Welcome to the hotel of your island-luxe fantasies: set on a palm-studded private estate overlooking a marina, The Island House in Nassau is the Bahamas’ coolest hotspot. Lounge in the super spa, hit the in-house cinema, dine on first-rate fresh fish… or just laze by the pool and let the laid-back staff (clad in hipster check and double denim) hand you endless cocktails.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Bonney's by Ocean's Collide, the hotel's own-label wine; GoldSmith members are also treated to free airport transfers
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £306.88 ($386), including tax at 12 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $60.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (from $6).
The hotel has a 48-seat cinema: it shows recent releases daily, and – as all good cinemas should – has its own bar. Book a sofa for the plushest viewing experience.
At the hotel
Cinema, gym, yoga studio, squash court, free WiFi. In rooms: TV, free WiFi, air-conditioning, black-out curtains, hairdryer, minibar with wines, spirits, soft drinks and snacks.
Our favourite rooms
For the best views of the sun setting over the marina, book an Ocean-View Room on the second floor; if you’re more of a wake-up-and-stumble-straight-to-the-pool type, go for a Poolside Cottage.
You’ll find the large heated pool by the spa, flanked by classic white sunlougers.
The only Bamford spa in the Bahamas is right here: book ahead (there are three treatment rooms) and luxuriate with a massage or facial from the thoroughly lovely staff.
On the fitness front, there’s more than the standard hotel gym here: sporty locals flock to the island’s only squash court, the anti-gravity yoga studio and the ballet barre classes. (The actual hotel gym itself is pretty impressive itself, too.)
Accepted, but not particularly catered to. It’s more of a grown-up hideout.
Other local restaurants with food this good are generally on the stuffy side – dining at any of the Island House’s eateries is a far more relaxed affair. Come as you are (well, within reason… your robe and slippers would be pushing it, obviously).
For Mediterranean fare, there’s the hotel’s Mahogany House restaurant; laid-back Thai dining is on offer at Shima, where you’ll dine among unique works by local artists. Both offer a 500-item wine list, too. The Coffee Bar bakery and deli is set for breakfast and lunch daily.
Each of the three restaurants also has a bar, as does the cinema. In the Coffee Bar, drinks are poured 7am–10pm (and there’s a happy hour each Thursday). Mahogany House serves drinks from 11am to 11pm, including the hotel’s own Bonnie’s Revenge wine. And in Shima, sip cocktails 6pm–11pm; we recommend the lychee martini or a cucumber cooler.
Breakfast 7am–11am at the Coffee Bar, or lunch at your leisure from 11.30am to 3pm. Mahogany House serves lunch from 11am to 3pm and dinner 6pm–11pm, and Shima’s open for dinner each night 5.30pm–10pm.
Order snacks and small meals to your room during restaurant hours.
You can’t get a better setting: Nassau’s the accessible central hub of the Bahamas' string of islands, and the hotel's just outside the city.
Touch down at Lynden Pindling International Airport (it’s just a three-hour flight from New York, and around half an hour from Miami). From there, the Island House is just 15 minutes away.
There’s free valet parking on-site.
Worth getting out of bed for
Finally ready to tear yourself away from the pool, the cinema and the spa? It's time to get acquainted with your surroundings. Head out on a Bahamian art and cuisine expedition with Islandz Tours, perhaps, or explore the Exumas (and feed stingrays) on a private day trip with Power Boat Adventures. Not quite wild enough? Go diving with sharks or discover the wrecks surrounding New Providence with Stuart Cove.
You can easily rotate your way around the three on-site restaurants for a few days without getting bored, but Nassau’s also home to a host of other dining options. A few of of the best are Café Matisse, a charming Italian spot with a beautiful courtyard, in an elegant colonial-style building behind Parliament Square, and Arawak Cay and Lukka Kari, both serving up Bahamian flavours. Arawak Cay’s collection of food stalls tends to be a hub of hunger-based excitement (try the conch salad at Frankie Gone Bananas), and Lukka Kari downtown has some top local dishes on the menu.
