sheets, and technology that probably hasn’t changed in decades (circa-1980s push-button telephones) make it virtually impossible to relax. And for all of the visual assaults, there is also one on your nose -- many of the rooms have a musty odor that’s hard to ignore.
One selling point might be that all rooms feature balconies -- but the caveats here are many. In the beachfront rooms, the term “balcony” is a stretch, as five-foot glass doors do open up to beautiful Caribbean views; however, they are simply Juliette balconies (there is no actual balcony to step out onto, just a small lip and a railing). Even more inexplicable are the balconies in the other rooms, which are indeed full-size balconies, but ones that remain completely unfurnished and feature dreadful views of other buildings and sketchy alleyways.
Disturbing in several ways are the mechanized shutters that roll over the balcony windows. When closed, the rooms receive no daylight at all, and yet the hotel requests that they remain down while away from the room or sleeping. This of course, begs the question of safety in the area. It also gives a prison-like feel to the rooms.
Aside from slow Internet and free parking, there’s virtually nothing here
One of the cheapest options in St. Maarten, this 30-room hotel on Philipsburg’s Great Bay Beach certainly doesn’t roll out the red carpet. The entry through a dark corridor is unnerving, the rooms are old and musty, and an almost complete lack of amenities provide little enticement beyond budget-friendly prices. If money is less an issue, try the much nicer Holland House Beach Hotel next door -- the slightly higher rates are well worth it.