The Royal Treatment: Making Over The Hamilton Princess
written by ERIN GREER | photography courtesy of HAMILTON PRINCESS AND BEACH CLUB
Queen Elizabeth II, from her lofty perch, scans the guests as they arrive. She has donned her finest – a diamond crown and the jubilee necklace – for the occasion. Only the best will do for this royal affair: the unveiling of a princess.
In 1883, Princess Louise, fourth daughter of England’s Queen Victoria, stepped foot on Bermuda and dubbed the island, “a place of eternal spring.” Named in her honor, the Hamilton Princess hotel opened Jan. 1, 1885, and “The Pink Palace,” as she is commonly known, has been reigning over Hamilton Harbor ever since.
A Modern Update with a Regal Touch
At the time of her opening, the Hamilton Princess was the crown jewel of Bermuda. Boasting four stories and 70 rooms, each equipped with gas lights, hot and cold running water and a 5-inch mirror for primping, The Princess was the height of Victorian luxury, drawing the patronage of Mark Twain and, later, Ian Fleming, among others.
But even crown jewels need a bit of polishing, and The Princess is no exception. This spring, under the watchful eye of Elizabeth (whose portrait series, Reigning Queens by Andy Warhol, watches guests from the hotel lobby), The Hamilton Princess revealed her $90-million makeover, which includes accommodations fit for a queen.
The extensive property renovation includes new furniture and fixtures in guest rooms and suites. New color schemes inspired by the island include cream hues complemented by energizing splashes of color, and works of art by Bermudian artists adorn the walls. Rich upholstery, dark woods and luxurious finishes complete the effect, and, as in Victorian times, the bathrooms are breathtaking (while I regret there are no longer gas lights, I am pleased to report hot and cold water are still standard!).
In addition to room renovations, guests will also have access to three prominent additions: two new restaurants and a beach club. The Pink Palace now offers her guests access to a private, offsite beach (her name is now The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club for precisely this reason), and coveted access to a celebrity chef. While one can always grab a quick brew or bite in the new lobby restaurant, Crown & Anchor, a special evening should be spent dining seaside at Marcus’, a new restaurant by chef Marcus Samuelsson of “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef,” “Urban Cuisine,” and “Chopped” fame. (Samuelsson also developed the menu for the beach bar at the beach club).
“This renovation project is the most exciting in the 130 year history of the hotel,” said Allan Federer, general manager of The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. “With the recent announcement of the 2017 America’s Cup coming to Bermuda, this is an exciting time for both the hotel and the destination.”
Pretty as a Picture
Ocean views, specialty dishes and sporting events may draw visitors to The Princess, but she also offers her guests royal access to some of the world’s priceless art.
The Struggle Series by Nelson Mandela is not to be missed. His pieces chronicle his life, imprisonment, and activism. Impressions of Africa, comprised of an imprint of Mandela’s hand surrounded by imprints of the hands of children infected with HIV, implores visitors to pause and reflect.
Contemporary works by Warhol (Reigning Queens, Mick Jagger, his Flowers series and others), Damien Hirst (Cineole), Takashi Murakami (An Homage to ikb and others), and Banksy (Balloon Girl and others) are juxtaposed against the historic architectural details to surprising effect – the visual marriage of old and new mirrors the transformation of The Princess herself.
Guided tours of The Princess’s many pieces, which are taken from the personal collections of Andrew and Alexander Green, are offered every Saturday. Tours include the contemporary works on display at the hotel’s neighbor, Waterloo House, as well as a walk through Queen Elizabeth Park, which features a number of sculptures from the collection of the Bermuda National Gallery.
The Pink Palace is centrally located in Hamilton, within a five-minute walk of retail and restaurants. Meet at “The Pole” – a flagpole at the center of town – to experience Carnival or Harbor Nights, or stay at The Princess to catch the breathtaking finale of the 2017 America’s Cup.
Whether you come in February to see the whales or in late July/early August for Somer’s Day/Cupmatch (the annual intra-island rugby tournament that bests even the fiercest SEC rivalry for fervor), you’re bound to have a blast – especially if you’re the guest of a princess.
FOR MORE INFORMATION