“Two things I was immediately aware of as we first stepped into our room at Le Petit Hotel. One: the surprisingly large size of the room. Two: I was going to have a very hard time leaving this place.”
On the beautiful island of St. Maarten/St. Martin, in the charming local fishing village of Grand Case, is a small boutique hotel by the name of Le Petit Hotel. Calling this dual nation island home for the past 17 years, I have driven passed this little gem on multiple occasions, always wondering and imagining what it must be like to stay here.
There is something so alluring about Le Petit Hotel, with its simple colors, beautiful architecture and touches of Mediterranean and Moroccan inspired decor. Our chance to finally discover what is behind the gorgeous facade of this hotel finally came, when the owner, Kristin invited my husband and I to spend a weekend at the newly refurbished hotel.
Much like the rest of Grand Case, Le Petit Hotel also suffered damages after the passing of hurricane Irma in 2017, but proudly opened back its doors in June of this year, with almost no trace a super storm ever hit it in the first place.
The invitation could not have come at a better time. We were both stressed with our work loads and had just lost our beloved cat of 13 years. To say that we needed this, would be the understatement of the century.
We drove up in our rental car (cause a staycation wouldn’t feel like a real vacation if we were driving our own) and parked up in front of the hotel. The building loomed over us, tall and beautiful. We were met on the parking lot by Remy, the hotel’s resident manager, who quickly helped us with our luggage and guided us to the front desk.
Remy manages the hotel with his wife, Yamina and are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. The couple resides on property and are always available to answer questions and accommodate requests. There is such comfort in that.
We followed Remy up the terra cotta tiled stairs to our room. A giant Moroccan chandelier hangs from the middle of the open stairwell, the sound and smell of the nearby ocean creating that instant vacation feel.
Once in our room on the top floor, Remy bid us “adieu” after giving us a quick tour and left us to enjoy our new sanctuary.
Our room, or suite I should say because of the size of it, was well appointed and clean, the decor tasteful and simple. Soothing Reggae music was softly playing in the background, a sign that Remy and Yamina are well prepared for each guest’s arrival. The room’s temperature was nice and cool and offered a welcoming change from the Caribbean heat outside.
In the en-suite bathroom we found everything we might need during our stay, from the usual shampoo and soap to a vanity set and makeup removal wipes. The management of Le Petit Hotel really thought of everything. Across the bathroom was the large closet with ample space to store all our belongings.
The king size bed with it’s soft comforter in the middle of the room faced the tv and i-Pod station. The connected cable box offered a multitude of options of mostly American channels, a rarity in French St. Martin hotels. To the far left of the room was the open kitchen, complete with stainless steel equipment, pots and pans and a fridge stocked with complimentary water, sodas and beers. Another nice and thoughtful touch, we thought. A round dining table, a comfortable chaise lounge and a beautifully crafted wooden chair completed the room’s decor.
Sliding doors opened up to the small balcony overlooking the ocean and the Grand Case beach below. The sound of the waves and the salty air immediately made our stressful week a thing of the past. We instantly relaxed. The balcony had two lounge chairs and a tall table with two chairs where we could dine al-fresco should we choose to, as we watched the sun set over the water.
The rooms are peaceful and quiet. The sounds of the beach below lulls you to sleep at night and the balcony is perfect to watch the small planes land at the nearby L’Esperance airport, while you enjoy a glass of wine.
Le Petit Hotel’s slogan is “For the Lucky Few” and at first I thought it was quite an arrogant statement to make until I stayed here myself. Like the name already suggests, the hotel is small with only 10 rooms, of which one is considerably larger than the rest and perfect for a family of 4. The beautiful room, the incredible service and the fact that the hotel is right on one of St. Martin’s most beautiful beaches, does make one feel like the luckiest person in the world to be staying here.
The Grand Case village center is just a stroll on the beach away and is known as the Gastronomy capital of the island. Some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean can be found in Grand Case. Restaurants like L’Auberge Gourmand, Le Cottage and Bistro Caraïbes to name just a few. For lunch, the Lolos offer Local and French Creole dishes at very reasonable prices or go to Rainbow Beach Cafe for a more upscale lunch-on-the-beach option. There is something for everyone in Grand Case, even a small restaurant selling authentic Belgian beer and “frites”. Strolling the one street village center is a must.
Le Petit Hotel’s concierge service is simply “magnifique”. Go downstairs to the office or call Remy from the room for recommendations, bookings and to reserve the complimentary private shuttle to the Grand Case center. He reserved dinner for two at the popular L’Auberge Gourmand restaurant for us on our last night and arranged for the shuttle to pick us up and drop us back off at the hotel. My husband and I both were so grateful for this service. It really saved us a lot of time finding parking and not to mention that we could safely have one more glass of wine with dinner.
But getting back to the amenities of Le Petit: a complimentary continental breakfast is served every morning downstairs next to the reception desk. We took our tray with coffee, orange juice, croissants, “pain chocolat”, yoghurt and fresh fruits up the stairs to our room’s balcony for a private meal with a view. A jar of cold water with fresh slices of lemons is always perched on the shelf next to the reception desk and comes in very handy when coming off the beach.
The beach is at the back of the hotel, beach chairs and umbrellas are lined up everyday for the guests to use and you can grab a snorkel mask and some fins on your way to the beach in a basket right by the pathway to the water. Noodles are also available to guests, just ask Remy or Yamina. I cannot stress enough how great the service is by these two. Take advantage of their knowledge and connections and let them assist you in having the best vacation of your life. I even saw Remy give paddle-board classes on the beach one day. Is there anything this man cannot do?
Le Petit Hotel is a sister hotel of another great boutique hotel in Grand Case, L’Esplanade. The complimentary shuttle service cane take you up to this hotel as well, where you can use the swimming pool, have lunch and cocktails at the pool bar or for yoga and spa services at at the temple and spa on site.
Things to know before booking
Le Petit Hotel gets booked up fast and enjoys a high percentage of return guests. Making a reservation ahead of time is definitely suggested. A stay here costs about $300 per night in the low season.
The Grand Case area has everything you will need, including grocery stores, French bakeries, shops and pharmacies. You can of course always request for your fridge to be stocked with all the essentials ahead of your arrival.
Be aware that Grand Case was one of the hardest hit areas by hurricane Irma and unfortunately evidence of that is still all around, so be prepared. The buildings on either side of the hotel for instance, lie in ruins and so are most buildings on the beach side in the village. The people of the area are working hard to get the village back to its original pre-hurricane status.
I suggest renting a car to explore the island (not that you’re going to want to leave the hotel) and take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service to Grand Case for dinner at night. It is safe and it saves you time and parking fee.
Our stay at Le Petit Hotel is everything we expected and more. An amazing large room, gorgeous view, 5-star concierge service, friendly staff, beautiful beach and great dining nearby.
Heaven is real and it is called Le Petit Hotel.
*Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Le Petit Hotel by the hotel’s owners but our views and opinions above are honest and based on our personal experience.