Oceanside boutique hotel in a 400-year-old sugar plantation
Eight-minute drive to West End ferry terminal
Chic sundeck with a pool, bar, and modern couch "pods"
Clean private beach with a casual, waterfront restaurant and bar
Romantic, gourmet restaurant in a historic sugar mill building
Charming rooms offer mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and private ocean-view balconies
All-inclusive rates are available
Blend of colonial, beachy, and rustic design throughout
Wi-Fi is fast and free in all rooms and common areas
Free bottled water and self-parking
Little of interest within walking distance
Pricey a la carte dining
No spa or gym
For quaint beachside lodging in Tortola, it's hard to beat the Sugar Mill Hotel, an upscale property that occupies the site of a 400-year-old sugar plantation. The property is near the top of Tortola’s boutique offerings, with charming, elegant, and understated design throughout, blending colonial, rustic, and modern tropical details. Every common area -- from the beach to the chic sundeck to the gourmet Terrace and Sugar Mill Restaurant -- has an intimate, exclusive vibe. All-inclusive rates are available, and while the poolside bar can be lively at night, things here are decidedly quiet. The 24 breezy rooms feature modern amenities like free Wi-Fi, mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and sea-view balconies. Check rates at Frenchmans for a similarly priced, four-pearl alternative with large, villa-style rooms and a stunning, more intimate beach.
Romantic, historic property that's one of Tortola's best boutique options
There's a lot to like about this historic hotel, which sits on the grounds of a 400-year-old sugar plantation, and is styled in an eclectic, but cohesive, mix of colonial, beachy, and rustic elements. When taken together, there's an undeniable romance to this oceanside boutique property. The decor fully embraces the hotel's history, with old stone pathways and rusted relics of the original sugar processing equipment. Tasteful accents and furnishings -- like resin wicker seating, refinished hardwood flooring, and chic sundeck furniture -- add hints of modern tropical design, and the tan-and-white color scheme throughout gives everything a breezy, laid-back look that enhances the hotel's overall easy-going vibe. The property features three distinct common areas, including the Rum House (with two restaurants and a lobby bar), the private beach across the street, and the combined sundeck and pool area. The vibe in all three spaces is relaxed, elegant, and decidedly adult-centric. The property is better suited to couples seeking a romantic getaway than families looking for kid-friendly beach activities.
On the ocean in Tortola, an eight-minute drive to West End Ferry Terminal
Sugar Mill Hotel is situated on Route 1 -- a moderately trafficked ring road that runs mostly parallel to Tortola’s shoreline. There isn't much to do within an easy walk of the hotel, though a few casual (and well-liked) restaurants are a five- to 10-minute walk southwest from the hotel. The property is eight minutes from the West End Ferry Terminal (with regular service to St. John and St. Thomas). Light hiking trails and rainforest canopy tours are available 20 minutes away at Sage Mountain National Park. The shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions of downtown Road Town -- the nearest city -- will take about 30 minutes to reach by car.
Tortola’s Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS) is located at the far eastern end of the island, less than an hour away. While the hotel does not provide dedicated shuttle service, several rental car counters are available in the terminal. However, daily rates are more expensive than many other Caribbean tourist destinations. Taxi or shuttle bus service will likely provide the most convenient and affordable mode of transportation. Both options are easy to arrange at the airport upon arrival.
Charming rooms with a simple, elegant decor and modern amenities
Decor in all rooms is clean, simple, and elegant. Modern wicker furniture, rattan headboards, and polished hardwood flooring all blend together to create a look that's balanced between modern trends and classic, tropical decor. The abundance of white and tan keep everything bright and breezy, and details like the whitewashed wood-beam ceiling and shutters in the Deluxe Room that we visited add a lovely rustic element to the design. There's little to nothing in the way of wall art, but somehow it works to the benefit of the style, and helps keep things feeling upmarket and refined.
The property features four room categories. Entry-level Deluxe Rooms offer larger-than-average floor plans with a king bed and a sea-view balcony. Upgraded Signature Rooms afford even more square footage with all of the above, plus a larger sea-view balcony and a separate sitting area. Poolside Mini Suites provide direct access to the pool and sundeck and have two-room layouts, with separate living areas and bedrooms. The flagship Honeymoon Cottage is housed in its own private building. Its unique amenities include a four-poster king bed, a lounge area, an outdoor garden shower, and two furnished balconies. Standard amenities in all categories include flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and mini-fridges. Wi-Fi is fast, free, and reliable property-wide. Beds are widely reviewed as firm but comfortable.
Bathrooms are oversized in Deluxe and Signature Rooms and even larger in both upgraded categories. The decor is bright, crisp, and sophisticated, with wide vessel sinks and liberal use of creamy tile on the walls and shower stalls. Most rooms feature walk-in shower stalls while some also offer large soaking tubs or outdoor stone showers. Gilchrist & Soames bath products are standard.
A historic gourmet restaurant, a chic sundeck and pool, and a small private beach
This small hotel has a good number of quality features. To start with, there are three dining venues and a small lobby bar. The flagship Sugar Mill Restaurant is situated in a 400-year-old mill building. Much of the original stone structure and architecture is still intact, providing a beautiful and romantic backdrop for meals. The decor includes original redwood tables, fine china place settings, and a warm, candlelit atmosphere. Lobster, conch, and locally-sourced fish dominate the dinner-only menu. The food is both well-reviewed and pricey. The adjacent Terrace restaurant is located in the same building with an identical menu to the Sugar Mill Restaurant. However, guests can enjoy their dinner alfresco with views of the shoreline. A third space, Pavilions Bar, is also located in the same building and immediately adjacent to the lobby. A full liquor menu of beer, wine, and cocktails is available. Across the street, on the beach, Islands Beach Bar offers casual lunch fare (fried foods and seafood) just feet from the water. All-inclusive rates are available, so check ahead with the hotel.
Situated at the center of the property, the hotel’s chic, modern sundeck surrounds a circular pool and also includes a small bar. The pool is clean and well-maintained. Ample seating is available via several round wicker “pods”, outdoor couches, and a dozen cushioned lounge chairs with private umbrellas. The space is lively at night, particularly during manager’s cocktail hours. However, given the relatively small number of rooms, it’s rarely ever crowded. The adjacent bar features a full liquor menu as well as a small lending library.
Across the street, the hotel’s small private beach is hushed and relaxed, and there are no water sports or other activities available. The same modern furniture found by the pool -- couch pods and cushioned lounge chairs -- provide well-spaced seating for approximately 20 guests. There are no umbrellas, and the nearby palm trees provide limited shade.
Surprising for a hotel of this class, the property offers no dedicated wellness amenities -- there is no gym or spa. Parking is free for those with cars, and Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.