24-Hour Room Service: The Cotton House, Mustique

SPREAD OUT in the remaining buildings and landscaped grounds of what was once a plantation estate (there are just 20 rooms in 13 acres), this hotel is definitely up there with the highest of the upmarket hotels.

Due to its situation on one of the most glamorous Caribbean islands, it's a dream destination. The rooms, suites and cottages all include stylish touches, and the effect is that, despite all the glamour, it is a genuinely inviting place to stay and many of the guests are families.

One of the best things is the pool, a cool blue puddle at the top of the gardens overlooking the sea, with an elegant bar and a canopied folly. The Cotton House's beachside neighbours include Tommy Hilfiger and Mick Jagger. Apparently, Mick likes to take a dip in the pool (by torchlight in the evenings) and a whole cast of famous characters regularly drops by for a rum punch at The Great Room's bar.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The Cotton House, Mustique, The Grenadines, West Indies (00 1 784 456 4777, fax 001 784 456 5887; www.cottonhouse.net; e-mail: cottonhouse@caribsurf.com). Set beside an idyllic East Caribbean beach in the Grenadine islands, the hotel is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

TRANSPORT

The island is small enough to stroll around but, in the strong Caribbean sunshine, most guests prefer to hire a mule to get down to the trendy Basil's Bar. For those not in the know, this is not an animal but a golf buggy.

TIME TO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The most popular way to get to the island is to fly in on the 40-minute Mustique Airlines flights that connect with direct flights to Barbados from London (BA or Virgin). The little airfield is next door to the hotel but they still send an air-conditioned bus.

However, most guests are on package trips (such as Caribbean Connections, 01244 341131).

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

The rooms are peace on a plate. All are air-conditioned and, as you arrive, music from the chic ministereo (it comes with a CD library) quietly welcomes you. The decor is all simple, neutral colours, and the beds are enormous. You choose your pillow from the pillow "menu", which includes "snorestoppers" and maternity pillows. The open-air sandstone bathrooms are the highlight. If you do make it out of the door, scuba-diving, horse-riding, windsurfing, snorkelling and sailing trips can all be arranged and there are two tennis courts, croquet and putting equipment and a minispa.

FREEBIES

The Floris toiletries are soon to be swapped for the luxury French range, Contemporel, designed especially for the hotel.

WHAT TO BOOK

Most popular are the poolside cottages (which have fantastic views) but each room has its advantages. I liked the romantic Frangipani room with its sexy outdoor shower and ocean view.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Rooms have stereos and phones and, on request, TVs and videos. Fax and Internet at reception.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms cost $500 (pounds 320) to $1,000, depending on room and time of year. This includes a la carte dinner and breakfast, tea, cocktails and use of all facilities.

I'M NOT PAYING THAT

Between now and 14 December you can book a seven-night Mustique Retreat (call GLA on 00 33 1 40 49 02 34) for two people for $3,639. This includes all the above plus a picnic on a private beach, three days mule hire, and your clothes being unpacked and pressed on arrival.

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