Review: Cocos Hotel, Antigua
Our arrival at Cocos Hotel
When I first arrived at Cocos Hotel, I was so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the property and its jaw-dropping location, I nearly wept. Cocos Hotel is the stuff that honeymoons and envy-inducing Instagram pics are made of.
As we strolled through the grounds, we had all we could do to control our giddiness, trying to convince everyone that we always stayed at places this amazing (we don’t), so as not to look uncool in front of fellow guests. Settling in with a piña colada in one hand and an Antigua guide book in the other, I was in pure Heaven.
Cocos Hotel is comprised of 30 cottages perched on the hillside, providing startling views of the ridiculously turquoise waters below, set off by the striking sugar-fine white sand. It’s hard not to fall in love with this property and to fall in love all over again with your partner for taking you to such an amazing destination!
The cottages at Cocos Hotel
The cottages have rustic chic decor, think dark wood floors and 4-poster beds bedecked with mosquito netting. The decor is very similar to that of its sister hotel, Keyonna Beach, for those who may be familiar with the property. All cottages have an outdoor shower, private deck and striking views of the Caribbean. There are also cottages with a private plunge pool for those who wish to truly indulge.
The rooms at Cocos Hotel
Our room (number 26) boasted an amazing view of Jolly Harbour Beach, which could be viewed from our outdoor shower (see above) or our large private deck (complete with a hammock and chairs). It was amazing showering each day looking out to the sea as we scrubbed in the sun! I would have stayed in the shower all day if it didn't mean missing out on precious beach time!
The pool at Cocos Hotel
Cocos Hotel has a small, palm tree fringed pool set in beautifully manicured grounds. Next to the pool, guests can make use of the beachside bar, which serves complimentary cocktails, chilled drinks and small snacks (fruit and biscuits).
Jolly Harbour Beach
The beaches near Cocos Hotel
Straddled between the impossibly beautiful Jolly Harbour Beach and Valley Church Beach, Cocos Hotel is perfectly situated for sun worshipping, water sports and any other beach activity you desire.
Jolly Harbour Beach (the larger of the two beaches), boasts an expanse of bright white sand. The busier of the two beaches, here you’ll find a variety of beach-side restaurants and resorts as well as vendors selling tourist souvenirs (think sarongs and tee shirts). Cocos Hotel provides its guests with complimentary (and comfortable) beach loungers that are perfect for relaxing on as you top up your tan.
Valley Church Beach, the smaller of the two, is a crescent shaped beach, which is quieter than Jolly Harbour Beach. Here you’ll find two beach bars, including the well know The Nest, should you want a cool, refreshing tropical cocktail to sip while you relax in the sun.
Valley Church Beach
Dining at Cocos Hotel
Cocos Hotel operates on an all-inclusive basis, but instead of a buffet menu, they offer an la carte menu with table service. The restaurant provides a contemporary mix of international cuisine, sourcing locally grown vegetables from nearby farmers and freshly caught fish from local fishermen.
All meals are served in the gorgeous, informal multi-tiered open restaurant, which is set on a cliff, affording guests with amazing views. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, guests have several items to choose from, which means there is typically something for everyone to enjoy, however, if you’re a fussy eater or if you suffer from allergies, inform the staff at the time of booking.
The restaurant at Cocos Hotel
Meal options at Cocos Hotel
Breakfast is varied and includes everything from Jack Johnson’s favourite banana pancakes to a traditional English breakfast or scrambled eggs with salmon. You can also order a side of plantain, should you be feeling especially Caribbean!
For lunch you can order everything from sandwiches to fish or salads, depending on what’s on offer for the daily specials. I enjoyed the grilled tuna and the triple decker club, both of which were fab.
During our stay we experienced the BBQ Night, which featured Jerk Chicken, ribs and fish, corn on the cob (which had a lovely honey flavour), Greek salad, and black bean soup (which was a bit salty and not my favourite item, but at least I tried something new).
Beer, Wine & Spirits : The bar offers complimentary red and white wine as well as a wide range of international and Caribbean spirits and beers and daily cocktail specials.There is a also a selection of vintage wines and champagne available at an additional charge.
Entertainment : The hotel offers live music twice per week at dinner time. During our stay they had a man playing the steel drums, which made our time there all the more memorable.
