Where to stay in Jamaica
Jamaica is a showcase of beautiful beaches fringed by tropical landscapes of jungle-clad mountains, rivers and waterfalls. This is the land of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt and the world’s most famous spy, James Bond. Add in friendly locals and Caribbean sun that shines all year round, and you have the recipe for a perfect luxury holiday. Kick back and relax to the sultry rhythms of Jamaican life, chilling out to irresistible reggae beats and swaying in a hammock by the sea.
These are are just some of our favourite hotels in Jamaica. This sun-kissed island’s best hotels range from following in the footsteps of James Bond at author Ian Fleming’s former home to a stylish jetsetter’s perfect 21st-century retreat.
Talking of all things Bond, a hotel that is inextricably linked with the character and the novels that gave him life is GoldenEye. This is where Bond author Ian Fleming lived and where he wrote many of the novels that made his name.
No ordinary hotel, GoldenEye is formed of a cluster of private beach huts, cottages and villas lining the sands and the aquamarine lagoon and surrounded by tropical greenery, offering a rather idyllic home away from home. From designer interiors to secluded verandas and VIP touches – for instance, each lagoon cottage comes with its own kayak – these retreats are guaranteed to wow. However, if you do manage to drag yourself away, you can sip a GoldenEye cocktail perched above the lagoon and the beach, swim in the freshwater pool and enjoy the rich, tasty flavours of a Jamaican jerk barbecue by the beach, followed by rum at the Bamboo Bar.
Jamaica Inn is a boutique retreat by one of the best private beaches on the island, surrounded by the tropical landscapes of Ocho Rios. It has been a favourite with the rich and famous since it opened its doors in the 1950s, and combines old-world glamour with 21st-century style.
This hotel has been run by the same family for decades – and this family was friends with Fleming during his time in Jamaica. The hotel’s bar, Teddy’s Bar, a popular meeting spot, is mentioned in Fleming’s first Bond book, Dr No, as the place to be seen on the island. This bar is also said to be where he coined the famous ‘shaken, not stirred’ phrase that has become synonymous with Bond.
S Hotel Jamaica
The S Hotel Jamaica is an exciting newcomer on the island’s hotel scene, offering something a little fresh, bold and unapologetic. It has already created a buzz since it opened last year, not just in Jamaica but across the Caribbean and beyond. Set on the famous Montego Bay, where guests can relax on a private section of Doctor’s Cave Beach, this sleek retreat has already won numerous awards, and it’s not hard to see why. With an irresistible ‘Mykonos meets Miami’ vibe, it combines 21st-century style with characteristic Jamaican charm.
The rooms feature colourful art by local artists and local touches such as turntables spinning Bob Marley tracks, the restaurant serves up exotic fusion food and there’s a Sky Deck with a rooftop pool and bar – this is the place to be at sunset, cocktail in hand.
The hotel is on the Hip Strip, so right on the doorstep there are excellent restaurants to refuel in while discovering the art galleries, boutiques and reggae clubs.
Set in 26 acres of tropical gardens high in the Blue Mountains at an altitude of over 3,000 feet, Strawberry Hill offers guests the opportunity to discover another side of Jamaica, beyond the beach.
The white, wood-framed plantation-style cottages have plush four-poster beds and verandas looking out over the mountains and the lights of Kingston below. They are romantic, secluded and private, reached via footpaths winding through the greenery.
Take a dip in the striking infinity pool, which has some of the best views, feast on exotic Caribbean flavours and sip a cup of the famous Blue Mountain coffee on the Great Lawn. Spend afternoons on a scenic mountain trek or taking a trip to a beach on a tiny inhabited island. In the evening, retreat to the cosy wood-panelled bar, accompanied by a pianist at the vintage piano.
The Caves is certainly a hotel with a difference. Made up of a labyrinth of grottoes carved into and atop a volcanic cliffside, it has plenty of atmosphere and character and is rather unique and special. The cottages and suites are nestled in the lush gardens, with colourful interiors and soaring ceilings. Guests can wander down stone pathways through the gardens to the sea.
Head out on the water in one of the hotel’s kayaks or take a guided snorkelling tour through a mesmerising underwater world of hidden caves and grottoes.
Back at the hotel and the caves above ground, dining and drinking experiences here are pretty unbeatable: dine by candlelight in a cave strewn with bougainvillea petals or under the stars on the edge of the cliff, and drink rum in a bar set in a candlelit cave on the waterfront.
Thomas Ryves is Marketing Director at Exsus Travel. Exsus Travel specialises in creating the very best luxury tailor-made holidays, honeymoons and family adventures in over 80 destinations worldwide.