Bob used to come here in the 1970s.
So did the Rolling Stones.
There’s music all over the place — The Harder They Come posters on the walls; the tributes to the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown.
And every room comes with an Aomais bluetooth speaker, begging you for some Peter Tosh or The Skatalites.
But the most wonderful thing about the Rockhouse is what you don’t hear.
Even in a setting just off the main drag in Negril, this legendary 40-room spot on the cliffs is a quiet, serene oasis, the rare place where you can walk along the water and still hear the sounds of your footsteps.
Here, the most important soundtrack comes from a medley of shaking palm trees, waves lightly thrusting against cliffs and the clack of porcelain plates.
But the sensory experience is not just aural.
It’s a lush, beautiful place, whether you’re in the bungalow-style villas at the water’s edge or in the hotel’s newest offering, the Ocean View Suites, 800-square-foot stunners with high ceilings that make you feel like you’re somehow floating above the cliffs.
And then there’s the taste — with food arguably as good as you’ll find on the entire island, whether you’re eating freshly-grilled sea bass at the Pool Bar, having a waterside breakfast at the Rockhouse Restaurant or savoring jerk snapper with a side of rum at the splendid Pushcart.
And then there’s the spa, a charming, rarefied wellness destination focused on massages and bathing rituals.
What’s impressive at Rockhouse is the resounding, uniform quality of the place — no matter what you choose, no matter the request — a poolside cocktail, ackee and saltfish for breakfast, you get something outstanding, something done well.
But what’s more impressive is the authenticity.
It’s truly, wonderfully, inescapably Jamaican — taking the culture and personality of Jamaica and somehow managing to shape it into a hotel.
And that’s because the Rockhouse has always viewed itself as an integral part of Jamaica and Negril; indeed, its Rockhouse Foundation has over two decades spent more than $6 million building and renovating schools and libraries in Negril, a mission that’s expanded to distribute more than 1,000 tons of food amid the pandemic.
But it’s more than that: there’s the magnificent Jamaican team, the bold, creative decor, the posters, the menus. Everything here is from here, about here.
“It’s the people,” says Inise Lawrence, general manager of the hotel. “All of our staff here is Jamaican. We allow our team to be themselves. Of course, when our guests come to this hotel, they really get to experience a true, authentic Jamaican experience, whether it’s through our food, the interaction with our staff, through what we represent.”
“Rockhouse is a special place for a lot of people,” Lawrence says. “It was always a popular spot; the ownership has changed over the years, but we’ve really maintained the uniqueness — the thatched huts on the water, the really casual style. We want to be chic and also stay true to the Rockhouse’s philosophies.”
Ultimately, boutique hotels are works of art; they are the manifestations of the hotelier’s vision, intimate molds of their personality.
And that’s exactly what the Rockhouse and owner Paul Salmon have achieved, in partnership with a splendid Jamaican team; they’ve taken Jamaica, bright and brilliant, and shaped it into a boutique hotel, taken the boundless energy of Negril and honed it, contained it, bottled it.
It’s not just that this is the best boutique hotel in Jamaica.
It’s that it’s the best boutique Jamaican hotel.
And if that sounds like the perfect place to stay, well, you’ll just have to take a listen for yourself.
For more, visit the Rockhouse.