The Island House
What We Love
- A state-of-the-art fitness program, including an 82-foot lap pool and two squash courts
- The hotel houses the Bahamas’ only Bamford Spa
- A 48-seater theater, showcasing both blockbusters and indie Caribbean flicks
- The hotel’s own wine label
What To Know
- The hotel can arrange for a day trip to a private island in the Exumas
- For the best sunset views, book an Oceanview Room on the second floor
- All 30 rooms here are equipped with Apple TVs
- The artwork on display at Shima, the hotel’s Thai restaurant, is by local talents
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
When Bahamian entrepreneur Lauren Holowesko decided to channel the success of her family’s exclusive Lyford Cay restaurant, Mahogany House, into an intimate 30-room hotel, the mood she went for was “casual luxury.” That’s why guests here can wander the Champalimaud–designed property in flip-flops, the staff is clad in checked shirts and denims, and one of the cottages is tailor-made for those who prefer to shuttle directly from their bed to the pool. But this hideaway isn’t exactly for the sedentary. With a dynamic fitness program that offers everything from an anti-gravity yoga studio to ballet barre classes and a fully-stocked gym, its evident Holowesko and company want to get your endorphins going. Rest assured, there are enticing rewards. The Bamford Spa offers island-inspired treatments (like an aloe and rose quartz remedy that cools overheated skin) , a wholesome coffee bar that churns out tropical breakfasts, and a terrace restaurant, Shima, that showcases fiery Southeast Asian delicacies.
In the Area
The excursions here range from the bold, like shark diving and stingray feeding, to the beautiful: a cultural expedition with Islandz Tours will take you on a tour across several local galleries in historic downtown Nassau, in addition to stops at a few public art murals. For a bit of both, snorkel through an underwater coral reef sculpture garden, also home to “wrecks” that featured in movies like Jaws and Thunderball, in Clifton Heritage National Park, a coastal site that pays tribute to all the communities that make up the Bahamas’ diverse heritage, just a five-minute drive from the hotel.
How to Get There
I travelled with a couple of friends around the Caribbean for about two and a half weeks in November and we stayed at The Island House - three time during that period.
We just kept coming back - it was that good.
The rooms are spacious, well appointed and the bathrooms are great. I'd recommend one of their condos - just gorgeous!
The front of house did their utmost to accommodate our needs - many thanks to Kera and the team for putting up with all our requests.
The food and beverage outlets - from the coffee shop to Shima and Mahagony House were excellent. Service was personalised and professional.
I certainly hope to be back.
Living in Florida, we decided to jump over to the Bahamas for just one night to celebrate my wife´s birthday. As we both are fond of nice boutique hotels (and have stayed at quite a few), the Island House was an obvious choice.
Let´s start with the positives: The images certainly do justice to the place. The hotel is beautiful, newly renovated and with a gorgeous pool area as well as great sea views. The rooms are spatious, tasteful and clean. Also, the booking load was quite light at our visit, offering a sense of privacy and plenty of poolside space.
The service which some posters have complained about did not stand out as very negative to us. It was also not particularly memorable but overall not much to complain about. We got a two hour late checkout upon asking for it, which was a nice gesture.
The negative part, which certainly left a bad taste in our mouths was the completely ridiculous pricing of the additionals. Granted, when you pay many hundreds of dollars per night for a hotel room you are not going to be penny pinching but the unmotivated and multiple add-ons were very frustrating. A $40 resort charge per night for what? Usage of the pool without any amenities? (Towels were placed on each lounger and there was some water and tea in a corner but I can do without those for such a ridiculous charge). $23 for a continental breakfast "buffet", consisting of a very basic selection with just water or black coffee to go with it (not even orange juice was included). And the piece de resistance was a $32 charge which was not even included on the final invoice for a very basic baseball hat with the hotel's logo, positioned in a cupboard next to the mosquito spray (very much indicating that it was a free gift to be used and discarded - I certainly would not want to use someone else´s used baseball hat) and a bath sponge which again, looked like it was single use and meant to be thrown away. Seeing from another poster that the hotel even charges for watching a movie in the common area complements the picture that the hotel has the air and basic charge of a first class hotel but is trying to push add-ons and unbundling like a low cost hostel. An unfortunate disappointment to an otherwise great place, we are unlikely to go back.
