A place to switch off in perfect peace

The Inn at English Harbour, Antigua

You can choose between various gorgeous views at The Inn at English Harbour, although you would never guess as much from the hotel's nondescript hilltop entrance. View One comes as you are ushered through reception into a 19th-century stone house with walls as thick as an Englishman's castle. Now an old-world, elegant cocktail bar, hung about with nautical memorabilia and antique maps, its windows give glimpses of turquoise, gold and green below. Out on the adjoining terrace, the panorama proper opens up, rolling down over terraces to English Harbour and its yachts, and across the water to Montserrat and its brooding volcano.

View Two comes as you are driven down, through 19 acres of palm trees and pink hibiscus, to the hotel's second level and the rooms, set in gardens which lead to a pool and then to a private beach. The hammocks and sun loungers here give excellent close-up views of the harbour and its bobbing boats, all the way around the bay to the restored military lookout, Shirley Heights.

Staff provide towels, chilled water and coconuts to sunbathers. The Inn prides itself on this sort of simple, old-fashioned luxury. Beige stealth wealth or the lurid bling of so many five-star hotels, is not in evidence here. Rather it mixes discreet service with characterful, Antiguan laid-back charm.

Its split personality is reflected in two restaurants, one on each level. The Reef, a white-painted shack down on the beach, serves excellent eggs and coffee at breakfast, crisp salads for lunch and complimentary tea and cookies in the afternoon. In the evenings, guests are driven up to rather more formal fine dining on the Terrace. Substantial steaks or the catch of the day – king fish with coconut, mahi mahi with chili and mango – are served by candlelight as the harbour twinkles below.

If you never wanted to leave the grounds, you could be perfectly content. There is a small, basic spa and a rather stuffy gym, which could do with an update. Far more fun to borrow a snorkel or kayak and explore the bay, or swim out to one of the rafts for turtle-spotting. Or wait for the evening cool and make use of the floodlit tennis courts.

For those looking to explore further afield, the concierge can arrange a day's 4x4 safari taking in sugar mills, coral reefs and a few of the island's beaches (said to number 365), or an evening bus to Shirley Heights (otherwise a half-hour uphill slog) to watch the sun set as a steel band plays. If you're feeling flush, The Inn's yacht, Xenia & Faye, can be chartered for $2,000 (£1,333) a day, based on 10 sharing, including lunch. Green Island is an unforgettable two-hour sail to the east.


Distances on Antigua are small – at just 13 miles across, the island would fit inside Inner London with room to spare. The Inn is a 30-minute drive from both the airport and the capital St John's. It's a world away from the busy, all-inclusive resorts of Jolly Beach, and favoured by yachting types, who flock in for Sailing Week in April.

For the rest of the year, The Inn is tranquil but far from cut off. Throughout the day its free water taxi putters around the bay to the smart cafés of Nelson's Dockyard in minutes. From here, it is a short walk to the millionaires' docks at Antigua Yacht Club and neighbouring Falmouth Harbour. At dusk, the water taxi stops and it's back to normal taxis, which can be expensive.


There are 28 rooms at The Inn, housed in a cluster of two-storey, white clapboard buildings set back a few yards from the pool. There are also two, simpler, beach cabanas. Refurbished in 2008 by Italian owners, the hotel is colonial in style with hints of Grand Tour elegance: four-poster beds draped in white muslin, polished dark-wood floors and Venetian blinds, hefty mahogany furniture and ceiling fans. Bathrooms come with vast twin porcelain sinks. The roomy ground-floor deluxe suites give out on to terraces through French windows. The smaller upstairs suites have lofty ceilings and balcony views.

Each room has an iPod dock, flatscreen television and free, but patchy, Wi-Fi. I thought one of these was malfunctioning until I was told that the beeping noise at twilight was a whistling tree frog. You can't switch him off, I discovered, but in such peaceful surroundings, it was easy enough to switch off everything else.

Travel Essentials

The Inn at English Harbour, Antigua (001 268 460 1014; theinn.ag).

Rooms *****

Value ****

Service *****

Doubles from US$545 (£363), half board; a week's package costs from £1,575pp with flights (020-7666 1234; westernoriental.com).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
    Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

    Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

    A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
    Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

    Election 2015

    Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
    Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

    Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

    The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
    The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

    The US is getting frayed at the edges

    Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
    Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

    New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

    A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
    Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

    British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

    Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
    Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

    Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

    Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
    Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

    Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

    He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
    How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

    Celebrating 100 years of Leica

    A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world