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Where To Stay

Advice for first-time visitors

A perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

If you are coming for a short visit you need to decide where to stay. Here is some advice.

Houses in Jamestown
Houses in Jamestown

This page should be read in conjunction with our Visitor Information and Getting Here pages. If you are coming here for a longer period we recommend reading our Could you live here? page.

Below: Types of accommodation • Location, Location, Location • Can you camp? • Where you can’t stay • Famous Visitors, exiles, etc. • Useful links • Read More

NOTE Saint Helena Island Info does not advertise or promote any individual establishment and does not carry advertising so this page therefore gives general advice. Please do not contact us to help with reservations! You can find useful contact information below and you can also contact our Tourist Office.

Types of accommodation

Apart from large resort-hotels, of which there are none, St Helena has everything you might expect to find in a holiday destination. There are three hotels-proper - two in Jamestown and one ‘up country’; various guest-houses; many self-catering flats and houses; and plenty of bed-and-breakfast options. Styles vary from the relatively formal (though on St Helena nothing is ever truly formal) to the ‘pitch in with the family’ approach, but guests are always treated with friendliness, courtesy and respect. Prices vary enormously, not just between establishments but also according to the time-of-year, with Winter (July-August) being cheapest and peak-season around Christmas. Prior booking is essential at all times of year; you will not find a hotel booking facility at our Airport.

One factor in choosing your accommodation is Location. More about this below.

Location, Location, Location

For most holiday destinations you need to decide where to base yourself. Near to the beach? In the centre of the metropolis? In a quiet country village? You choose based on your personal preference, and based on what you most need to have close. The good news about St Helena is this really doesn’t matter! The island is only 16 by 8 kilometres, or 121 km² - see our How Small Is St Helena? page to understand this better, and nowhere is more than half an hour’s drive from anywhere else (though allowing for photographic pit-stops it can take much longer if you let it). So everything is accessible to you, wherever you stay.

Security is not an issue - there are no areas on St Helena that are not safe for visitors. Transport can be an issue because there is effectively no public transport{2}, so wherever you stay you will need to arrange taxis or hire a car. Noise can be a problem in Jamestown.

Below: Jamestown • Half Tree Hollow • St Pauls • Alarm Forest • Longwood • Levelwood, Sandy Bay, Blue Hill

Jamestown

Location map:
Location Map jamestown

Jamestown is where most activities happen and is the location of the Museum of St Helena and many of our important Historic Buildings. Diving & Dolphin watching trips and most tours start from Jamestown. It’s also a good location if you want a choice of nightlife without the need to drive home afterwards - even the top (hospital) end of town is only about twenty minutes’ walk from the centre, though it is uphill! Accommodation is usually in an older building, often with an interesting history, though Jamestown has all types of accommodation available. Because it is the island’s capital, Jamestown is well connected to everywhere on the island. Be aware that Lower Jamestown can be very noisy on weekend nights (always Saturday, often Friday and sometimes Sunday) - there is no zoning so your accommodation might be close to a bar which will play loud music until after 1am.

Another airborne view
{a}

…

Sunset over James Bay
{b}

Central Jamestown
{c}

The Castle & Grand Parade

Jacob’s Ladder

Seaside and lower town

The Arch

Castle Gardens

Upper Town from Side Path {1}

From the bay, 2018

 

Half Tree Hollow

Location map:
Location Map halftreehollow

Half Tree Hollow is close to Jamestown, though somewhat quieter, but unless you are very fit you will need a car or taxi to get home at night - walking up Jacob’s Ladder is hard work after an evening’s revelling. Most Saints live in ‘HTH’ so there are plenty of bed-and-breakfast offerings, but also many flats and houses available for short-term rental (including a purpose-built estate). HTH is well connected to Jamestown and to the central and western areas, though to reach the eastern part you are probably best to travel via Jamestown.

Half Tree Hollow from the air

Half Tree Hollow in more detail

Half Tree Hollow from High Knoll Fort, 2005

 

St Pauls

Location map:
Location Map stpauls

St Pauls is the next place up the road from Half Tree Hollow, so also close to Jamestown. Our only up-country hotel is in St Pauls, as well as many self-catering flats/houses and bed-and-breakfast opportunities. St Pauls is in the centre of the island, so well connected to everywhere. Jamestown is a 15 minute drive away. Not much actually happens in St Pauls but it is a good base if the bustle of Jamestown is not for you.

St Pauls

Houses in St Pauls

‘Built-up area’

Farm Lodge Hotel

Countryside
{d}

 

Alarm Forest

Location map:
Location Map alarmforest

Alarm Forest is the area you pass through if you head east out of Jamestown towards Longwood and the Napoleonic Sites. It has no hotels or guest houses but self-catering and bed-and-breakfast are available. Communications to the rest of the island are good.

Alarm House
{e}

Two Gun Saddle from High Knoll Fort

The Briars (centre) and Seaview (left)

 

Longwood

Location map:
Location Map longwood

Longwood is about a 20 minute drive from Jamestown. Not much actually happens in Longwood, but it is convenient for access to the Napoleonic Sites such as Longwood House and Napoleon’s Tomb (The Briars Pavilion is in Alarm Forest). Cross-country routes exist to all parts of the island. Accommodation is limited to self-catering or bed-and-breakfast.

