How to Do St. Barts Like the Real Housewives

The "OG" cast of Real Housewives of New York City Returned to St. Barts for a Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. Here is Where they Stayed, Played, Shopped, Drank and Ate.

Travel Features St. Barts
How to Do St. Barts Like the Real Housewives

St. Barts, the richest and most captivating Caribbean destination, has always been a haven for the rich and famous. It seamlessly blends pristine natural beauty and a breezy “libre” (freedom) with refined luxury, and is renowned as a playground for the elite. It’s no surprise it was the setting for one of the most infamous trips in Real Housewives of New York history—or that some of the most popular Housewives would return this year to film The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip.

St. Barthelemy offers turquoise waters, glistening white-sand beaches, designer shopping, Michelin restaurants and Paris meets Miami nightlife. This island paradise actually has French hippie roots provided with an infrastructure by Rothschild, Rockefeller and now Abramovich. French is the official language as it is an overseas collectivity of France. You can even stay there at affordable rates and rather comfortably, especially in the off-season. However, if you want to experience the full-glam of St. Barts, just follow the trail blazed by the Real Housewives of New York, who have not graced the island on camera since 2012, where one of them had an infamous encounter with a pirate from Le Ti. Since St. Barts is absolutely a place where you will inevitably rub shoulders with the barefoot elite, as there are only 10,000 residents on an 8-mile island, let’s start with the cast of Ultimate Girls Trip.

St. Barts is a small island with no public transport so people get around by scooter, bicycle, renting a car, or on foot. The bumpy roads are perfect for Mini Coopers and I enjoyed my smooth ride. The most popular vehicle is the Moke, the adorable British jeep from the ‘60s that now has an American electric version. They grace the island in tropical hues like shiny eye candy. Taxis are nearly unionized and they discourage hotel shuttles for that reason. You can navigate the island by car in half an hour. The nearest large commercial airport is in St. Martin but St. Barts has a small airport known for its short runway (but not shorter than nearby Saba who has the shortest commercial runway in the world.) St. Barts’ runway ends at the beach; Housewives fans might remember how this is where Aviva bravely disembarked and talked about for the duration of the trip and ever after. Saba’s is much scarier. Frequent ferry services also run from St. Martin, which she could have taken, and as Sonja said, how did she get to school in France? I can see the ladies in a Moke and I hope they ride one and I do hope they are nice to their butlers, leaving their shirts unripped. 

Le Ti is a cabaret club made famous by the pirate episode, attracting visitors just to see the burlesque shows and cabarets over fine food, fine wine and maybe tequila shots. Le Ti is owned by Carole Gruson, whom everyone on the islands knows by just her first name. Reminiscent of Pigalle’s Moulin Rouge, you should try to get a front-row seat to see the performers up close. You can also go backstage and select your own costume and headdress so you can be part of the show! I didn’t meet Tomas the pirate who has since moved to Miami and claims he and Luann just talked but I did meet the adorable DJ, Jérôme Barthélémy ,who is cute enough to be Carole’s new boyfriend yet super approachable and humble; he let me scratch the record at Le Ti. He was spinning at Nikki Beach the next day and frequents every private party and day/nightclub.

While Sonja hosted the ladies in 2012 at Hotel Tom’s, La Plage, a cute beach hotel and patio that used to attract the elite some of the newer hotspots are Le Petite Plage and Bagatelle both of which are “downtown” in Gustavia. 

One street, Rue de la Republique has every high-end designer shop you would ever need with European prices and is duty-free. It is downtown in Gustavia surrounding the harbor, always full of superyachts. I lingered in Dior, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Prada, Cartier, Bulgari and shops carrying all of the above. The most popular shop on the island is Free in St. Barts which sells $70 tee shirts, hats, bags, and magnets bearing the name (I splurged on a $5 sticker.) It’s a bit of an overpriced tee shirt shop (it’s ironic that its name in literal English is “Free in St. Barts”) but it does capture the island’s spirit of freedom and laidback approachability.

La Village Creole has more “affordable” boutique shops but really just more boutiques with less brand names and more Toile de Jouy print than you can imagine; think $150 straw beach bags, island shaped charms dipped in gold necklaces and beautiful handmade French country style dresses in print linen and frills which is the general look on the island. Other shops carry nightclub looks with sequins, an overall Patricia Fields aesthetic when not boatneck with stripes. Local artisans are represented in some galleries that exhibit paintings and jewelry and accessories. 

More of the local culture can be experienced by having a drink or simple meal at the Le Select, which claims to be the island’s oldest bar and has been around for over 70 years. It happens to be the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (he was eating a burger at its divey but authentic restaurant), so take that, Key West.

A Real Housewives of New York Legacy cast of Kelly Bensimon, Dorinda Medley, Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, Luann de Lesseps, Kelly Bensimon, Kristen Taekman and Dorinda Medley recently visited the island again; for Ramona, Sonja and Luann, it was their second filming without toxic Aviva Drescher, aloof hostess Carole Radziwil, and positivity queen Heather Thomson. The ladies are all regulars to the island according to their social media, with Kelly Bensimon stating she visits annually since her children were born.  Here is where they stayed, played, ate, and partied last time and may have this time, along with my recommendations based on my own recent stay on St. Barts.

Where to Stay

There are 25 different hotels on the island, each unique, most with 15 rooms or fewer, 10 of which are five-star and one an actual palace, le Cheval Blanc. There are around 800 villas available for rent. While A-list celebrities usually shy away from hotels for privacy reasons, the Housewives stayed at a villa in 2012 and this year with a solid NDA they could stay somewhere more private like Hotel Manapany, which is rumored to be where they landed, or a villa of their choice. Other must-sees and stays are Eden Rock, Cheval Blanc and Hotel Le Toiny, the most expensive hotel on the island. All of them can be visited just for dinner, drinks, shopping or the beach bar.

