When my husband told me that Bermuda is beautiful, I had no idea just how stunning it would be!
I never gave much thought to visiting Bermuda until he suggested we vacation there. His past trips to Bermuda were related to work, and he wanted to revisit the island with me. Over the last few years, he occasionally mentioned we should make a quick getaway in the spring sometime, assuring me that I would love it. But, for whatever reason, it was never at the top of our travel list until this year. We had achieved a personal goal between the two of us, and it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate the occasion. I am quite grateful we waited to go because it made the trip even more special.
Bermuda is a British island territory in the North Atlantic Ocean about 700 miles off the coast of North Carolina. It is about a two-hour flight from Philadelphia, making it an easy trip for those of us on the East Coast. Sometimes it is confused with being a part of the Caribbean because of the crystal clear blue waters and pink sand beaches. Our currencies are equal, so US dollars are accepted there, however, your change will most likely be in Bermudian currency. A passport is required, but no VISA. They drive on the left, everyone speaks English, and the people are incredibly polite and respectful.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at the Hamilton Princess, which is a Fairmont Property. As a member of Le Club Accorhotels, we received a 5% discount on our room rate. I booked a Harbor King and opted for Fairmont Gold because it included private check-in, concierge service, access to a private lounge, breakfast, afternoon tea and canapés, as well as ensuring us a room on either the sixth or seventh floor (7th being the highest). Honestly, though, whether facing the harbor or not, I don't think there's a poor view on the island. Everywhere I looked was so stunning and picturesque that it was impossible not to snap photos constantly. The hotel has two pools, a family-friendly infinity pool with a hot tub, and a smaller adults only pool. There is also a full gym, which offers different workout classes for a fee, a spa, and a handful of higher end boutiques.
The Hamilton Princess has a private beach, that is about 25 minutes away from the hotel property. There is a free shuttle that transports hotel guests to and from the beach about every hour or so. It is possible to rent cabanas at the beach club, but I would not recommend it because although private, they are awkwardly off to the side and not close to the beach. If you only want lounge chairs and an umbrella, those are complementary. There is both a sit-down restaurant and servers that you can place an order with from your beach chair. Paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling gear, are just a few of the complimentary water activities, and there is a small playground for children. There are hammocks on the beach and in the water for your ultimate relaxation. The water is shallow and so clear that you can see fish swim around you. The temperature of the water was perfect and refreshing. We spent an entire day at the beach club, and at the suggestion of our server, strolled up to the cliff that was the former site of the Sonesta Beach Hotel. Unfortunately, that hotel suffered severe damage in a hurricane years ago. The owners of the Hamilton Princess later bought it, razed and redeveloped the area to be the Princess Beach Club. The foundation of the former hotel restaurant is the only structure that remains. If you go there, be sure to go up the path to the top of the hill for the most fantastic view!
Another benefit of the Hamilton Princess is it that you can walk into Hamilton to go shopping, the grocery store, to restaurants, and you can catch the ferry to the Royal Dockyard where there are cafés, shops, and museums. The ferry ride from Hamilton to the dockyard is about 20 minutes and $5, versus the drive which takes about an hour and $40 in a taxi.
Where we ate:
At the main hotel property, there are two restaurants, 1609 and Marcus, as well as a lobby bar. The food at Marcus was good, but not extraordinary. However, our experience at the restaurant was memorable because of one employee, the infamous Lloyd. I saw his name on several reviews of the restaurant, and everything said about him was true. It was kind of funny to run into him, but it was indeed because of Lloyd that our meal there was so enjoyable.
I thought the food at 1609 was better when we went for lunch on our last day than it was when we went for dinner a few days prior. I do not know how often the menu changes, but I would recommend the mussels and carrot soup. Be sure to make reservations in advance because we had not, and it was so busy that we had to sit at the bar. 1609 is also the restaurant that caters to the main pool.
Our favorite meal during our five days on the island was at the Rosen Hotel, which is a 3-minute walk across the street from the Hamilton Princess. It is a Relais and Chateaux property, and their restaurant is called Huckleberry. We sat outside on the front porch, which offered a romantic, intimate ambiance. The service was impeccable. I had the duck which was AMAZING, and the tuna tartare was one of the best I have ever tasted.
We also had dinner one night at the Southampton Ocean Club, which has both indoor and outdoor seating. Weather permitting, you definitely want to be out on the veranda to take in the stunning view of the beach. Note that this restaurant is not attached to the hotel, which sits on a hill across the street. They have shuttles that transport guests between the Ocean Club and the main hotel property, so you could enjoy the hotel's other restaurant, Jasmine, for either a pre-dinner cocktail or after dinner coffee and enjoy the elevated view.
Another standout meal from the trip was lunch at the Pink Beach Club, one of two restaurants at the Loren Hotel, which is about 20-minute drive from where we were staying. The hotel is super swanky, modern and luxurious. It is an open-air restaurant with delicious food and a fantastic view of the pink sand beaches and infinity pool. I would consider staying at the Loren on a future visit to the island because their infinity pool and beach are both located on the property, unlike both Fairmont hotels. Although it was well worth the drive, needing to take a shuttle to go to the beach as we did at the Hamilton was not ideal.
Things to do:
We were told that visiting the Royal Navy Dockyard is a must when on the island. At the westernmost point of Bermuda, it is an area with several shops, cafés, restaurants, museums and countless activities to do. It can be rather busy because this is where the cruise ships stop. You can read more about the history of the dockyard here. Unfortunately, on the day we took the ferry to the dockyard, the weather started to turn, so we left without fully exploring the area. Next time we go, we will be sure to spend more time there.
Another fun thing to do in Bermuda is rent scooters, but remember that they drive on the left. On our first full day, we explored the island by scooter and went to the Loren Hotel for lunch. I brought a beach bag with swimwear and a change of clothes for my husband and me, so that we could stop by a few public beaches on our way home. It was such a fun and adventurous day!
Overall, I enjoyed our stay in Bermuda immensely and can't wait to go back again in the future. It reminds me of the peaceful simplicity of Nantucket, but with the beautiful water and sand of the Caribbean. As this trip was my first time traveling there, Bermuda officially was my new country of 2019, and the 27th stamp in my passport!
My husband and I love to travel. We have our favorite places, like Nantucket, France and Disney's Epcot, but we love discovering new ones too. We have vowed to visit a new country every year, as well as discover a new place within our own continent. Together we have visited; France, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Luxembourg, Italy, Monaco, Morocco, Jamaica, Aruba, Bermuda, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, Canada, Mexico, Panama, The Netherlands, and Sweden. Our next destination - TBT!