The true value of an independent hotel is the sense of place. While Jamaica has one of the region’s best collections of everything-included resorts, a great way to explore and experience Jamaica is by staying at independent Jamaica hotels, which are some of the most unique and charming in the Caribbean.
“Jamaica’s hotels product is unique in the Caribbean, with a remarkable surfeit of charming hotels, particularly smaller ones,” said CJ Editor in Chief Alexander Britell. “But they are all unmistakably Jamaican, and that is a wonderful thing.”
These are places that are woven into the fabric of Jamaica, whether they’re large hotels on the beach or intimate hideaways in the mountains. Jamaica is a special place; these hotels make it even more special. Here are the Best Jamaica Hotels.
Half Moon, A RockResort This is the most complete hotel in Jamaica. No other hotel in Jamaica offers the sheer breadth of high-level options, from one of the island’s most beautiful beaches to golf to a shopping village. The vast room stock set on a massive property has something for everyone, from villas to historic, charming cottages right on the beach. Half Moon isn’t just a hotel, it’s a destination, and one steeped in the best tradition of Jamaican hospitality. This is the best of all Jamaica hotels.
Round Hill Hotel & Villas Perhaps Jamaica’s toniest hotel, this hotel feels like it’s been plucked from the pages of a book. There is an easy elegance to this timeless resort just west of Montego Bay where a 36-room hotel (with interiors by designer and part-owner Ralph Lauren) and 27 plush villas preside over a bay and reef. This hotel will make you feel like you are somewhere just a bit outside of reality, and that’s why it’s right at the top of the list of the Best Hotels in Jamaica.
Jamaica Inn Sophisticated but not stuffy, this 48-suite Ocho Rios hotel, which counts Winston Churchill and Marilyn Monroe as former guests, first opened in 1950. It offers the winning combination of a relaxed country club vibe and Old-Caribbean sensibility with modern conveniences and superb service. At its essence, this is a classic beach hotel.
Strawberry Hill This former coffee plantation-turned 12-cottage hotel is set right in the heart of the Blue Mountains. With panoramic views over Kingston; a mountaintop pool; and exceptional cuisine, this Island Outpost gem offers a side of Jamaica too few experience.
Rockhouse This creative cliff’s-edge hangout in Negril draws a boho-chic crowd to its clutch of 34 charming thatch-roofed cottages and a pair of waterfront restaurants. Bonus: Room rates that are considerably cheaper than similar boutiques. The story here is the natural beauty of Negril’s cliffs, and an overarching authenticity.
Geejam This hideaway-cum-recording studio is just outside Port Antonio, Jamaica’s still untouched ecotourism corner, where three cabins, a suite and a handsome villa are secreted in the hillside. The slick studio where Gwen Stefani has recorded is on site, so, for an extra charge, you can lay down a track of your own. This isn’t like many of the Best Hotels in Jamaica — but that’s what makes it so extraordinary.
The Tryall Club This 2,200-acre oasis just west of Montego Bay is a magnet for families who appreciate the comfort and convenience of its 75 villas, each of which is staffed and comes with its own chef. And the 18-hole course on the grounds of the former sugar plantation is a golfer’s dream.
GoldenEye James Bond is the story here, as the property was originally James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s home in Jamaica (where he wrote the novels). But beyond Bond, this is one of Jamaica’s most luxurious small hotels, thanks to the vision of founder Chris Blackwell.
Hotel Mocking Bird Hill Intimate and eco-friendly, this 10-room Port Antonio jewel offers a warm welcome to travelers who want to get to know Jamaica beyond the well-trodden tourist path. Take day trip recommendations from the owners and you’re guaranteed an authentic island experience you won’t soon forget.
Trident Hotel In Port Antonio, this 13-villa boutique is a mid-century modern riff on a classic Caribbean-style hotel that trendsetters will love. The highlights: Mike’s Supper Club, where a scarlet grand piano has pride of place, and a sleek oceanview infinity pool.
Idle Awhile We’re big fans of this high-style, low-key inn in Negril that offers 16 casual-chic rooms in sun-washed hues and, at its al fresco restaurant, Chill Awhile, a front-row seat from which to observe the colorful comings and goings on the town’s bustling beach strip. Make sure you go for the property’s Beach section.
Tensing Pen Once you settle into one of the thatch-roofed stone cottages perched on the cliff’s edge at this Negril boutique you might not ever want to leave it. But do make the effort, if only to indulge in a muscle-melting rubdown in the ocean’s edge massage hut or to leap into the sea from the iconic wooden bridge that links both sides of the property. It’s one of the most stunning Jamaica hotels.
Jake’s A stay at the relaxed seaside resort that put the south coast town of Treasure Beach on the Jamaican tourist map includes comfy digs in a handful of funky Casablanca-meets-Caribbean cottages; indulgent treatments in a waterfront spa; and plenty of irie vibes. There’s also a high-end hostel called the Sprat Shack.
Spanish Court Hotel When in the capital, we bed down at this slick 108-room New Kingston hotel from which we can start our day with a hearty local breakfast; walk to most of our appointments; and return to a welcome gin and Ting poolside at the rooftop bar.
Courtyard Kingston The capital’s first new hotel in three decades opened in 2015, offering 129 rooms and amenities (a fitness center, pool, and meeting space among them) that make it a good choice for both business and leisure travelers.
Jackie’s on the Reef For complete relaxation and guaranteed rejuvenation, you can try a stay at Negril’s original wellness resort, a six-room cliffs’-edge oasis where services ranging from reflexology to reiki nurture the spirit, and the organic local fare nourishes the body.
The Cliff Chef Cindy Hutson’s restaurant, Zest, is just one reason to visit this West End, Negril boutique. More motivation: the KiYara Spa and 33 effortlessly elegant suites and villas from which you can take in the stunning sunsets that make Negril famous.
Sandy Haven Resort This stylish 35-suite boutique calls Negril home. But the real story is the ultra-stylish rooms and luxurious interiors, that some of the best of all Jamaica hotels. It doesn’t hurt that it’s right on the sand of Seven Mile Beach.
The Spa Retreat The spa is the thing at this Negril boutique hotel. It’s a Jamaica hotel built around spa and a spirit of wellness. To boot, there’s an ocean-view saltwater pool; farm-to-table cuisine; and 18 elegant suites. It’s just a cool place, period.
Country Country This hidden gem has 20 colorful cottages on Negril’s strip and check out all this hotel has to offer, including a waterfront al fresco restaurant; a friendly and welcoming atmosphere; and exceptional value for a beachfront hotel. When it comes to Jamaica hotels, this is one of the island’s best-kept secrets.