Eden Rock, which also has locations in France, Dominican Republic, Italy and Miami, is super chic, with a fine dining menu and wine list by celebrity chef Jean-George Vongerichte right on the beach at the Sand Bar. It’s a romantic spot that has signature shiny red coastal decor that is yacht-chic.

Cheval Blanc with its signature soft pink and white is the second most expensive hotel and is known for its restaurant La Case, which serves Caribbean cuisine interpreted by Jean Imbert. A Dallas couple I ran into twice (once at Dior and at lunch later) claimed that, with its prices, it could be in The Menu, but that it was still worth it. There is a beautiful pink sculpture, fine cuisine, and full beach bar, shopping and more on the property, which is literally a palace; one could easily just stay here during their entire trip.

Hotel Le Toiny is the most expensive hotel on the island, and with its crisp, calming whites it’s a possible stay for the cast. Keep in mind that often these hotels and more are comped for the show, though, and they choose who represents them so perhaps it could be Hotel Manapany, a relaxed five-star jungle-themed eco-resort that Naomi Watts and Rita Ora have enjoyed. I enjoyed my stay here as the only eco-resort on the island; it’s on Anes de Cayes, a surfer’s beach best for views only, but the Grand Fond natural pools, which are sort of like an outdoor cenote, are only a 20-minute walk away. Like all the hotels it has first class dining, spa and pool, and as the only five-star eco resort right on the beach, their commitment to preserving St Barth’s natural beauty attracts privacy seekers and the eco-conscious. The locally sourced organic cuisine at the restaurant was a culinary delight. You can book at the Manapany spa for a relaxing Lomi-Lomi massage, and yoga and pilates with local experts became a part of my daily routine during my stay.

Where to Dine

Back in 2012 after Le Ti the ladies visited Tamarind twice. This jungly fine dining and shopping oasis with Tamarind trees has a beautiful outdoor patio and indoor seating for French terroir meets island cuisine with a massive French wine cellar. You can have foie gras, Caribbean lobster, and the best pairings imaginable. Other hotspots for the ladies this season could be any of the places that also double as nightclubs: Bagatelle and Le Petite Plage (along with others) have music and dancing late into the night. Nikki Beach is known for delicious seafood and hot beats and looks, and Naõ, Le Guerite Beach Club, GypSea, and Shellona are all open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oh, here’s a Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip insider tip: try the local rum. According to Sonja Morgan, there is no hangover! She also notes they make the best rum raisin ice cream at Meli Melo, a three-bedroom private villa that rents for $2100 a night, which could be a sign one or more of them stayed there during their strip..

Where to Drink

I recommend that the ladies check out the world’s only lounge for the Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s exceptionally fine wine and champagne, which opened in 2020. The Rothschild family cellar is over two centuries old and is par excellence, only available in New York at Ritz Carltons and restaurants like Maison Close, but they are available online.  Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s Blanc de Blanc (my favorite) is also available exclusively at Eden Roc. Again, the small intimate island allows you to pop bottles with the wealthiest elite and maybe a housewife and a journalist. 

Where to Party

The ladies visited Bagatelle last time, a beautiful bar on the harbor that also has locations from Tulum to Mykonos. Bagatelle, Petit Plage and Bonito all have night clubs, while Nikki Beach, Ocean Club, Cheval Blanc, Eden Rock and La Guérite are all open during the day. The only official nightclubs are Casa, Modjo and Skybar and they are a blast. Ocean Club is a restaurant with a DJ. And of course, Le Ti is a must visit, and I’d be surprised if the Real Housewives didn’t go again.

Where to Play

The most popular beach is St. Jean Beach, the most sought-after beach day spot conveniently located near a range of hotels, bars, and restaurants like Nikki Beach and Eden Roc. There’s also shopping nearby in Villa Creole. The ladies took a yacht to Colombier in 2012 and this year they can maybe try going fully nude at Plage de Saline or go topless on any beach, though St. Jean is a bit more covered up with all the day clubs nearby.

Despite its reputation as a glamorous haven, St. Barts remains refreshingly friendly and approachable, letting the elite and regular folks comingle. With a population of only 10,000, the island’s residents exude warmth and hospitality. It’s a small town. Embrace the island’s “freedom” ethos, as evidenced by the numerous “I love you” signs, and seize the opportunity to mingle with the barefoot elite in a relaxed and casual atmosphere.

I am sure the Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip cast had an amazing time in St. Barts; even though LuAnn said it had “Scary Island part two” vibes, she was alluding to the company she kept. They are all frequent visitors during the festive season of Christmas to the New Year for the annual New Year’s Eve Regatta. They were there during the shoulder season which is the best time to visit. Off season is also a great time to go; for example, our table at Le Ti was so empty I couldn’t help but chat with Silicon Valley multimillionaire investors about my startup.

You too can experience the bliss that millions of tourists enjoy each year. St. Barts invites travelers to uncover a slice of Caribbean paradise intertwined with French allure. From affordable bungalows and local cuisine to extravagant luxury resorts and Michelin-starred dining, the island offers a myriad of experiences. Whether you choose to unwind on pristine beaches, shop til you duty free drop or immerse yourself in the glamorous world of St. Barts, this enchanting destination has open arms for all who visit, and the stars of Real Houswives Ultimate Girls Trip are sure to have had a fun and eventful time.

Alyssa Pinsker is an award-winning travel writer and writing and publishing coach based in Boulder, Colorado. She has visited 45 countries so far and lived in five. Follow her at @girlgoneglobal or visit

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