News & Reviews Caribbean & Mexico Saint Barths Review: Le Barthelemy, St. Barths

As the owner of one of the most frequented luxury travel blogs on the web, I am acutely aware of the weight my words carry.  My reviews ripple through to travel reps, sales teams, and hotel owners alike—it’s a responsibility I do not take lightly.  So, I choose my words wisely when I compare Le Barthelemy to being as enjoyable as the electric chair.

Let’s get real here, I paid less than half here compared to what I spent at Cheval Blanc and Eden Rock.  So before I make this place sound worse than a high school shooting, let’s remember that.  But that is about as forgiving as I can be, as Le Barthelemy is a masterclass in selective presentation: it reveals just enough to pique interest, whilst hiding the disappointing reality.  It’s like meeting someone on a dating website who describes themselves as “dedicated”, but it actually means they’ll stalk you until your dying breath.  And they’ll probably be there to witness that, too.

For your stalker’s sake, don’t be inconsiderate and make them come here.

You can get a sense of somewhere from the moment you arrive, and with Le Barthelemy, that was more like The Six Sense – it felt like the property was both haunted and lifeless at the same time.  It looked downtrodden and unloved.  There may only be 40 rooms, but they’re all cramped next to each other that even canned sardines would feel violated and create a union.  My closest reference to this motel-like property is from watching Ozark.  Here, privacy is a concept as foreign as silence at a child’s birthday party.  Rooms face the pool; balconies offer front-row seats to your neighbour’s sunbathing routine—it’s like living in a fishbowl.   Coming here after Cheval Blanc St. Barths was like winning the lottery only to lose the ticket.

I found myself double-checking my booking, half-convinced I’d accidentally sorted by price on Booking.com and snagged the cheapest option.  Yet, this place is listed across all major luxury networks and affiliates, and its sister hotel is the fantastic Royal Champagne.  On paper, everything seemed perfect.  I had to wonder if my enemies had conspired to send me here.  What had I done to deserve such a fate?  Oh, right—that.  Well, fair enough then.  But if we’re calling Le Barthelemy luxurious, then we might as well start calling gang warfare an upscale experience.

The main draw of this condemned so-called hotel is its beach and lagoon, but even the seaweed seemed to disagree.  The warm water was visually unappealing, tainted by an armada of boats that made swimming about as tempting as surfing through a sewer—except here, it felt like the sewer had come to us.  The beach was so littered with dog faeces I christened it La Merde.  I didn’t think I could hate it anymore until our one-year-old daughter put her hands into human shit, and suddenly we spotted it everywhere like sewage was pumping it back here – probably an apt metaphor given the state of the property.  That human waste was the most unwelcome guest since Will Smith’s Oscar night.  A stray condom on the road beside the hotel was the icing on this turd cake.

It certainly painted a dismal picture of the neighbouring accommodations.  Kudos to them, though, I didn’t think anywhere could get any worse and they said, “Challenge accepted”.  At one end of the beach lies Le Sereno, boasting an even smaller and more seaweed-riddled shore than ours, and sandwiched in the middle is a low-end hotel.  We got the crème de la creme.  Or the turd de la turd.

So you’ll never want to go in the sea.  But what about the pool?  Bad luck, pal, you’ll never find a spare seat.  If you do, you’ll have to contend with cigarette smoke wafting through the air and atmosphere as joyful as an abattoir.  What exactly is the point of this place?  The weather soured on our second day, but surprisingly, that only improved our stay.  It gave us an excuse to avoid the dreadful pool and the filthy beach, allowing us guilt-free confinement to our room.  I can’t recall ever feeling so deceived by a destination.  It’s like a recurring nightmare where you wake up each morning €3,000 poorer.

Drain the swamp!  Drain the swamp!  No, really, please do.

Facilities

I’ve already discussed the pool, which is more crowded than Kristi Noem’s gravel pit.  It’s flanked by games like pool, cornhole, and table football, giving it the feel of a cramped, noisy motel.  By 7 a.m., the pool area is littered with trash from the previous night’s partying.  By 8 a.m., “reserved” signs have already claimed all the pool beds.  The resort boasts a few bars, including a rooftop bar—presumably so you can get a better view of the approaching debris.  “Turd ahoy!” might become a useful watch cry.

