Best Stays in Nassau and Paradise Island: Boutique Inns to Mega-Resort Developments

Since the 1940s, Bahamians have welcomed winter weary travelers to stay at beachfront properties in Nassau and later on Paradise Island. Most people still choose beach-side for their Nassau vacation, but the destination offers a whole lot more.  Hotel choices vary greatly in size, location, cost, market appeal, available amenities and overall attractions.

Today's reigning resort monarch, Atlantis on Paradise Island, leads by sheer volume of rooms inventory and impressive, over-the-top amenities – from celebrity restaurants to remarkable water features and marine habitat. A new mega-development on Cable Beach called Baha Mar will challenge Atlantis's supremacy when it comes to completion in 2018. Cable Beach, once the hot, sexy heart of the destination's resort scene, promises to make a comeback with the completion of Baha Mar's three hotels, golf course, casino, shopping center, eco-attraction and water features. It intends to appeal more to an adult market to distinguish itself from Atlantis's strong family attraction, although the already-opened Grand Hyatt is kid friendly. But even Atlantis’ latest addition, The Cove Atlantis, caters to adults as does the newest Paradise Island property, Warwick Paradise Island.

All-inclusive, couples-friendly Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort on Cable Beach also appeals to adults, as does the venerable Graycliff Hotel, the destination's oldest, most highly respected inn, located downtown. Most resorts, however, welcome families with  beach-side options that range from properties downtown and along Cable Beach to Bahamian-hued Compass Point Beach Resort. For better rates, look away from the beaches. Most are within walking distance of sand in any case. 


Comfort Suites Paradise Island
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If you want to bypass the crowds and costs at Atlantis but still be able to indulge in all of the amenities, then nearby Comfort Suites on Paradise Island is the way to go. The 229-suite hotel is in close proximity to Atlantis and offers guests full access to the massive property. Be sure to take advantage of this: Access includes all Atlantis swimming pools, marine habitats, private beaches, the entire Aquaventure water feature program, casino, spa, golf, kids camp and also signing privileges at restaurants. On the Comfort Suites property you will enjoy moderate, family-friendly accommodations and a swimming pool with daily complimentary breakfast. All rooms offer free WiFi, flat screen TVs and a mini refrigerator.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Comfort Suites is a good, affordable alternative to Atlantis. Think Disney peripheral properties vs. Disney-owned resorts.

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Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas- Adults Only - All Inclusive
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Paradise Island's first adults-only all-inclusive resort, Warwick Paradise Island opened bayside in October 2016. A series of resorts have come and gone at the location, but the Warwick has strengthened its staying power with branding, a manmade beach and a handsome boardwalk with harbor views of Nassau across the bay. A multimillion dollar, free-form pool further focuses on the waterfront. The poob/beach ar serves fruity drinks, while Chickcharnie's does pizza and munchies. The resort's other three restaurants include the requisite breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet; a fine Italian dinner space; and rather odd Tings on a Stick, serving kabobs and more for dinner. The main bar circles through the stunning lobby and into an activity room. Décor draws from Out Island inspiration with straw work chandeliers, shutter accent walls and Junkanoo festival art. Rooms are streamlined and subtly nautical, decorated in the colors of the Bahamian flag: yellow, black and aquamarine.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The destination's newest property fills a niche with all the luxe the brand promises.

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Nassau's most upscale all-inclusive property, Sandals Royal Bahamian is all about couples. As a child-free zone, it recommends families with children stay at sister property Breezes Bahamas. From tables for two at 10 specialty restaurants to king size four-poster beds in all the rooms, the property is devoted to romance. Guests staying in suites or private villas get picked up at the airport in a chauffeured Mercedes or Rolls Royce and greeted on property by their personal butler. All 405 rooms include a flat screen TV, an in-room bar, a refrigerator and wi-fi that is free for the basic (somewhat pokey) service. Attractions also include a signature pool with swim-up bar and a luxurious spa. Sports and activities are part of the inclusive price tag –" even the scuba diving program. A private island awaits guests with two private, practically deserted beaches and more dining options.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This is Nassau's finest all inclusive resort catering exclusively to couples.

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The Cove Atlantis, Autograph Collection
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As if the Atlantis property wasn't already impressive with the extensive water parks and other amenities, in 2007 the resort expanded to include the chic and ultra exclusive The Cove. Since then, the 600-room resort within the mega property has elevated the brand's profile among celebrities and wealthy travelers. Rooms range from the Ocean to Penthouse Suite. At minimum you can find an open floor plan with a step down living room, balconies off of each room, marble floors in the bathrooms, flat screen TVs and BOSE sound systems. In the penthouse there are two master bedrooms, a full gourmet kitchen, a 10-seater in the dining area and a dedicated butler. Designed with more of an Asian zen feel and a departure from the lost world of Atlantis theme, The Cove is somewhat adult-oriented with an adults-only pool area, which even has gaming tables. The family pool has cabanas overlooking the ocean. The Cove's signature restaurant is celebrity-chef Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. Free shuttle service transports guests to the resort's main campus, which is also within easy walking distance.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This newest addition to Atlantis is more exclusive and adult-oriented.

