As the cooling trade winds ripple through the palm fronds and sweep away the heat at Boardwalk Boutique Hotel, you’ll feel completely ensconced in your pastel-toned Caribbean island escape. In reality you’re only five minutes from the bars and casinos of Aruba’s indolent Palm Beach. But with casitas nestled privately in grounds thick with tropical gardens, twisting walkways and lagoon-shaped pools, the only contact you’ll have (should you wish) is a friendly wave from your neighbour, happily grilling fish on their balcony. This is a Caribbean break, done the local way.
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A Boardwalk Boutique Hotel dressing gown for each guest
Check-in is from 3pm, check-out is at 11am. The front desk (open 8am to 8pm) will attempt to accommodate requests for early check-in or late check-out if made on the previous day.
Double rooms from £202.22 ($270), including tax at 20.45 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of $3.50 per room per night on check-out.
Breakfast is not included, but packages including morning mimosas can be arranged. There is a minimum stay of three nights in high season, and five nights in peak season (from 17 December to 1 January).
The hotel is built on the site of a former coconut plantation, and its gardens incorporate several of the original trees. One of the Two Bed Casitas is even built inside the original plantation house.
At the hotel
Garden and poolside lounge chairs, in-room dining, library, concierge, lobby gift shop, daily newspaper, private gym, yoga deck, access to nearby beach with free use of beach huts, lounge chairs and coolers, and free WiFi. In rooms: barbecues, kitchen or kitchenette, private patio, hammock, and hand-painted murals.
Our favourite rooms
It’s about living like a local at Boardwalk Boutique Hotel, and with their over-saturated hues and barbecues on the patio, each casita will reset you back to island time. But only the Deluxe Coco Casitas offer private outdoor showers, where you can bathe in harmony with wild birdsong and breezy palms swaying gently above.
The most challenging decision of your day will be to decide which pool (or beach) you head to first. Fancy swinging in a hammock over the water’s edge, or a splash about with your kids in the fountains? It’s the main pool you’ll want. Or would you prefer a gentle paddle before becoming engrossed in a novel, and then perhaps a mid-afternoon nap in a lounge chair? The aptly-named Trankilo Pool is your destination. Or, would you like a cocktail delivered to your beach hut after a swim in the warm Caribbean Sea? You’ll want to take advantage of the hotel’s access to Palm Beach in that case.
Boardwalk Boutique Hotel can arrange massage and spa treatments in the privacy of your casita. With the windows open and the warm trade winds blowing through, you’ll feel an unparalleled sense of relaxation in the privacy of your own space. There’s a private gym available to book, should you feel the need for a raised pulse.
Your dancing shoes – the hotel is an oasis of calm but you’re only a few minutes from the bars of Aruba’s Palm Beach, don’t forget.
The Aruban trade winds blow on demand, making the area ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The hotel concierge can arrange lessons in these and other water sports through local providers. This hotel is also LGBTQ+ tag approved.
Children of all ages are welcome, and beach toys are available on request.
Owing to the Caribbean climate gifting plentiful opportunity for fingerprint-wrinkling swimming time, children of all ages will be thrilled with their stay at Boardwalk Boutique Hotel.
The Two-Bedroom Casita has individual bedrooms with their own connecting bathrooms.
The main pool with its fountains, and the watersports opportunities available at the nearby Palm Beach, are sure to keep children occupied for days.
Both swimming pools have child-friendly entry, and the shallow and tranquil waters of Palm Beach are ideal for children to splash about in.
No need to pack
Your beach equipment – toys, coolers and sunloungers – are all available to use free of charge.
The hotel is Travelife Gold Certified for its high standards of environmental management. It runs a recycling program, uses local suppliers, and has 85 solar panels on the roof. Casitas have double glazing, additional insulation and inverters, and grey water is filtered and reused in the garden. Plus there’s a food-bank donation station in the lobby.
The drinks come to you at Boardwalk – Mr Smith will sip his Margarita in the hammock overhanging the main pool today, thank you.
Board shorts and casual cover-ups are all that’s required to dine at Eduardo’s.
Dressing up for dinner, putting on shoes, sitting inside to eat…it’s all a little structured, wouldn’t you say? In Caribbean society the preparation of food is just as important as the dining, which is why each casita has a kitchen or kitchenette and a barbecue on the patio. For those nights not spent making merry on the Palm Beach strip, guests can order fresh seafood from local supplier Green Fish through the hotel’s concierge. Founded by chef and restaurateur Addie and marine biologist Sebastian, the high-quality and sustainably caught seafood boxes are delivered direct with all of the locally sourced ingredients required to prepare your own meal. For breakfast and lunch, the locally-owned and family-run Eduardo’s Shack operates from the Trankilo pool, and can deliver breakfast including eggs, fresh fruits, waffles, pancakes, cold-pressed juices, acai bowls, protein balls and fresh-fruit smoothies to your casita. Lunch, including vegan tacos, tuna poke bowls and tropical fruit platters, is made for poolside snacking.
Come 3pm, the Hotel’s main pool turns bar as a rolling cart offers local beers and a rotating cocktail menu. At the beach, a discounted food and cocktail service is provided by the nearby Ritz Carlton.
Breakfast finishes at 11am, lunch runs until 3pm, and drinks are available until 5.30pm.
Eduardo’s breakfast and lunch menus are available as a plated service to your casita. For those looking to cook themselves, fresh fish delivery is provided by Green Fish and the local supermarket can stock your fridge full before your arrival.
Boardwalk Boutique Hotel is situated a five-minute walk from Aruba’s Palm Beach, on the Caribbean island’s northernmost tip.
