This Historic Bermuda Hotel Got a Makeover in Time for Its 100th Birthday in 2023

Cambridge Beaches has four private beaches and classic Bermudian cottages

Cambridge Beaches, Bermuda

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Driving across the fish hook-shaped island of Bermuda from East to West, you pass countless gorgeous beaches—John Smith's Bay, Elbow Beach, Warwick Long Bay, and the famous Horseshoe Bay until you reach the curve of the hook and the Western part of the island. Here, after passing a dozen hotels and resorts across the island, is the final one before the Royal Navy Dockyard and the end of the island: Cambridge Beaches near Somerset Village. It’s set on a 23-acre peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, giving it not one but four private beaches for guests.

Cambridge Beaches is not an island newcomer—it’s a historic landmark, originally opened as a hotel in 1923, and with some structures and architectural details on the property dating back to the 17th century, when this was one of the island’s original neighborhoods. Cambridge Beaches comprises freestanding cottages along the coast for maximum privacy and unparalleled ocean access. It has endured to be one of the last remaining classic cottage hotels in Bermuda. It is such a longstanding favorite destination for discerning travelers that a long list of names takes up several red boards in the main building (one of the oldest on the property), listing the dozens of guests who have returned 20, 50, 75, and even 100 times to stay at the hotel.

When I visited this summer with my mom, much of the hotel had been completely redesigned, just in time for its centennial next year. Cambridge Beaches came under new ownership during the pandemic—hospitality group Dovetail + Co, known for their Urban Cowboy Lodge in New York’s Catskill Mountains, and the Wayfinder hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, had taken over. The restyling was led by Phil Hospod of Dovetail + Co, interior designer Kellyann Hee (formerly of Soho House), and Paris-based Saint-Lazare, who worked with the existing architectural details to reimagine the 86 cottages that are spread among the hills and beaches of the storied property.

Cambridge Beaches cottage interior

Credit: Nhuri Bashir

Cambridge Beaches cottage interior

Credit: Nhuri Bashir

Our pink cottage (all the cottage exteriors are pink with white trim at Cambridge Beaches) was a prime example of the new whimsical and tropical style, which has a mix of Portuguese, Spanish and British aesthetics. Think dark wood colonial-style beds, modern rattan chairs, graphic-patterned textiles, and coral pink and green shutter doors with brass knobs embossed with palm leaves. And all the cottages have expansive porches and water views.

While staying inside our cottage all day was tempting, the sparkling aqua waters played their siren song. The water options at Cambridge Beaches seem endless. There’s a showstopping two-level pool with an infinity edge on the top level and two waterfall areas, surrounded by pastel pink and seafoam green lounge chairs and fringed umbrellas, with palm trees jutting up through the wooden deck. The new poolside café, aptly called Pastel, serves sushi, fish tacos, and burgers along with bright tropical drinks and has a stunning scalloped mirror framed with seashells above the bar that I couldn’t stop staring at.

Cambridge Beaches pool

Credit: Patrick Michael Chin

The pool faces beach number one, Morning Beach, a warm-watered cove at Mangrove Bay framed by lush plant-covered rocks on one end and boats bobbing in the marina in the distance. To the right is beach number two, Pegem Beach, with a dock and access to watercraft like kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis, snorkeling gear, and boat rentals. Just offshore are hundreds of shipwrecks to explore via snorkeling or diving.

Cambridge Beaches Turtle Cove

Credit: Patrick Michael Chin

The third beach, Turtle Cove, is the smallest and also the most private. It’s just around the bend of the peninsula from the first two beaches, but you have to climb down a set of rocky stairs to get to it—and there are only two lounge chairs and a slight stretch of sand. It’s also where the hotel puts on special private dinners and (very) small events. And yes, you can spot turtles there.

Breezes restaurant Bermuda

Credit: Patrick Michael Chin

The fourth beach, Long Bay Beach, is the largest, with a long line of loungers and umbrellas, and it’s fronted by the resort’s alfresco Breezes restaurant, known for its exquisite nightly sunsets, fresh-caught fish, and Wednesday night rum swizzle sunset parties. We dined on local King's Point grilled red snapper caught that morning served with cou cou (a cornmeal and okra dish originating from Barbados), and Bermudian bread and butter pudding with homemade Goslings’ Black Seal Rum ice cream.

Sunken Harbor Club Bermuda

Credit: Patrick Michael Chin

The hotel’s newest dining and drinking outlet is also the most exciting.

The Sunken Harbor Club is a stylish dockside tavern that is the second location of a bar that debuted last year in Brooklyn, inside the historic Gage & Tollner restaurant. The one in Brooklyn is modeled to look like the inside of a sunken ship, and now, the location at Cambridge Beaches is in many ways more at home than the original, embodying the theme effortlessly. Its wood-paneled walls are decorated with treasures found in surrounding shipwrecks by Bermudian diving legend Teddy Tucker, whose adjacent home is visible from the outside deck of the bar, as is the glittering Mangrove Bay.

The cocktail menu by award-winning mixologist St. John Frizell features island classics like a swizzle, Dark 'n Stormy, mai tai, and daiquiri, along with original creations that fall into one of three menu categories: In the Shallows, The Twilight Zone, and The Abyss. The food menu is by Chef Keith De Shields, who is Bermuda-raised and in charge of all the hotel’s food. It features authentic Bermudian roots cuisine like shark hash, callaloo pasta, plantain-stuffed wild boar, and poached Bermuda turbot with sauteed butter-spiced rum chanterelles.

Cambridge Beaches spa

Credit: Patrick Michael Chin

Aside from drinking, eating, swimming, and sunbathing, we also indulged in the spa and fitness center, which has glass-roofed indoor baths and whirlpools and is due for its refresh next year, played pickleball and croquet, went on a boat ride for an offshore snorkel (the hotel’s watercraft can also take guests to a nearby private island or on a deep sea fishing expedition), and explored a piece of the 18-mile rail trail that begins just off the property and goes all the way across the island.

On our final morning, though, we couldn’t resist returning to the beach one last time. We were rewarded with a gray heron teetering by the shoreline and two swooping black and white Bermuda longtails, their majestic tails swooshing behind them as if to wave farewell.