Virgin Island Saver

Virgin Island Saver

Virgin Island Saver

The Best Hotels in St. Thomas: The Definitive Guide
(If you don’t see a hotel on the list it doesn’t mean it’s awful.  It just didn’t make the list for some reason or other.)

These are the absolute best hotels in St. Thomas.  If you are looking for an AirBnb or villa or other accommodation we will have a guide for you soon.

(*Important Note: I don’t do the affiliate crap.  I don’t get a dime from any of these people.  Shit, I don’t even get a discount, a thank you or a free drink when I visit these places.)

Staying at a Hotel in St. Thomas

St. Thomas is a small island.  No matter which hotel you choose you will be within about 20 minutes of every activity, restaurant and beach.  The western end of the island is sparsely populated and only has a few villas for rent.  If you stay out there, you are truly looking for quiet and solitude.

All the recommended spots on this list are within the “fun” zone and close to everything you could possibly want on a vacation.

And here, in no particular order, are the best hotels in St. Thomas:

  1. The Westin and Buoy House
  2. Sapphire Beach Resort
  3. Margaritaville
  4. Pink Palm Hotel
  5. Emerald Beach
  6. Secret Harbour
  7. The Ritz-Carlton

 

1. The Westin (St. Thomas) and The Buoy House

Technically these are 2 different resorts (both are within the Marriott Family).  But they occupy the same property and amenities.  The are separated by a set of stairs.  Sounds weird, but you’ll see when you visit.

These resorts are my absolute first choice if you want a higher-end option.  The rooms here aren’t cheap, but this place is gorgeous.

They have 2 glorious pools: one up high on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea (The Westin) and the other just steps from the beach (The Buoy House).  Either way, you are going to have an amazing view.

Up top at The Westin is the larger resort.  It has the monstrous lobby, elevators, lots of rooms, a large gift shop and everything you’d expect from a “typical” resort.  They have several restaurants and bars to choose from.  The rooms are standard by most accounts and they feel comfortable and ‘high-end’.  You won’t have to leave the hotel for anything if you don’t want to.

The Buoy House is down the stairs on the beach.  This is the more luxe part of the property.  The rooms are large and right on the sand.  There are two sexy, cool food spots – Isla Blue for a traditional dining experience or The SandBar with tapas and small plate options.  Or a less trendy (read expensive) option just down the beach.

The Beach at Buoy House, formerly called Morning Star Beach, is lovely.  The sand isn’t white sand, more of a brown, but still soft on the toes.  They have watersports options, including jetskis and kayaks on the far end of the beach.  Luxurious cabanas are available too.

Again, no matter which place you stay at, you’ll have access to both resorts.

Here’s a little secret travel tip: The Marriott Frenchman’s Cove (a time share resort) is a short walk from The Westin.  You are allowed to enjoy the sand and water over there and the bay is outstanding for some calm snorkeling.  They also have a casual restaurant.  But please remember that all chairs and towels are for the owners staying at the resort.  And please stay out of the pool too!

2. Sapphire Beach Resort

If I had to pick one spot to recommend to the man on the street it would be Sapphire Beach Resort.  It checks almost every box for a fun and relaxing island vacation.

The beach at the resort is a all-around, awesome Caribbean Beach.  They have a pool with some of the best views of the British Virgin Islands and St. John.

Watersports are plentiful as is a marina right on property.  So parasailing, boat trips, jet skis and sailing adventures are easy and only require a 2 minute walk from your room.

But wait, there’s more.

beach buzz coffee and breakfast restaurant at sapphire beach
They make some simple but satisfying breakfast sandwiches.

There are multiple food options on property.  A breakfast joint (The Beach Buzz) makes all the coffees and grab and go breakfast sandwiches.  There’s a pizza shop for all your day-time food needs.  And for those evenings when you want to indulge yourself, there is Sea Salt.  Don’t look at the prices.  You can’t afford it.  But you deserve it.

This is a condo resort so the units all have kitchens, living space and porches.  Much roomier than a standard hotel.  You’ll book your room through AirBnb.com or VRBO.com.

Sapphire is located on the east end of the island.  Which means it is just minutes from Red Hook.  Red Hook is full of entertainment options – bars, restaurants, shops and the ferry to St. John and other islands.

Figure you’ll spend between $300-$400 a night.

3. Margaritaville

I miss Jimmy Buffett.  His music is one of the reasons I live in the islands.  Even today I listen and feel a sense of wanderlust and a need to get drunk.  My family and I enjoy having dinner at the restaurant and I’ve been known to stop at the bar “Five O’Clock Somewhere” for a nightcap.

Anytime I step on property I always long for a day of drinking at the pool.  There are 2 pools and both call to me like a siren song.

From both pools you’ll have glorious views of the British Virgin Islands and St. John.  One of them has a swim up bar – one of the greatest inventions known to man, in my opinion.

The overall feel of the resort is festive.  Jimmy Buffet, et al is always playing on the speakers and live music is a regular thing here.  They have a small stage with lounge chairs for listening to relaxing island music.

The beach isn’t world class.  In fact, you probably won’t bother with the resort beach when you have one of the best beaches on St. Thomas just a 2 minute walk from the resort.  Coki Beach has the powdery white sand and some of the clearest water you’ll find.  And the snorkeling is amazing – the fish will swarm around you!

Coki is also home to lots of food and drink shacks and lounge chairs for a perfect beach day.

And just another 2-minute walk from the hotel is Coral World – an aquarium and marine park.

