Travel: 24-Hour Room Service - The Frangipani, St Vincent

FIRST IMPRESSIONS of this Caribbean hotel are of serious old-fashioned style. As far as relaxation goes, the ambience at the Frangipani is fully reclined with sea breeze on face and Sea Breeze in hand. The wooden walls in the main building are all freshly white-washed; inside, the dark wood furniture is solid but sophisticated.

In the garden are spacious en-suite cottages: cool stone hideaways from the steamy Caribbean sun. Bequia gets very busy from December to April, and the hotel gets its share of celebrities (recent visitors include David Bowie, Robert Plant and - somewhat less rock'n'roll - several British MPs).

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The Frangipani, PO Box 1, Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, West Indies (00 1 784 458 3255 or e-mail: frangi@caribsurf.com)

The hotel is right on one beach and only a boat-ride away from some even better ones. You're a moonlit stroll away from several good bars and restaurants. If you're staying here on a Thursday night though, don't miss the "jump up" - fantastic local food and all the drinking and dancing you can take.

Most visitors to Bequia come in on yachts, but there is also a regular ferry to St Vincent and a small airstrip on the other side of the island. Barbados is about a 15-minute flight away, from where there are direct flights to London on BA and Virgin.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

The laid-back beach attitude more than makes up for the fact that there is no air-con (only fans) and that you have to sleep under mosquito nets.

What to book: In the main building, room 1 (the coolest, thanks to its sea-facing position) was where the current Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines was born, and it's also where Mick Jagger likes to snuggle down when he's passing through en route to Mustique. For more space, room 4 is the biggest, or splash out on one of the garden units.

Keeping in touch: There are no phones and no TVs and guests are even asked not to play radios in an attempt to retain the atmosphere of escape. If you get desperate for communications, there's a place next door that does international calls and faxes, and there are several Internet cafes on the island.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Costs: Double garden units cost US$130 (pounds 90) from December to April, US$90 (pounds 60) the rest of the year.

I'm not paying that: "Basic" rooms in the main building cost from US$40 (around pounds 25) per night. Or come back - regulars who've stayed here every February for 20 years get a free night each trip.

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