Five Best: Bermuda hotels

Rhiannon Batten enjoys some of the best beds in Bermuda - with glamour, gardens and golf thrown in


Ariel Sands, Devonshire

You can talk about the stunning private beach, or the understated Tommy Bahama furnishings that give the guest rooms their laid-back tropical atmosphere, but the real USP of Ariel Sands is the fact that it's owned by Michael Douglas's mother, Diana Webster. Though Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones own a house on Bermuda, they're apparently regular guests at the hotel, too. It's understandable, given the facilities. This collection of coral-coloured cottages on Bermuda's South Shore has been run by the Dill family (Diana Webster was born a Dill) since 1954, though the site has been owned by them since as far back as the 1840s. There's nothing old-fashioned about the amenities today, though. If the lure of lolling on the beach starts to fade, there are also two natural saltwater pools, a heated freshwater pool, tennis courts, a spa, two bars and an award-winning restaurant.

Ariel Sands, 34 South Road, Devonshire (00 1 441 236 1010; www.arielsands.com). Doubles start from $250 (£145), including breakfast.

Waterloo House, Hamilton

The fact that Waterloo House isn't on the beach isn't a problem for the hotel's raft of regular guests. It's set, instead, right next to the harbour in Hamilton, the Bermudian capital, and what draws people in here is the sense of history. A traditional manor house dating back to 1815, it boasts some very atmospheric architecture and four acres of gardens. The hotel's proximity to Bermuda's financial centre means that it gets its share of business travellers, but this is no bland, corporate monster. While Waterloo House now features in-room internet access, cable TV and a whole host of other modern technology, its 20 rooms also offer characterful colonial-style furniture and some reassuringly chintzy furnishings. Think slightly faded country house hotel and you won't be far off. Even if you're not staying here, it's worth splashing out on dinner at the hotel's restaurant, which has tables set romantically close to the water's edge.

Waterloo House, 100 Pitts Bay Road, Hamilton, Bermuda (00 1 441 295 4480; www.waterloohouse.com). Doubles start from $285 (£165), including continental breakfast and afternoon tea.

Horizons and Cottages, Paget

Part of the Relais and Chateaux group, this family-owned hotel and cottage complex is set on what remains of an 18th century plantation, among 25 acres of leafy, tropical gardens. The main house has just nine rooms but there are also 39 luxurious suites and cottages scattered throughout the property. This is Bermuda's take on the quintessential American resort, with golf, tennis, a freshwater swimming pool and water sports on tap. But there's no forgetting you're in Bermuda, with rum cocktails on offer in the bar.

Horizons and Cottages, 33 South Shore Road, Paget, Bermuda (00 1 441 236 0048; www.horizonscottages.com). Double rooms start from $330 (£190), including breakfast and afternoon tea.

Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Hamilton

"The Pink Palace", a giant hulk of a building, is older than it first appears. It was opened in 1885 and was named in honour of Princess Louise, who had visited Bermuda a couple of years earlier. Built at the behest of Harley Trott, a local steamship agent who wanted to attract wealthy Americans to Bermuda, it featured 70 up-to-the-minute rooms, each equipped with such luxuries as gas lights and hot and cold running water. Regulars since then have included authors Mark Twain and Ian Fleming (fittingly for the latter, during the second world war the hotel became a British intelligence centre). More recently, the oldest hotel in the Fairmont group has seen major redevelopment and expansion. It now offers 410 luxurious rooms, many with private balconies overlooking the harbour. There is also a new "Gold" floor for executive guests, with private check-in.

Fairmont Hamilton Princess, 76 Pittsbay Road, Hamilton, Bermuda (00 1 441 295 3000; www.fairmont.com). Doubles start from $426 (£246), including breakfast.

Elbow Beach, Paget

Elbow Beach is currently going through a large-scale renovation to bring all rooms up to five-star standards. However, the work is set to be completed by the end of June and you can expect good prices until then. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The 235 rooms, suites and cottages look out over a stunning private beach of pink sand and are set among 50 well-tended acres of garden. There's an on-site dive shop, five tennis courts, a climate-controlled swimming pool and a fully equipped fitness centre, as well as access to kayaking, snorkelling and a putting green, a children's club and a lavish spa. More indulgence is on offer at the hotel's five restaurants, bar and nightclub.

Elbow Beach, 60 South Shore Road, Paget, Bermuda (00 1 441 236 3535; www.mandarinoriental.com). Double rooms currently start at $249 (£144) without breakfast.

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