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Graycliff Hotel 4.0

Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Housed in a historic colonial mansion
  • Convenient location in the middle of Nassau and walking distance to attractions
  • Ornate, antique decorations in guest rooms and bathrooms
  • Rooms have modern amenities including flat-screen TVs, safes, minibars, and Wi-Fi
  • Two swimming pools, one with gorgeous hand-painted tiles
  • Three restaurants including the five-star Graycliff Restaurant
  • One of the world’s largest and finest wine cellars with a private dining room
  • Chocolatier and cigar factory on-site; museum across the street
  • Small fitness center
  • Private airport lounge for hotel guests

Cons

  • Not on the beach
  • Fitness center is small and gloomy
  • Some rooms can be noisy
  • Spotty Wi-Fi
  • Shuttle to the beach is extra
  • Decor can feel stuffy
  • No spa

Bottom Line

Located in the heart of Nassau, the Graycliff Hotel is a colonial mansion with a historic past. The upscale property has loads of character and charm -- a beautiful facade with a two-story veranda, frequent live jazz music in the lounge, and a chocolatier, cigar factory, and museum on-site. Two pools (one with stunning hand-painted tiles), three restaurants (including the five-star Graycliff Restaurant), and a world-class wine cellar round out the offerings. The 20 spacious rooms are stuffed with antiques but still include modern amenities like flat-screen TVs, minibars, and Wi-Fi. However, some rooms can be noisy at night, the Wi-Fi is spotty, and the hotel is not on the beach. Travelers looking for a historic property on a beach location could try the British Colonial Hilton, which is similarly priced.

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Scene

Old World charm and luxury in a historic mansion

Listed as a landmark on the national register of historic places, Graycliff is filled with history. The mansion was built in 1740 by Captain John Howard Graysmith, a notorious pirate and master of the schooner Graywolf. In 1776, the Graycliff mansion housed the American Navy’s main garrisons. And in 1844 Graycliff became Nassau’s first inn. Over the years, the hotel has hosted a number of famous guests including Al Capone, Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Graycliff sits on five acres of lush, woodsy grounds with winding paths, palm trees, tropical flowers, manicured lawns, trellises, bridges, and a koi pond. Set back from the road and entered through a high gate, the mansion and grounds are peaceful, and it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle of the city. The facade doesn't disappoint -- two floors of white-columned, wrap-around porches, with dark wood floors and wicker couches are set off by the coral-colored, white-trimmed mansion. There's no a lobby; reception is located in a small room on the right side of the porch with two antique reception desks and little else.

Navy-colored antique area rugs, a glass chandelier, and a dramatic master staircase mark the entrance. To the right is a dining room with a banquet table; to the left is the gallery where guests are invited to drink and lounge. The gallery often hosts a pianist playing live music at night. The decor is antique and ornate with busy patterned rugs, gilt-framed paintings, floral couches and chairs, dark wood furniture, and plenty of knickknacks: vases, ash trays, small lamps, and picture frames. The Graycliff Restaurant is housed in the back of the mansion. There's also a scenic outdoor patio.

Beyond this, the property can be a bit disorienting. Guest rooms are located in three areas of the property: in the main mansion, up the stairs from the pool, or above the chocolate factory and steakhouse. The two pools and the cigar factory join the different buildings together. One added disruption -- there are outside tourists that come to tour the chocolatier and cigar factory, visit the historic mansion, and walk through the grounds.

Location

In the middle of Nassau, close to shops and restaurants

Map of Graycliff Hotel

Graycliff Hotel is located in the heart of Nassau near the Government House and close to the cruise ship port. Downtown Nassau is relatively walkable, with shops, restaurants, and bars in the area or a short taxi ride away. The hotel is a 20- 30-minute drive from the airport, and around a 10-minute drive to Paradise Island, depending on traffic.

Rooms

Spacious, ornate rooms filled with antiques but also modern amenities

The 20 rooms in the Graycliff Hotel come in four categories: Deluxe Rooms, Luxury Rooms, Suites, and the large Graycliff Suite. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the Deluxe and Luxury Rooms, and all the rooms are very spacious with decent-sized bathrooms and walk-in closets or large bureaus. 