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British Colonial Hilton - Nassau
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The dignified British Colonial is one of the most prominent landmarks in downtown Nassau. In recent years, it got a makeover that elevated the grande dame to her rightful throne. Built on the beach-front grounds of a historic fort in 1923, its red barrel tile roof and stucco facade imitate colonial style. A dramatic entrance takes you through a marble tiled atrium lobby hall with faux cabbage palms as sentinels. A sweeping staircase to the mezzanine appears in many a wedding album. Historic photographs decorate hallway walls. The hotel's 280 rooms vary in size, furnished with granite tile baths, soft leather padded headboards, refrigerators and flat screen TVs. The pool and its bar sit on the resort's private beach. Bullion Lounge, with its appropriately chunky furnishings and dark wood, is a hot spot for hip nightlifers looking for fashionable and classic house-made tipples. Aqua Restaurant specializes, as its name implies, in seafood.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This is downtown's only beach accommodations - near shopping and attractions.

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Atlantis - Royal Towers
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At the heart of Atlantis sits the Royal Towers, the resort's Phase II development completed in 1998. The two towers are connected by the $25,000 bridge suite and create the iconic look of Atlantis' unique architecture envisioning the mythical lost city of Atlantis. Connected to the original, less luxe Coral and Beach towers, it holds the resort's glam casino, an aquarium attraction known as The Dig and the property's finest clubs and restaurants. Royal Towers is convenient to shopping both in Crystal Court and Marina Village as well as all the amazing water features, slides, lazy rivers and marine animal interactions the resort is famous for. Kids club and teenage hangout CRUSH further appeal to families. A total of 1,200 rooms range in price and size from basic guestrooms to grand suites. Shuttles transport to facilities at The Cove tower and sister property One&Only Beach Club.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Atlantis is the first name of vacation accommodations in the Nassau area, and the Royal Towers is centrally located.

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Grand Hyatt At Baha Mar
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The long-awaited unfolding of Cable Beach's renaissance Baha Mar started in April 2017 with the opening of this 1,800-unit property, which bookends the new casino with twin towers. The casino, the Caribbean's largest, is the centerpiece of the Grand Hyatt's lobby level. It promises to become the nucleus of Nassau nightlife as it evolves. Already, high-end restaurants and distinct, exciting bars and lounges surround the games, along with luxury duty-free stores. What's outside, however, rivals the excitement. Casual eateries weave into the pool scene. So far, six different water features range from a swim-up bar to a cliff-diving pool inspired by the Bahamas' blue holes. They almost steal the show from the powdery beach and its plethora of complimentary water sports. On the 18-hole golf course, staff can customize to change repeat players' experience. Retail shops include a groundbreaking in-residence Bahamian artist experience, while the spa is world-classy.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This is the first of three hotel options to come to the Baha Mar mega-resort on Cable Beach.

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Compass Point Beach Resort Nassau
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Like a popsicle factory explosion, the bright colors and Bahamian-shack-inspired cottages are a trademark for this exclusive resort away from the tourism scene of Nassau. Its 18 one- and two-story cottages come conveniently equipped with a refrigerator, coffeemaker, microwave, toaster oven, stereo, DVD player, iPod docking and sundecks overlooking the water –" which takes on nearly as as many shades, but more subtle. Built by reggae music mogul Chris Blackwell, Compass Point manages sophistication and barefoot abandon in one sweep of way-white sands at Love Beach. The resort's popular restaurant overlooks the pool and beach, plus meal delivery service is available to the rooms and the resort's spa.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Exclusive and removed, it nods to Bahamian architecture with simple style.

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One&Only Ocean Club Villa Residences
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Arguably the classiest resort in the Bahamas, the One&Only Ocean Club enjoys a gorgeous residential-style setting overlooking the beach and brimming with meticulously maintained gardens. Some of the villas and cottages are privately owned by celebrities from around the world. In addition to the larger separate residences, there are rooms and suites in the main building and newer Crescent Wing, all with a private balcony, hardwood floors, fresh flowers and elegant furnishings, plus satellite TV, DVD and CD players, mini-bar and other top-notch amenities. The units overlook the ocean or the resort's 18-hole golf course. The sprawling grounds encompass an adults-only pool, a family pool with a waterfall and toys, tennis courts, a full service spa and upscale dining options. The sheer number of services is astounding, plus guests enjoy full privileges at nearby sister resort, Atlantis.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This prestigious property has a world-class reputation and historic background.

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Graycliff Hotel And Restaurant
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Originally built in the 1700s, Graycliff became Nassau's first inn in 1844. Today the complex consists of three buildings: the original structure functions as a five-star restaurant and houses individually decorated guest rooms, an 18th-century plantation home holds the Graycliff Cigar Company and a small chocolate factory, and a recently constructed building contains a fitness center and spa. Across the street, a shop sells Graycliff products and other gifts and is the beginning of a planned artisans market. A handful of guest cottages scattered around the property also accommodate guests in the past tense. Interspersed among the lush, long-established gardens are three pools. Not as flashy as some of the other hotels in and around Nassau, it more than exceeds in the elegance, service and high-class departments.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Graycliff is the most highly respected boutique inn in Nassau.

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Meet Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton – the Local Expert for Naples, Florida and the Caribbean – has been covering the destination for 30 years. Her top-selling Sarasota, Sanibel Island, and...  More About Chelle