Hotel Chocolat Boucan
What's so special?
This is the perfect hotel for chocolate lovers. Set up three years ago by the founder of the British retail chain Hotel Chocolat, Boucan is situated on a cocoa plantation and chocolate runs through every element, from the food (chocolate is added to almost everything in the menu) to on-site activities.
How they rate it
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"The ultimate Willy Wonka' destination," says Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times. Its 14 cabins are "temples to the dark stuff. There was a jar of homemade chocolate chip cookies, cacao hand soap, and arty pictures of beans on the walls". Aside from relaxing in the spa or soaking up the sun, you can take a tour of the cocoa plantation and help expand it by grafting your own tree, which is then planted on the 140-acre estate. The only downside is the "crooning honeymooners who seem to make up the entirety of the guests at the hotel".
"The chocolate nibs on my fishcake were crunchy, the bitter chocolate under my tuna steak was weird but in a good way. Only once or twice was it too much."
From $450 per night for a standard lodge. For more information visit hotelchocolat.com, or call 00 1 758 572 9600.
What's so special?
This luxury hotel has one of the best locations on the island. Situated on the northern tip of St Lucia, it boasts sensational views of the coastline and nearby Pigeon Island and Martinique. The hotel is located far from other resorts, making it a beautiful Caribbean hideaway.
How they rate it
"Designed in a kind of Tuscan-Andalucian style it's a quiet, gated community of privately owned villas with individual apartments rented out to paying guests," says Cond Nast Traveller. Some of the rooms have private pools, all have large terraces with fantastic sea views. "Young couples seem to flock to Cap Maison: there's a gorgeous, two-tier pool and a Champagne zip line that will carry a bottle of bubbly down to a private dining platform on the water.
But perhaps the best reason to stay here is the staff, who are among the friendliest and most efficient on the island." When booking, go for a top-floor room for a "secluded roof terrace", or sacrifice a bit of privacy for a ground-floor room with a pool.
The "food is probably the best in northern St Lucia", says The Daily Telegraph. And the open-air cliff-top location "is the most memorable dining spot in the north of the island".
From $420 per night for a double room. Visit capmaison.com for more details, or call00 1 758 457 8670.
Three ways to get a hotel room upgrade
Your hotel room is usually one of your biggest expenses on holiday, but it's often possible to bring the cost down without sacrificing quality. Here are three tips from John Malathronas in The Sunday Times.
Stay in a business hotel. If you're staying in a big city, such as New York or Paris, consider booking into a hotel in the business district. These will be "packed during the week but keen to fill rooms when their customers go home, so lower their rates accordingly". For example, Hilton's Homewood Suites in Manhattan charges £188 for a double midweek but £148 Friday to Sunday.
Book direct. Most of us assume that it's cheapest to book a hotel online. "But, as hotels pay a fee to appear on booking websites, you'll often get a better deal by going direct." Choose your hotel online, then call it directly "quoting the web price and asking for a 10%-15% discount. Given that this is the average percentage websites demand from listed hotels, the owner may be willing to haggle."
Time your booking carefully. Most hotels will give you a discount if you book well in advance. But you will also find "prices can plummet for same-day bookings". The time of year is also a factor "find the cheapest time to visit a destination using google.co.uk/hotelfinder". Also, don't be afraid to haggle if you are staying for a while. If your stay is more than two nights, "ask for an extra one free. This is common practice with safari camps and some hotel groups."
Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.
Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.
Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.
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