Quaint British charm meets Caribbean style on this idyllic island getaway

Elbow Bay Bermuda

First Impressions
Set in the North Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda is often mistaken for a Caribbean island thanks to its dusting of pink sand and turquoise sea. The island is still a British overseas territory, something that the locals have fully embraced with afternoon teas and British pubs aplenty. This picture-perfect island is decorated with pastel-painted houses, all with perfectly manicured lawns and, of course, an abundance of luxury hotels.


Even the golf courses come with a glorious sea view (though we recommend you leave your man to the driving range while you hit the beach). Sun worshippers will be spoilt for choice with beaches – hit Horseshoe Bay for pure untouched beauty; while city-slickers will feel at home mixing with the businessmen (clad in the famous uniform of suit jacket and Bermuda shorts of course!) in modern Hamilton.

Room for Romance
We stayed at Elbow Beach, a Mandarin Oriental resort that’s set right on the beach. The laid-back classic décor has just the right balance of luxury with a home-from-home feel. For relaxation with serious luxe appeal, Elbow Beach is the ultimate couples’ retreat. The Birds of Paradise honeymoon suite feels like a secret love nest with a secluded terrace and your very own private steps down to the beach. After a wander around the resort’s 50 acres of landscaped tropical grounds, I spent my first evening fighting off the jet lag with a long soak in the freestanding bathtub watching Pretty Woman on the flat screen – sheer bliss. It’s small details like this that will make a stay at Elbow Beach feel honeymoon-wonderful.

All guests are offered a free welcome cocktail made from the island’s famous Gosling rum on their first night. We recommend the signature ‘dark and stormy’ – a heady mix of dark rum and ginger beer with a dash of fresh lime. After heading down to breakfast the next morning, I returned to my room to find a bottle of champagne on ice with chocolate covered strawberries, a treat that continued for the rest of my stay with a different dessert each day. The hotel also hosts weddings and is perfect for a beachfront ceremony, after which newlyweds can enjoy a complimentary night’s stay to kick off their honeymoon. Many wedding parties even choose to hire out the whole resort for their guests to stay.

Gastronomic delights
You’ll be spoilt for choice with a host of restaurants on the island serving world cuisine but it’s the freshly caught seafood that really takes centre stage. One of our favourite restaurants was the waterside Harbourfront. Sit on the terrace for a relaxed lunch or inside for a romantic dinner of freshest seafood and specialty sushi. You can’t beat the local catch of the day (the Rockfish was delish) that’s served at its best with nothing more than a simple lemon butter sauce. Wahoo’s Bistro and Patio Restaurant in St. George’s town is also worth a mention with the best fish chowder we’ve ever tasted, a spicy local dish that makes the perfect appetizer, and freshly caught lobster that turned a lunchtime salad into a decadent treat.

Pamper time
The spa at Elbow Beach is something special. With six private spa suites, including two couples suites, you’ll be able to relax in complete privacy. The main treatment room has a huge granite soaking tub, an array of lust-worthy ESPA products and beds overlooking the endless sea. The therapist also suggested I have my treatment out on the balcony; perfect to fully embrace the at-one-with-nature vibe.

I tried a ‘time rituals’ where you pay for an amount of time rather than a specific treatment. As the ever-friendly therapist began with a foot-cleansing ritual, she talked me through the options to help me decide the best personalised treatments for me. One seriously long full-body massage and a facial later, my shoulders were knot-free and my skin felt pleasingly radiant.

For a truly unforgettable experience head to Dolphin Quest where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel as they swim beneath you and maybe even get a dance with one of them if they’re feeling friendly! It’s easy to see why the trainers adore their jobs and after an hour of feeding, playing and bonding with the dolphins, I found it hard to say goodbye.

We loved
Spending an afternoon horse riding along the bay before snuggling up to watch the sunset from one of the romantic beach coves.

We didn’t love
Having to choose what to have for our final breakfast. Eggs Benedict served with sautéed potatoes were a strong favourite throughout our stay, but the indulgent buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries proved too hard to resist. Served up with a panoramic view of the beach from the Sea Breeze Terrace (one of the resort’s four dining areas), it really was the perfect start to a perfect day.

Go there
From about $355 USD plus taxes and gratuities for a Premier Garden View Room (mandarinoriental.com/bermuda). BA (ba.com) flies direct to Bermuda from the UK

By Claire Smith


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