The Admiral’s Inn occupies a prime spot in the historic Nelson’s Dockyard.
It’s been often said of London’s Piccadilly Circus and Times Square in New York that if you stand there long enough you would eventually meet everyone you have ever known.
That apocryphal quote struck me as I sipped a rum punch at the Admiral’s Inn in Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda. With all the comings and goings, if we didn’t quite meet everyone we’d ever known, I’m convinced that we would at least run into all those whose paths we’ve crossed in our many years of travelling the Caribbean. Yes, the Inn is a hub of activity for both locals and travelers. So, for those of you who like their hotels lively, with an added dash of history and authenticity, the Admiral’s Inn is a fascinating place. It certainly checked three important boxes for me.
First, there is that sense of history. The main outpost of what is now called Nelson’s Dockyard, the inn was originally built in 1788. Lord Horatio Nelson, Britain’s greatest naval hero, was the most famous of its visitors and the inspiration for its modern name. Today, the brick pathways, pitch marks and preserved stone pillars serve as a testimony to the inn’s origins as a working naval base.
Second, is the location. English Harbour is a vibrant crossroad of shops, restaurants, watering holes, small hotels and marinas. The Admiral’s Inn is situated on a picturesque inlet of the harbour, with two attractive beaches a short car ride or boat trip away.
Third, is the experience provided by the inn itself. I had a niggling concern that I would have to trade character for comfort – but this was far from the case. We stayed in a Garden Room, a separate building just a two-minute stroll from the main inn. Surprisingly quiet, especially given the activity in the dockyard, the rooms are comfortable and functional, as well as charming.
The junior suites are located on the headland 100 yards across the water from the main hotel. Four suites are attached to a beautifully restored 18th-century gunpowder store and the others are in adjacent two-unit cottages with balconies overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard and/or the bay. Each suite has a four-poster bed, sitting area, desk, and private bathroom. Some rooms can interconnect for families and also have a pullout twin sofa.
As would be expected in a sailor’s paradise, the Admiral’s Inn serves up good grub and serious libations. The tree-shaded terrace is a delightful place to sit and dine, looking out over the water. Many customers come from the variety of impressive yachts, sloops and catamarans docked in the area.
Just across the inlet (accessible by complimentary boat shuttle), is the more upscale restaurant, Boom, with its delightful infinity edged pool overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard and the main building. Boom serves delicious lunches and cocktails from 11am to 6pm, and the pool is available to all guests of the inn.
The pillars from the old sail repair loft have been restored and give their name to the inn’s main restaurant.
A stay at the Admiral’s Inn can be lazy, active or a happy medium between the two. What makes it all work of course is the gracious and efficient staff who keep “admirably” on top of things while ensuring guests have a wonderful stay.
The upscale Boom restaurant and infinity pool, located across the inlet, are part of the hotel.