Just two hours by plane from New York, some 700 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean awaits paradise, in the form of a series of islands created from an undersea volcano. Today, Bermuda is an internationally renowned destination, a British commonwealth, so expect things like formality, driving on the left, and an overall level of courtesy that is all but lost in many island destinations.
Getting there: daily flights from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, and London.
Once there: visitors are unable to rent a car, which is fine by me! I’d prefer to walk, ride a bike, take a boat or taxi, or perhaps rent a scooter (they are available all over the island and at hotels). Just a word of caution: roads are curvy, hilly, and narrow. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with the thought of a scooter at home, don’t do it here. Especially if you are going to enjoy a drink (or two)–the local favorite is the Rum Swizzle, a form of rum punch, and Gosling’s, Bermuda’s national rum is everywhere!
When to go: High season in Bermuda is April through October, essentially mimicking and extending the summer tourist season in America. Temperatures in summer are generally in the 80’s, moderated by the Ocean breeze. Winter months are the low season, with more rain and temperatures generally in the 60’s. The only caution is Bermuda is a target for hurricanes, though most tend to diminish somewhat before passing near or over the island. Hurricane season peaks in September, and I had to cancel a trip once after a hurricane struck in mid-October. My most recent visit was in early November. Out of 4 days, 3 were nice with partly cloudy skies, and gentle breezes, with calm surf conditions, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, golf, and walking around. One of the days was pretty much a soaker, raining heavily from about 1pm until 6pm with several inches of rain–not a good day to be out doing much. Most locals say that April through July is perfection!
Where to stay:
Above photo by The Fairmont Southampton
- The Fairmont Southampton, on the western part of the island boasts a private beach club, an array of dining from casual to fine dining (the Waterlot Inn, dating back to the 1600’s is known for the best steak on the island, flown in from the US, combined with exceptional service) to casual. The hilly par 3 golf course, adorned with lush, tropical landscaping and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is considered one of the best in the world! The Fairmont offers guests its own ferry service into the main town of Hamilton complimentary (which is otherwise about 7 miles or a $20+ cab ride).Above: the heated pool at the Fairmont SouthamptonAbove photo by The Hamilton Princess
- The Hamilton Princess (a Fairmont managed hotel) is a sophisticated, stylish contemporary hotel overlooking the harbor just steps from the shops and restaurants of Hamilton, the largest city on the island. Decorated with art ranging from Warhol to Matisse and others, the hotel offers guests curated tours of its collection! The Hamilton Princess is also a dining destination in itself! Foodies will want to check out Marcus’ the signature restaurant by internationally acclaimed Chef Marcus Samuelsson, the world-renowned chef behind New York’s acclaimed Red Rooster. This phenomenal new restaurant is changing the rules of Bermuda cuisine. Get ready for a one-of-a-kind fine dining experience. Marvel as your chef prepares a tantalizing menu of gourmet dishes. Taste exquisite new island flavors. Enjoy mouth-watering delights such as Oysters with Black Rum Mignonette, Salmon on the Grill, Jerk Pork Belly, Grilled Bermuda Onion, Fish Chowder Bites and even a Whole Fried Chicken for Two. This room features beautiful ocean views, a show-stopping central bar which serves tempting signature cocktails a dramatic open kitchen, and a world-class menu. The hotel also has a beach club in neighboring Southampton parish, and offers guests a complimentary shuttle to and fro for the approximately 20 minute ride to the relaxing oasis, complete with hammocks perched over the cove!
- Elbow Beach Resort is the ultimate in Old World Bermudian. With a stylish main building and white glove service and a number of comfortable buildings situated on the hilly property overlooking the azure Ocean and private beach club, surrounded by palm trees and flowering bushes, Elbow Beach is a fantastic way to experience Bermuda! A little over a mile from downtown Hamilton, Elbow Beach is the best of both worlds.Above photo by Elbow Beach Resort
- The Reefs is a luxurious, beachfront Old World Bermudian boutique resort overlooking a large sandy beach on the south shore. A favorite for World’s Cup contestants and spectators, and Anglophiles enchanted with the island’s beauty, history, and glamor, The Reefs is a secluded oasis, also convenient to the airport. All guest rooms face west, ensuring a magnificent sunset. Add in gourmet dining at several distinctive venues, including the renowned Ocean Echo, overlooking the Atlantic, and serving breakfast daily and a not-to-be-missed Sunday Brunch, and the new Aqua Terra, serving gourmet global and island cuisine.
Above Photo by The Reefs.
