Call it a lust for the plate or culinary tourism or whatever you like, but when gourmands travel, they tend to plan by taste. An entire trip can be curated around one very dish—and if that is ever the case at Hôtel Le Toiny on St. Barths, it would surely be its most acclaimed plate. Here, the spaghetti aux truffes noires et parmesan dans la meule melts with richness and is prepared tableside at Restaurant Le Gaïac.
At just 21 square kilometres in size, Saint Barthélemy is an island of elite fancies in both style and fine-dining fare—and Hôtel Le Toiny has long topped lists for French Caribbean culinary escapes. Positioned on the southeastern coast of the volcanic island, the Relais & Châteaux property has a slightly unorthodox setting, refreshingly far from the madding crowds of glitzy Gustavia, with roads less tame and coastal foliage more tangled.
A conscious lack of pomp and circumstance reinforces Le Toiny’s authenticity, which is administered by general manager duo Guy and Dagmar Lombard. French and German by birth, respectively, the seasoned hoteliers arrived in St. Barths in 2008 fresh from working at Sir Richard Branson’s Moroccan Retreat Kasbah Tamadot. With much aplomb, the Lombards personally ensure privacy and reprieve for every Le Toiny guest. It’s just one of many reasons that the likes of Leonard Nimoy, Ivan Reitman, Leelee Sobieski, and many others have booked one of their 15 pastel-coloured private villas; Steve Martin, who owns property on the island, dines often at Le Gaïac.
French Colonial–inspired furnishings are found throughout the property, and that very motif is the pervading aesthetic of each abode: stately four-poster mahogany beds are set before panoramic bay windows; balconies open up onto the Caribbean seascape of Toiny Bay. (This was the very same vista that the Russian ballet prodigy Rudolf Nureyev gazed at from his personal residence, which still stands a few minutes’ drive west of the hotel.)
The grandest Le Toiny accommodation, known simply as La Villa, is outfitted with vaulted ceilings, a full kitchen, a black-marble bathroom complete with L’Occitane toiletries and a Jacuzzi, and a pool in front that lights up purple at dusk. With its two surrounding bungalows, La Villa decadently sleeps six. Its private plot is a 10-minute walk from Le Gaïac where guests go to savour the hotel’s haute plates.
Executive chef Sylvain Révélant and his partner, pastry chef Marie Hue, command the kitchen with Gallic grace, combining ingredients from France (truffles, foie gras, and meats) with more local fare (coconuts, pumpkins, and spices like bay leaves and sage). Naturally, the bread and butter of St. Barthian cuisine, Caribbean lobster, makes a regular appearance.
Le Gaïac’s grand Sunday Brunch du Toiny is well known among island epicureans, drawing them out of bed early to secure seats overlooking the hotel’s infinity pool. Indeed, even at brunch it’s worth keeping in mind the local lore: “Water is expensive here, so we drink wine.”