This was our sixth trip to Anguilla, and dare I say that it gets better and better with each visit and continues to amaze us. This relatively small and flat island is captivating. It inspires such a love of nature and humanity that I feel compelled to come home and try to capture bits and pieces in words and photographs. We had a truly unforgettable experience on the island, in large part due to discovering Las EsQuinas this trip and meeting villa owner extraordinaire, Robin Ogilvie.
When we visited the island last December, we had recently read about a new boutique bed and breakfast opening in Little Harbour, named Las EsQuinas. Before we departed, we called the owner to take a look on our way to the airport, and it was a breathtaking first impression! However, we had committed with a deposit to stay a week elsewhere during our next Anguilla trip, and given that my husband normally does not enjoy the stereotypical "bed and breakfast" experience in the States and we have grown to love staying on the West End, we ended up adding on only two nights to our original itinerary so we could stay at Las EsQuinas before making the switch to a property on Meads Bay.
After the exquisite two-night experience we had at Las EsQuinas, we soon learned that a short stay there is not enough! Also, if you are combining stays between Las EsQuinas and another property, go to Las EsQuinas last. Otherwise, it feels like a let down to change locations after such a memorable getaway. The best thing I can say about making the move after discovering such tranquility is that it confirmed 1) being directly on the West End is not as important to us as I would have sworn before experiencing Las EsQuinas, and 2) not all bed and breakfasts are created equal, as my hubby absolutely loved it too.
I'm not quite sure where to begin. We watched ourselves (and later saw other guests upon arrival) go through a series of "Wow" moments as you walk through the property. The vistas and sea breezes are truly stunning. The property has been designed to take advantage of trade winds and is perched on a point providing 180+ degree views. The home was designed with separate covered walkways, relaxing nooks, and "walls" that are really doors, so they slide back and disappear. The result is wonderfully spacious; you feel like you are outside even when you are technically "inside" luxurious surroundings. And the way the villa is situated, the ocean breezes keep things cool naturally. (But bedroom air conditioning is available if for some reason you prefer to close up the room while you are sleeping.) The various separate buildings and walkways mean that you have privacy and quiet from the other suites while in your own haven. Unlike various resorts where we have stayed on the island where you can hear people through the walls or housekeeping staff working in adjacent rooms, at Las EsQuinas we slept soundly until we naturally woke up in the morning. The ability to close the hurricane shutters created a dark haven - I slept almost 11 hours straight the first night after our day of travel!
Each guest room reflects a place that the owner, Robin, has lived or traveled. They are named the Mediterranean, Morrocan, Balinese, and Mexican, and each space displays the character of the associated destination. Housekeeping was immaculate during our stay, everything always clean and tidy. The bathrooms are luxurious with natural stone vanities, make-up mirrors, and high quality soaps and shampoo. Reading lights, spacious closets, desks, and private balconies are features found in each guest room. Given your proximity to the sea, the sound of waves, and the fresh air breezes, the private balcony is the perfect place for a relaxing massage therapy experience.
Putting our experience at Las EsQuinas into words is quite a challenge - even for someone as wordy as I can be! The website states, "Part bijou hotel, part sybaritic guesthouse, Las Esquinas defies definition." Quite true! I have never stayed at a property that so eludes traditional descriptions. It has many amenities that one normally finds only at five-star luxury hotels. It has a quiet and private atmosphere that one might typically find only in a private villa. It has the type of quality morning fare reminiscent of boutique small inns or high-end bed and breakfasts. It has the most unique and exquisite furnishings and beautifully curated items you can imagine, and the charm of meeting Robin and fellow guests when your paths cross. On two separate occasions, couples we met there commented about Las EsQuinas being the kind of place you only dream of finding and now that you have discovered it exists, you are faced with an interesting dilemma: you sense a desire to tell your closest friends and family so they too can come and experience such bliss and meet the owner, while on the other hand you feel the tension of keeping it a closely guarded secret so that the masses do not descend and make it impossible to book a future reservation. Each of us made similar comments about returning as soon as possible.
(And my husband, normally easy going but luke warm about accommodations, admonished me today to not describe it using too much detail...you know, leave some things out, so it doesn’t become *too* popular. I gave him the “you-know-I-can’t-do-that” look, and as a compromise I get to write as freely as I want in order to share the love, but we already made future reservations so we can still come when the secret gets out.)
But back to our experience...
In the mornings, breakfast at Las EsQuinas is available during a wide window of time. It is generous and spoiled us. The first morning we enjoyed half a grapefruit and servings from a large bowl of fresh cut fruit. Combined with homemade banana bread (made using the front garden’s bananas), we were more than satisfied and ready to start the day, but then learned breakfast was just beginning! Scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon soon filled our happy bellies. The breakfast exceeded all other offerings we have had on the island. It was like a bountiful homemade spread you would experience at a good friend or family member’s home. (Or perhaps at a villa with a private chef - but here it was already included in your room rate!) It was all served on a gorgeous, unique teak table from Bali overlooking the ocean. And then there was Robin’s signature sweet bread “Rhum Loaf” the next morning with real maple syrup. Think French toast baked and topped with rum and maple syrup. That’s right, rum and maple syrup. A decadent start to the Caribbean morning.