Surprisingly, the spa is quite the oasis, featuring an underground area with two plunge pools, a jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room.  I would also consider their gym to be the second best on the island, but that’s not really a compliment, as it’s still poor by most standards.  However, it contained brand-new TechnoGym equipment and zero human beings.  They were probably all shitting on the beach.

There’s no kids’ club, which is probably just as well—an act of mercy, really.  They’ve wisely decided no children should endure this place.  The real oversight is in thinking anyone should.

Room

The welcome amenities for our stay were actually quite thoughtful, even though my daughter initially wondered, “Daddy, why are there no toys here?” Spoiled child!  They had indeed included some toys, but since our suite—their highest category one-bedroom duplex—was split over two levels, the children’s gifts were upstairs.  These included balloons, colouring pencils, playing cards, hats, turtle cuddly toys, and some nicely presented champagne with snacks.

That’s the good bit about the room.

As we were escorted to our room, a staff member cheerfully proclaimed, “You will love your room.” Way to let us down, person whose name I forgot.  I can assure you, it was not love at first sight, nor second, but only last—I loved it when I left it and never had to look at it again.

So what can I say about the room?  There’s a bedroom, a living room, two bathrooms and a mosquito net that allows you to be outside without obstructing the view.  The rest is shit.  It had the blandest, most uninspired feel since my last stay at an airport hotel in a developing country, reminiscent of a St. Regis design but without the microscopic elements of luxury they throw in.  The interconnected rooms made it feel less like a resort and more like a motel.  

Settling onto the sofa to take it all in, I could hear the coils rattling.  There was a button on the phone to order champagne, a gimmick designed to momentarily distract you from the dreariness of your numbered days.  The light switches were a puzzle, even more confusing than usual.  The room was bare, like they were anticipating you would steal everything in sight.  Everything except the ironing board that’s included.  It was surprisingly dark in the bedroom despite its sea-facing balcony.  Access to the balcony involved our neighbours having to walk past it to get to theirs.

An Escape Room would have been more enjoyable.  Actually, just stick me in a sarcophagus and seal the lid.

Service / Food

For dining, the beachside setup includes a “grill” (which is a Big Green Egg, much like the one we have at home and adore).  Lunch is served directly on the beach, while breakfast and dinner are hosted in their main restaurant—possibly the only area where a designer bothered to show up.  The grill offers a daily specials menu displayed on a chalkboard.  For lunch, the tuna tataki was unremarkable, but the poke bowl with pineapple was significantly better.

The fruit on the breakfast buffet looked like the leftovers they gave to the tortoises at Cheval Blanc.  While some pastries, like the doughnuts, were delightful, others tasted as if they had been defrosted three days ago.

For dinner, they only offer a fine dining option, which is surprisingly common in St. Barths.  The dinner setting was tranquil and aesthetically pleasing, yet the fine dining experience lived up to its name in the most literal sense—it was merely fine, notably lacking in flavour.  We opted to eat out twice, as the food was only passable, and the live music was more enjoyable than the food.

Everyone who worked here was perfectly friendly, but they’re mostly young and inexperienced—you’re not going to find anything amazing happening.  They tried touches of personalisation, like noting food preferences I disliked, yet then, predictably, I was given them anyway.  And they brought along a drink without asking that didn’t contain alcohol, whilst my wife was sat there wondering when hers was going to arrive.  It never did.  Maybe they’re trying to tel her to drink less – less water.  Each night, the turndown service included a small sweet treat accompanied by promotional material.  I’m hoping somewhere scrawled in there was invisible ink that simply said, “Don’t come”.

As we departed to Le Toiny, Le Barthelemy took us in their car, which had a wonderful selection of drinks and snacks in it.  They didn’t save the best til last – they saved the only good thing.  Your lasting memory is how wonderful it is to escape from here.

The Good

  • You can walk and be in the Rosewood in less than 10 minutes

The Bad

  • Just everything.  All of it.  I don’t have any energy left anymore.

The Luxurious

  • Someone help me out here

Rating

Bad

Conclusion

Visiting these places is part of our job, and you win some, you lose some.  If I had travelled all this way just to stay here, I’d be pissed   But it was only a few nights and… no, I’m still pissed.

In Summary

  • Kids Friendly

    It's not even human friendly. Don't bring anyone you care about.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 14th May '24

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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