The facilities and amenities are fantastic. I expected that from the pictures and the previous reviews I’d read. The bad reviews focused on hospitality that fell short of expectations, so I arrived wondering what i’d encounter. In short, it was fantastic. Not only was the staff friendly and helpful, I would say they went above and beyond to be helpful. On arrival at 10:00pm, just after the kitchen closed, they stayed open to make me something for dinner. I asked where I could buy some sunscreen and they simply provided some for me. Every time I needed a taxi, they got one waiting for me just as requested. I had a problem with UPS delivering a needed package, they got on the phone with them and worked out a solution. The wait staff in the restaurants knew their menus and their wines. Everyone smiled. I had zero complaints. So...perhaps they read the previous reviews, perhaps staff responded positively to my politeness. Whatever the reason, the hospitality equalled the standard set by the quality of the setting. I look forward very much to staying there again and will choose this hotel whenever I go to Nassau.
We booked this hotel as part of a multi-leg 40th birthday trip.
First up, let me get the positives out of the way, The hotel is GORGEOUS. Breathtaking to look at, the attention to detail was marvellous. Pool area was exquisite, our room was amazing, with a killer view from our balcony. We were left a complimentary bottle of wine for my birthday which was a lovely personal touch. And small things, like the quality of the toiletries supplied, made such a difference.
Such a shame then that lack of detail elsewhere would essentially derail what should be a five star experience.
We'd came direct from a W Hotel elsewhere, and the gulf in service was massive. On a number of occasions we rang front desk with requests, only to be rang back five minutes later because front desk had forgotten what we'd actually rang about. We booked a table at one of their on-site restaurants one night and asked for a particular area. This wasn't passed on to the actual restaurant. We ordered room service on our first day, extremely hungry from a long flight. After a long 45 minutes of waiting we received a call saying the food we ordered wasn't available and we'd have to order something else. Which then took another hour. On a number of occasions things we ordered either didn't arrive, or weren't what we had ordered. Often staff didn't seem very friendly at all.
It is really quite remote, and with this in mind, they really need to ensure they are prepared for all circumstances. One day my partner was ill, and I rang front desk to see if there was anywhere on site, or nearby to pick up painkillers - I was given a simple and curt 'no'. No suggestions of anywhere nearby, not even any questions re the nature of the illness and if there was anything they could do. Simply a 'no, sorry, bye'.
It seems like a small thing, but not being able to pick up, say, a sandwich from the coffee shop at all times also seemed like a massive oversight. Between 3pm and 6pm each day, the only food option other than cookies etc is to order room service, which seems utterly ridiculous when the place is so remote. Often, you didn't want a full meal so close to dinner, and didn't want to wait for an hour for food to arrive.
And finally, the screening room is such a nice touch to the whole thing, and we had a lovely evening there. But it's such a shame to then see it added as an extra to your bill when staying there is obviously a substantial cost.
We did have such a lovely, lovely stay, and as I said earlier, the place is stunning. Would I stay there again? Yes, I think I would but I'd imagine that there'd be other (bigger) hotels in Nassau which would have their customer experience a lot more water tight than this. Maybe it's the pay off for staying somewhere just a little more boutique, but if you're paying for a five star experience, you expect a five star service and I think ensuring that staff are alert and on top of what they're doing would go a long way.
I ummed and ahhed about whether to give them a 3 or a 4, but the place is so beautiful, I think a 4 is fair despite my reservations.
We chose the Island House specifically because it is a small hotel close to the airport. We were only there for a total of 15 hours, but made the most of it. We swam in the beautiful lap pool and enjoyed a movie at the onsite theater. We would definitely choose this hotel again when traveling to Nassau. I don't feel like I can give an excellent rating only because of our short stay.