After breakfast our first full day, we chose to stay put and enjoy the property.
There are plenty of cushioned spaces where you can lay outside to sun, read, nap, or simply gawk at all the beauty surrounding you. Should more activity beckon, Robin has a closet with water equipment available for guest use: water noodles, life jackets, snorkel equipment, and even water shoes if you need to borrow a pair! My husband enjoyed kayaking and we both went out snorkeling repeatedly. For Mark, it was like going back to childhood adventures in the water, including one day when he and another guest even tried to catch a few lobsters with gloved hands.
Being mere steps from coral reefs with bright colored fish and laying down on a deserted section of beach while listening to the waves was heavenly.
When it came to other guests at Las EsQuinas, every single couple we met during our stay was enjoyable to be around.
Even though my husband and I both lean toward introversion in temperament, we looked forward to the times when our schedules overlapped with others and we got to hear their stories. A very special and idyllic night included a dinner at the villa with Robin and other guests, with local crayfish and homemade pumpkin soup. On another evening, my husband had to opportunity to meet the Governor over sunset drinks by the pool. (Meanwhile I was zoned out during a massage appointment upstairs, and missed the evening cocktails and Robin’s special roasted coconut.)
In regards to eating out, this was our first visit to the island without having dinner reservations planned and set for various nights before we arrived. I am normally an organized planner, but I absolutely loved the spontaneity this trip! May my old Anguilla vacation calendar rest in peace. By taking each day as it came, we ended up trying a variety of establishments that were new to us. Without Robin’s knowledge and recommendations, we would have stayed in our same ruts and missed out on remarkable evenings.
Lunches included our favorite Trattoria Tramonto on Shoal Bay West (my only regret is only going once this time - we missed being there more often), we ordered Straw Hat repeatedly to-go (couldn’t get enough of that spiced Mahi Mahi and Ti Punch), Hungry’s food truck, Blanchard’s Beach Shack, and then a real stand-out experience was our last full day when we went with Robin and other guests to Garvey’s Sunshine Shack on Rendezvous Bay.
For dinner, we went to Veya, DaVida, Picante (sadly no Cinco de Mayo specials), Mango’s, Hibernia (loved hearing how the owners give back in the off season to orphans in Myanmar), Jacala, and Pumphouse. Definitely a highlight was our delightful evening at Jacala which featured the best fish dish of the week, a swordfish over tomato-balsamic coulis and ratatouille, and a decadent creme brûlée dessert. On our last night we experienced our first trip to Pumphouse; the nachos lived up to their reputation on the travel message boards and we enjoyed the live music.
No recap would be complete without noting all of the green and environmentally friendly initiatives going on at Las EsQuinas. Water is from cisterns, but the entire villa is on a special filter system. Purified drinking water is provided in your room each day and in the kitchen. And best of all - no plastic water bottle trash! This was a huge contrast to other places we have stayed where often the water we drank was regrettably in disposable plastic water bottles that unfortunately cannot be recycled on the island. Also, here the shower/bathroom water is captured in the villa’s plumbing and recycled to later water the landscaping. The soaps and shampoo are non-toxic. As mentioned earlier, the home is perched so that breezes are plentiful and air conditioning is not necessary. In-room Internet routers are optional (and the WIFI is complimentary).
I could truly go on and on about the property and our stay. The beautiful courtyard and palm trees. The 360-degree view up in the tower. The hospitable staff member J.R., who is a gentleman with many talents. We admired the gorgeous custom chandelier in the foyer that he built, along with all the beautiful landscaping throughout the property.
The gem of Las EsQuinas is the owner, Robin, who designed this villa as a labor of love and now shares it with the world. She is a genius in the details, and has created a true oasis. She personifies hospitality and warmth and genuineness. She is utterly charming and we left feeling like we had known her for years (and wished we had). We have stayed at several places on the island: Cap Juluca, CoveCastles, Viceroy, Frangipani, Blue Waters, and Carimar. All have their strengths to recommend them, but this place, with this wonderful new friend, finally felt like we have found our home away from home on the island of Anguilla.
On a personal note, it has been a difficult year or two physically, and to convey the sense of peace and hope I felt while at Las EsQuinas in regards to my life is truly beyond any words I could write. Perhaps the very best experiences in life do tend to defy written or verbal descriptions. In the end, it boils down to this: If you are considering a stay at Las EsQuinas, just go. Book as many days as possible. (Because trust me, you will not want to leave.) Bring a sense of wonder and awe and gratitude.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Las EsQuinas boutique bed and breakfast occupies a half acre site on a secluded peninsula on the island of Anguilla. Surrounded by coral reefs and turquoise seas, Las EsQuinas provides unrivaled panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea with the islands of St Barths, Saba and St Martin. Meaning "the corners" in Spanish, Las EsQuinas hugs a quiet corner of Anguilla's coastline and will transport you to a new experience in Caribbean living. Take the intimacy of a private villa, add the comforts of home and mix in the amenities of a luxury hotel and you have Las EsQuinas, a privately owned and managed four-bedroom villa on the edge of a white sand beach. ... more less