As my followers know, Welcome Mrs. Goldstein is my series of luxury hotel reviews. I love sharing my experience at each and every hotel I visit so that you can find out more about it to see if it is the right fit for the kind of vacation you’re hoping to have. I just am fresh off a trip to St. Barth and it was one of those incredible vacations that I know I will dream of forever. Because you spend so much time at your hotel on a beach vacation I think that where you stay is very important. I stayed at the Tom Beach Hotel and my experience was truly magical.
If you’re a regular reader here, you know that my hotel taste is Five Star all the way. I’ve always been a person that can’t vacation if it’s not in luxury. So, I must admit when I was headed to St. Barth for an assignment and I wasn’t at the most over-the-top luxury hotel on the island I was a little concerned. But what awaited me in St. Barth was one of the most incredible hotels I have ever stayed at. Tom Beach Hotel is everything that you want your St. Barth hotel experience to be–laid back yet luxurious. It is the ultimate Boho-chic gem on the island and is not just a hotel, it’s an experience. It is surely a hotel that I will compare all others to in the future.
Welcome Mrs. Goldstein
We touched down in St. Barth after a quick 15 minute puddle-jumper flight from St. Martin (8 person plane, OMG! I was terrified). The hotel offers a free airport shuttle and arranged for someone from the hotel to pick us up, which as it turns out is only about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. When we arrived in the lobby, we were greeted by two friendly women who helped us with our luggage. Staffers at the hotel are mostly island natives or transplants from France. They are all undeniably gorgeous and nail that, “I’m not trying, I’m just naturally stunning” look all too well. But despite the bad rep that Frenchies get, the staff made you feel like family from the moment you arrived.
The lobby is modest, mostly wood and doubles as an art gallery for some really interesting pieces that are always rotating (presumably due to sale). The reception area opens onto a small garden where there are often iguanas and snails. After a routine check-in procedure, we were shown to our room (one of twelve). A short walk through tall and lush greenery along a wooden walkway landed us at our home for the weekend. I was thrilled with what awaited me.
Our room had its own porch with a bench, which I thought was adorable. The room itself was a plantation style décor done in neutral colors. It featured high-ceilings, a King-size, four-poster bed (with canopy), a beautiful private garden and a charming ceiling fan (though all rooms are air-conditioned). While the rooms are not extravagantly decorated, it was extremely luxurious and absolutely immaculate.
The room had many modern amenities: a flatscreen TV with cable (though almost every channel is in French—damn my poor American foreign language education), an iPod sound-system dock, CD and DVD player, minibar and a safe. Complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access is also provided.
The bathroom was probably my favorite part of the room, it was modern and done in slate. The toilet and sink were extremely modern fixtures. I was most excited about the bathroom toiletries—they were La Ligne St. Barth, which is a local and luxury personal care brand. I visited the store in town and the travel-sized amenities provided here run at about 5 Euros for just one small bottle of the stuff. Needless to say, a couple bottles made their way home with me. Every bottle smelled divine. Probably some of the best products I have ever used. I especially loved the Spirulina shampoo! But I digress, there were also white robes and hairdryers (though predictably as most hotel hairdryers, it wasn’t the most high-powered tool I’ve ever used).
The White Glove Inspection
The bedding was all white and during my white-glove inspection I couldn’t find a single issue to note. During my entire stay (and my regulars know what a tough critic I am), I could not find one thing to complain about. The room somehow didn’t have one bug or creepy crawler the whole time we were there! Not even a mosquito, which considering the tropical climate was nothing short of miraculous.
This is where Tom Beach really shines. It’s situated on an incredible stretch of beach with direct access to the water. Just outside of our room was a small plunge pool with a few lounge chairs, though this is not where the action takes place. Though I did fall in love with this sign…many pictures were taken here…
A quick walk over a charming footbridge landed me in the resort’s crowning jewel, La Plage, one of St. Barth’s finest restaurants, which opens directly onto the beach.
When you think of fun in the sun in St. Barth, this is probably the place you imagine in your mind even if you’ve never been. La Plage is party central in St. Barth. Basically, it’s an open air restaurant with a sandy dining room floor that serves up high-quality cuisine. There is a large, long, welcoming bar in its rear as well as another bar, The Pink Parrot, right on the beach. There is usually live music, often a DJ spinning great beachy jams. The crowd here is always looking to have a good time and that’s what the staffers try to ensure. Bartenders and waitstaff here are fabulous and will try to make anything you’re looking for, even if it’s not on the menu. One afternoon they were out of an ingredient for a cocktail I wanted so they just asked me a few of my favorite ingredients and within a few minutes I had my own customized cocktail in hand!
There is also a small outpost of the store, Free in St. Barth right in the back corner of the restaurant. This boutique sells adorable beach paraphernalia that sexy staffers often model for restaurant patrons during mini fashion shows put on in the restaurant.
Depending on the time of day, the environment can be the hottest party in town or the perfect place to unwind. Whenever you come, there is always something fabulous going on here, whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The vibe here is always upscale, yet chill and laid back. La Plage also offers visitors and guests theme parties throughout the weekend. Friday nights boast the island’s famous “I Love Fridays!” party. The restaurant converts into a chic and fancy establishment, the DJ spins traditional club music and patrons dress to impress. There is a fireshow and on occasion, a pole dancer who has taught the likes of Demi Moore (who is just one of the few celebrities to hang here).
