My wife and I spent 2 days at the Graycliff Hotel in mid-February. We came across the hotel website and felt it had an interesting history. The hotel is a little on the expensive side but little in Nassau seems to be particularly cheap anymore. Graycliff is located on a two lane one-way street without sidewalks about a block from Bay St., the main street in downtown Nassau. The Governor’s Mansion is just around the corner from the hotel entrance. The nearest beach is also a block away and owned by the Hilton, thus not free.
Our room, the Corona, was not in the main building but a short walk down the street but accessible through the gardens once you’ve checked in. On the second floor it was large and nicely decorated although not as nicely as some of the more expensive rooms and the bath with a Jacuzzi tub was supplied with high quality bath products; Bulgari. On the negative side, it fronted the street in front of the hotel which is a busy road until late in the evening and starting early in the morning; a bit noisy. Also, the shutters failed to shut out the street or the flood lights lighting the area outside our room. Due to the rambling nature of the property you will pass through two or three restaurants, the beer garden, by both pools and the cigar factory going from some rooms to the front desk if you want to avoid the street. Confusing at first.
We hadn’t read any of the reviews of the hotel until after we had returned to the States and feel that while some of the negative remarks are well deserved, the writers ignore that they are in what is at best a developing nation staying in a historic property (former pirate’s home) rather than a planned development. Nassau is full of broken down building and poor or non-existent sidewalks although I did note that the sidewalks around the Governor’s Mansion just across the side street were nicely maintained. The view from our room illustrates some of these complaints. The harbor and beach are not visible but a burned out building is (see photo). On the plus side, it is my understanding that this property has been purchased by Graycliff and is to be renovated into part of a Graycliff Village which will include the closing of the street in front to all but pedestrians. This would be very nice and make one feel safer walking along the narrow street, especially at night.
The hotel’s well-known restaurant is in the main building. The prices kept us from eating there during our stay but we returned with a group of about 50 the following night. The food was enjoyable but a little inconsistent. Our wine choices were preselected so I can’t comment on the prices in the wine list. However, I suspect that it is probably over-priced. On the other hand it should be noted that wines in the Bahamas are generally expensive. Being from California we may be spoiled but when Andre Champagne (I use the term champagne loosely) is $10-12 at downtown stores I can only imagine what the wine list prices are. A visit to the wine cellar is worth the quick tour. Their collection is the third largest wine collection in the world (270,000 bottles) with prices from $40 to $200,000. It is housed in the former prison beneath the dining room and which served the US Navy during the Revolutionary War when the US occupied Nassau. As I said, the history of the hotel is interesting. The tour of the wine cellar is only available to hotel guests although some of our dinner group obtained tours. My wife and I were almost denied entry when we showed up in shorts, Hawaiian style shirt, and sandals but after convincing Anthony, the maitre’d, we actually were hotel guests he relented.
Note that the main restaurant requires a coat at lunch and dinner and prohibits shorts. This seems a little unusual in a resort town but the hotel is attempting to maintain a certain decorum. However, our dinner group was not informed of these requirements and I was the only person who even had a coat with me at the meetings we was attending at the Atlantis Hotel. The maitre’d was somewhat miffed but he is fighting a losing battle when the requirement is not communicated to groups. Besides how can you turn away 50+ people mid-week? In fairness I should say that knowing the coat policy, I neddled the maitre’d about the overall policy failure but he took things in stride and was in my opinion a good sport about everything even chucking a little about things.
There is a great pizzeria on the property with reasonable prices and a churrascaria restaurant which we understand was very good and reasonably priced. There is also a cigar factory and chocolatier on site. The cigar factory illustrates the developing nation nature of parts of the property. The one side of the stairs leading to the factory is lushly landscaped but if one looks down on the other side, it is filled with construction debris. The same can be said for views from the cigar factory patio; shabby buildings some of which belong to Graycliff and more construction debris and seemingly abandoned equipment.
Although the hotel has free wi-fi, connections are spotty. We were only able to connect on the front porch or on the cigar factory patio and in the beer garden. The pool area and most of the landscaping are beautiful although the pool only has 8 lounges available. Then again even they were fully occupied only once. There is also a smaller pool around the corner from the main pool. The staff was meticulous about the vegetation around the pool but comments on the failure to clean the leaves from the pool are accurate, especially at this smaller pool where the skimmer seemed to be full, even blocked.
Although some of the reviewers have complained about the staff and their attitudes, we found the staff to be very helpful and friendly to a person. When checking out, the receptionist without prompting gave us a pass to the Graycliff Lounge at the airport. Wi-fi was again spotty but a very relaxing space.
All in all knowing all the negatives would I stay again? Very probably. Even with the shortcomings, it was an enjoyable experience. We certainly preferred it to the Atlantis which was more expensive and much less relaxing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated next door to Government House and only a few minutes away from white sand beaches, Graycliff Hotel offers an enticing world tucked away from the casinos and glitter Nassau is known for. This AAA Four-Diamond hotel boasts twenty elegant guest chambers and spacious pool cottage suites. The ambiance at Graycliff is to make each guest feel as if they’ve returned home. Upon arrival, guests are invited to sit and relax in comfort of the lounge while checking in.The rooms are all individually decorated in various styles with names that evoke all the charm and romance of the tropics. Graycliff’s decor features an alluring blend of the old and the new. To experience the old there is the Pool Cottage where Winston Churchill used to stay or the Baillou, the original master bedroom in the main house. To experience the new, there is the Mandarino Cottage with its extra large bathroom with whirlpool. All rooms are air-conditioned with private bath. Breakfast is served to hotel guests only. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Graycliff Hotel Nassau
- Graycliff Hotel Bahamas/Nassau