This was our first visit to Saint Lucia. We were on our way to … and coming back from … Martinique. So it made sense to look for a hotel that was close to Castries City and its local airport. The Auberge Seraphine fitted this bill admirably, being almost (but not quite) at the end of the runway. Our rooms had amazing views of the cruise ships heading into and out of Castries harbor. All the photos below were taken from one or other of the two hotel rooms we stayed in.
As a hotel, this was a great place to stay. But the dining-room, not so much! We posted a review on Tripadvisor and have copied this review “below the photos”.
The harbor in Castries, like several other Caribbean islands we have visited, is totally dominated by the cruise ships. Given the size of the harbor, it is quite incredible that they actually spin these ships around inside the harbor basin. A docked cruise ship can be seen at the left side of the first two photos. A small pond between the hotel and the bay holds three trees and about a thousand egrets.
We chose to stay at the Auberge Seraphine for one night before flying to Martinique, and for two nights when we arrived back, largely because it is close to Castries airport and to the town itself.
The room we were given on our first night was great, in the newest (or most recently refurbished) part of the hotel at the far end of the swimming pool. The room looked modern and almost new, was a good size and, like everywhere in this hotel, had an amazing view of Castries harbour. When we returned from Martinique, we were given a room in the older part of the hotel, behind the swimming pool. This room was even larger than our first room but was a little dated and worn. The faucet on the sink functioned but was broken, the refrigerator ran off a clunky-looking transformer sitting on the floor beside it and the closet doors would not close. The staff at the front desk were friendly and helpful. WiFi worked well in both rooms. And the room price is undoubtedly a bargain compared to the prices charged by many of the luxury resorts in Saint Lucia.
Which brings me to our experiences in the restaurant. We had lunch there on the day we arrived. The restaurant was quite full and we got the impression that many of the people there are regulars, who seemed to be enjoying themselves and their food. But both of our lunchtime dishes were bland to the point of being almost tasteless and the service was, at best, indifferent.
Not knowing of any other restaurant within walking distance of the hotel, we decided to give the dining room another try at dinner time. After our totally uninspired lunchtime meals, we opted for a pizza, despite the fact that this requires a 40 minute wait “because they are made from scratch”. But we were happy to sit at the bar while we waited. We asked to see a wine list but the barman told us that “we have lost it” and gave us the impression that this loss was neither recent nor considered important.
Our pizza topping, like many on the menu, included olives. When the pizza arrived, it tasted as if the chef had poured half a bottle of pickling liquid from the jar of olives over the pizza, rendering it almost inedible. When we commented on this, the staff were completely indifferent.
So for the other two days we stayed in the hotel, we went to the dining room only for breakfast. The breakfasts themselves were O.K. but by no means great. Service continued to be indifferent bordering on incompetent. The waitresses were very concerned to make sure that the dining room looked “neat” by dragging the rather heavy tables and chairs around the tiled restaurant floor. This included providing a third chair at our table-for-two while we were still dining. They were so busy doing this that they had little time to spare for the dozen or so guests. Coffee is poured for you by your waitress. When we finally got her attention and asked for a second cup, we were told on two days out of three that … “We have run out. You will have to wait while we make a fresh pot”.
Visually, this hotel has a superb location. But it is not quite as convenient as the map makes it appear. You still need a taxi to go almost anywhere, including downtown Castries unless you are willing to make the half-hour walk down a muddy path and a rubbish-strewn street past the cruise terminal to get to the main road. And of course, you still need a taxi to and from the airport. So, the next time we are flying into or out of Castries, I think we will look for a hotel in Rodney Bay.