The Glamorous & Laid Back Island of St. Barth’s + The Cheval Blanc & A Restaurant Guide

Short, small & scary flight from St. Maarten to St. Barth’s

My husband and I recently traveled to the small island of St. Barthélemy (St. Barth’s) in the French West Indies to celebrate his birthday and absolutely loved it – 10 out of 10.

Depending on where you live, it can be challenging to get to (for us it was Atlanta to St. Maarten and a puddle jumper over to St. Barth’s) but once you get there, the ride from the airport to the hotel where we stayed is a breeze.

The island is very glamorous & beautiful but also has this laid back vibe that we really loved. They have all the luxury high end French boutiques like Dior, Hermes and Chanel, but everyone is basically in their swimsuit and coverup all day. It is so cool to drive around the island in the (Mercedes!) taxis and check it all out.

We traveled in the month of May, which is the off season, so we had our pick of all the (normally very hard to get into) restaurants. There are SO many great restaurants – I had a hard time figuring out the right ones to choose. Not all of them were a home run in our opinion and I will do a few things differently next time. Of note, dinner starts LATE in St. Barth’s and most of the restaurants have DJ booths that crank up after the second seating around 11 or midnight.

We stayed at the Cheval Blanc – a really lovely and elegant property, owned by the LVMH Group, with only 61 rooms. We would stay here again. The service was outstanding, great beaches, incredible spa, food etc etc.

Ok so restaurants — I think a lot of people go out for both lunch and dinner on St. Barth’s. We weren’t necessarily interested in that because we were only there a short time (four nights) and we love the beach so didn’t want to interrupt our precious three days for a dining experience. If I was staying longer I think I would have worked in one more lunch. My thoughts on the restaurants we went to are noted for you here:



La Petite Plage: #1 Favorite restaurant: great food, great cocktails but the reason to go is for the atmosphere. The decor is very “beach-house”, the floor is made of sand and the entire restaurant turns into a party around 10 PM. (Again, for me – this is a big plus.)

Kinugawa: Also a huge favorite of ours. It is much smaller than some of the other restaurants but it is charming and the food (“Japanese gastronomy”) was outstanding.

Bonito: This was another stand-out for us. The view was incredible, delicious food, loved the comfortable and elegant atmosphere. It felt a little like Casa Tua in Miami to me.

Wish We Had Visited:

Shellona: My friend went here with a group and had a four hour lunch – how much fun does that sound? Grilled prawns, salade Niçoise, bruschetta, and rosé accompanied by a DJ? Yes, please!

L’Isola: We did not go to this Italian restaurant but I wish we had. Friends of mine report that the food is incredible but it lacks the atmosphere of some of the other restaurants in St. Barth’s – which I am okay with because you can head out to a fun place for drinks afterward. I will definitely add it to my list for the next visit.

Gyp Sea: Also heard great things from well traveled friends about Gyp Sea – looks like a great choice for lunch on the beach.

Bagatelle: Likewise I really wish we had gone here for dinner. Bagatelle has about 14 locations around the world, all in glamorous places including St. Barth’s. On the list for next time.

Le Toiny: This hotel is on the opposite of the island from where we were staying at Cheval Blanc so we did not visit but Le Toiny is on every St. Barth’s list.


Nikki Beach: Nikki Beach is exactly how you would expect Nikki Beach to be: it is over the top, fun, wild. Lunch was great and I would go there again but only for lunch or possibly late drinks. There is better food in St. Barth’s but the see and be seen place to be is here. I’m glad I went but don’t feel compelled to go back necessarily.

Wish We Had Skipped:

Tamarin: We did not have a great experience at Tamarin. I didn’t love the atmosphere (largely due to the stray cats running around and yes I know that is an island thing but there were way too many). Food was just so-so. I would skip this one especially when there are so many other amazing restaurants to choose from.

Other Tips:

  • VIP Airport Service – we used this VIP Airport Assistance Service going and coming. I am not sure we needed it since it was the low season but it was great having it nonetheless. They meet you at the gate and take you directly to your next flight (bypass the lines, etc.). There are several companies that provide this service but here is the company that our travel agent booked: St. Barth R Way
  • Puddle Jumper vs Private Charter Boat: When you fly into St. Maarten to connect to St. Barth’s, you have two options: the aforementioned puddle jumper or a fast ferry. Friends of ours took the ferry on their last visit and advised us against it. We had no issues with the commuter plane (outside of the fear factor but that is also part of the fun and adventure), especially with the VIP service. It was a long day but as I understand it is not as long as taking the ferry.
  • Shopping – I also didn’t get a chance to shop because of how few days we were there but next time I will take a day or an afternoon to go shopping on the island because it is a shopper’s paradise. Maybe a girl’s weekend…
Tiny St. Barth’s all the way over to the right close to St. Maarten and Barbados.
Winnair connection from St. Maarten to St. Barth’s
View from the air
Cheval Blanc Lobby
Our room, which was more like a little cottage with a huge bathroom and a porch.
Balloons for the birthday boy
Bar at the Cheval Blanc
Lunch restaurant at Cheval Blanc
Delivered each morning
Walkway between our room and the lobby & beach
One of two pools at the Cheval Blanc
Another great bar at the Cheval Blanc
Beach set up
Cute boutique
Second pool by the restaurant
Even the transportation options are cute – we didn’t rent one but apparently this is a big thing to do on the island.
The food at Kinugawa was incredible.
Nikki Beach for lunch.
DJ Booth. I am telling you they are everywhere.
Bonito was great. Especially loved the atmosphere.
Reminds me a little of Casa Tua in Miami — feels like you are having dinner in someone’s beach house.
Le Toiny
I would skip Tamarin. I did not like the vibe and the food was just so-so.
And these cats really killed it for me. Hard no.
The small and scary puddle jumper I mentioned above.
VIP service
The end of the runway is…the ocean.
A tout a l’heure, St. Barth’s!

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