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Tortola offers a charming mash up of traditional West Indian culture, with a definite British politeness, and plenty of life to it, all against the backdrop of Caribbean island perfection. And it's MUCH loved by sailors. Capital of the British Virgin Islands, and home to 80% of the population, Tortola is very much more than a holiday island, and the best places to stay on Tortola range from bougainvillea clad guesthouses in the hills, to traditional beachside hotels and private island resorts.
As well as being a great base for exploring the tiny, uninhabited blips of the british Virgin Island Group, Tortola is also great for divers - there's a number of shipwrecks just off the coast, and great for hikers - the landscape is lush and peak-y.
It also offers some interesting conditions for surfers, who're gradually colonising some of the undeveloped gems of beaches on the island's north coast.
Road Town, Tortola's capital is the home of the island's government buildings, and sailing businesses; this is where you'll find the largest marinas and boatyards. There are some relatively basic hotels to be found around the docks, but also some quite decent ones - possibly for the offshore finance clients.
The island's legendary full moon parties can quickly fill its best bougainvillea clad guesthouses and villas in the hills, so book ahead if you want to bag one of the best places to stay in Tortola.
For a special occasion
- Frenchman's Hotel is a collection of nine beautiful cottages, positioned on a hillside, just above the beach. There are great facilities and a superb French menu, and it's quiet and chic.
- The Long Bay Beach Club is a beachfront hotel with plenty of charm. Rooms have wood-beamed ceilings, kitchens and large bathrooms, and there are amenities galore, from a cocktail bar on the beach, to a gym and tennis courts.
- Fort Recovery is a collection of relaxed, beachfront villas, with colourful, traditional decor and full kitchens. There are excellent facilities to keep you entertained, but this is also a relatively peaceful spot, surrounded by lush gardens.
- Sugar Mill is a small resort just minutes from the beach. Traditional, and rather charming, this resort is done in colourful fabrics, and has lush gardens, a superb restaurant and two beachside bars. Most rooms have both kitchen and living space.
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Best Hotels in Tortola
Fort Recovery 30 rooms from $245Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Relaxed beach front villas. The decor is traditional and colourful with tiled floors, beamed ceilings and full kitchens. Outdoor pool, spa, gym and watersport centre. Family-friendly restaurant. Surrounded by lush gardens, it is quiet and a good choice for families.Families - Villas have full kitchens, large living and dining rooms. Minutes from watersports for adults and beach for little onesSwimming Pool - Freshwater outdoor poolSailing - Can be booked nearby.SpaRecommended by - Frommers, Fodors
Sugar Mill 19 rooms from $265Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charming resort minutes from the beach. Traditional style rooms have colourful fabrics, kitchens and private balconies. Outdoor pool, lush gardens and spa. Superb restaurant and two beach side bars. A great choice for families and excellent value.Families - Rooms have kitchens and plenty of living space for all; child friendly activities and menusLocal markets - One-of-a-kind antiques, silk-screened fabrics, intricate ship models, and watercolours by Tortolan artistsDiving - Hundreds of ship wrecks, caves and coves teeming with tropical fishOn the beach - Small beach with a natural reef which is great for snorkellingRecommended by - Fodors, Frommers
Frenchman's Hotel 9 rooms from $365Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Beautiful cottages on the hillside spilling down to the beach. Rooms are in contemporary style with tiled floors, Balinese furniture and full kitchens. Outdoor pool, spa, tennis courts and gardens. Superb French menu and cocktail bar. Chic and quiet.Groups - Full kitchens, living spaces, large sun decks and locality to sailing trips around the islandSailing - Sopers Hole Marina has multiple day sail companies that provide day trips to Peter Island, Cooper Island, Norman IslandKayaking - Explore the bay and watch the sea turtles, sting rays and fish swim belowGreat walks - Frenchmans Trail – Explore some of the twelve acres
Long Bay Beach Club 40 rooms from $404Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charming beach front hotel. Rooms have wooden beamed ceilings, kitchens and large bathrooms. Outdoor pool, spa, gym, tennis courts and direct beach access. Great seafood menu in the friendly restaurant, cocktail bar on the beach. For atmosphere and amenities, good for younger groups.Groups - With kitchens or kitchenettes, private BBQs, large living rooms and snorkelling on the doorstepSailing - Day trips to Jost Van Dyke, Norman and Peter Islands, the Indians, and the Baths on Virgin GordaGreat walks - Along Long BaySpaRecommended by - Frommers