Timeless Coastal Charm: Jamaica Inn – Hotel Review

By Eva Ramirez

5 months ago

Laidback luxury in an idyllic beachfront location


Since the late 1950s, Jamaica Inn has been the go-to hideaway for laidback luxury and elegant beach vibes. In the final weeks of 2023, the year in which the hotel commemorated its 65th anniversary, Eva Ramirez and her husband visited to celebrate a milestone of their own their honeymoon.

Jamaica Inn Hotel Review

STAY

Jamaica Inn bedroom with four-poster bed and view of a private pool in front of the ocean.

Chances are, if you’ve taken any time to research Jamaica’s best hotels, be it online, by asking friends, or speaking to a travel expert, someone would have mentioned Jamaica Inn. Set along a pristine slip of golden beach on the island’s northeast coast, the hotel perfectly frames its surroundings, drawing you in so that you forget the outside world from the moment you arrive. 55 suites, cottages, and bungalows are spread across manicured gardens, hugging the shoreline with balconies and terraces all facing the sea. The grounds are eye-wateringly idyllic, pulsating with the vibrancy of majestic palms, colourful flowers, birds and butterflies.

Upon arriving we were greeted with a ‘welcome home’ by the hotel’s warm and friendly staff. Once we reached the two-bedroom cottage where we’d be staying, we immediately felt like this was a place we really could call home for the next few days. We’d arrived too late to fully appreciate the balcony view but as we awoke the next morning, we realised we also had our own access point straight down to the sea, as well as a saltwater plunge pool. Despite the opulent luxury, the real charm of Jamaica Inn lies in its cosy homeliness. The classic architecture of the resort and baby blue colourway have a certain softness, and the shared lounge area complete with a Christmas tree and board games make it feel as though you’re visiting family rather than checking in to a 5-star hotel.

SUSTAINABILITY

While Jamaica Inn honours its history and heritage, the hotel is equally focused on protecting the island for future generations. It received Green Globe certification in 2012 and is steadfast in its goal of being carbon neutral by 2025. What stood out during our stay was the opportunity to actively engage in conservation efforts. A relaxing pastime the hotel offers is a morning farm-to-skin foraging trip, where guests can source natural ingredients such as papaya, lemongrass, pineapple and coconut from around the hotel, and learn how to create natural products for personalised treatments at the Ocean Spa.

Then there’s the enchanting spectacle of Hawksbill turtle hatching right on the beach, which is a memorable experience for both children and adults. A five-year coral restoration program undertaken by the hotel has allowed fish to reach their full breeding potential and significantly enhanced the vitality of the marine ecosystems. They also prioritise renewable energy with solar panels, LED bulbs and a rainwater harvesting system, and I even learned of an on-site orchid greenhouse which was responsible for supplying the floral arrangements.

DO

Being set on one of the finest stretches of unspoilt sand in Jamaica means that naturally, plenty of the activities revolve around water. Don’t expect huge waves, though, this private and secluded enclave is more like a glorious, giant bathtub, making it safe for children and swimmers of all abilities. There’s a shack on the beach where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear as well as organise sunfish sailing and diving further afield.

One afternoon, we borrowed a pair of snorkels and some flippers to swim around the cove and spot some fish. On another, we just lazed beneath our little thatched parasol, reading and sipping Jamaica Inn’s famous and potent Planter’s Punch. We soon realised that it’s customary to be served a complimentary cocktail or smoothie every day as soon as 11:30am rolls around. There’s also a croquet lawn where you can play a round while enjoying a glass of rosé in the afternoons.

For some pampering, there’s The Ocean Spa, which is perched on the cliffside and features open-air treatment huts with sweeping views of the sea. Massages and facials use natural, local ingredients and there’s no cliché spa music, just the soothing sound of waves below. We also visited the spa in the mornings for outdoor yoga beneath the tree canopy.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Ocho Rios is known for its many natural attractions. The famous Dunn’s River Falls is only a ten minute drive away. It’s a cascading waterfall that you can climb while enjoying the refreshing freshwater pools along the way. There’s also Mystic Mountain, a bobsled ride through the lush rainforest that gives you a hit of adrenaline while taking in the incredible views.

For a spot of shopping, we visited Island Magnolia boutique at Harmony Hall, which is just a stroll away from the hotel. Owned by Jamaican sisters Suzanne and Michelle Rousseu, it’s housed in the pastel-coloured Harmony Hall, a building that dates back to the late nineteenth century and looks like a dolls house, complete with gingerbread trimmings and a balustrade. The store champions slow-fashion designers and independent craftspeople from around the Caribbean, with everything from handwoven sandals to leather accessories and ready-to-wear items.

EAT

Beach dining at Jamaica Inn at sunset, with white tables and palm trees.

Jamaica Inn exudes a vintage charm. Perhaps it’s the black and white photos of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller taken during their time here, the maraschino cherries in the Planter’s Punch, or the waiters donning tuxedos. Whatever it is, the air of old Hollywood subtly pervades the entire experience. Dining in particular, feels timelessly glamorous. There’s a formal dress code at dinner, which is served on the terrace and backdropped by the sounds of a live local band. The menu changes nightly but I’d recommend making sure you time your stay with the weekly lobster nights.

Breakfast is a la carte no buffet and served on the picture perfect terrace, which in the daytime is resplendent in pink cloth-covered tables. We loved the unfussiness of the menu, which eschews trendy offerings in favour of classic, simple dishes that are executed perfectly. We enjoyed tropical fruit salads, a daily changing Jamaican breakfast, pancakes, and endless refills of Blue Mountain coffee. Casual, toes-in-the-sand lunches are my favourite when on a beach holiday, so grabbing a bite beneath the almond tree at Teddy’s Beach Bar and Grill was the highlight of each day. They serve light bites and pizza, but by far the best dishes were the Jamaican classics, like Escovitch Snapper and Jerk Chicken, all washed down with an ice cold Red Stripe.

What struck me the most no matter the mealtime was the attention to detail and quality of ingredients, with dishes spotlighting seasonal fare and traditional dishes. The staff took great care to get to know us during our stay, so food, wine and cocktail recommendations were always spot on. On our final night, they’d arranged a candlelit dinner for us down on the beach. Our private waiter, George, served us a seafood feast and after dessert, presented us with a sky lantern, for us to make a wish for our married lives. He sweetly filmed us as we lit the lantern and watched it drift up into the night sky a unique moment we’ll remember forever.

THE FINAL WORD

Jamaica Inn’s location is perfectly poised for exploring the natural wonders of Ocho Rios, but to be honest, the hotel’s unequalled sense of comfort is so alluring you’d be forgiven for never venturing beyond its private golden sands.

BOOK IT:

Rates start from £439 per night per couple, including breakfast and taxes. jamaicainn.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


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