Karibuni Boutique Hotel: Honest Review on What to Really Expect
If you landed on this page, you have likely decided to stay on the French side of St. Martin. Great choice! Now, where are you going to stay? Orient Beach? Grand Case? Cul de Sac? There are quite a few choices, but ultimately my husband and I decided to stay at the incredible Karibuni Boutique Hotel in the French Cul de Sac. Read on to find out why.
The Location + Arrival
Remember, Saint Martin has a French side (St. Martin) and a Dutch side (Sint Maarten). If you are still not sure which side to stay on, check out my post on how to decide between St. Martin and Sint Maarten.
The airport is located on the Dutch side. We rented a car. It will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to get to the Karibuni Boutique Hotel on the French side.
Directions to Karibuni Boutique Hotel in St Martin
Finding the Karibuni Boutique Hotel was a little tricky. It’s in a gated section of an area called Cul de Sac. You need a code to get through the gate. Ask for the code PRIOR to your arrival.
I did not realize that, and we definitely drove around for a while not realizing we could go through the gate if we had the code.
Driving Directions to Karibuni Boutique Hotel in St Martin
Luckily, a driver was exiting when we circled around, and we snuck in. Once we reached the top of the hill, we parked in the designated parking spots in front of the hotel. It is tight! I strongly advise renting a SMALL car.
Then we were met with the warmest hospitality and were escorted to our room. Since the hotel is perched up on the hill, you get a fantastic view overlooking Pinel Island.
Entrance to Karibuni Boutique Hotel
The First Three Impressions
1. Fresh, chic with mid-century modern touches
2. Amazing view overlooking Pinel Island
3. Quiet oasis in a gated community
With only 6 hotel rooms and 2 villas, the Karibuni Boutique Hotel books up quickly especially in high season!
Room types include the following:
- 2 Deluxe suites with communal pool
- 3 Exclusive suites with a private plunge pool
- 1 Premium suite with private pool
- In addition, there are two villas: Kijani and Baltazar.
We stayed in the exclusive suite with a private plunge pool. The three executive suites are slightly different. We booked the last executive suite available. This suite had a private plunge pool situated on the far left side of your private deck. It offered the most privacy since it was located the furthest away from the entrance of the hotel.
When we entered our room, we were greeted by calming sea colors of green and teal. It’s appropriately named the “Green Room.” Everything was fresh, clean, and spotless! No dust, no scuff marks, no chipped furniture. It looked brand new!
Karibuni Boutique Hotel exclusive suite bedroom with king bed
The king-sized bed is strategically located in the center of the room, facing the large glass window overlooking Pinel Island. Look at that view!
View from exclusive suite at Karibuni Boutique Hotel in St. Martin
We were given a lovely beach bag to use for the remainder of our stay, which included two fluffy beach towels and some complimentary snorkel gear.
Karibuni Boutique Hotel beach bag with towels
By the way, the air conditioner in the room worked very well, even by American standards! I admit I am a bit of a diva when it comes to sleeping at night. It has to be cold, and this little AC unit met my expectations.
The bathroom included a single sink and an open shower. I never understood these types of showers because water gets everywhere. At least the floor is concrete and easy to clean. Good water pressure and hot water. Although the hot water did not last as long as I would have liked.
They provided high-quality L’Occitane bath products, which smelled so good.
I loved that the toilet was placed in its own separate room.
Karibuni Boutique Hotel exclusive suite bathroom
On to the kitchen. If you want to do a little light cooking, there is 2-burner stove. For takeout nights, you have a mini-fridge for leftovers and a microwave for heating up food the next day. Also, the all important Neopresso machine is provided for your morning fuel.
Karibuni Boutique Hotel exclusive suite kitchen
The private deck has a beautiful setup. Our private plunge pool was located on the far left under a nice shade tree, which the geckos loved. The pool is not heated, so it did get a little cool later in the day when the sun was not shining directly on it. Refreshing, nonetheless.
Exclusive suite with private plunge pool
A very comfortable hammock was positioned under the covered portion of the deck for lazy days of napping or reading a book.
Private deck with hammock and private plunge pool at Karibuni Boutique Hotel
We also used our outdoor table and chairs quite a few times for a lovely alfresco dinner.
Remember, Karibuni Boutique Hotel is located on the French side. That means you have access to all their amazing gourmet grocery stores, where you can buy incredible cheeses, charcuterie, and wine. A few nights we would pick up a freshly made baguette, a few types of French cheese, and a mouthwatering selection of meats to make little sandwiches. Pair that with a lovely glass of Champagne. I would call that a perfect night.
Are we really in the Caribbean?
Dining alfresco at Karibuni Boutique Hotel
The Food & Drink
If you are a foodie, then the famous Karibuni breakfast is a reason alone to stay at this hotel. Mornings were my favorite time at this lovely hotel.
How does the staff know when you are ready for breakfast? You walk across your deck and raise a wooden fish. The staff sees it and about 30 minutes later you are greeted at your private outdoor table by the sweetest lady named Sylvana.
Raising the wooden fish at Karibuni Boutique Hotel
She then presents you with the most amazing spread you have ever seen. Fresh baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolat, a variety of fruit, meats and cheeses, yogurt with granola and honey, and coffee and tea. Wow. The picture below speaks for itself.