5. Rosewood Tucker’s Point Rosewood Bermuda sits on Bermuda’s largest private beach and caters to both golf lovers and vacationers. The Bermuda luxury hotel is decorated in classic British seaside style with tasteful furnishings, scenic views and professional services. Overlooking the sparkling blue waters of Castle Harbor, Rosewood Tucker’s Point offers guests the sophisticated elegance of a spa resort with the relaxing casual ambiance of the islands. Enjoy an array of exciting dining options, including The Point Restaurant & Terrace which brings together international cuisine and fresh local ingredients for a fine dining experience like no other. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant also displays Pan Am’s one-of-a-kind Sky Club murals, depicting the world’s major ports of the 1880’s in the unique style of Eurasian artist Gerard Henderson. Sul Verde, Italian for “on the green,” offers stunning views of the Tucker’s Point Golf Course to accompany a selection of authentic dishes from Italy. Striving to deliver the most authentic taste, chefs seek out ingredients from each Italian region and combine them with fresh local products from Bermuda. Our Italian Chefs have developed the perfect pizza dough following the recipe from the Neapolitan tradition of “verace” pizzas thin and crispy in the center with a puffed crusty “cornicione” on the outside. The Grille Room is situated next to Sul Verde and offers a cozy pub-style alternative to fine dining. The Grille Room is an ideal location for a quick meal after a round of golf, or for enjoying a cocktail and light bite by the fireplace.
Cheese aficionados will enjoy the house made mozzarella and creamy burrata served alongside classic antipasti and house-infused grappas.
The island’s British and African heritage give it a personality unlike anything else in the world. As Britain’s oldest colony, the British influence continues to dominate government, educational and legal institutions. One may spot a Bermudian judge walking through the capital of Hamilton in a powdered wig, see a bobby directing traffic or overhear a passionate conversation about a local cricket match. African influences, while subtler, can be found in dance and music, especially reggae, calypso and the rhythm of the Gombeys – magnificent dancing and drumming troupes that often take to the streets.
Above content and photos by Rosewood Tucker’s Point.
Where to eat/drink outside the hotels:
Bermuda Fish Chowder by The Hog Penny Pub
The Hog Penny Pub features great cuts of beef, genuine Indian curries and hearty pub style comfort food…the Hog Penny has and continues to be a favourite spot in Bermuda for generations of locals and visitors alike.
Enjoying lunch at The Hog Penny
Local fish with lemon beurre blanc and a nice salad.
Above photos by Little Venice
Little Venice–Bermuda’s first and most famous Italian restaurant, celebrating over forty years of fabulous service, fine food and meticulously prepared classic and contemporary regional Italian specialties, and Little Venice Wine Bar–Bermuda’s first and premier wine bar with a cornucopia of international fine wines and a specialized menu available in the evening.
Above images by The Lobster Pot
Expect a warm island welcome at The Lobster Pot, Bermuda’s finest seafood restaurant for more than 40 years. A favorite with locals and visitors, the Lobster Pot offers an outstanding variety of Bermuda seafood specialties and fresh fish delivered daily. Look for Pan-fried Bermuda rockfish, served with banana and almonds. Herb crusted, baked snapper and pan-seared tuna that melts in your mouth. Live Maine lobsters flown in fresh and fresh Bermuda lobsters and Bermuda guinea chicks delivered daily in season. Craving meat? The centre cut filet mignon or sirloin steak, succulent rack of lamb or tender chicken breast are favorites.
Photos by The Pickled Onion
The Pickled Onion, (sib of Hog Penny) opened in April of 1998 and was completely renovated again in 2007. Boasting a hip and cosmopolitan feel, the Pickled Onion has found great success in offering familiar foods with a unique twist to the millions of guests over two decades. It is a fun spot with second story terrace overlooking the harbour, All the above restaurants are in downtown Hamilton.
Fish Chowder and local beer by Dockyard Brewing Company.
Outside of Hamilton, check out:
The Swizzle Inn (two locations), in Bailey’s and on South Shore is an island favorite for casual cuisine and libations. The Swizzle Inn is Bermuda’s oldest and certainly most famous pub. Established in 1932 in a 17th century roadhouse, the “Swizzle” as locals call it, is home to Bermuda’s national drink the Rum Swizzle. This potent rum and fruit juice cocktail is legendary for making the locals “loco” and the tourists “tipsy”! Since 1962, the Swizzle Inn has been owned and operated by the Correia family. Johnny and Jackie were the husband and wife team for many years and then their son Jay took over in 1990.
