The Top Hotels in the Bahamas
In the Bahamas, it’s easy to spend less time worrying about lodging and more time plotting your beach adventure. Here, you’ll find some of the Caribbean’s finest boutique hotels and luxury resorts, from a seaside cabana to a private island escape.
Dunmore Street, Dunmore Town, The Bahamas
On an island that’s less than two square miles with fewer than 2,000 people, new hotel openings are bound to cause a stir—as did Bahama House when it launched on Harbour Island in January, 2017. It’s the newest outpost from the folks at Eleven Experience, a vacation outfitter known for offering elegance after a full day of bespoke escapades. Spread across a restored colonial home built in 1800, an annex, and two authentic Bahamian cottages and enclosing a freshwater lap pool, handcrafted tiki bar, and hot tub area, Bahama House’s 11 suites have been appointed with eclectically curated furnishings, artwork, and wall coverings, eschewing island kitsch for beach-chic sumptuousness. Though the hotel leans toward softer adventures than sister properties in Colorado, Iceland, and the French Alps, the flip-flop–wearing “experience managers” are on hand to arrange snorkeling and bonefishing excursions and paddleboard or kayak outings. Or they’ll simply provide a fully stocked Yeti cooler for a day of lounging on famous pink-sand beaches.
Nassau, The Bahamas
Music producer turned hotelier Chris Blackwell has made a name for himself converting Caribbean properties (Pink Sands on Harbour Island, GoldenEye in Jamaica) into jetset destinations with studios where his rock-and-roll friends can kick back while recording their next album, but it all began at Compass Point. Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton have all stayed in some of the resort’s 18 rainbow-hued stand-alone huts, which are inspired by the colors of Bahama’s Junkanoo carnival and are simply furnished to encourage engagement with the outdoors; though the interiors are air-conditioned, most have sea-view balconies that are sighted to catch ocean breezes. In keeping with the theme, each comes with a surround-sound system and a library of CDs by artists who have recorded at Compass Point, but you’re just as likely to keep them off, preferring instead to listen to the waves that crash on the hotel’s small beach.
Chapel Street, Dunmore Town, Harbour Island
Near the northern end of Eleuthera, Coral Sands is one of the few hotels fortunate enough to sit directly on Harbour Island’s famous Pink Sands Beach, declared one of the world’s prettiest shorelines. Opened in 1968, the hotel has recently been updated in typical Bahamian style with bright colors and crisp whites, plus plantation shutters, soaring ceilings, and inlaid-wood furnishings with seaside themes. Public spaces follow suit: classic black-and-white tiles anchor the restaurant, where continental specialties are served beneath elegant plaster arches, and an open-air bar is backed by the island’s turquoise waters. Because the beach is protected by a barrier reef, its surf is hardly ever more than ankle-high, but swimmers find comfort in the heated freshwater pool.
One Baha Mar Boulevard Nassau N.P, Nassau, The Bahamas
Not since the Atlantis Paradise Island opened in 1998 has there been this much hype about a resort in the Bahamas. After years of on-again, off-again setbacks, Baha Mar officially debuted in summer 2017, with the launch of the 1,800-room Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, the first of three hotels on the 1,000-acre beachfront development. Accommodations come with floor-to-ceiling windows, marble baths, and balconies overlooking the ocean or lake fountain, but the grounds are the main attraction here. Over-the-top amenities include a gleaming 100,000-square-foot casino, the largest in the Caribbean, as well as six swimming pools (one has a swim-up aquarium “cave”), a Jack Nicklaus Signature 18-hole golf course, and a guests-only beach club. There’s no shortage of food and beverage options with 18 restaurants and bars, though celeb hotspot Katsuya, designed by Philippe Starck, is the frontrunner. You’ll find even more restaurants and shopping next door at the resort’s sister properties, SLS and Rosewood.
West Hill Street Nassau N.P, Nassau, The Bahamas
Though this restored 1740 mansion and historic landmark’s top billing is 20 guest rooms awash in tropical chintz and colonial-style furnishings, Graycliff is much more than a hotel. The restaurant has the feel of a residential dining room, albeit one that oozes traditional elegance and serves elevated takes on Bahamian specialties. You can pair dinner with a tasting in the property’s wine cellar, where the 250,000-bottle collection includes a rare (and expensive) 1865 Château Lafite and a 1727 Rüdesheimer Apostelwein, the world’s oldest. Prefer something stiffer? The cognateque offers tastings of its 9,000 varieties. The staff can arrange rolling lessons at the on-site cigar company, but if the way to your heart is through your stomach there’s also a culinary academy and a chocolatier. And while the hotel is located in the heart of Nassau, just across from the pink-and-white residence of the Bahamian Governor General, guests enjoy complimentary beach access at private Blue Lagoon Island.
Staniard Creek, Andros Island
Near the northern end of Andros Island, about 15 minutes by air from Nassau, remote Kamalame Cay is worth the effort it takes to get there. The 96-acre private island features 34 rustic-chic rooms and suites, all within steps of a white-sand beach, as well as a central Great House where guests come together to sip wine before dinner and share stories afterward (of course, many opt for a secluded, candlelit meal set up somewhere along the three miles of shoreline). A range of seaside activities keep everyone from the kids to newlyweds to the occasional celebrity happy. There’s a freshwater swimming pool, an over-water spa, world-class fishing off the coast, and entertainment by local “rake-and-scrape” bands. And for those who live in fear of being unplugged, relax. Kamalame Cay offers hotspots around the island for full cell service (if you want it) and Wi-Fi in the reception area.
