Note: I’m temporarily jumping out of my chronological Central America trip coverage to tell you about my very last stop en route back to New York: Bermuda! We’ll jump back into Guatemala soon.
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…
I admit that until very recently, I knew next to nothing about Bermuda. I knew the Beach Boys featured it in one of their catchiest tunes, I knew my parents vacationed there when I was a kid (and left me at home, if you can believe it), I knew it had a famous triangle, I heard there were some pink sand beaches, and I thought (incorrectly) that it was kinda sorta in the Caribbean.
I had a lot to learn.
So when the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, a Fairmont managed hotel, invited me to come check out their new facelift, I decided it was time to go get an education. The pink icon recently underwent a ninety million dollar renovation, and I was buzzing with excitement to check out the trendy, art-filled and eco-friendly resort in the heart of Hamilton.
Bermuda, it turns out, is having a moment. And it had plenty of surprises in store for me.
Surprise #1: Bermuda is crazy close.
Did you know Bermuda is less than a two hour flight from most East Coast cities? You could arrive there from New York before you could touch down in the Hamptons! So I can’t exactly say that I was travel fatigued when I landed from Miami, but checking into my room released a flurry of relaxing Bermuda vibes nonetheless.
Standing out on the balcony, soaking it all in, I tried to suss out why a place I’d never been before felt so familiar. And then it hit me. “This is Martha’s Vineyard meets the Caribbean,” I said, a comparison I’d make many more times over the next four days. Though to be truly accurate, I’d have to throw an England destination into the mix — as one of the first and oldest British colonies, Bermuda maintains strong ties to its roots, evident in everything from left-side driving to a national obsession with cricket.
Surprise #2: Bermuda is insanely small.
Bermuda, I’d learn, is deceptively small. Though I’d pored over maps before arrival and knew that the island was less than 21 square miles, it wasn’t until I landed and tangibly felt the distances that I realized how charmingly sized this island really is. And its residents are fiercely protective of the natural resources in their little stretch of paradise.
I’m always happy when I see a big hotel — the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club has four hundred rooms — going green. A note in our room gently reminded us of the island’s limited resources and informed that unless requested, sheets would be changed every three days instead of every single day, and that towels would be replaced only when left on the floor. And I smiled when I heard all renovated rooms were designed to be energy efficient from the lighting to air conditioning to water systems. Even the trash bins in the room were divided into two compartments — recycling and trash.
Yet there was no sacrifice of style. Our small and stylish bathroom boasted a double-headed shower, a well-lit vanity and luxurious lineup of Rose 31 bath products.
Remember how I said Bermuda is less than two hours from most East Coast cities? It’s also a quick seven hour direct hop from the UK, I learned, when I was joined by my mystery man from Antigua. London Lawyer and I joked that technically, this trip was our third date — which will be a pretty tough one to top.
Surprise #3: Hamilton is a happening city.
Tough to top indeed. Bermuda is so much more than just beaches. The Hamilton Princess, as you might guess from the name, is situated right in the heart of Hamilton, a ten minute walk to the best restaurants and bars on the island — the ones not on the property of the hotel, that is. And yet the grounds still feel like a relaxing retreat. Over our four days in Bermuda we raved about how happy we were to be staying in Hamilton. We loved the ability to be adventurous during the day, but come home and be exactly where we wanted to be at night without ever having to hop in a cab.
Not that you really need to go anywhere during the day. I mean, can we talk about this harbor-facing infinity pool?
While the ocean waters were still a bit chilly in early May, the pool — and the hot tub — were just right. There’s nothing like whiling away a morning watching the hustle and bustle of the Hamilton harbor from your perch on the edge of an infinity pool.
Surprise #4: The Hamilton Princess might as well double as an art museum.
I can tell you one thing I was not expecting from a historic hotel that served as a headquarters for Britain’s intelligence operations during the Second World War, and was beloved by authors like Mark Twain — to walk into the lobby and be greeted by the works of Andy Warhol, Banksy, and Damien Hirst. Bermudian artists are also well represented, with original works by local artist Justine Smith gracing each guest room. This art school graduate and design addict was positively swooning.
The hotel’s collection is so extensive — and constantly growing — that an art tour by the hotel’s curator is offered to guests each Saturday.
One thing that wasn’t a surprise? How well we’d eat. As soon as I heard Marcus Samuelsson was opening a restaurant at the Hamilton Princess, I knew the food scene in Bermuda must be something special. I’ll dish more on my favorite Hamilton eateries in another post (dish on? restaurants? get it? please pretend you love my puns), but first — our home base hotspots.
Every morning we had breakfast at Crown and Anchor, which was the perfect place to start the day thanks to indoor and outdoor seating options and an indulgent buffet.
Though we arrived before the May 27th opening of new Bermuda hotspot Marcus, we were able to sneak in for a behind-the-scenes tour that left me swooning. Last December I finally made it to Samuelsson’s Harlem hotspot Red Rooster, a meal that made me an official fan — I can’t wait to see what he does here.
But Marcus isn’t the Hamilton Princess’s only brag-worthy worth restaurant. When I first walked into the harbor-side 1609, I exclaimed that it was an infinity restaurant — the floor-to-ceiling walls made it feel like we were sitting down to dinner at a floating table.
Can you imagine a more inviting place to sit down to lunch or dinner?
As with any trip, the people were what made it special. Everyone we encountered at the hotel, from the doormen greeting us at the entrance to the cleaning staff we passed in the halls, was warm and hospitable in the more natural way. One night, when we clarified directions to a restaurant we were going to with a concierge, we arrived to find he’d called ahead for us to let them know we were coming. (And, just to show you how insanely small Bermuda really is, it turns out that the manager of that restaurant was the concierge’s wife!)
From modern rooms to hip dining experiences, from a beautiful art collection to fabulous concierges, from an infinity pool to harborside water sports, it was hard not to buzz about this hotel to everyone we met. It’s a place I could see myself coming back to over and over again. I want to come back with my family and relax by the pool, I want to come back with my friends and party it up in Hamilton, I want to come back by myself and write the days away from a harbor-view balcony.
The Hamilton Princess and Beach Club has the best of both worlds. Want a fantastic getaway hiding out for a week and never leaving the grounds of the hotel? You got it. Want to explore every gem Bermuda has to offer? You simply couldn’t ask for a better base.
Stay tuned for more on my adventures diving, beach hopping, taking a SUP yoga class, renting a scooter, and nightlife hopping in Hamilton!
Have you ever been to Bermuda? If not, is it on your bucket list? (If not, it just might be by the time I’m done gushing!)
Many thanks to the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club for generously hosting me in Bermuda. I was compensated for my time in writing this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.