Individually decorated guest rooms match the style and tone of the rest of the hotel. Large, ornate carpets line the floors and long tapestries and paintings are hung on the walls. Heavy curtains frame the windows (which can make the rooms a tad dark) and wood furniture -- end tables, desks, bureaus, and coffee tables add to the upscale look. Many rooms have chandeliers and luxury furnishings, like a chaise lounge. Walls are painted bright colors such as coral or lime green. bedrooms have mostly king-size beds, with a few of the Luxury Rooms containing two double beds. Beds are topped with comforters in fussy floral patterns and too many decorative pillows to count. While the hotel is decorated in an antique style, the rooms have modern amenities such as telephones, air-conditioning, minibars, safes, flat-screen TVs, irons and ironing boards, and free Wi-Fi, although many guests report that it's spotty. All the bathrooms are luxurious with Bulgari toiletries, hairdryers, bathrobes, magnifying mirrors, double vanity sinks, and shower/tub combos. Some bathrooms are especially large, specifically in the Graycliff Suite, which has a whirlpool soaking tub.

Although some may find this Old-World style charming, others may find it far too stuffy and museum-like. Some guests also complain of noise in the room, from both the live music downstairs in the restaurant (mansion rooms are right upstairs), as well as events near the cigar factory and steakhouse. Those looking for quiet luxury (and don't mind paying for it) might prefer the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island with beautiful rooms and suites plus a stunning beach.

Features

Two pools, a cigar company, a chocolatier, and a museum -- but no beach 

At the heart of the property, the large and rectangular main swimming pool makes a statement. Gorgeous hand-painted tile in a floral motif give it a grandeur that matches the mansion. White-cushioned loungers and umbrellas lined up along the side. There's also a pool bar at one end. Across a footbridge over a koi pond sits the second smaller pool. A handful of loungers border it on imported pink sand, but its size limits swimming. The hotel is not located on the beach, but it offers a shuttle (for a fee) to the beach at Blue Lagoon Island, about 24-minutes away by car. A small fitness center with an old treadmill, stationary bikes, some strength machines, and weights is on-site, but it's dumpy, especially considering the property's caliber and price. 

Also on-site is the Graycliff Cigar Company, which opened in 2007. The factory offers a variety of blends and includes a gift shop and lounge area. Guests can get a glimpse at the cigars being rolled by Cuban torcedors. At the time of our visit, the factory did not do tours but was hoping to start soon. Another business housed here, the Graycliff Chocolatier is a working chocolate factory. Guests (and outsiders) can take a tour of the factory, learn about its history, and watch chocolate being made. The factory also has a shop with delicious truffles. And although it's located across the street, the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas is a part of the hotel. This small, quaint museum gives a great overview of the history of the Bahamas and contains numerous artifacts. 

One interesting bonus: The hotel has its own lounge in Nassau Airport where guests can relax prior to their flight.

Food

Three on-site restaurants with different price points

Located in the back of the mansion, the Graycliff Restaurant is an elegant five-star eatery. Established in 1973, it's well-known on the island with both guests and outside tourists. There are four beautifully decorated dining areas as well as an outdoor patio, and guest can enjoy live music most nights. The food is continental cuisine with Bahamian flavors, and while it's good, it's also quite pricey. 

Graycliff also houses an enormous wine cellar with the third largest private collection in the world at 273,000 bottles. Guests can tour the cellar (with a staff member) and wander through the low, dark, cool rooms in the basement of the mansion. The cellar has rare wines and cognacs, and even has its own private dining room that hosts small events and dinners.

Humidor Churrascaria is the hotel’s Brazilian steakhouse. It offers a variety of meats and some fish, as well as an ample salad bar. It’s still pricey, but not as expensive as Graycliff Restaurant. Guests give mixed reviews of the food here. A more affordable option, the small pizzeria by Humidor Churrascaria serves reasonably priced pies and calzones.

Weddings

A range of customized events 

The hotel can host weddings and events for up to 300 people in one of the restaurants, by the pool, or by the cigar factory.

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Address

West Hill Street, Nassau 10246, Caribbean

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