Charming tree-house like bed-and-breakfast with hospitable owners
Three rooms with island-inspired decor
Two rooms have semi-outdoor bathrooms with stone showers
Free daily breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and free parking
Free beach chairs, towels, coolers, and snorkel gear for guests to use during their stay
Beautiful sea views from the large communal terrace
Within a 10-minute walk of downtown Cruz Bay
Eco-friendly practices throughout (a con for some)
Completely closed in September
Not on the beach (common for hotels in St. John)
Guests are asked to watch water and electricity consumption (a pro for eco-conscious travelers)
This property was impacted by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. We will update our review when we have more information. This tiny mid-range bed-and-breakfast with a tropical feel is located near downtown Cruz Bay. As it has only three rooms, owners John and Nancy are able to offer personal, attentive service to all guests and serve some of the most delicious breakfasts on the island. Each room is individually decorated, but all have a cozy feel with island-inspired decor -- think mosaic tile, mosquito nets, and outdoor showers. Along with free breakfast, Garden by the Sea offers free beach chairs, towels, coolers, and snorkel equipment for guests to borrow during their stay. There’s no pool or beach, not uncommon for small hotels in St. John. Guests are asked to conserve water and electricity during their stay, which may not appeal to all travelers. Those looking for similar, less expensive accommodations should check out nearby Treetops.
Perched above lush gardens, Garden by the Sea B&B feels like a treehouse in the tropics. A mint green house with purple and white trim, Garden by the Sea has a whimsical feel. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed onto the veranda by the hotel’s owners Nancy and John, or managers Mickey and Frank -- depending on the time of year. The veranda simultaneously serves as the lobby, breakfast room, and bird sanctuary, and guests can be found relaxing here throughout the day. Just off the veranda is the hotel’s communal living space. Decorated with mosaic tile floors, a different color on every wall, and dozens of photographs, art pieces, and tchotchkes on every available surface, it’s total kitsch that somehow works. The communal space has a small sitting area with wicker furniture and tons of St. John guide books, as well as a kitchen that guests can use to store cold drinks or prepare snacks and simple meals. Guests of Garden by the Sea are almost exclusively couples -- from honeymooners to retirees. Most are American, but each year sees a smattering of European guests as well.
It should be noted that Nancy and John keep their small dog, Winnie, on the property.
Though it’s not quite in the heart of downtown Cruz Bay, Garden by the Sea is still a 10- to 15-minute walk to all the shops, bars, and restaurants. Walking time and distance is greatly reduced thanks to a small cut-through path that allows guests to walk through private property. This route is really only suitable for people in decent physical shape, as the walk is fairly hilly. It’s not suitable for guests with luggage. Frank Bay, a small rocky beach, is about a two-minute walk from the hotel. All of the national park beaches are accessible via taxi or rental car.
The pièce de résistance of Garden by the Sea are its rooms. These superbly decorated spaces feel simultaneously homey and exotic. There are three rooms at Garden by the Sea: the Garden Suite, the Wild Ginger Room, and the Terrace View Room.
The Garden Suite is the largest of the three rooms and the only one with separate bedroom and living areas. The living room has periwinkle and lime green wood paneled walls with a daybed that acts as both sofa and trundle. Turtle sculptures, mermaid ironworks, and broad brimmed beach hats adorn the walls, and a sliding glass door leads out to the communal veranda. The bedroom is another colorful affair, with a four-poster canopied bed and purple, green, and turquoise walls. The mosquito net canopy, distressed furniture, and white wood-beam ceilings add to the island vibe. The Garden Suite’s semi-outdoor bathroom is a major draw for many guests. Tile floors lead to a closet, toilet, and sink, which are covered by a conventional ceiling. But step off the tile, and you’re surrounded by a walled garden with lush tropical plants, sea glass wind chimes, and a screen ceiling. In the corner, there’s a small blue tile platform that serves as the shower floor.
The Wild Ginger Room is similar to the Garden Suite, but lacks the extra sitting room. The floor in the Wild Ginger Room -- a sea life themed mosaic tile masterpiece -- is undoubtedly one of its coolest features. There are also a large wooden armoire, two cushioned chairs, and the same beachy artwork that’s found throughout the B&B. Like the Garden Suite, Wild Ginger has an incredible semi-outdoor bathroom.
The Terrace View Room is one of the most popular at Garden by the Sea. The only room located above the main level, the Terrace View Room offers gorgeous vistas of Frank Bay from its private balcony. Terrace View is also the only room with a king-size mattress and vaulted cathedral ceilings, but it lacks the canopied four-poster bed and semi-outdoor bathroom that the other rooms have.
Though Garden by the Sea doesn’t have the conventional amenities of a large-scale hotel, it offers a lot of nice freebies. Garden by the Sea serves a delicious breakfast each morning that's arguably one of the best in St John. Though there’s usually just one dish served, the hosts are happy to accommodate different dietary needs or restrictions. Guest favorites include Eggs Benedict Florentine, blueberry pancakes with fresh compote, and piña colada French toast, and dishes are served with coffee and freshly made fruit smoothies. Since there’s no pool, after breakfast guests usually grab beach chairs, towels, coolers, and snorkel gear and head out to explore the island. Garden by the Sea has a small communal kitchen with a full-size refrigerator and plenty of flatware, cups, and utensils. Though guests aren’t allowed to cook full meals in the kitchen, they are welcome to prepare snacks and store cold items in the refrigerator. Garden by the Sea also offers free parking and free Wi-Fi for guests.
Like many small hotels on St. John, Garden by the Sea encourages eco-friendly practices. It is powered by 70 solar panels, and has its own water filtration system, but since water and electricity are precious resources on the island, the hotel asks guests to be conscious about their consumption. In order to reduce laundry loads, Garden by the Sea doesn’t offer daily maid service, but guests can request to have their sheets changed if necessary. Other practices, like managing toilet flushes, taking shorter showers, and turning off the AC while not in the room are also recommended.
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