Sprinkle gourmet restaurants serving fois gras, frog’s legs and a delectable choice of sommelier-recommended Grand Cru bordeaux. Toss in a one-mile stretch of golden sand beach embracing a Caribbean bay.
Mix with Hotel L’Esplanade, an impeccably-run, Provencal-style boutique hotel – and one of the best hotels in St. Martin.
And you have the recipe for a très élégant beach holiday in the gourmet town of Grand Case, St. Martin!
We’ve now stayed at L’Esplanade twice – and it’s a pleasure to write and update this Hotel L’Esplande review.
Hotel L’Esplanade, St. Martin
St. Martin is the Caribbean island with dual personalities.
The Dutch side is known as Sint Maarten (or St. Maarten); the French side is St. Martin (or Saint Martin). It’s borderless though – you can freely go from one side to the other without stopping.
On the western side of St. Martin, Grand Case is a tiny seaside village renowned for its French restaurants.
Hotel L’Esplanade is built on a hillside overlooking Grand Case and the Caribbean sea beyond.
Owned and operated by the Petrelluzzi family since it was built in 1992, Hotel L’Esplanade is a small resort-style hotel. But think “resort” on a small scale – this Grand Case boutique hotel only has 24 suites.
Guests return year after year, booking ages in advance.
We first stayed at L’Esplanade for a couple of nights before a Star Clippers Caribbean cruise.
If it hadn’t been for Hurricane Irma which had previously devastated the island in 2017 and closed the hotel for more than a year, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get in.
L’Esplanade is now completely renovated and welcoming the lucky visitors who are able to snag a reservation.
In fact, we loved our first stay there so much – getting a taste of what you can do in St. Martin – that we had to return to L’Esplanade and St. Martin for a longer visit.
We were just as enchanted by L’Esplanade the second time as we were the first.
Need more proof of L’Esplanade’s appeal?
It was named one of the Caribbean’s best luxury boutique hotels by the Caribbean Journal. And it’s also won a TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award as one of the 25 best hotels in the Caribbean.
Let’s get into a more comprehensive discussion and review of Hotel L’Esplanade.
Hotel L’Esplanade rooms
All rooms are actually suites with Bali-style furniture and fully-stocked kitchens, complete with a full-size fridge with wine rack inside.
You can choose from the following room types:
- Deluxe studio
- Oversize loft
- One-bedroom suite
We stayed in a one-bedroom suite the first time. Featuring a private bedroom separated from the kitchen and living space, it was 1,025 sq. ft. in size.
Modern in style, the one-bedroom suites have grey slate tile floors and white-washed walls.
The oversize bathroom has double sinks, a pebble-walled shower made for two and a selection of organic Damana toiletries.
In the kitchen, a welcome basket of goodies sat on the kitchen counter.
Coffee? Good. Macarons? Not so good for the figure. Fresh baguette and jam? Great!
We especially loved the huge stone terrace with a double hammock and a dining table and chairs for four.
Overlooking the hotel’s gardens, it offered views of the sea with sailboats bobbing in Grand Case Bay.
Before going out for dinner, we’d light candles (supplied) and have a glass of wine on the terrace, enjoying the breeze and listening to frogs and cicadas.
The only small niggle was that we couldn’t get the TV channels to work. (Mind you, we could have asked for help.)
Our second stay, we had a 560 sq. ft. studio.
With tile floors, a super comfy king-size bed, small kitchen area, dining table and four chairs, bathroom with a bathtub/shower combo and a covered porch inlaid with decorative blue tiles in the stone floor, it was quite comfortable.
Next time, we’d probably choose a 780 sq. ft. loft (or 980 sq. ft. oversize loft), where a mahogany staircase leads from the living space to the upstairs bedroom.
Pretty well every comfort has been thought of at L’Esplanade.
You’ll find a citronella candle and lighter for mood lighting when sitting outside at night (and to ward off the occasional mozzie), an oil lamp for romantic dining inside, dressing gowns (but no slippers) – even a laundry basket in the cupboard for dirty clothes. (The one thing we didn’t find was a make-up mirror.)
Breakfast is included
A daily continental breakfast is included in the rates.
Simply head to the front desk area and pick up your pre-ordered basket of fresh pastries (croissant, almond croissant, etc.), a pot of coffee and a tray of fruits, yogurt, juice, baguettes, jam and cereals – to enjoy on your own terrace.
The hotel doesn’t have its own restaurant for other meals.
There’s no need for one though. You’re just a short walk away from some excellent French restaurants in Grand Case (and you have your own kitchen.)
In the garden below the hotel, there’s a pretty tiled swimming pool with cushioned loungers scattered on the grass under the shade of palm trees and blue umbrellas.
The swim-up bar is staffed by a couple of bartenders who whip up some mean cocktails and prepare snacks and light lunches like grilled shrimp on the barbecue.
Access to the beach
While Hotel L’Esplanade isn’t on the beach, it’s close to it.
A 7-minute walk through the hotel’s property and down the hill takes you to Petit Plage (Little Beach), beside the Grand Case Beach Hotel. There, you can rent beach chairs and an umbrella from the Grand Case Beach Club.
Guests of L’Esplanade may also use the lounge chairs and umbrellas at its sister beachfront hotel, Le Petit Hotel, free of charge.
Le Petit Hotel is located at the far end of Grand Case Beach, about a 20-minute walk away.
If you don’t feel like walking, hop in the hotel’s shuttle van for a free lift to Le Petit Hotel at 10:30 am (the return shuttle is at about 4:30 pm). If you’ve rented a car, you can drive and park there.
Spa and yoga
The hotel’s Ti Spa offers a full range of massage treatments. And the large open-air Ti Temple offers complimentary daily yoga classes for guests, including morning and evening sessions.
Shuttle to Grand Case restaurants
L’Esplanade offers a free on-demand shuttle service in the evening to and from the restaurants in Grand Case.
Just let reception know in advance what time you want to be picked up. When you’re finished dinner, you ask the restaurant to call the shuttle driver to take you back to your hotel.
L’Esplanade Hotel bottom line?
If you’re wondering where to stay in Grand Case, do yourself a favor and book L’Esplanade.
It’s one of the best Grand Case hotels – indeed, one of the best places to stay in St. Martin. Check other L’Esplanade St. Martin reviews on TripAdvisor, for example, and you’ll see all the glowing comments.
The full kitchens are an added bonus and make L’Esplanade very comfortable, especially if you stay at this St. Martin boutique hotel for more than a few days. (If you have a rental car, the well-stocked U grocery store is just a short drive away.)
Hotel L’Esplanade: For more information, see the hotel’s website.
Photo credits: 4, 6 to 8, 10 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Hotel L’Esplanade