Welcome to Checking In, a new review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue in cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.
In three words: Jagger in Jamaica.
What’s the Deal?
The Eden Rock was originally built by the island’s first mayor as his private home in the 1950s, perched on a prime outcrop–hence the name–in St Jean Bay. His celebrity connections helped cement the cachet of St Barths among the jetset, including visiting pals like Robert Mitchum, Greta Garbo, and Howard Hughes. The property eventually became a hotel before ending up in the hands of British businessman David Matthews and his wife Jane. They’ve owned it for almost 30 years, including underwriting the recent gut renovation in the wake of the category 5 storm Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The Best Room
Its 34 rooms vary wildly in design, size and vibe. The newest yacht-inspired rooms on the rock proper in the original home are suites named after Matthews family members Pippa (that’s Middleton, sister of the Princess of Wales, who’s married to one of David’s sons), Vogue and Jane; they’re standouts, with yacht-evoking wood paneling. Otherwise, watch out for the rooms in the same complex which face Nikki Beach next door; only book one of these if you plan to join the all-Sunday-long party. The best perch, though, is undeniably the six-room Rockstar Villa, which has the only full-sized pool on property.
Greeted by name at check-in?
Yes. There wasn’t even need to sully our arrival by hovering in reception. Check-in took place in the villa’s living room.
Welcome drink ready and waiting? (Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice)
Yes and yes. A tray of glasses ready-poured on the kitchen counter—and filled with Baron de Rothschild Champagne, in the hotel’s own exclusive bottling.
Private butler in the room?
Yes. Check head butler Giovanni Ciccione’s Instagram for a sneak peek at who else has stayed in the villa. He’s at the helm of a team that’s effortless and anticipating, rather than hover-prone.
Sheet thread count 300 or higher?
Yes. Just about, though: the Garnier Thiebaut-brand all-cotton linens are 305 threads per square inch.
Heated floor in the bathroom or a bidet? Or both?
No. A rare misstep, but the bathrooms were spacious, and filled with thoughtful details, from a Dyson hair styling kit (no plain hair dryer here) to a custom, scarlet rubber duck and even a bottle of hotel-branded nail polish (bright red, of course)
Are the toiletries full-sized?
Yes. The Ligne St Barths-branded bottles included aloe for after sun and the caps were carefully replaced every time the room was serviced. Extra points for the Diptyque-branded room spray in the toilets, too.
Private pool for the room’s exclusive use?
Yes. The beachfront hotel doesn’t have a central pool, but Rockstar has its own, which is 75-feet long and ideal for lounging in, beside or on top—just grab one of the ER-branded floaties if you do. The villa has its own, private gym, too.
Worth spending Friday night in the lobby bar?
Yes. The restaurant here is the major change in the wake of that reconstruction, a reimagining of the slightly stuffier old site into an all-day beachfront spot, dubbed the Sand Bar, with ample lounge seating as well as tables. The best people-watching perch is at one of the corner booths—ask either for table 16 or T208, both of which have the best joint views of restaurant and beach.
Caviar on the room-service menu?
Yes. The house brand is Belgian-based Imperial Heritage—try it on some crispy salmon sushi, one of the menu standouts that’s also available in the restaurant. The rest of the menu is Frenchified hotel classics, from a superb, oversized club sandwich (no mealy white loaf here, but instead pillowy Japanese bread) to a foie-gras terrine.
Would you buy the hotel if you could?
Yes. If only the Matthews family would consider selling— instead, they’re continuing to expand. Eden Rock’s villa rental program has a virtual stranglehold on the best properties across the island, like the nine-bedroom rooftop Villa Ohana, which rents for between $100,000 and $450,000 per week in high season and is rostered with service from the hotel’s own team.
What Our Score Means:
1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
4-6: Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.
7-8: Very good. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.
9-10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?