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Rock House 3.5

Harbour Island, Out Islands, Bahamas

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • In "downtown" Harbour Island, a two-minute walk to Government Dock 
  • Two-minute walk to Bay Street shops and restaurants
  • Tastefully themed rooms include names like Monkey, Citrus, and Palm
  • Many rooms feature an enclosed terrace or a private cabana
  • Suites with separate bedrooms and living rooms are available
  • Restaurant serving contemporary lunches and eclectic dinners
  • Spectacular sunset views throughout the hotel, especially the restaurant
  • Free continental breakfast of fruit, yogurt, Keurig coffee, and pastries
  • Free shuttle service to Pink Sands Beach
  • Plenty of indoor and outdoor common space for guests
  • Free welcome drink
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Some noise is heard in rooms from the street and dining areas
  • Beach isn't on-site -- requires a 10-minute walk or free shuttle
  • In-room waters are not free

Bottom Line

Perched on a hill looking out over the bay, the upper-middle-range Rock House is a 10-room boutique hotel on Harbour Island. The three-and-a-half-pearl hotel mixes sophistication with a laid-back vibe throughout -- expect to see vintage details, open French doors, a private heated pool, and plenty of breezy common spaces. Rooms are modern and sharp, with many featuring a terrace overlooking the bay or a private cabana. The on-site restaurant serves a free poolside continental breakfast to hotel guests, and opens up to the public for contemporary lunchtime grill fare and an eclectic dinner. While the Rock House has spectacular sunset views, the Pink Sands Beach is a 10-minute walk away. In the mood for more action? Nearby Valentine’s Resort and Marina has more activities for a slightly higher price.

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Scene

A laid-back intimate boutique hotel by day, with sophisticated nightlife

Originally built as a private home in the 1940s, the Rock House has gone through many transformations over the decades. In the early 2000s, the adjacent Catholic School House was combined with the original Main House structure, thus expanding the hotel and changing it into the intimate boutique hotel it is today. Situated on a hill overlooking the harbor, Rock House is set away from the hustle and bustle of Bay Street below. The high stone wall that surrounds the property provides a feeling of privacy and tranquility. Between the bright tile floors and the French doors -- which stay open throughout the day -- the Rock House has plenty of sophisticated yet unpretentious places for guests to socialize. 

The vibe during the day is quiet and laid back. It’s not uncommon to see the owner’s dogs hanging out with guests by the pool, or staff bringing guests to and from the beach by golf cart. The pool, cabanas, and front patio provide ample outdoor spaces for the 10 rooms' worth of guests to relax. With no kid-centric activities and only one option of a two-bedroom suite, it is unlikely to see many children at the hotel, and romantic couples making up most of the clientele. In fact, proposals and weddings are a common occurrence because of the intimate, romantic setting.

By night the Rock House develops a livelier social scene. As home to one of the more popular restaurants on the island, the restaurant is usually full, and reservations are recommended -- even for hotel guests. The pool patio is a little bit noisier due to the Al Fresco Martini Bar and adjacent Living Room where patrons sip pre-dinner cocktails while waiting to be seated. In the evenings during dinner service, hotel guests can expect to encounter more crowds and noise in this area. In line with the trendy sophistication of the dining areas, patrons are usually dressed in country club casual, with pressed khakis, summer dresses, and collared shirts. 

Location

Off Bay Street, a two-minute walk to the dock, a bit farther to beach

Rock House is situated on a hill by a quiet residential street, a two-minute walk from the ferries at Government Dock. The hotel's location on the west side of the island grants stunning sunset views and is a two-minute walk to Bay Street, the main hub of Harbour Island. There are plenty of restaurants and bars within easy walking distance. For anyone looking for local cuisine, the well-known Queen Conch is a five-minute walk from the hotel. A small strip of local Bahamian bars looking out over the water is a seven-minute walk from the Rock House. Most of the local Bahamian grocery stores, clothing stores, and convenience stores close early in the evening so guests should plan to shop during the day. Harbour Island has a vibrant nightlife, with Gusty’s nightclub a 15-minute walk from the hotel, where local DJs spin and guests gather to dance until the early hours of the morning.

While the hillside location precludes the Rock House from having beachfront access, Pink Sands Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas, is a 10-minute walk or a five-minute drive across Harbour Island. The hotel provides free golf cart shuttles to and from Pink Sands Beach as well. The hotel is easy to access from North Eleuthera Airport, with is a 10-minute drive from the dock for ferries to Harbour Island. Leaving Harbor Island is just as easy since the ferry runs early in the morning and taxis are readily available.