Overall, we had an amazing time indulging in lazy days with nothing on our agenda but sun, sea and sand. So, if you're looking for ridiculously beautiful views and exceptionally friendly service during your next escape to Antigua, Cocos Hotel can't be beat.
Prices start from $519 per night. All prices are based on double occupancy and include all meals and alcoholic beverages per night. For further details on the property or for a breakdown of what's included in the all-inclusive package, visit www.cocoshotel.com.
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Top tips for your visit at Cocos Hotel, Antigua
A summary of our experience at Cocos Hotel, Antigua
Review: Sugar Ridge, Antigua
When we first arrived at Sugar Ridge, the reception manager gave us a warm welcome and knowing that we had stayed at several properties before Sugar Ridge, asked how our experience was at the other hotels we’d visited during our trip to Antigua.
‘It has been fabulous’, I replied enthusiastically, to which she responded, ‘Great, because you’re going to like this one even better!’ Now how could I argue with such a big claim and her ridiculously positive attitude?!
While we were waiting to check in, the reception staff provided us with a strong glass of rum punch (an island favourite) and we knew that we were on to a winner from the get go.
The grounds at Sugar Ridge
Sugar Ridge is a stylish boutique hotel on the west coast of Antigua, which is nestled into a natural hillside bordered with sugar cane. All 60 rooms are wrapped around the hillside, with a natural landscape providing seclusion and offering spectacular views.
While Sugar Ridge isn’t located near a beach, guests have the option of taking a complimentary shuttle to nearby beaches and beach bars including The Nest at Valley Church Beach and Turner’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. Alternatively, guests can pay for a beach picnic, prepared by the hotel, to be delivered to your beach of choice.
Room options at Sugar Ridge
Guests have a variety of room options to choose from including: 4 Premium King Rooms with Plunge Pool, 28 Deluxe King with Plunge Pool, 24 Deluxe King and 4 Deluxe Twin. Upper floor rooms feature a daybed, while ground floor rooms have day beds and plunge pools.
Based on guests’ interests, there are four ways for guests to stay including bed and breakfast, all inclusive, body inclusive, and spa. Each option is available to be enjoyed in the room of your choice.
Our room at Sugar Ridge (Room 50), with its stunning views overlooking Jolly Harbour
During our stay, we were in Room 50. While our room wasn’t very large, it had a lovely 4-poster bed (bedecked with mosquito netting), a plasma screen TV, a closet, a small desk/dressing table and a bathroom with a power shower. The décor was modern and tasteful with a nod to Antigua’s sugar heritage featured in the sugar cane and sugar cube paintings displayed in the room.
Our room also had a private deck with a comfortable sun bed and a small (and very cold) plunge pool, that’s great on a hot summer’s day (or for the very brave if it isn’t sweltering outside)! We loved the incredible views from our patio overlooking Jolly Harbour Marina, which were even more spectacular at sunset.
Villas at Sugar Ridge
For larger groups or those who want to indulge, Palm Villa is the latest addition to the accommodation available at Sugar Ridge. Sleeping up to six people in three King bedroom suites, this chic, contemporary villa boasts huge glass pocket doors and picture windows, which are perfect for framing the stunning Sugar Ridge views. The villa’s covered terrace with a private infinity pool is ideal for alfresco dining or relaxing in style.
Sugar Ridge Homes
For Antigua lovers who have cash to splash, Sugar Ridge also has a portfolio of luxury homes for sale, which provides the owners with full use of the resort’s facilities.
The pools at Sugar Ridge - perfect for chilled cocktails in the sun...
Overview of the facilities at Sugar Ridge
The swimming pools
Sugar Ridge has two beautiful swimming pools including the infinity pool at Carmichael's restaurant and The Sugar Club pool (located near the reception), complete with a poolside bar. Our favourite experience during our stay at Sugar Ridge was gazing out at the verdant green hills from within the infinity pool at Carmichael’s. At sunset, guests gather on the patio around 5:30pm to watch the sun drop below the hills, which was truly breath-taking.
The AVEDA spa at Sugar Ridge
For guests who like a bit of pampering during their holidays, the on-site AVEDA spa, which boasts a wealth of treatments to please even the most discerning spa goer, can’t be missed. After a treatment, you’ll leave feeling relaxed and revitalised.