Chances are if you decide to visit the Bahamas (and, frankly, why wouldn’t you?) you will fly into Nassau. It is one of the main islands to make up the jaw-droppingly beautiful Bahamas. Island House is Nassau’s latest addition and it successfully merges a sense of laid back island life with friendly service, effortless understated style, and an atmosphere of care-free living.
A short taxi ride from the airport and we’re greeted by the wonderfully warm staff. As we’re shown through the achingly stylish communal space en route to our room it becomes apparent just how discerning this place is.
Our spacious and beautiful room has French doors opening out onto a private terrace overlooking the palms; the balmy breeze blowing away the last of city life. The bathroom is equally impressive with its stunning stand-alone bathtub, his-and-her sinks (a joy for a somewhat tidy obsessive Mr Smith and his ongoing battle with my bulging beauty bag) an enormous shower and an impressive array of organic Bamford products.
A knock at the door interrupts our unpacking. A brief and charming rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and an unexpected (and early) delivery of a bottle of birthday bubbles follows. While checking in the receptionist had noticed on my passport that my birthday was imminent – how’s that for service with a smile and a song? The staff are so consistently thoughtful here, yet in no way pushy.
The only downside to places like this is that it’s very hard to leave, let alone do anything. To be honest, why would you want to? Sure, I’m all for experiencing culture, but we feel that delicious mix of jet lag (perhaps fuelled by a Thai mojito…which was swiftly followed by a lychee martini) and a need to just take in our new sun-filled surroundings. In a world where we are made to feel we must always ‘do’ and ‘be busy’ there is a delicious rebellion in stopping. And this is a hell of a place to stop.
Naturally, then, the whole emphasis of Island House is on wellbeing. There is a pool to keep you cool on those hot and humid Bahamian days, coupled with a state-of-the art gym, squash courts and a movement studio that offers an array of classes. A soothing spa is filled with Bamford’s body collection and has everything from mani/pedis to full body massages.
With all this on offer, Mr Smith points out – in the name of research and a thorough review – that we should put down our poolside cocktails and explore the facilitates. So we can confirm that the gym and yoga space are both beautiful.
Strangely, considering my laid-back state of mind, I opt for possibly the most intense option: a 30-minute spin class on the new Peloton bike. I leave exhausted but feeling justified to indulge in whatever my holiday heart desired.
And indulge we do… We feast on delicious Asican cuisine at Shima – the chargrilled salmon cooked in a banana leaf with red curry paste and coconut milk is so good we order it twice.
The next morning, we rise early to the blue skies and sunshine. If that isn’t a reason to hop out of bed immediately then maybe the thought of breakfast is. Here it is served in the coffee bar and it covers all the must-haves – and plenty of more indulgent wants. The pancakes, we discover, are not to be missed if you have a sweet tooth.
A mid-afternoon downpour means we have the perfect excuse to make the most of the hotel’s private cinema: an impressive 48-seat screening room with everything from bean bags for kiddies, luxurious lounge chairs or cuddle friendly sofas for couples. And it doesn’t lack in the technology department either – Mr Smith is wowed by the 24-foot screen and top-drawer sound system. We eat a vast amount of popcorn, sip some bubbles and get lost in a Hollywood blockbuster (that, ironically, was set back home in London).
That evening we dine at Mahogany House, home to a moreish Mediterranean menu and an extensive wine list that keeps Mr Smith extremely distracted. Well fed, we retire to our enormous bed with turndown service complete. We peel away the crisp white sheets and fall into a peaceful sleep full of new Caribbean memories.
Our final morning is spent on the terrace looking out at the harbour and savouring that sweet sunshine – the ideal backdrop for our final hours here. The staff send us on our way with smiles and we promise to return again soon. I think it’ll be sooner rather than later.