Queen Beatrix International Airport is located in the Aruban capital of Oranjestad, which is eight miles away and the journey to the hotel takes 20 minutes by car. It is well connected to North and South America (US border preclearance facilities are available) and to other Caribbean islands. Those travelling from Europe can easily fly direct from Amsterdam Schiphol. Buses, taxis and car hire are available, and the hotel can arrange shared transfers from US$20 one-way.
Unless you count the tiny electric tram that links downtown Oranjestad with its cruise ship terminal, there are no trains on Aruba.
Public transport runs on island time, so you’ll want the flexibility of a hire car. The island’s north coast is beautifully rugged with its rocky cliffs and bays, so hiring a Jeep will grant you the freedom to explore its off-road tracks and trails. Boardwalk Boutique Hotel offers free gated parking.
The Caribbean is seemingly made for island-hopping on your yacht, should you have one. Beach your tender on the milky-white sands and walk across to the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
The biggest challenge on Aruba isn’t so much getting out of bed, it’s getting off your sunlounger and leaving the poolside. The 70sq m island is unquestionably geared toward taking it easy, but with your wayfarers on and a spirit of adventure, you can more than burn off last night’s seafood dinner with your explorations.
The island sits 18 miles north of Venezuela, and unusually for a Caribbean island, has a dry climate with an arid, cactus-strewn centre. The benefit is in the weather – Aruba is reliably warm and dry, and sits outside of the hurricane belt.
If you do have aspirations that stretch further than a beach hut and a cold Balashi beer, you’ll want to hire a car and it’s worth getting a four-wheel drive – something with a fold-down roof, preferably. The concierge can supply a treasure-map-themed breakdown of Aruba’s attractions, and this is an excellent place to start.
Aruba’s southern and western shores are sheltered from the strongest ocean currents and it’s here you’ll find those staggering beaches and the best snorkelling, whereas the northern and eastern shores lack this protection and the fierce sea crashes against a rocky, craggy coastline.
Set course for the Natural Pool, on the Arikok National Park’s coastline. It’s a protected oasis of calm turquoise water encircled by volcanic rock, juxtaposed starkly against the open ocean’s fury. Loop about in the pool as white-water waves crash over the rocks around you, and small fish and black crabs can be observed in the shallows.
The Alto Vista Chapel sits on the site of an old Spanish ministry; its petite size, pastel colour palette and isolated location – gazing out past dusty cacti to a never-ending sea – are the very ingredients of a Wes Anderson-inspired scene. Spot wild parakeets as you climb Mount Jamanota, Aruba’s tallest peak, and on a clear day you can even see the coast of Venezuela from the summit of Hooiberg Mountain.
Palm Beach is Aruba’s main culinary hotspot, gifting guests with a wide choice of dining and drinking options all a short walk or taxi ride away. Papiamento Restaurant is a second-generation eatery, and head chef Edward Ellis mixes Caribbean spices, vegetables and herbs with tropical fruits and fresh seafood, all served around a sparkling turquoise-coloured pool in the lush tropical gardens of his family’s 126-year old Aruban cunucu house. Barefoot Restaurant is worth visiting for its location alone – the hint is in the name. For those venturing downtown, the fine-dining Yemanja Woodfired Grill has a gigantic menu built around international cuisine with a Caribbean mix, led by chef Joyce de Cuba-Hüsken. It certainly came as a surprise to Mr Smith, but the hotel concierge intimated that surprisingly good and honest local food can be found in Palm Beach’s strip malls, such as the Palm Beach Plaza.
Owing to its Dutch heritage and with a high volume of European visitors, Aruba’s coffee scene is more highly developed than you may expect from a Caribbean island. Squeezed in between a pair of large hotels, Santos Coffee with Soul is the undisputed home of speciality coffee, with a particular bent toward a Brazilian style of brew. The Coffee Table takes on more of a gallic influence, with a vintage theme accompanying its menu of coffees, teas, sandwiches and wine.
It’s a simple formula in Aruba, and we’re not complaining. The pier bar is a wonderful invention – slung out over the crystal sea from the beach itself, with sandy wooden floorboards below your feet and a thatched roof of dried palm leaves protecting you from the midday sun. A hut painted brightly sits on stilts above the sea, with live reggae music emanating and a drinks list of cold local beers and rum-heavy cocktails. Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill is one of many on the Palm Beach strip which does it particularly well, and it’s a 10-minute walk from the hotel. For a less beachwear-centric aura and mixologist made cocktails, try the Vue Rooftop Bar.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this palm-shaded resort on Aruba and have dried off their swimmers, a full account of their poolside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Boardwalk Boutique Hotel in Aruba…
Having just stepped off a direct flight from Europe, it feels as if we’re traversing an entirely different planet as we find our way across the tiny Caribbean island of Aruba towards Boardwalk Boutique Hotel.
It looks a long way on the map but the island is small, and in no time at all we’re heading for reception. We make our way through an elaborate entrance paved with locally-sourced, hand-painted tiles, and continue through the gardens. The sun is shining and everything is so lush – it feels as if we’ve walked right into an oversaturated photograph.
On the verge of burnout from hectic lives back home, we spend the first few days doing little more than sleeping in and lazing by the pool. But eventually we venture out into the chaos of Palm Beach, with its gargantuan hotels, casinos, and endless nightlife. It’s fun, but it’s also nice to return back ‘home’ to Boardwalk.
We use the word ‘home’ because that’s how it eventually feels, grilling fish on the balcony as we make some summertime small talk with others doing the same. We picture ourselves settling in, maybe opening a café or a bar down the road.
Of course, that’ll never happen, but it’s fun to dream. And we haven’t thought about our actual home for days on end – the hallmark of true relaxation.
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