Nassau, The Bahamas' most populous city, offers up the perfect combination of laid-back island vibes and urban energy. It's also home to the widest variety of lodging in the country. Here, you'll find everything from sweet one-bedroom rental homes to sprawling, thousand-room resorts that contain multiple hotels in and of themselves. Of those resorts, we chose a few that would suit any budget, whether you're out for a quick, affordable weekend away, a lavish honeymoon under the sun, or anything in between.
Save: The Beach at Atlantis Paradise Island
At Atlantis Paradise Island, you'll find enough variety amongst its six discrete hotels to suit any budget, but we especially love the cheerful, affordable beach towers. The Beach is the most budget-conscious way to access everything Atlantis has to offer — including its famous water slides and swimming pools. You'll find every kind of water feature, including high-speed slides, lazy rivers, wave rides, and a slide that takes you through a clear tube where you'll be surrounded by sharks. We especially love The Current, a river ride that incorporates waves and rapids and offers a middle ground between the high-octane slides and the low-impact lazy river. Much of the value in an Atlantis stay can be found in these key amenities, especially considering that water park tickets alone in other destinations can cost up to $65 per person, per day.
If you can tear yourself (or your kids) away from the water park, Atlantis's beaches are a must-see. Thanks to the resort's man-made entertainments, its long stretches of sand — which are picture-perfect and excellent for swimming — often feel like an uncrowded secret. You'll pay as little as $140 per night in low season for rooms at The Beach, and in high season, rooms often cost less than $230 per night. Low season at Atlantis often means any time kids are in school; the resort's family-friendly atmosphere makes it a hot destination during school vacation periods. Look for the lowest rates in the holiday-free days of September and October for deals.
The Beach is a limited-service hotel that doesn't include room service, so you'll need to head to the resort's many restaurants and bars for meals, or go off property. Our budget-friendly resort favorites include Mackenzie's, a longstanding island favorite for conch salad, which has a new location at Atlantis. We're also big fans of Sun & Ice, an ice cream parlor located at the neighboring Coral resort, which utilizes local flavors like sugar banana, soursop, and sea grape in its ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. The Beach, as with all hotels at Atlantis, charges a $49.95 per day resort fee, and all food and beverages available on site cost extra, so be sure to factor this into your budget when you book.
Spring: The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
The Baha Mar resort on Nassau's Cable Beach is comprised of three hotels — a Rosewood, an SLS, and a Grand Hyatt. As with Atlantis Paradise Island, you can enjoy your time here at any price point, but for a good midrange option that suits many different types of travelers, we like The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. During slower periods, August to October, you'll find rooms south of $200 per night. You can expect rates to go up to $250 during busy times, with an occasional spike well above that during holidays, conventions, and special events. All of the rooms and facilities here are brand new, so every space and surface is in impeccable shape, and the rooms in particular feel like they belong at a significantly more expensive resort.
Our favorite spots at the resort to eat, drink, and socialize include Conch Shack, which makes Bahamian-style bites to order; 3 Tides, which serves lighter fare including salads and flatbreads; and T-Squared, an open-air cigar and cocktail bar that overlooks the resort's pools and fountains. We think you'll also like Royal Blue, a pub-style restaurant located in the resort's golf club, even if you don't play. Order burgers and lobster tacos, or simply sit on one of the club's comfortable loungers or rocking chairs with a cocktail and enjoy the views across the green. The use of equipment for most non-motorized water sports — kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, etc. — is complimentary, so suit up and explore. The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar charges a resort fee of $32.25 per night. Food and beverages are not included.
Splurge: The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort
A classic among luxury Caribbean resorts, The Ocean Club recently became a Four Seasons after years under the One & Only flag. This is the place to book in Nassau if you're in search of the ultimate special occasion stay, whether it's for a honeymoon, an anniversary, or just a few days of James Bond-style glamour. (The movie Casino Royale was filmed here.) The resort has a pervasive sense of privacy and quiet, with tiered gardens, Renaissance sculpture, and many an alcove where you can hide away for the day. You can expect rooms here to start around $800 per night, but it is possible to pay less, if you know where to look. You'll save 10 percent by booking at least 30 days in advance, and the resort sometimes runs a fourth-night-free offer that brings the rate down to about $600 per night. Be sure to check the resort's offers page to see what's available.
The top dining choice at The Ocean Club is notable in its own right and attracts a clientele well beyond the boundaries of the resort. Dune, developed by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is known for its dramatic ocean views and its menu of French-Asian dishes like red snapper with bok choy, peking duck with shallot confit and asparagus, and chicken samosas with a cilantro yogurt sauce. Appetizers cost about $20, while entrees can go up to about $50. We recommend a stop at the adjoining bar for a cocktail, particularly under clear skies so you can enjoy the sunset and evening views. If you get a chance to try John Watling's rum at Dune, we recommend a stop at the distillery in downtown Nassau. You can buy bottles to ship home, explore the grounds, and take a complimentary tour.