“Family friendly staffed villa with stunning views, set in the blossom-filled hills above Soufriere (sleeps up to 12)”
Bananaquit’s open, airy living room is all about light, space and what’s going on outside: it has a pavilion feel, with 2 walls made entirely of shutters. Folded back, you get a 180-degree view that takes you slowly from the Pitons, across Soufriere Bay, right up to the horizon and the sunset. And it’s breathtaking.
Inside, everything is equally bright: white walls and floors are lifted by ginger-blossom accents, candy-striped sofas, turquoise balustrades. A collection of quirky road signs, various displays and joyfully unminimalist shelves full of books, toys, DVDs, pebbles and games run along the back wall. Grey stone arches lead to the vibrant gardens, the pool terrace and the kitchen.
There are 3 bright and simple bedrooms downstairs. Bedroom 1 (the fan-cooled master suite) is an absolute sanctuary with a kingsize 4-poster, a large ensuite dressing room with bath and shower, and a sundowning terrace that look out at the Pitons and Caribbean Sea. Bedroom 2 also has a traditional West Indian kingsize 4-poster and a louvered door leading out to a shady arbour (though you’ve also got air-conditioning if you prefer to keep the outsides out). The shower room next door is shared with Bedroom 4 - a children’s room kitted out with bunk beds, a cot, a playpen, a colourful mural and heaps of much-loved traditional toys in the cupboards.
Up from the living room is Bedroom 3 - this has 2 large antique single beds, air con and an ensuite shower bathroom. And, built like a rookery into the eaves, Bedroom 5 is a fan-cooled mezzanine room with a sloping ceiling and white curtains for walls. With a small double and a single bed, it’s perfect for 2 or (at a push) 3 children, or a couple and young child.
There are mozzie nets in all bedrooms (an essential) and, where lacking, air-conditioning is planned.
Bananaquit’s chef, Cyrille, has a reputation as the best home-cook in Soufriere, and we think it’s richly deserved. Arrive to a simple welcoming meal - perhaps jerk chicken with a green fig salad, and lime pie for afters. The formal table seats 8 comfortably, but you can also dine outside on the terrace where you’ll be joined by grackles, the eponymous bananaquits and Antillean finches.
For drinks that bring it home you’re in the tropics there are fresh juices (tamarind and soursop), rum punch (of course), or cocoa tea - a supremely indulgent local drink made with milk, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves as well as freshly ground cocoa.
You can cook for yourself after that (there’s a full kitchen with a proper batterie de cuisine including a juicer, blender and BBQ), or ask Cyrille to prepare your meals from your own ingredients (in our view, definitely the best option). Breakfast and lunch can be served at a time to suit you; supper is prepared during the day then left ready for you to heat up or have cold later. Suggestions include callaloo soup with island bread, barbequed snapper, green mango salad, pepperpot, coconut shrimp and St Lucian fishcakes.
A shopping pack can be supplied to get you started (extra charge). If you’re happy to do your own shopping for everything else, Soufriere has 2 small supermarkets, a fruit and veg market, a bakery and a weekly fish market. Or make up a list and ask staff to collect groceries (there's a 15% charge on top of cost of groceries).
Recommended eating out options include the various restaurants at Anse Chastenet beach a short drive away (including a specialist vegetarian one), Gees and Hummingbird in Soufriere, or, for something really authentic try the street food at Anse la Raye every Friday, a village about 40 minutes away.
This is beyond doubt the best villa we’ve found in St Lucia for kids of all ages (and their parents!)
It's got a fantastic garden, plenty of toys, books and baby kit, and there are several family beaches nearby. Warning: there will be tears on departure.
There's a bunk room for kids, a twin room and a room with a small double and single bed as well as the luxury 4-poster bedrooms for parents.
Babysitting (separately charged) may be arranged with staff who are excellent with children (but not trained as nannies)
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Cyrille's fabulous food will tickle even fussy tastebuds; the kitchen is fantastically equipped if you want to self-cater, and there are supermarkets and bakeries a short walk away.
Mozzie repellent is essential.