Plantation house hotels are bursting with authentic Caribbean charm and character, with rooms in traditional wooden cottages scattered around a great house in exuberant tropical gardens.
They are usually boutique and guests can truly embrace the unhurried Caribbean lifestyle.
Here are six of the best for you to choose from…
Montpelier Plantation Inn, Nevis
Tiny Nevis has more plantation hotels than any other Caribbean island, and the most elegant is Montpelier Plantation Inn (above)
Tiny Nevis has more plantation hotels than any other Caribbean island, and the most elegant is Montpelier Plantation Inn – its historic buildings, set around the shell of a windmill, date from the time when Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet on the estate in 1787. Suites, dotted around the hillside gardens, are sharp and contemporary. A Relais & Chateaux establishment, Montpelier boasts excellent cuisine and a calm air that suits this lovely island.
If you are exploring Nevis, the view from the beach club on Pinney’s Beach, looking across to neighbouring St Kitts, is one of the finest in the whole of the Caribbean.
There are also some charming walks around Montpelier and on the Upper Round Road, which linked the higher plantations in centuries past. B&B rooms from £430 a night, montpeliernevis.com.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Nevis
Nisbet is the only plantation hotel on the beach. The Great House, with gingerbread trim and shutters, was built in the late 1770s, and from the property a magnificent avenue of palms sweeps down towards the sea.
Inside The Great House, you enter the drawing room and bar, furnished with rugs and antique chairs, and then move to dining tables set on the covered, wraparound veranda.
There are 36 rooms and cottages in the grounds. The beach bar has a more contemporary feel, with a hardwood deck and covered bar looking out to the Atlantic. B&B rooms from £615 a night, nisbetplantation.com.
Sweetfield Manor, Barbados
Time to relax: Lounging in a shallow pool in the grounds at Sweetfield Manor in Barbados
After the hubbub of the island’s capital Bridgetown, arriving at Sweetfield Manor is like stepping into a different world: a cool, quiet oasis.
The manor is a classic Bajan home, with white clapboard walls and a white tin roof, offset by green shutters and plenty of foliage.
Indoors, the walls are also painted white, but the colour scheme is offset with dark hardwood floors and tropical antiques.
It is indoor-outdoor living that the Caribbean does so well, so the lovely veranda offers a space on which to relax, while the extensive grounds are utterly peaceful.
If history is your thing, visit the nearby parliament building (the third oldest in the Commonwealth, after Westminster and Bermuda), and the Garrison, a Unesco-listed area with a number of colonial era buildings. Rooms from £185 a night, sweetfieldmanor.com.
Strawberry Hill, Jamaica
The view from the pool deck at Strawberry Hill is ‘stupendous’ says James Henderson
Planters built their houses to take advantage of the vista (and to oversee the cane fields), and the view from the pool deck at Strawberry Hill is stupendous. From 3,000ft, the bustle of the Jamaican capital Kingston is reduced to a tiny hum.
Part of the Island Outpost hotel group, founded by music producer Chris Blackwell, Strawberry Hill has a modern take on plantation style, with tall, white balustrades and walkways supporting steep shingle roofs.
In the hills you’ll find a dozen clapboard cottages, each with a four-poster and gingerbread trim (in one cottage this was designed by Madonna), and each with a veranda and a hammock from which to contemplate the vast mountain slopes.
If you are feeling energetic, you can take hikes through villages and coffee plantations right up to the Blue Mountain Peak.
B&B studios from £355 a night, strawberryhillhotel.com.
The Cotton House, Mustique
Exclusive: A deluxe garden suite at the Cotton House
Sugar was the main commodity on many Caribbean islands but on the drier island of Mustique, they cultivated cotton. And, as the name suggests, the Great House at Cotton House was used as the living quarters for an overseer.
Set on gently rising lawns, the hotel has recently been refurbished, with the rooms now decorated in a radiant tropical style.
There are only two hotels on this exclusive enclave, so, as you can imagine, Cotton House’s beach bar and restaurant are a centre of island activity.
Mustique has excellent coral-sand beaches on which to take a romantic stroll too. B&B cottage from £712 a night, cottonhouse.net.
The Great House, Antigua
The foundations of The Great House were laid in 1670, and the property was built with Cotswold stone shipped from Bristol. Previous guests here over the years have included the Kennedys and Greta Garbo.
There are eight suites spread over 26 acres leading down to the sea, and like all the plantation hotels, the hotel has a spa and yoga activities. You can also book morning hikes to look for medicinal plants, or boat trips at the nearby lagoon.
Head to the south-west of the island and you’ll find some of the Caribbean’s best beaches and bars.
Full-board rooms from £525 a night, with one activity included, thegreathouseantigua.com.