Honeymoon review: The Inn at English Harbour, Antigua
From the moment we land in Antigua, we’re immediately on island time. Besides being four hours behind everyone back home, it’s a slower, more relaxed way of life. Gone are the early-morning wake-up calls and the stress of everyday life, replaced instead with lazy late breakfasts and even lazier days spent on the beach, tanning up a storm. As I recline in my sun lounger underneath a perfect blue sky, I know that I could definitely get used to this chilled-out pace.
I could also definitely get used to the plush, luxurious surroundings of <a href="http://theinnantigua.com/en/" target="_blank" title="the inn" rel="nofollow">The Inn at English Harbour</a>. Colonial-style white clapboard buildings house spacious bedrooms with the comfiest beds and wraparound verandas, all just a hop, skip and a jump away from the beach and two seconds from Reef restaurant.
As well as delicious breakfasts at Reef – the crisp rashers mean that bacon lovers will be in heaven – and hearty, filling lunches, the restaurant also hosts a barbecue night every week with deliciously sticky ribs, grilled prawns and fried plantain, with a steel-drum band playing in the background. All of this is accompanied by the island’s signature drink, rum punch, which you will encounter at every opportunity.
Although it’s hard to tear ourselves away from the beach with its soft, white sands and piercing blue seas, we decide to take a trip out on the water with the hotel’s Captain Vere. It’s definitely worth it: the conditions are perfect for snorkelling, and the scenery is beautiful. We see the impressive rock formations known as the Pillars of Hercules, and also Nelson’s Dockyard.
Still a working dockyard, it’s home to Antigua Sailing Week as well as some beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings, including the picturesque Dockyard Museum in the old Naval Clerk’s house. Make sure you stop by the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel on Friday nights during the summer season as its famous seafood festival will be in full swing. Attended by hungry tourists and locals alike, coconut shrimp, conch fritters and seafood bake are all on the menu, as is that ubiquitous and hard-to-resist rum punch!
At sunset, Antigua becomes especially picture-perfect, which will seriously amp up the romance factor on any honeymoon. There are two ways to make things even more memorable. The first is to take to the seas again. We hop aboard the Mystic II Sunset Cruise from Dickenson Bay and are quickly plied with rum punch, cheesy tunes and canapés – the perfect combination for getting merry by nightfall.
The second also involves stunning views and even more rum punch (it really is everywhere!) but your feet remain firmly on dry land. While a restored military lookout and gun battery might not sound too romantic, Shirley Heights offers some of the best views of the island, including both English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. On Sunday nights, Shirley Heights hosts the famous Sunset Party, with delicious jerk chicken, live bands and, as always, rum punch.
Leaving Antigua is extremely difficult to do, with its gorgeous days, blissful beaches, perfect weather and beautiful scenery – not to mention the non-stop food and ever-flowing cocktails. We also feel like we hadn’t seen nearly enough of the island, which is famous for having 365 beaches (a stretch of heaven for every single day of the year). So I’ll unquestionably be back to scope out some more of the gorgeous swathes of sand. In the meantime, I’m going to try to make island time a thing over here… wish me luck!
Beach Cabanas are £500 per night at The Inn at English Harbour, and Junior Suites are £600, <a href="http://theinnantigua.com/en/" target="_blank" title="the inn" rel="nofollow">theinnantigua.com</a> Mystic II Sunset Cruise, US$85pp (approx. £60), <a href="http://tropicalad.com" target="_blank" title="tropicalad" rel="nofollow">tropicalad.com</a> Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, <a href="http://www.visitantiguabarbuda.com" target="_blank" title="antigua" rel="nofollow">visitantiguabarbuda.com</a>