Chapel Street, Dunmore Town, The Bahamas
Not every celebrity who visits Harbour Island stays at the Pink Sands Hotel. Bill Gates, for instance, has his own home on the island. But Keith Richards has checked in here, as have Martha Stewart and Kate Moss. Since its opening in the 1950s, the 25-room hotel, like the island itself, has been a low-key enclave of the rich and famous, drawn not just by the like-attracts-like vibe (one of the previous owners was Island Records founder and Bob Marley “discoverer” Chris Blackwell), but by its location on Pink Sands Beach, widely considered one of the world’s prettiest. Accommodations are in plush one- and two-room cottages that have king beds and ocean or garden views; some have outdoor showers. Reserve a table at the British-colonial–inspired Malcolm 51 for island-style bouillabaisse and charred octopus salad, but don’t get too carried away with the sundowners. All manner of aquatic activities (snorkeling the nearby coral reef, bonefishing in the shallows, or merely swimming in the heated freshwater pool) await in the morning.
Bay Street, Dunmore Town, The Bahamas
An intimate gem whose only shortcoming (in some eyes) is that it does not sit on Pink Sands Beach, the Rock House Hotel & Restaurant was a labor of love for the late Wallace Tutt, an interior designer to the stars who was best known for designing Gianni Versace’s Miami mansion. Ten individually decorated rooms in the 1940s private home turned boutique hotel echo that property’s grandeur with king size beds and seaside motifs, as well as sumptuous linens and stone lion heads mounted on the walls in the restaurant. But the real story here is the service: There is always a picnic basket on-hand in every room, a library of games and books is available for perusal on rainy days, and the concierge is happy to arrange in-room pampering treatments if the walk to the neighboring spa feels like too much trouble.
1 Casino Drive Paradise Island, NP, The Bahamas
A 600-suite hotel within a hotel, The Cove is the most luxurious of the room towers at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. Kids aren’t banned, but the vibe is definitely grown-up—witness the adults-only Cove Pool, with its DJ-driven party scene, outdoor gaming tables, and mating-ritual pool wear. But there’s a sense of sophistication in the two-story lobby, which soars above ponds of water lilies, as well as the suites, which have balconies with ocean views, sunken living rooms, and marble-floored bathrooms. All the activities of Atlantis, including those that make adults feel young again—such as the Abyss and Leap of Faith waterslides, or the dolphin encounters—are only steps or a free shuttle ride away. Also available is immersive programming that connects guests to the rich history, art, people, food, and festivities of the islands, from exhibits showcasing regional artists and a weekly Junkanoo Fest & Feast (honoring a more than 500-year-old tradition) to five new outposts of beloved local Bahamian restaurants.
Colebrook St, Dunmore Town, The Bahamas
From a members-only beach club in the 1960s, The Dunmore has evolved into a 16-room boutique stay whose spirit and decor evoke that era. Local interior designer Amanda Lindroth oversaw a major renovation when the hotel’s current owners bought the property in 2010. Wicker and rattan furniture, patterned prints, and spaces that are as much outdoors as indoors create a look that is somewhere between late British colonial and timeless Bahamian. Although the landmark sits on Harbour Island’s Pink Sands Beach, a pool with an airy pavilion adds to The Dunmore’s reputation as a place of amiable gathering. After a day of sunfilled fun, head to the on-site restaurant, where chef Cindy Hutson, one of the region’s rising culinary stars, prepares modern twists on island delicacies—think grouper curry with lychee and grilled pineapple and banana fritters with rum caramel.
Unnamed Road, The Bahamas
It is not quite accurate to say that this 13-room beachfront property on sparsely populated South Andros Island is off the beaten path. Sure, there are no roads to bring you here, and the only neighbors are the denizens of the 125-acre nature preserve that surrounds it, but a seaplane flight from Nassau will have you wading ashore in just 15 minutes. Once settled into their thatch-roofed private villas, guests gravitate toward the Great Room for fruity drinks, fresh-caught meals, and tall tales. While there is every kind of watery diversion, from bonefishing to scuba diving—and nature tours, too—it’s the kind of place where kicking your feet up is the most strenuous thing you’ll do all day, and where privacy is so valued that beach butlers won’t intrude unless, in one of the older nautical traditions, you raise a flag to indicate that you require food and drink.
One S Ocean Rd, Nassau, The Bahamas
Since its opening along a dazzling stretch of sand known as Cabbage Beach in 1962, The Ocean Club on Paradise Island has been the preferred stay of old-money patriarchs and traditionalists. Though much at the serenely posh resort has remained unchanged, the 105-room property has been modernized to meet today’s standards with spa-sized marble bathrooms, sweeping WiFi, and a restaurant run by star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. But it’s the feeling of a privileged, unhurried yesterday that continues to draw an appreciative upper-crust crowd. An on-site tennis pro provides tips for improving your backhand, Versailles-inspired gardens complete with a 12th-century Augustinian cloister offer moments of quiet contemplation, and rounds of golf end with martinis at the resort’s bar. These details, plus knowing that a personal butler and afternoon champagne and strawberries are included in the price, keep guests returning year after year.