Bahama House: an ode to island time


Bahama House: an ode to island time

Slow living powered by rum and sunshine – no wonder fashion illustrator Caroline Tomlinson was drawn to this Bahamian hideaway

Caroline Tomlinson

BY Caroline Tomlinson21 January 2022

Mr Smith and I were Bahamas bound; Bahama House to be exact. This idyllic spot is situated on Harbour Island – one of over 700 islands making up the ‘out islands’ archipelago (or ‘the real Bahamas’ as the locals like to call it) scattered over the seemingly endless miles of opal ocean.

Getting to Harbour Island is a treat in itself. A quick and incredibly scenic flight from Nassau to North Eleuthera looking down onto paradise from a tiny plane. Then a zippy speedboat ride to the island. Once on land we were met by our hosts and a golf buggy (the standard mode of transport on the island).

Two minutes later we reached a charming pale pink colonial building with bright white shutters. Stepping into Bahama House is like arriving at a friend’s home – which just so happens to be in paradise. You feel your shoulders drop and you audibly exhale.

Set over multiple levels, overlooking a freshwater pool, its gardens are filled with tropical touches: bougainvillea frames balconies and banana leaves offer shade. The interiors are classic Bahamian style, an eclectic mix of raffia-framed mirrors and wicker furniture. Yet despite the desert island hideaway aesthetic the rooms are fully kitted out with console controlled temperature, lighting and music.

We dropped our bags (and our London attire) and swiftly switched into sunshine mode. The only question (after what bikini to wear) was pool or beach? The pool won but when the time comes to peel yourself away, Bahama House make beach trips effortless. Despite not being directly on the beach, a nippy drive in your golf buggy and you arrive at the famous pink sands. Truth be told, navigating around this tiny island is a breeze and getting ‘lost’ is near impossible. Despite a few slightly heated discussions about my driving (thank you Mr Smith for pointing out the potholes) we had no problems.

We arrived to rolled towels on our sun loungers and a selection of refreshments waiting on ice. You don’t need to take anything other than your book. I laid back to enjoy the endless turquoise vistas and the pale pink sand and promptly fell asleep.

If lying horizontally for longer than 30 minutes makes you somewhat twitchy (Mr Smith falls into this category while I am, at my heart, a beach bum) there is plenty to explore on this picture-perfect island filled with homes painted like Hockney paintings.

An afternoon spent moving from pool and beach was followed by cocktail hour, a perfect kick start to our first evening. The garden is home to the house tiki bar where the mixologist will happily whip up whatever your heart desires as evening snacks are served (a personal favourite was the conch salad: a traditional dish in these parts that must be tried).

For Mr Smith the pièce de résistance was the rum bar, which houses a collection of over 50 rums. Every time he disappeared I found him ‘sampling’. We eventually ventured out for our first evening’s dinner which revolved around sunset and exquisite seafood. Walking home, savouring the warmth of the balmy evening, we were in total agreement that day one was the right mix of exploring our surroundings and blissful inactivity.

The next day we woke early to blue skies and breakfast on the terrace. A fuss-free affair with a cooked offering that changes daily (try the Bahamian pancakes) along with a selection of fresh fruits and pastries.

Prior to arriving, the preparation for our trip had begun with a Bahamas House experience manager helping Mr Smith create our unique itinerary. With our very own boat, and a personal guide, we headed off armed with a pre-packed cooler bag filled with refreshments ready to explore the ever-changing turquoise hues of the Bahamian waters. No photoshopping required here. We spent the day snorkeling with starfish and sea turtles over the shipwreck of an old steamship. We even visited the famous swimming pigs.

We returned sandy and ready for the pool and cocktail hour. For me, holidays like these are to be divided up between inactivity and mini adventuring. And I felt we had got the balance just right thanks to our carefully considered itinerary.

Harbour Island has far more to offer than oversized all-inclusive resorts and Bahama House is proudly standing proof of that. If you want personality and authenticity served with relaxed and friendly service then this is the place. In fact, it’s probably time to get onto that experience manager and plan our return…

This review was first published in 2019 so some hotel details may have changed. All photos shot on a separate visit by Louis AW Sheridan

Caroline Tomlinson illustrates and documents fashion and culture in distinctive inky style. A natural explorer, Caroline has lived all over the world which has further heightened her wanderlust and love for fashion and culture – both of which are a constant source of inspiration. She has worked with brands including Christian Louboutin, Fortnum & Mason, Marc Jacobs, MatchesFashion and SpaceNK, and her work has appeared in the likes of Hunger, Suitcase, The Guardian, Travel & Leisure and Vogue.