Final note, if you walk along the shoreline on the right side of the beach you’ll find another restaurant (not part of the resort) – Sun and Sea Bar and Grill.

Margaritaville is on the east end of the island.  There is a taxi stand to take you 4 minutes down the road to Red Hook and the island ferries.

4. The Pink Palm Hotel

entrance to pink palm hotel
This is all you see from the street – hard to tell there’s a boutique hotel with 30 rooms behind these doors.

Until recently, boutique hotels weren’t really a thing on St. Thomas.  And certainly not in historic Charlotte Amalie.

This little gem is only a couple years old and sits right in the heart of town.  From the street, you would barely know this place exists.  A small doorway with an inconspicuous sign is all that hints at the magic tucked behind the doors.

I can’t say enough about staying in downtown Charlotte Amalie.  Close to restaurants and bars and shops and all the history.  And about 10 minutes from Magens and Brewers Bay.

They have a pool which is like stepping back in time.  You can enjoy a drink poolside overlooking town.  Look up from your lounge chair and watch sailing yachts and cruise ships enter and leave the mouth of the harbour.

There is a restaurant and bar on site.  There are also lots of nooks to relax.

5. Emerald Beach Resort (The Dark Horse)

Emerald doesn’t regularly show up on “Best Of” lists.  And I understand it might not be the most modern or beautiful hotel.  But if you are just here for the sand, water and drinks, well then, Emerald has what you need.

St. Thomas is not known for “budget” hotels.  But Emerald definitely qualifies as a budget-friendly option compared to the other options on this list.  And it also happens to sit right on a beach with some fantastic water.

Look, does your room decor really matter?  Does having a massive lobby matter?  Can you live without room service?  Then you may be really happy here at Emerald.

It is a sleepy and fun little spot.  They have all the essentials for a beach vacation.  The pool is adequate.  They have a funky restaurant with some great local options.  And the beach bar can make any island concoction your heart desires.

Watersports are huge at Emerald – there’s a floating obstacle course, jetskis, floating cabanas and plenty of activities if you get bored reading or watching Youtube on the beach.

The beach is long enough that if you want to take an early morning stroll you’ll get your money’s worth with a few passes.

The resort is a 1 minute ride from the airport.  So I wouldn’t call you crazy if you decide to walk the 5 minutes to the hotel.

There is a taxi stand at the resort so getting a ride into town is quick and painless – you’re about a 5-6 minute ride to Charlotte Amalie.

Rooms are around $270/night.

Again, the Ritz it ain’t but Emerald is the most reasonably priced of the bunch that still gives you a taste of the good life.

Little travel tip: Take a taxi over to Brewers Bay (a 3-4 minute ride).  It’s a fantastic local beach with some awesome snorkeling.  You will almost be 98% guaranteed to swim with sea turtles.  There’s a small food truck with drinks and snacks and some bathrooms.  But otherwise you’ll have to pack towels, food, water, chairs, etc.  But definitely a great spot to hide out for an afternoon.

6.  Secret Harbour

I have mixed feelings about this one.  I love the beach here.  It is small but the water is next level.  A well protected bay ensures the water is almost always calm.  And the snorkeling, while not world-class, is still good enough to keep you happy.

I also love the beach bar and restaurant.  In fact, Sunset Grille is one of my most often recommended places to eat.  The rooms are condos with plenty of space and a kitchen.  The resort is 5 minutes from Red Hook.

I guess the internal conflict I feel about the places is that I prefer Sapphire (#2 Above) over Secret Harbour.  Sapphire has everything Secret Harbour does but is usually about $100 cheaper a night.   I am sure many will disagree with me on this one, but I would always choose Sapphire over Secret Harbour for the money.  I can’t see why you would pay more for what is a similar experience.  I’m definitely open to feedback on this, but for now I stand by my thoughts.

That being said, on it’s own, Secret Harbour is awesome.  They do have an on-site scuba outfit so if you are a diver or want to learn, you can’t beat the convenience.

7. The Ritz-Carlton

Quick story: My best friend is the guy that always has to buy the newest and most expensive toy.  When Teslas came out he bought one of the first ones.  He had to buy the biggest house on the block.  I went to San Diego with him once for a guys trip and we stayed at some trendy spot that had a champagne vending machine.  They guy can afford it though, he’s a partner at a massive law firm.  But anyway, he comes down to visit me on occasion and he always insists on staying at The Ritz.  Not because it is the best, but because it is a Ritz.  Is it the best hotel on St. Thomas?  Maybe or maybe not, but I certainly don’t mind hanging out there when he visits.

Here’s the thing, they charge almost $1000/night.  The rooms are beautiful.  The landscaping is lush and tropical.  The service is good.  But dang this place is expensive.  $18 for a freaking frozen drink.  Ridiculous.

But, they have a killer pool.  And the beach chairs are legend.  There’s a nice grassy area where my kids love to play soccer.

The food, while expensive, is brilliant.  The beach is average but better than nothing.  The resort activities are usually plentiful as are live musicians.

For my money I would still choose either The Westin or Sapphire Beach.  But I don’t mind being pampered on someone else’s dime.

And if you do decide to stay here, you have to go out on a sail on the Lady Lyndsey.  She’s a beauty!

The Ritz is on the far east end of the island so close to Red Hook.

And there you have it.  The best hotels in St. Thomas.  There are others but for my money, these are the ones to check out first.

Enjoy the free towels.