The Cotton House and Basil’s Beach Bar – Mustique, Grenadines, Lesser Antilles

Plantation Civilization and the Place Where Every Night’s a Party

The privately owned Grenadine island of Mustique looks almost too perfect—rustic villages, a few dirt roads, lush green hills. Little wonder the rich and royal have built their vacation homes here, but unless you’ve wangled an invitation from one of them, you’ll have to settle for equally coveted accommodations at the elegant but comfortable Cotton House, the island’s only hotel.

Renovated not long ago and once again in the world’s top rank, it’s the oldest structure on Mustique, an 18th-century plantation house formerly used to store cotton, sugar, and rum. Guests are urbane and sophisticated, often cele­brated, and everyone seems at home amid the quiet panache of a restrained, cool-and- breezy decor.

Much of the transformation, directed by the late British theatrical designer Oliver Messel, is still evident, and the ambi­ence remains palpably British, as if you’re at a long, informal, but civilized house party.

An international cadre of private villa owners come and go, dropping in for afternoon tea in the Hemingwayesque Great Room; picking up visiting friends for a picnic at nearby, mythi­cally beautiful, and almost always empty Macaroni Beach; or carting them off to expe­rience the daily sunset spectacle (and a few Hurricane Davids) at Basil’s Beach Bar.

Drinking the night away here may be some­thing of a ritual, but Basil’s, which stands on piers facing the turquoise waters of Britannia Bay, also happens to be a great place for seafood and fresh fish. You don’t need to be British or Hollywood royalty to enjoy the fresh-grilled, bought-right-off-the-boat lobster or homemade ice cream—or the charm of Basil S. Charles, the Caribbean’s answer to Casablanca’s Rick.

Show up on Wednesday night for one of the rocking, sometimes rau­cous jump-up barbecues—or on New Year’s Eve, for which the barbecues are just a very mild preview.

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