Flagstaff & The Barn

Turks Cap, from The Barn

Longwood and The Barn

Sunrise behind Flagstaff
{f}

 

Levelwood, Sandy Bay, Blue Hill

Location map:
Location Map levelsbbh

The Levelwood, Sandy Bay and Blue Hill areas are relatively remote and therefore provide few accommodation opportunities, but each area has its own charm and if you do stay in one of these you can be assured of peace and quiet. To get anywhere else you will need to drive for about 15 minutes to reach the centre of the island, from where everything is available.

Levelwood
Levelwood

Sandy Bay
Sandy Bay

Blue Hill
Blue Hill

 

Can you camp?

Camping

We aren’t sure - we asked but nobody seems to know a definitive answer. There is no Ordinance that permits it, but then there is also no Ordinance that prohibits it! We know that the Immigration people at the Airport ask arrivals where they are staying but we have been advised that you are not required to answer.

There are no official campsites, and all land on the island is owned, either by private landowners or the Government of St Helena, but as far as we can tell, as long as you don’t do damage and interfere with crops or livestock (and especially Wirebirds) you will probably not be evicted. Best to camp out of site from the road, and store your vehicle somewhere out of sight (people report apparently abandoned vehicles to the Police just in case somebody has broken down and is in trouble).

Saints do actually camp, but only at Easter, usually up at Horse Pasture, at Thompsons Wood or in the Blue Hill Community Centre.

Where you can’t stay

Plantation House
Plantation House

H M Prison, Jamestown
H M Prison, Jamestown

Unless you are a VIP you can’t stay at Plantation House. Only special guests of The Governor of St Helena or Government of St Helena get to stay there. It has been suggested that Government could solve some of its financial problems if it did open up Plantation House to paying visitors, perhaps on a bed-and-breakfast basis, but we don’t expect anybody to follow up on these suggestions.

You also can’t - and almost certainly wouldn’t want to - stay at H M Prison, Jamestown, though we suppose if you do something really bad you might get a short stay until you are deported.

Famous Visitors, exiles, etc.

Could you stay where our Famous Visitors, exiles, etc. stayed? Well, sadly, no…

Most of our Famous Visitors either did not stay the night, or were VIPs so stayed at Plantation House. Others seem to have stayed at Porteous House but sadly that was destroyed by fire in 1865 and its modern replacement is an office block. The rest stayed at some of the fine Country Houses which are now all either private residences or were destroyed in the 19th Century by the White Ants.

Our most famous exile, Napoleon, stayed at The Briars Pavilion and then at Longwood House, both of which are now museums and neither provides accommodation for visitors. The Boer Prisoners (1900-1902) stayed in tents on Deadwood Plain or Broad Bottom (a few ‘troublemakers’ were held in High Knoll Fort) and you could camp in one of these places if you are determined but you would need to be quite hardy because they are cold, damp and windy (and, in the case of High Knoll Fort you’d need the permission of the St Helena National Trust). The Bahraini Prisoners were held at Mundens which is a ruin, and the rest we don’t know about.

So staying where our Famous Visitors, exiles, etc. stayed does not seem to be an option.

Did the Duke of Wellington stay at Wellington House?

It’s a popular belief that Wellington House is so-named because Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington stayed there during his visit in 1805. But actually he didn’t. In Jamestown he stayed at (Old) Porteous House, just across the road from Wellington House, which was destroyed by fire on 2nd April 1865 and recently re-built. He also stayed at The Briars. Wellington House is named in his honour - that’s all{3}.

Useful links

These links are provided in an attempt to be helpful. Saint Helena Island Info does not recommend or promote any of the services offered and receives no benefit, financial or otherwise, from including these links. Links are only to booking agencies operating on St Helena, not to individual accommodation providers or international agencies. If your St Helena agency is not listed please contact us to be included.

Read More

Comments by a visitor in 1795

From ‘A Modern Authentic and Complete System of Universal Geography of the Whole World including Captain Cook’s Voyages’ by the Rev. Thomas Bankes, Vicar of Dixton, Mon., c.1795, reproduced in the ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{4} Number 17, Spring 1998{5}

Every family has two houses, their town habitation being in St. James’ Valley, where they instantly repair on the arrival of a ship, to regale the sea faring people with the produce of their farms. Every house is let out into lodgings, which are very dear. Their profits must be great, particularly when it is considered they raise all their own stock, enjoy it with their lodgers and make them likewise pay most extravagantly dear for it.

We would like to point out that this is no longer remotely true!

Laugh at funny Where To Stay humour - LOL

Credits:
{a} Tourist Office{b} Matt Joshua{c} Marc Lavaud/Tourist Office{d} SH Travel{e} Ed Thorpe{f} St Helena National Trust

Footnotes:
{1} Showing St. John’s Church (right), the Hospital (centre) and Maldivia Gardens (left).{2} What little there is only operates to get people to and from their work in Jamestown.{3} See other debunked myths.{4} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused.{5} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

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