Little House On The Hill - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2006
Castara has captured major public interest over recent years. We originally listed just four accommodation properties in the village, but now list nearly two dozen. The infrastructure of the village, in terms of restaurants, bars and shopping, lags some way behind, but visitors now have ample choice of accommodation at realistic rates. Better still, you no longer need to pay rip-off prices for poor standard accommodation near the beach.
Castara has no hotels. With the exception of a handful of privately owned ‘luxury’ holiday rental villas along the northern coast, most accommodation falls into the self-catering category, generally with a “back to basics” ethos: in other words, simple wooden-built cottages and apartment houses. Holidaying in Castara does require a change of mindset. Facilities are limited. The question is whether the local store has a jar of coffee, rather than which of fifty different brands you are going to choose from.
Given the interest in the village, we decided to start our 2006 tour of Tobago by spending 16 days in Castara and reviewed four properties that we felt would be of interest to our readers. The first of the four properties was the appropriately named Little House On The Hill, owned by Marguarite and Sherwin Clarke, owners of the popular Marguarite’s Restaurant.
As the name implies, Little House is perched on a hillside. It is situated in the lovely valley that leads away from Castara towards Parlatuvier and Englishman’s Bay. The cottage is on the outskirts of the village, a shade under one mile from the entrance to Castara main beach (Big Bay). The cottage is less than a 10-minute walk or 2-minute drive from lovely Little (Heavenly) Bay and beach.
Beach-babes will probably turn their nose up at the location of Little House. Frankly, this could be a mistake. Yes, I don’t deny the obvious attraction of a beachside property, but variety is the spice of life and spending the bulk of your holiday either on, or looking over, the same beach does, for me, have a certain tedium, no matter how magnificent the beach. Little House may not have sea views, but it does look out over a small and delightfully pretty green valley. Of particular importance, to me, is the quietness, privacy and the abundance of wildlife – things you seldom, if ever, experience in the ‘built-up’ centre or beach front of any village.
Architecture & Layout
Little House is a single-level wooden two-bedroom cottage offering 600sq.ft. of accommodation (500sq.ft. excluding the deck). The accommodation is basic, but more than adequate. It is ideally suited to a single couple or a family and might even prove acceptable to two couples, if they accept the limited size of the second bedroom and the ‘open roof’ partition between rooms which clearly reduces sound privacy.
Access to the Little House is via a relatively steep but well-lit concrete path and steps. The path passes through lush, well-tended gardens featuring a wide variety of tropical bushes and fruit trees. The path will be of little consequence to anyone of reasonable fitness but this property would not be suitable for anyone with walking or mobility problems.
The layout of the cottage is simplicity itself. Split down the middle, one half provides an open-plan kitchen and living area, and the other half the two bedrooms plus combined bathroom, shower and toilet. Although room sizes are not vast, the overall impression as you enter is one of spaciousness, probably engendered by the open ceiling rising to relatively high eaves. The corrugated tin roof used on most Caribbean homes will never be something of any great beauty, but having been painted to match the walls, it is at least tolerable.
All the doors and windows are fitted with wooden louvers. Fortunately, from my point of view, these are not fitted with mosquito netting, so do not block the lovely cooling breezes which are a major feature of the property. It also brightens the rooms and vastly improves the appearance, as doors and windows fitted with mosquito nets tend to look grubby very quickly. Mosquitoes and other night-time (or daytime) nasties were not a problem during our stay and I see no reason to suspect that they would be at any other time of year.
The cottage (or cabin, as many might describe it) is adequately furnished. All walls are painted a somewhat stark white, with a few pictures, shells and other decorations to break the austerity. The general maintenance and decorative condition was reasonable.
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