Incredible French breakfast at Karibuni Hotel on St. Martin
If you do not know already, the owners of Karibuni Boutique Hotel also own Karibuni Restaurant on Pinel Island. They will arrange a reservation for you for a fantastic lunch.
I regret to say we never tried their lunch menu because we were always so full from breakfast. I have heard their specialty is their incredibly fresh seafood dishes, especially their grilled lobster. We watched as the fishermen boated in with their lobster traps. It does not get fresher than that!
Karibuni Restaurant catching lobster for lunch in St Martin
We did not have a proper lunch. However, we did enjoy a few of St. Martin’s specialty cocktail, the Ti’ punch, while sitting beachside at the Karibuni Restaurant. There’s something about a cocktail in hand that makes you feel like you are truly on vacation!
Drinking Ti’ Punches at Karibuni Restaurant on Pinel Island in St Martin
There is a small communal pool, but I strongly suggest booking a room with a private pool. You will not regret the extra splurge because that pool also comes with an incredible view.
Exclusive suite with private plunge pool at Karibuni Boutique Hotel
There is not a beach directly in front of the hotel.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the owners of Karibuni Boutique Hotel also own one of the two restaurants on the neighboring Pinel Island.
What does that mean?
You are treated like VIPs on Pinel Island. The 5-minute boat transfer, chairs, and an umbrella are all included in your hotel rate.
The beach on Pinel Island is gorgeous! You can do some light hiking and snorkeling or just lounge by the beach with a cocktail in hand.
And wait, there’s more! Not only do you have VIP access to Pinel Island, but your stay also includes free use of the hotel’s kayaks. If you want the exercise, you can actually kayak to Pinel Island instead of taking the boat transfer.
Kayaking to Petite Clef in St. Martin
Or do what we did. Kayak out to the little island called Petite Clef, which is in front of Pinel Island. Throw on your snorkel gear and explore.
Petite Clef Beach
As with any hotel stay, rates will depend on room type and what time of year you book.
Expect a range from 288-560 euros. The villas of course will be higher.
The Reasons for Choosing This Hotel
Karibuni Boutique Hotel is located in a safe gated residential section of Cul de Sac, allowing easy access to top attractions like Orient Beach and Grand Case.
#2 Outstanding reputation for great service
We have stayed in enough hotels and Airbnbs around the world that I feel you can immediately get a sense if the host truly cares about their guests by reading the reviews.
Google Karibuni Boutique Hotel, and you will see the gushing reviews. We already had high expectations coming in, and even those were surpassed. The genuine service is just that good.
#3 Unique partnership with Pinel Island
If you look up top things to do in St. Martin, a day trip to Pinel Island is inevitably going to be on everyone’s list. It truly is a beautiful little pocket in the world and is a must-visit.
Because the owners of the hotel own one of the restaurants on the island, they go out of their way to make your experience extra special.
Other Hotels We Considered
We knew we wanted to stay on the French side of St. Martin. Besides Cul de Sac, we had also considered the following hotels in these locations: Orient Beach, Grand Case, and Terres Basses.
Orient Beach is a tourist favorite. This is where all the action takes place. No need for a car. Orient Beach is host to many great restaurants, beach bars, live entertainment, and of course a fantastic beach. Some call it the “St. Tropez of the Caribbean.”
We heavily considered two hotels here. La Playa Orient Bay Hotel is literally a 1-minute walk to one of the most beautiful beaches in St. Martin.
The second strong contender was the Orient Beach Hotel, which is the only hotel directly situated on Orient Beach.
Both hotels were chic, modern, and in the boutique style we loved.
Have you heard of Restaurant Row? Grand Case is famous for having one amazing fine French restaurant after another in this little section in St. Martin.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Lolos. These open-air food stands serve up fresh local Caribbean food. Foodies will be in heaven! Our travels tend to be food-focused, so staying in Grand Case was so tempting.
One hotel that caught our eye here was the Mediterranean-styled Hotel L’Esplanade. All rooms have private terraces. It’s perched on a hill above Grand Case. Dinner is only a 5-minute walk away. The near-perfect reviews speak for themselves.
Terres Basses is the exclusive neighborhood of million-dollar estates and is home to the super swanky resort La Samanna. If you do not mind dropping $1,000+/night on a room, this hotel is truly incredible. It must be if Oprah has even stayed here!
We had considered this adorable much more affordable Airbnb, Villa Zenitude. It had a fresh, cottage-like feel with a large deck and private plunge pool. According to the reviews, the owners are super attentive.
I always agonize about where to stay in a new place and will spend hours reading hotel reviews. Let me save you the trouble.
If you love incredibly personalized service from some of the genuinely nicest people you’ll meet, fantastic views, wonderful French food, a room you won’t want to leave, VIP access to one of the best beaches, and you do not mind driving 10 minutes to Grand Case or Orient Beach … then book one of those 6 coveted rooms at Karibuni Boutique Hotel now!
We rarely stay at a hotel twice. We already booked another stay at Karibuni. That tells you something.
Have you been to St. Martin? Where did you stay?
Let me know in the comments below!