Tucked away in Soufriere, St Lucia, is the ultimate chocoholic’s escape. The Rabot Hotel and Restaurant by Hotel Chocolat is set in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers visitors the opportunity to see the bean to bar process in action. This is a perfect excursion for cruisers who want to visit Hotel Chocolat St Lucia.
How to visit Hotel Chocolat St Lucia
In St Lucia, you can choose to visit the Rabot Hotel and Restaurant by Hotel Chocolat independently or through an organised shore excursion.
Cruise ships dock in Castries, St Lucia, which is approximately a one-hour drive to Soufriere. You can pre-book a taxi and one of the tours available directly with Hotel Chocolat (Tree to Bean or Bean to Bar tour).
Alternatively, you can take a shore excursion through the cruise line. P&O Cruises offers a Chocolate Experience shore excursion to Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate.
The P&O Cruises excursion is £95.00 per person and through my research, I found it’s the most cost effective way to do this trip. The cruise excursion offers the bean to bar experience and a lunch at Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant. The lunch is a true pleasure, with views of one of the iconic Pitons. More on this later.
Hotel Chocolat Bean to Bar Tour
This is best described as a chocolate-making workshop, which guides you through the process of transforming the cocoa beans grown on the Rabot Estate into a souvenir chocolate bar to take away with you.
Be prepared to work up a bit of perspiration as you pound the roasted cocoa nibs with a pestle and mortar.
As you get to work on the cocoa nibs, the expert guide provides an interesting insight into the process from bean to bar. Our tour group comprised of no more than 15 people, which was ideal for asking questions and learning about the estate.
Hotel Chocolat’s 140-acre estate was established in 2006 after co-founder, Angus Thirlwell, realised the importance of chocolatiers being part of the whole process from tree to bar. Many chocolate brands don’t grown their own cocoa beans, but Hotel Chocolat does.
The stone mortar is pre-heated to assist in the process and this is particularly helpful at the second stage, when you add cocoa butter. It’s funny how the components on their own are not very palatable but combined creates something so widely enjoyed.
Once the cocoa nibs and cocoa butter has been pounded to a liquid consistency, sugar is the final ingredient to add.
Apparently, the less sugar added, the better, but I have a sweet tooth and decided to add it all!
We pored the liquid chocolate into a mold to be cooled and headed off to the restaurant for my personal highlight of the trip – lunch!
Lunch at Hotel Chocolat St Lucia
Before the chocolate-making workshop we pre-ordered our three-course lunch. Whilst we waited for our chocolate bars to set, we were treated to a stunning cacao-infused meal. You can take a look at a sample Hotel Chocolat menu.
The restaurant at Hotel Chocolat is designed to give diners a unobstructed view of one of the Pitons. The scenery is green and luscious with a still quietness that offers the feeling of peaceful relaxation. Hotel guests have access to an infinity pool situated below the restaurant that I was quite envious of.
The restaurant’s menu is inspired by its surroundings and the abundance of cacao and cocoa on tap. I was impressed by the subtle inclusion of cacao in every course, whether is was a fish dish or dessert. We learnt that cacao is unroasted beans and therefore can be used in savoury dishes.
We began with a fresh bread with three accompaniments: balsamic vinegar, oil and a butter. The bread itself had been made with cacao nibs.
I opted for the tuna tartare for my main course, with others favouring a huge juicy burger. Every item on the menu is made to order at the restaurant’s open kitchen.
The presentation was stunning throughout the meal but the chef pulled out all the stops for dessert! Naturally, chocolate was the main ingredient in both desserts but I was mightily impressed by my mini meringue Piton. The Piton sat in a chocolate soup with sliced bananas, flaked almonds and caramel drizzle.
A trip to the Rabot Estate and Restaurant by Hotel Chocolat is certainly worth it. Despite the hour’s journey from the cruise port, it gave us the opportunity to see local life and the famous Twin Pitons.
The excursion with P&O Cruises was a good mix of hands-on chocolate making and a luxury private lunch. For the price of £95 per person, I was not disappointed.
This visit on our Caribbean cruise has made my decision to return to St Lucia for a land-based holiday to explore the island further. The mud baths are very close to Hotel Chocolat, along with Soufriere and the Pitons.
Hotel Chocolat has become a well-known brand within the UK and the company is expanding with retail shops in the US and Dubai. No doubt it’s strong providence will continue to attract chocolate lovers to Hotel Chocolat St Lucia.
If like me, you enjoy trying local cuisine from different countries, you can read about my experience of Oistin’s Fish Fry in Barbados.