Above photos by Fourways Restaurant & Inn
Fourways Restaurant & Inn is geared towards making your dining experience second to none. Bermuda’s most elegant gourmet restaurant is focused on the total satisfaction of our guests. Fourways offers you sophisticated seclusion in the comfort of the Cottage Colony and the creative cuisine of Executive Chef, Tommy Poh. A charming an intimate restaurant and cottage colony, located in Paget. Fourways Restaurant has remained unchanged at heart, despite its extensive renovations over the years. At Fourways you will discover an 18th century fireplace, cedar beams and original stone walls, which add to its Bermudian tradition. Sophisticated yet relaxed, Fourways’ patrons enjoy unerring hospitality, lavish meals and a Wine Spectator award-winning selection of reds and whites. The cottage colony is located adjacent to the restaurant and is surrounded by tranquil and lush gardens. The beautiful perfumed scents of the Bermuda roses, bougainvillea and oleander create the perfect relaxing getaway and picturesque grounds. With only eleven cottages, your peace and quiet is guaranteed. Fourways was built in 1727 of native coral stone and cedar. It was commissioned by John Harvey of Harvey’s Bristol Cream fame, who made it his home. It was aptly named Fourways because it spread modestly in all four directions and was enclosed within two and a half acres of walled gardens at Amen Corner, a vital crossroads in Bermuda for over 250 years. Fourways’ reputation for gracious hospitality was established from the very beginning. Guests attending Mr. Harvey’s elegant dinner parties enjoyed lavishly cooked meals, an excellent wine cellar and – because they were forced to travel many miles by horse & carriage – they were offered overnight lodging as well. For more than two centuries this lovely Georgian home was retained as the private residence of the Harvey family and several other owners, and remained a fixture on the Island’s social scene. Extensive renovations and additions were made, but the uniquely Bermudian character of the house was carefully preserved. After operating as one of the Island’s top guesthouses from 1945 to 1976, the property was sold to a group of local businessmen. Their vow to turn it into Bermuda’s top restaurant became reality when Fourways Inn opened to immediate local and international acclaim. It was praised by everyone from Gourmet Magazine to Vogue, not only as Bermuda’s best restaurant, but “one of the world’s finest.” In 1986, the opening of The Cottage Colony, complete with swimming pool and international quality facilities, meant that Fourways was once again a true inn. The story of Fourways continues to be one of commitment to quality, yet the tradition of gracious hospitality that was established in 1727 remains constant and legendary. Bermudians, vacationers and business travelers expect, and receive, the finest in service and cuisine. The cottages are nestled around a fresh water pool! Fourways is ideal for an intimate party, special event, or celebration.
Above photos by The Waterlot Inn/Fairmont
The Waterlot Inn (part of the Fairmont Southampton), is the island’s #1 steakhouse with spot on white glove service and an Old World, historic setting dating back to 1670! Defining Bermuda’s steakhouse experience for nearly 350 years, the historic Waterlot Inn remains Bermuda’s best. Nestled dockside on Jew’s Bay, the Waterlot Inn offers breathtaking sunsets and proudly boasts both AAA Four Diamond and Wine Spectator Awards. Serving the finest steaks and seafood, this classic dining room regularly introduces new inspired dishes that include time-honored signature specialties while incorporating bold, new flavors. Fresh ingredients, unique preparation and first-class service, surrounded by warm furnishings are the hallmarks of The Waterlot Inn. Mention the Waterlot Inn and the immediate response is a vision of exquisite gourmet food served in an old Bermuda home setting. Indeed, so widespread is the reputation of the Fairmont organization’s showcase Bermuda restaurant that it is listed in the obscure, but vigorous ‘Guide Select Gastronomique’, whose author, Peter Brown, met Waterlot founder Claudia Darrell on his first visit to the island in 1937. For three hundred years the Waterlot, located below the Fairmont Southampton on Middle Road at Jews Bay, was the ancestral home of the Darrell family. Built in 1670, its cellars were for years used by seafarers for storage of cargo from the vessels moored just offshore. The home was traditionally passed on to the eldest son of the Darrell family, but earlier this century Miss Claudia Darrell (1869-1949), a legendary Bermudian character, broke the all-male chain when she took possession of the family home. For years Claudia served as postmistress of Southampton East, using for her office the old carriage house. She inherited the job from her father, James Thomas Darrell who was a direct descendant of Bermuda’s first postmaster, James Perot, who issued the now famous and precious Perot stamps. Claudia eventually converted her home into an inn redolent of an old English tavern. “Come in and make yourself comfortable” was the cheery and sincere refrain given all visitors, among them Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Twain, James Thurber and Eugene O’Neill. Furthermore, a US President and First Lady, as well as Olympian Gold Medalists, Ryder Cup golf and America’s Cup sailing champions, alongside Oscar winning Hollywood actors and various other celebrities from the sports & entertainment world were spotted at the iconic restaurant. “She runs the establishment much in the manner of one of her seafaring ancestors running his ship, issuing orders in short clipped sentences uttered in a peculiar sort of undertone which brings instant action from her assistants”, wrote Edith Lightbourn in the March 1941 edition of The Bermudian. “As you might expect, the service at the Waterlot is speedy, civil and unobtrusive”. Those same qualities permeate the Waterlot Inn today, which is now owned by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, as part of the Fairmont Southampton.
Fourways, Little Venice, and The Waterlot Inn have been awarded the Platinum Palate Certificate of Excellence by Fred Bollaci Enterprises. All the other establishments have been awarded the Golden Palate Certificate of Excellence.
See you in Bermuda!