There are many places to eat on Paradise Island or on the main island of Nassau in the Bahamas, but none come with quite the storied history, let alone wine cellar of the Graycliff Mansion. So we couldn’t resist when one of the members of our party had the bright idea of dinning in the wine cellar at the Graycliff Mansion as part of a trip to the One & Only Ocean Club Resort & Spa on Paradise Island and Atlantis. After all, he was paying…
Ocean Club Library
The night started out with the usual drinks in the Library of the Ocean Club. This is where they filmed the casino scene from Casino Royal. It’s not a casino but more of a place for cocktails or afternoon snacks. If you go, ask for Shameka and a Martini, shaken, not stirred.
Graycliff Mansion Nassau Bahamas Review
After everyone met in the Library of the Ocean Club, we hopped in the Escalade for the quick ride over the bridge and to the Greycliff Mansion.
The history of the Mansion is a fascinating story.
History has it that the Graycliff mansion was originally built in 1740 by Captain John Howard Graysmith, a famous pirate of the Caribbean who commanded the notorious schooner Graywolf and plundered treasure ships along the Spanish Main.
When Nicholas Trott became the Governor, during the second settlement of Nassau, in 1666, and joined by many Privateers and Pirates alike, he built the first Anglican Church in Nassau at Graycliff. It was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1703, segments of the ruins can still be seen and are incorporated in the Graycliff structure.
In 1776, when Nassau was captured by the American Navy, Graycliff became their headquarters and garrisons. Hence the bars on the windows of the world renowned wine cellar.
By 1844, Graycliff became Nassau’s first Inn ready to provide the traveler with genuine Caribbean hospitality; it was owned and operated by Mr. Nathaniel French.
Graycliff was later commandeered as an Officer’s mess for the West Indian Regiment during the American Civil War, it is important to note that during this time The Bahamas became headquarters for blockage runners selling southern cotton to British Mills in exchange for guns for the rebellious Confederacy. It is clear the West Indian Regiment secured the perfect recluse while America was involved in a hostile, bloody war. Closed to the public during this time, one can only imagine the fascinating war tales exchanged and countless barrels of rum consumed.
It was the age of Prohibition, where bathtub gin, Al Capone and the Charleston had their debut. During the roaring 1920s, Graycliff once again opened its doors to the public.
Royalty purchased Graycliff in 1966, in the personages of Lord and Lady Dudley, Third Earl of Staffordshire. During their ownership, Graycliff hosted such nobility as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII), Lord Beaverbrook, Lord Mountbatten and Sir Winston Churchill.
Graycliff is a landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The cellar is world renowned. You can take a tour or do as we did and simply make a reservation to eat down in the wine cellar.
Graycliff’s Wine Cellar is world renowned and the wine list has won the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1988. The wine cellar has an inventory of over 250,000 bottles from over 400 vintners in 15 countries.
The cellar is a wine connoisseur’s dream, the inventory ranges from such wines as an 1865 Château Lafite, to the oldest and one of the most expensive bottles in the world, a 1727 Rudesheimer Apostelwein from Bremen Ratskeller in the “Rheinghau” Region, priced at US$200,000, to today’s most popular vintages. Some of the rarest vintages are in Graycliff’s cellar.
When you arrive to the entrance of the hotel, you can have a drink in the entrance of the hotel and restaurant. But the wine cellar entrance is around to the side of the building.
The gentlemen gave us a tour of the wine storage highlighting some of the oldest vintages I’ve ever seen in person.
The walkways were tight, this place was stacked to the ceiling with wine. We were in the right place for this evening.
The dining room is towards the back of the cellar. A small dimly light room with a large table in the center.
Our friend took care of ordering the wine, but if I recall we started with Cabernet, moved onto Bordeaux and finished with some delicious Port. It was a long and enjoyable dining experience that was truly unique.
The next morning, it was back to reality, sort of, we enjoyed breakfast on the balcony back at the Ocean Club. But the night at the Graycliff Mansion in the wine cellar was truly a One & Only type of experience.