The Cybex gym at Sugar Ridge
The Cybex gym has a wealth of modern equipment to appease guests of all fitness levels – even hard-core fitness fanatics. Personal training sessions are available for those who really want to whip themselves into shape during their stay to ensure they’re looking their best when reclining by the pool.
The gift shop at Sugar Ridge
There is a small gift shop near the reception for any travel necessities (sunscreen, etc.) or souvenirs.
Sugar Club restaurant and bar at Sugar Ridge
Dining options at Sugar Ridge
Sugar Ridge Hotel has two onsite restaurants - Sugar Club and Carmichael’s, both of which produce exceptional cuisine for Sugar Ridge Hotel’s guests.
The Sugar Club restaurant
The Sugar Club restaurant overlooks either the chic pool area or the reception area, depending on where you’re seated. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner or tapas, sushi and afternoon cocktails, it is a popular gathering spot for Sugar Ridge Hotel’s guests. Highlights include themed nights with special menus and live entertainment most evenings.
Breakfast at Sugar Club restaurant
A special shout out is in order for the breakfast buffet at Sugar Club. Guests can indulge in everything from French toast to freshly made omelettes and eggs, cheeses, pastries, fresh fruits, yoghurt, bacon, sausages, grilled vegetables, and salad, among many other options. Each day during our stay, we ensured that we saved room for the sensational breakfast, which was so hearty it left us feeling satiated until dinnertime.
Sugar Club restaurant and bar
The gorgeous Carmichael's restaurant and pool area at Sugar Ridge Hotel
Carmichael’s is Sugar Ridge’s on-site fine dining restaurant. Given that it is one of the most popular fine dining restaurants on the island, it’s recommended that you book to avoid disappointment.
Click here for the full review
Activities and excursions - Shirley Heights Lookout
During our stay, the helpful staff at Sugar Ridge Hotel organised an excursion to take us to Shirley Heights Lookout, one of the most popular tourist activities on the island, which is home to a BBQ party complete with a live steel drum band and arguably some of the best views on the island. Located only 45 mins away (by taxi) from Sugar Ridge, it’s an easy jaunt and definitely worth seeing.
For a stylish escape with top-class service, Sugar Ridge can't be beat. Prices at Sugar Ridge start from $250 per night (£175) based on double occupancy of a Deluxe King with Plunge Pool on a room and breakfast basis.
Top Tips for your stay at Sugar Ridge
A summary of our experience at Sugar Ridge Hotel, Antigua
Settle in with a rum punch…
Upon our arrival at Keyonna Beach Hotel, we were presented with a glass of tropical rum punch to sip while we completed our check in forms - the perfect tonic to help ease us into the island spirit.
Once we were checked in, the friendly hotel porter showed us to our cottage (number 27), which consisted of a large room with a 4-poster bed (adorned with mosquito netting), a small desk, a large dresser, two night stands, a bathroom with his and her sinks and a toilet, and an outdoor shower.
Our cottage also had a small wooden deck with an outdoor sofa and chairs, which was ideal for enjoying our morning coffee, while gazing at the sea.
The perfect place for an intimate escape, Keyonna Beach Hotel offers a selection of 24 rooms and cottages including, Beach Front Cottages with Plunge Pools, which come with their own privately assigned Bali beds and beach loungers, Cottages with Sea Views, or Beach House Rooms, which are located in the main building (positioned either with a view of the beach and sea or directly overlooking the beach). There is also a small but perfectly formed communal pool for all guests to use, which is set back away from the beach.
The accommodation – Rustic, beach-side rooms and cottages designed for relaxation
The accommodations at Keyonna Beach Hotel have a weathered, rustic charm to them (think dark brown painted floors and furnishings and simple, no frills décor). All rooms and cottages are only a short stroll away from the shimmering Caribbean Sea.
Regardless of what property you choose, you’ll enjoy ideally positioned verandas with stunning views of the beach and sea, four-poster king size beds, air-conditioning, a shower (an indoor shower for the Beach House Rooms or outdoor showers for either of the cottage options), free Wi-Fi, an in-room mini fridge (stocked daily with local beers, soft drinks and water) and tea and coffee making facilities. To ensure your focus is solely on your companion during your stay, you won’t find a TV in your room, leaving you with more time to cuddle!
