A Magical Rainforest Retreat: Geejam Hotel – Review
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A Magical Rainforest Retreat: Geejam Hotel – Review

This ultra-cool spot started out as a recording studio – now, it's the ultimate buzzy hangout

Geejam Hotel is hard to find but impossible to forget. Nestled within six acres of Portland, Jamaica’s lush rainforest and overlooking the Caribbean sea, it’s one of those ‘if you know, you know’ spots, says Eva Ramirez. Popular with tastemakers and insiders across the worlds of music, film, fashion and culture, you’d think a spot this popular might be a little pretentious, but the down-to-earth team and relaxed vibes ensure it’s anything but. 

Hotel Review: Geejam Hotel, Jamaica

Treehouse villa bedroom at GeeJam Hotel

STAY

Nestled amidst multiple layers of the forest canopy, Geejam camouflages with its natural surroundings. The hotel sits within a bird sanctuary and was clearly built with minimal disruption to its airborne neighbours. Stone pathways zig zag around the grounds connecting various areas, and walking around, it’s not long before you hear a shrill cry or rustle of leaves up ahead. Founded by label bosses Jon Baker and Steve Beaver, music runs deep within Geejam’s DNA. The hotel originally opened as a recording studio with a villa for artists and their entourages, and slowly expanded over the years. 2023 saw the launch of the newly renovated studio, and just as I was checking in, I’d heard that South African singer Tyla had been there shooting a music video the week prior. 

The 12 newly renovated Rumba Rooms are contemporary and bright with an unfussy, easy, breezy feel. They’re predominantly monochrome with pops of colour from fashion editorial and documentary-style photographs and music memorabilia that adorn the walls. The upper floor room I checked into was meticulously curated and had a king-size bed, rain shower, and freestanding bathtub. The balcony was the perfect spot to ease into each day, with a cup of Blue Mountain coffee and the birdsong up above. 

For extra seclusion, there are four treetop cabins to choose from, with wraparound verandas and private jacuzzis, perfect for unwinding amidst the tranquil sounds of birdsong – you’ll hear plenty of it here. Paying homage to the roots of the hotel, they bear names like Ska and Drum and Bass. There are also three mid-century villas, both on and off the property, that I was told are popular with larger groups. 

A day or so before I arrived at Geejam, I received a Whatsapp from the concierge team to confirm my arrival time. Throughout my stay, I could easily book a table for dinner, arrange a transfer, plan a day trip, or ask for any other request by simply Whatsapping.

DO

Infinity pool with red sun loungers and a view of the ocean.

The magic of Geejam extends right down to the hotel’s private beach, Geejam Bay. It’s a secluded little retreat for swimming, snorkelling, turtle-spotting, kayaking, and paddleboarding, all you have to do is ask resident lifeguard and beach keeper (best job ever!) Arthur to help you out with the equipment. There were only a handful of cabanas and loungers, so after a swim I clambered back up the stairs to the hotel (there are quite a few!) to spend the rest of the afternoon by Geejam’s gorgeous infinity pool. Here, I was kept well hydrated with Bushbar’s epic list of cocktails while reading my book.

For those eager to explore further, you’re ideally situated for many of the island’s natural wonders and there are so many located in Portland. For local beaches, there’s the idyllic Frenchman’s Cove that you can walk to in around 20 minutes. It’s an absolute dream, flanked on either side by verdant greenery, and with a little river, complete with tarzan-like swings. You have to pay a small entry fee but it’s well worth it. Slightly further afield there’s Winnifred Beach, which is more of a local’s spot. Various food and drink shacks snake along the length of the beach, selling ice cold Red Stripe, fresh coconut, and lots of other snacks. For lunch, I headed to Cynthia’s, recommended by Geejam. I had jerk chicken (of course) with all the accompaniments: breadfruit, festivals, rice and peas, plantain…it was incredible. I later learned that Cynthia’s is one of the most popular spots in the area, and that Anthony Bourdain was a fan when he visited Jamaica – makes sense. 

Taking a trek up to Nanny Falls is a must to experience the healing waters of this mystic waterfall. It’s located in the Moore Town, so I took a tour beforehand to learn about this historic Maroon settlement. The waterfall itself is named after the national heroine, Nanny of the Maroons. As ever, the team at Geejam were on hand to arrange the tour and my driver, even packing towels for me. 

Another amazing, nature-centred activity is a rafting trip on the Rio Grande, a river that runs through the eastern part of Jamaica in Portland. Once assigned a bamboo raft and captain, off you float on a peaceful, two-and-a-half-hour ride. We set off in the afternoon and admired the scenery, spotted birds and other wildlife, and went for a swim, before stopping off for an early dinner at Belinda’s Riverside Restaurant. It was a rustic spot with picnic tables, where we feasted on Belinda’s signature crayfish coconut rundown and goat curry, all cooked on an open flame. 

EAT

Outdoor bar with wooden beams and rainforest views.

There are plenty of local lunch spots not far from Geejam. I headed to Boston Beach aka the birthplace of jerk, and Soldier Camp, which is run by an ex-US Army vet. Seafood was the specialty here, cooked escovitch-style or in a curry. 

Back at the hotel, Geejam’s iconic indoor-outdoor drinking and dining spot Bushbar is always buzzing, with a carnival-worthy sound system and treetop DJ booth. One thing’s for sure, no matter what time of day it is, you’ll hear music coming from Bushbar. Contemporary jazz in the mornings while I fuelled up on homemade granola or ackee, and amapiano in the evenings as I sipped by rum and Ting, even when it was on the quieter side, there was always the friendly staff to chat to. It’s a social place and the heart of the hotel. Dinner here was just as good as the breakfast, with a menu that’s predominantly Jamaican but with some international influences and fresh seafood – the lobster pasta is a must.

THE FINAL WORD

Geejam has an irreplicable vibe that immediately encourages you to drop your shoulders and chill. Immersed in the hotel’s creative culture, you’re bound to feel inspired, so make sure you pack a notebook and pen!

BOOK IT

Rates start from $395 per night + 20% tax and service for a Rumba Room in low season, including breakfast. geejamhotel.com

Explore the Jamaica Tourist Board for information on activities and itinerary inspiration. visitjamaica.com

Eva Ramirez flew from London Gatwick to Havana with an estimated carbon footprint of 2,220kg of CO2e. ecollectivecarbon.com