I was thrilled to learn that my friends were arriving via cruise with a port of call in Nassau. Although they only had a few hours to spend here, I knew exactly where to take them for an enjoyable and memorable time. I made sure I showed them the historic Graycliff -- the first 5-star luxury hotel and restaurant in the Caribbean.
You can't claim you've been to The Bahamas unless you've visited the acclaimed Graycliff and the Heritage Village. This iconic property, rich in history (spanning 300 years), is so much a part of Nassau and The Bahamas.
Graycliff's rich history spans 300 years beginning from the Pirate's Era.
Graycliff is located on the corner of Blue Hill Road and West Hill Street
Nassau cruise visitors like my friends could easily reach Graycliff on foot. It's tucked away at the corner of Blue Hill Road and West Hill Street but a leisurely walk from downtown (only a block away from the British Colonial Hilton).
My guests were instantly enamored as we walked up the steps to enter the old colonial style mansion. They agreed that it was like being transported in time. The parlor, main restaurant, and private dining areas were all brimming with Old World charm.
This style of decor is best described by Houzz: "...the look always calls to mind a sense of antiquity and the stately air of bygone centuries." It's formal but warm and inviting; comfortably worn but elegant; grand yet homey.
The parlor inside Graycliff
One of the stately private dining areas inside Graycliff
Another private dining room already set up for a private event.
The property is massive and there's so much to see here. I took them for a walk into the meandering gardens and surprised them with the stunning pool. I was also blown away the first time I saw it. I've never seen such a picturesque pool tile design.
The stunning pool with its unique tile design.
From there, we wandered inside the humidor and cigar factory where we witnessed a torcedor (cigar-rolling expert) in action. In 2013, Graycliff released a premium cigar blend and named it John Howard Graysmith, in honor of the famous pirate who originally built the Graycliff mansion in 1740.
This way to the humidor and cigar factory
I led them to the spacious piazza, then up towards the terrace to show them the beer garden, churrascaria, and the pizzeria. I heard that on Fridays, they serve Happy Hour at the beer garden from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. with pizza and beer for a very good deal. I have yet to check that out.
Inside the churrascaria, where they serve all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue fare
Fresh pizza at the Giotto Pizzeria
Past the pizzeria is a short path that takes you to the chocolate boutique with a wide selection of gourmet chocolates. I told my friends that my favorite Graycliff chocolate flavor is the key lime pie. It tastes just like it. Connected to the boutique is the chocolate factory where they offer chocolate-making classes. It's a fun and educational activity for both adults and children.
Taking just a few steps outside the Chocolatier, we explored the neighboring Heritage Village that houses the Bahama Barrels winery (first and only in The Bahamas), the Drawbridge gelato place, The Artists Studio, The Heritage Museum, and the charming boutique shop. Everything was painted in cheerful Bahamas colors and was such a delight to see.
Just outside the Chocolatier, you can explore Heritage Village
Bahama Barrels is the first and only winery in The Bahamas.
Originally built in 1937, it was once a chapel of the Sisters of Charity Academy.
The Artists' Studios showcase crafts designed and produced by local artists.
The adorable Drawbridge is a gelato shop.
See more in the video at the end of this story.
The Heritage Museum of The Bahamas
The darling boutique with souvenirs and novelties.
I love its sand-covered floor.
Oh, and there's more! Underneath the restaurant is a wine cellar and cognateque. History tells us it used to be a dungeon, where pirate's prisoners were held. It also holds the 3rd largest wine collection in the world. You can read more about that story in my upcoming post.
After exploring the iconic Graycliff, I was rewarded with this feedback, "I've never enjoyed Nassau as much as I did during this visit!"
Here's a video of our day's adventure at Graycliff.
As I mentioned, the Graycliff mansion was built in 1740 by the feared and famous pirate John Howard Graysmith who had earned a reputation for successfully plundering ships in the pirates era. Although captured by the British, he later received royal pardon after he finally surrendered his buccaneering days. Over three centuries, the mansion transformed from that Pirate's Era, ending with Enrico Garzaroli and his wife finally purchasing the property in 1973. You can find the historic timeline here on how it evolved into what it is today. Thanks to Tru Bahamian Food Tours, I discovered the magical world of Graycliff.