On Saturday afternoons La Plage converts into a Nikki Beach-like environment and the glitterati come to sip cocktails, swim and listen to funky beats.
By Saturday night, it’s transformed again into a wine-tasting bar where you can get an education while sipping spirits and sampling the scents and notes of your beverage of choice.
Sunday Nights, the restaurant is decked out in strings of lights and has live music. When we were there Robb Tito performed fun covers of classics like Ice Ice Baby as well as a couple originals including his famous “St. Barth” song. It was the perfect bon voyage dinner.
The food at La Plage is extremely high quality. Fresh seafood is delivered daily and the chef is creative enough that you could eat entirely different dishes here even if you stay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite items included the tuna tartar, lobster fritters and the homemade sorbet, which include funky flavors like Strawberry Red Pepper and Pineapple Cinnamon. Be sure to try the sorbet on Sunday night when you can order a tasting platter of all 15 flavors that they serve!
To be honest, if you’re looking to have a truly laid-back weekend, there may not be a reason to leave the hotel other than to check out shopping in town. I could have spent every minute here and been happy.
Just outside the hotel you can book surfing, sailing, windsurfing and more. There is also a small outdoor area where you can get a massage right on the beach. Plus, the girls who work here are happy to help you book anything on the island that your heart might desire.
While there isn’t an actual spa at the hotel, the hotel offers spa services in the privacy of your own suite. We had a dreamy couples massage the day before we left. The girls of Art & Bien-Etre Spa came and set up shop in our private garden. They came with portable tables and a sound system and our terrace was instantly transformed into a Caribbean spa! When they finished, they simply folded their tables and were on their way. I would recommend getting any treatments done in the morning or early evening as it can get pretty hot in St. Barth. The massage itself was professional and she really knew what she was doing. Art & Bien-Etre also offers nearly every spa treatment that one can imagine from makeup application to facial to a blow out.
Is It For Me?
Since this is a luxury travel blog, I must critique a little bit just to give you uber-luxury fans a realistic picture. While I truly enjoyed every moment here, I did embrace the spirit of St. Barth, which is laid-back and languorous. St. Barth is an island with so much character and it’s a place that you should really have an authentic experience and embrace its essence. That is why for a visit here I would recommend this hotel over a more traditional Five Star property. I found the other hotels I visited during my stay to be a bit stuffy and rigid compared to Tom Beach. When in St. Barth, you need to take it down a notch and just relax. Tom Beach Hotel reminded me of the Four Seasons Uruguay, while it is a little rough-around-the-edges, it is still extremely luxurious as are its clientele. While I think that it is up to luxury standards, it is not a Five Star hotel. If you really need to be catered to all the time and can’t handle a little sand on the floor, this might not be the place for you. Being a luxury connoisseur, I do recommend this place whole heartedly to enjoy St. Barth but if you’re not a person who can let her hair down and only will be happy being waited on hand-and-foot, you may be better suited to a more traditionally luxurious hotel like Eden Rock or Le Toiny. Tom Beach Hotel is a hipster hot spot for the rich and famous and the unapologetically, “cool” kids. (Don’t ask me why they let me in!). It’s the place to be for a vacation to St. Barth if you ask me.
What the What?
While it happened to be just what I was looking for, this hotel probably won’t be well-suited for you if you’re looking for relaxation and seclusion. It’s a better fit for couples who want to embrace the spirit of St. Barth and have a good time. However, if you’re looking to relax and unwind, the parties don’t last late and can barely be heard from hotel rooms so you won’t be disturbed.
Random Thoughts: The hair-dryer could have a bit more power. There is not conditioner in the rooms, which was not good for my long and very tangled hair. Be sure to bring along some if your hair is anything like mine!
While the prices at La Plage can get pretty expensive, the prices are pretty on par with the rest of the island. Just come prepared to spend if you’re looking for good food. The Pink Parrot serves paninis that are delicious and very economical.
Location, Location, Location
Tom Beach Hotel is located directly on the beach. The hotel’s restaurant, La Plage opens directly onto one of the island’s most gorgeous, white-sand beaches. While you may think that this is the case with every hotel, it’s not. Many of the most luxurious properties on the island are not located on the beach so this is a huge plus in my opinion for Tom Beach. When I’m in St. Barth, I needed to have my toes in the sand at all times. We even went for a late-night swim one evening after our dinner at La Plage.
Wi-Fi is included and free throughout the hotel although it didn’t seem to work in the guestroom.
Turndown service is offered nightly.
Complimentary breakfast for hotel guests.
The Last Word.
Although this may not be the most luxurious hotel I have written about, it has the most character for sure and that is why it makes my list of favorite hotels I’ve ever been to. Its charming, laid-back attitude and its location really made it a memorable experience. If I ever return When I return, I plan to come back to Tom Beach! I am addicted to paradise!
Tom Beach Hotel: Plage de St Jean St Jean, St Barthelemy 97133
Phone From U.S.: 011 590 590 275 313
Disclosure: *I visited Tom Beach Hotel as part of a press trip but as always opinions herein are my own. Can’t buy the love here, people!*
If you’re planning a trip to St. Barth be sure to check out my advice for What to do in St. Barth and also Where to Eat in St. Barth!