Rooms

Individually designed rooms with tasteful themes, many with terraces or private cabanas

There’s a lot to like about the individually themed rooms here. They manage to be sophisticated and fun at the same time, with muted color schemes and accents popping with playful designs and colors. Each of the 10 rooms are done with a different theme in mind -- like Parrot Room, Monkey Room, Citrus Room, Asian Suite -- with the artwork and decor reflecting each theme. Guests can expect throw pillows with monkeys in the Monkey Room, pictures of parrots above the bed in the Parrot Room, and a model boat on display in the Nautilus Room. The rooms have beige walls with white trim, while the rest of the colors vary, including red-oranges, olive greens, golden yellows, and royal blues. 

The rooms are modern and sharp, with dark-wood side tables, dressers, and wardrobes. The king-size beds have pillow-top mattresses, upholstered headboards, and elegant leather bedroom benches. All rooms include powerful air-conditioning, minibars, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs. It's worth noting that the water next to the bed is not free.

Suites are located in the annex building and have separate bedrooms and living rooms. They also come with private reed cabanas with thatched roofs or private terraces. The cabanas are outfitted with bright red, yellow, and blue lounge chairs and a privacy curtain. Some of the rooms in the Main House have enclosed terraces with stunning views of the bay, or step out onto the pool deck. The Monkey Room is the only room that doesn’t have any outdoor space. Keep in mind that rooms in the Main House will likely hear noise from the restaurant in the evening, while the suites in the annex offer more privacy and quiet. 

The bathrooms vary in size, but all are well-appointed and modern. They're done in attractive tan marble, and have glass showers, a generous amount of counter space, Aveda bath products, and bathrobes. The Asian Suite is a nice splurge, with a whirlpool bathtub, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a separate living room. 

Features

A private heated pool, beach shuttle, and an abundance of common areas

As an intimate boutique property, the Rock House has a pared-down list of amenities in comparison to the nearby mega-resorts, like Valentine’s Resort and Marina. However, a private heated pool, lots of common areas, and modern fitness center add to the appeal of this boutique hotel.

Adjacent to the restaurant is the small heated pool, which sits as the center of the Rock House. With plenty of seating in cabanas and lounge chairs, there's enough space for everyone to swim, socialize, or sunbathe. The pool area is trendy and fashionable, with rich blues and vibrant yellows in the furnishings on a limestone deck. In addition to the pool patio, there are plenty of other common areas for guests to socialize or relax. The front stone patio offers wicker furniture bedecked in bright blue cushions and umbrellas to shade from the heat of the Bahamian sun. The Living Room, farther back in the main house, has beach-themed couches and armchairs surrounding a coffee table holding books and vases of seashells. Adding to the more personal touch of a smaller hotel, both the pool patio and the Living Room side tables are filled with pictures, some of famous actors who include Colin Farrell and Katherine Heigl. 

Rock House is a free five-minute golf cart ride from the beach, and has a private area set up with chairs and umbrellas. Guests are offered a beach bag with free bottles of water and beach towels. Wellness amenities are limited -- there's no spa or sauna -- but there is a small fitness center with modern cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights. It's in an attic away from the main area -- which is either quaint or cramped depending on the guest -- and lacks much natural light. Hours are limited.

A small business center with two computers and a printer is at the entrance of the hotel and is open most days with a key from the front desk. There is also an array of DVDs and books. A small gift area featuring shirts and hats with the Rock House logo is also by the front desk. Concierge services are located at the front desk, and dinner reservations, golf cart rentals, and activities can be scheduled and planned through them. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. 

Food

Sophisticated restaurant that stays lively into the night

The hotel's restaurant -- simply named Rock House Restaurant -- serves lunch and dinner a la carte. It's available poolside and on open-air terraces with sweeping views of the ocean, which are especially lovely at sunset. The terraces are romantic, with candlelit tables, spectacular sunset views, and quiet music playing in the background. Breakfast is also served at the restaurant, but is only for hotel guests. There's a choice of a free continental breakfast -- fruit, yogurt, cereal, pastries, and Keurig coffee -- or an a la carte menu on request. In general, Rock House serves eclectic fare ranging from fresh seafood to Italian classics of linguine with pesto, and even includes dishes with Bahamian flair, like lamb chops with pineapple, mango, and banana fruit curry. The hotel has an extensive wine list for any wine enthusiasts, while the Al Fresco Martini Bar by the pool offers guests signature cocktails, martinis, and Bahamian classics, like the Goombay Smash. All in all, the vibe is lively, but refined, and dining is excellent. 

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Address

Corner of Hill and Bay Street, EL-27234, Caribbean

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