The star-studded flight manifests to Mustique might conjure an image of a bejeweled playground built to indulge the lavish lifestyles of celebrities, royals, and tycoons—with five-star resorts and beach clubs aplenty. But the lush and untamed island adheres to a more relaxed pace in which most social revelry occurs at one of only two bars or behind the doors of the 104 private, admittedly glamorous villas.
The Caribbean paradise was founded by the British aristocrat Colin Tennant (later Lord Glenconner), who purchased the land from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1958 for just around $126,000. It would become a refuge from societal obligations and scrutiny for Tenant’s well-to-do friends, principally the notoriously rebellious Princess Margaret, to whom he gifted a ten-acre plot for her wedding. These days, the parties might not live up to Tennant’s more unruly nighttime activities—like one involving local boys wearing only coconuts—but the island today still carries on his free-spirited ethos through its de facto barefoot dress code, a robust social calendar, and a strict no-paparazzi policy.
The still-pared-down trimmings—there are no traffic lights or cars; the mode of transportation is a golf cart–ATV hybrid—and low-key code of conduct are as much for the benefit of Mustique’s more well-known visitors, including Mick Jagger, Jude Law, and of course, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as it is for newcomers, who are warmly accepted simply by virtue of the fact that they’ve made it onto the island. (“Once you’re on Mustique, you’re on Mustique,” I was told before a recent trip.)
But how exactly do you get there? Owned and governed by the Mustique Company, which is in turn owned by its 104 shareholder-homeowners, the 1400-acre island has only two hotels: the 18-room Cotton House, which doubles as the social hub, and the five-room Firefly. The vast majority of visitors are guests or renters of one of the fully-staffed luxury homes, which range from traditional Caribbean plantation styles to the architectural fever dreams of their owners.
While many of the original homes and buildings on the island were designed by famed Swiss architect Oliver Messel and his cohort, the Swedish architect Arne Hasselqvist, recent years have seen Japanese villas and Moroccan palaces popping up alongside Balinese pavilions and modernist masterpieces. (As they say, no architectural style is out of place here). From traditional to contemporary to totally outré, here are 8 fantastic villas to rent on Mustique Island.
Les Jolies Eaux
Occupying a private peninsula on the southern tip of the island, this storied villa was designed by Oliver Messel for HRH Princess Margaret in 1971. Once the site of her famed cocktail parties, the five-bedroom home, whose name translates to “Beautiful Waters,” features two swimming pools—an infinity pool and a plunge pool—as well as an outdoor gazebo, a private sunbathing terrace, and tropical gardens. For a slice of royal history, you’ll pay between $20,500 and $40,000 a week.
This tri-level tour de force of contemporary architecture designed by Italian architect Paolo Piva and interior designer Dan Kleinberg stretches across a whopping eight acres of hillside. The home is a colossus of beige- and cream-hued travertine that mixes rough and smooth textures, and its appeal lies in its calming, clean lines, sophisticated furnishings, and unobstructed views. Arriving with a big group? Both the main villa and guest house tout travertine-fitted infinity pools. Available only during the holidays, Hummingbird can be rented by day or by week ($57,000–$85,500).
Nestled on a coveted, secluded hilltop space on the northeast corner of the island, this spacious plantation-style villa is adorned with fruit and flower trees that stand against the majestic backdrop of Grenadine Island and the Atlantic beyond. The design, by Arne Hasselqvist, features a series of roofs meant to resemble a cluster of pavilions, with each bedroom boasting its own outdoor deck. The house’s pièce de résistance is the sprawling pool deck and sun terrace, overlooked by a bi-level gazebo with hammocks. Bonus: It’s one of the only homes on the island with a fully flexible rental policy that ranges from $3000 a night for two people to a weekly rate of $77,700 for all seven bedrooms during peak season.
The late David Bowie was one of Mustique’s most prominent, and devoted, residents. In a 1992 interview, he told AD, “My ambition is to make music so incredibly uncompromised that I will have absolutely no audience left whatsoever, and then I’ll be able to spend the entire year on the island.” It would take nearly as long to fully unpack the various architectural influences of the delightfully kitschy Indonesia-meets-the-Caribbean vacation pavilion Bowie frequented with his wife, the model Iman, during the holidays.
The home is structured around two ponds filled with koi and water lilies that in turn overlook an infinity pool built to visually connect with Britannia Bay. After Bowie’s death, the home was purchased by poet Felix Dennis, who owned the house until his passing in 2014 and retained much of the original style. These days, rent the seven-bedroom paradise for $40,000 a week during the off-season and $90,000 during peak season. One of the best parts? The property includes a full-service bar called the Bamboo Lounge and a games room fitted with foosball, air hockey, arcade games, and more.
There’s an alluring, dreamlike quality to this seven-bedroom safari-themed fantasy that brings together African and Asian influences in one contemporary stunner with epic panoramic views of the Atlantic. The villa is located on a hill in the middle of the island, and its main house features an open-air living room and dining room that open up to the pool area, while a set of stairs leads to a magnificent roof deck above the living room. Ideal for the active traveler, there’s a full gym and yoga studio on the property, in addition to perfect-for-tanning sun decks attached to each bedroom. Depending on the season, the weekly rate ranges between $31,000 and $75,000, and includes a chef, butler, and housekeepers.
This marriage of Mexican and Brazilian influences pays homage to Yemanjá, Brazilian goddess of the sea. Designed by Mexican architect Manolo Mestre in 2004, the villa is constructed around a central palapa, or traditional thatched roof shelter, which connects to a sun deck, both swimming pools, and one of the three dining rooms—another of which is fitted with a BBQ pizza oven the house chef can put to good use. Rent all eight bedrooms for a weekly rate of $35,000 during the off-season and $82,500 during peak season.
Perched on a hilltop on the southern half of the island, this secluded Arne Hasselqvist–designed traditional-style six-bedroom villa boasts 270-degree views of its surroundings, including the nearby Lagoon Bay. The classic layout centers symmetrically around the great room, which is flanked on one side by a dining room and kitchen and on the other by one of four bedrooms in the main house (the other two are in a separate guest cottage). An accompanying dining terrace overlooks two terraces that lead down to the pool. The weekly rate, which includes a staff of five, is $42,000 during the off-season and $105,000 during the holiday season.
Morocco in the Caribbean? Like we said, no theme is out of place on Mustique. This four-bedroom Moorish palace stays true to its roots with indoor gardens and water features, colorful columns, and a soothing white-and-blue color scheme. A variety of mature palm trees and an array of flora—feather grass, jasmine, lady-of-the-night—complete the look. And yes, there is a house-favorite menu of Moroccan fare served on accompanying dishware. All-inclusive rentals run between $22,000 and $54,000.