We loved showering in the great outdoors, as we felt it really helped to create a ‘castaway’ feel.
Luckily, you don’t need to worry about snakes joining you for a shower (something that we’ve been warned of during our travels in Thailand), so you can relax and enjoy the view of the sun or the stars, whatever time of the day!
Dining at Keyonna Beach
One of our favourite experiences during our stay was indulging in the fresh, wonderfully prepared cuisine at The Beach House Restaurant. We consider ourselves to be foodies and we couldn't fault the quality or the preparation of every dish we enjoyed during our stay.
Unlike many all-inclusive resorts, Keyonna Beach Hotel doesn’t offer a buffet service, but instead provides an a la carte menu with table service.
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, guests will find several meal options to choose from. We were able to find something that we liked at every meal, however, picky guests or those with allergies may find the menu a bit limiting, so if you have any concerns, we recommend mentioning this at the time of booking.
All meals are served at the on-site beach-side restaurant, which boasts a fabulous multi-tiered, wooden terrace, which facilitates open-air dining beneath a canopy of seaside grape trees. During each meal we marvelled at the joy of beach-side dining. There’s nothing more relaxing than listening to the waves lapping at the beach as you indulge in sensational cuisine!
Fitness at Keyonna Beach Hotel
Keyonna Beach Hotel offers free yoga sessions for its guests two times per week.Our class was led by Charlotte, a lovely English girl who worked with each participant individually to ensure that we worked within our own fitness abilities to avoid injury.
After the session, we definitely felt more relaxed (and limber), which was definitely a great way to start the day and feel a bit smug for ticking the 'fitness box' for the day!
Activities at Keyonna Beach Hotel
Live entertainment is available two nights per week, however, we didn’t experience this during our stay. Other activities such as snorkelling, zip-lining, kayaking and other outdoor pursuits can be booked at reception for an additional fee.
We'll be back!
Overall, we had an amazing time at Keyonna Beach and would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a peaceful holiday in Antigua.
Prices start from US$288 (£187) per night for a Beach House Room; a Cottage from US$356 (£231), or Beachfront Plunge Pool Cottage US$488 (£317). All prices are based on double occupancy and include all meals and alcoholic beverages per night.
For further details on the property or for a breakdown of what's included in the all-inclusive package, visit www.keyonnabeach.com.
Top tips for your stay at Keyonna Beach...
Book in a yoga session with Charlotte, the yoga instructor
She’s a lovely English woman who’s skilled at working with people of varying abilities from beginners to more advanced yogis. To book, simply provide your name and room number at reception and they’ll sort the rest. The yoga sessions are held on the platform near the beach and mats are provided for all participants.
While crickets provide an air of exoticism to the overall experience by reminding you that you’re in a tropical destination, they can be a bit noisy for light sleepers.
Watch out for hungry mosquitoes
As we learned the hard way, the mosquito netting isn’t just an exotic style feature. The pesky mosquitoes will nibble away at you while you’re sleeping if you don’t take precautions to use bug spray and keep the netting closed.
To help keep mosquitoes at bay, Keyonna Beach Hotel fumigates twice per week, so don’ t be alarmed if you see a man roaming the beach with a large plume of smoke trailing behind him!
Most suited for: Couples seeking a chilled out holiday; this isn’t the place for adventure seekers or those looking for a party atmosphere
Best bits: The peaceful, beachside location with comfy Bali beds and the beachside restaurant and bar with its stunning views of the azure sea, can’t be beat. The slow pace of Keyonna Beach Hotel helps you to feel immediately relaxed, meaning that jet lag will soon be a thing of the past. It’s amazing what a golden beach and turquoise waters can do to soothe the soul.
Worst bits: Patchy Wi-Fi and pesky mosquitos (to be fair, we experienced both of these issues all over the island at various properties, so these issues aren’t unique to Keyonna Beach Hotel)
Our experience overall
The property: ★★★★
Food and drink: ★★★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★★★
During this trip I was hosted by the lovely team at Keyonna Beach Hotel. All words and opinions are my own.
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