Graycliff Hotel, Restaurant & Cigar Company
On our most recent visit to Nassau we made a point of visiting the Graycliff Hotel, Restaurant & Cigar Company. Though not a normal tourist destination, the Graycliff may appeal to certain people for several reasons. Not only does the Graycliff have quite a colorful and historic past, it is an exclusive hotel which produces fine cigars on site, has a renowned extensive wine cellar, and has the only 5-star restaurant in the Caribbean. It embodies the quintessential ambiance of Caribbean charm with British Colonial style. It was our son's interest in the Graycliff Cigars which prompted our visit to Graycliff initially, but thankfully introduced us to its history and many charms.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Graycliff mansion (now hotel) was built in the 1700's by John Howard Graysmith, famous Caribbean pirate and Captain of the famous pirate ship, "Graywolf." While home to pirates, Graycliff was also the site of the first Anglican Church in Nassau, was once owned by a paramour of Al Capone's, was owned for a time by British Royalty and hosted celebrated personalities as Sir Winston Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Graycliff became Nassau's first inn in 1844 and for a majority of the time has served a a splendid place of retreat for well-heeled travelers such as it is today. (Call only for prices!)
The mansion-style hotel still possesses and displays many of the beautiful furnishings and antiques (fine carpets and chandeliers too) from previous owners, and each space seems to dazzle the eyes with its splendid architectural finery. A beautiful, stately Christmas tree with twinkling lights was displayed in the center hall when we visited. The estate is enclosed by marvelous, lush gardens with statuary and serene, private pools. We came upon one guest painting a water color picture just near one particularly lovely spot close to a colored-tile pool in a hidden garden.
Although I believe the hotel does not conduct tours of its grounds, day guests can enjoy an exquisite meal, visit the wine cellars (over 250,000 bottles), watch as Graycliff cigars are being hand-rolled and enjoy other sofisticated delights the hotel has to offer. For a special experience, reserve space at one of Graycliff's "Wine Luncheons" where "Guests are welcomed with a glass of champagne and led by Graycliff's Master Sommeliers for a tasting and a tour of the hotel and restaurant's acclaimed wine collection. This is followed by a delightful gourmet repast, featuring 3 courses, each carefully paired with the appropriate wines." Reservations are absolutely necessary and you must call for dates and prices!
One photo I missed getting was one the dining rooms which had been all ready set and decorated for New Year's Eve Dinner and Party later that evening. The elegant green walls made splendid backdrop for the rich, dark wood of the beautiful furnishings. White china and silver place settings surrounded centers pieces of white flowers, and elegant white feathers---the room was elegant beyond imagination! I'm sure Junkanoo was also celebrated somewhere on the grounds too!
Cigar "factory" facts will be explored in a separate tip!