The lush Caribbean island of St. Lucia has long been associated with luxury, thanks to its exclusive hotels and celebrity guests. But the island has always had an earthy streak, and even high-end hotels offer rooms without a fourth wall (but with plenty of mosquito netting). In the dramatic Piton mountain region on the south end of the island, near the town of Soufrière, one historic estate is taking the earthy concept a bit further.
St Lucia's hottest hotel, Hotel Chocolat Boucan, is located on the 18th-century Rabot Estate where the owners run a cocoa-growing project with local farmers. It's essentially a restaurant with rooms showcasing Boucan, a lovely, open-air pavilion where all the recipes (cacao-nib-crusted pork fillet with mint sauce; spicy curried chicken breast in coconut-and-cacao-nib sauce) use cacao or chocolate.
It might sound like a gimmick, but Boucan is probably the best, and certainly the most interesting, hotel-restaurant on the island. (It's also one of the few where you can get a well-made cocktail.)
The estate is owned by Hotel Chocolat, the U.K. confectioner, and the buildings’ dark-wood floors and whitewashed walls are reminiscent of the brand’s elegant stores. Instead of colourful Caribbean kitsch there’s an understated luxury with a hint of sex appeal. Its 14 exquisite lodges will wow the most savvy urban hipster. The ebony-and-white rooms have vaulted ceilings, draped four-poster beds and really smart bathrooms. Best of all, the jungle-surrounded hilltop lodges have head-on views of the Caribbean Sea and Petit Piton peak.
The hotel doesn't have a beach, so there are all sorts of things to keep guests happy, including a superlative spa which even uses homegrown pods in its massage treatments. With its cool vibe, Hotel Chocolat is designed for younger travellers, the kind who explore by day and stay up late mingling at the bar. Definitely one for your bucket list.
Hotel Chocolat, Rabot Estate, Soufrière, Saint Lucia.