Montego Bay, Jamaica’s Stylish and Serene S Hotel
Jamaica’s S Hotel brings South Beach swag to Montego Bay with a stylish rooftop bar, see-and-be-seen pool area fringed with cabanas and day beds, and a vibrant lounge scene with a DJ spinning tropical club tunes for a scene-y young crowd. Yet there’s also a place here for families, whether that’s enjoying the inclusive, upscale buffet breakfast and dinner service or relaxing on a fine stretch of palm-shaded beach.
Sister property to the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston — itself acclaimed as the top lodging address in the Jamaican capital — the S Hotel is unlike any other hotel on MoBay’s Hip Strip. Guests enter via a circular drive graced with a 1953 Singer convertible once owned by screen legend Katherine Hepburn, which sits alongside equally posh luxury rides belonging to current guests.
A long, tall-ceiling lobby affords immediate views back to the resort courtyard, with its bright red loungers and umbrellas set in high relief against the sparkling blue waters of the main pool. Along the straight stroll from the front door to the water’s edge are comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas, a high-end cocktail lounge adorned by holograms of bobbing jellyfish, and the Rocksteady restaurant, serving breakfast and dinner daily. Painted in lively Rasta colors, the poolside bar and grill is a casual spot for local curry and jerk dishes along with rum drinks and perhaps a little competition on the outdoor pool table.
Located on the upper floors, guest rooms at this Small Luxury Hotels of the World property are accessed via bright balcony walkways, with colorful displays at each floor highlighting the history of prominent Jamaican leaders and entertainers, from Marcus Garvey to Jimmy Cliff. As with the artwork from local artist Michael Thompson that adorns the restaurant walls, the restrained decor of the hotel provides a gallery like setting that establishes a sense of place without detracting from the S Hotel’s sleek, modern vibe.
Guest rooms are bright, clean and spacious, with white bed linens neatly tucked into dark wood platforms and slatted headboards trimmed in oak and gently contrasted with wicker seats. A phonograph — alas, non-working — is queued up with a Bob Marley record, and a Red Stripe bottle corked with a flower as an impromptu vase. Our fifth-floor room had a balcony big enough to sit comfortably and enjoy the views of the pool and beach, and the bath was equipped with both a soaking tub and a two-person shower.
We appreciated two unique touches in the room: a low bench before the vanity useful for boosting little ones up to sink level or perhaps leaning closer to the mirror to put finishing strokes on makeup; and a third shower head over another bench in the shower. (Sadly, we didn’t get to put the latter to use during our stay, as we found the water controls a bit inscrutable.)
Our Sky Club level room afforded easy access to the rooftop pool and bar, each with enviable sunset views of the beach and the Caribbean Sea; unique among hotel guests, we also enjoyed 24-hour access to the roof pool thanks to our elevated status.
The crowded and busy streets of Montego Bay offer little hint that there’s even a beach on the other side of the shops, hotels, and restaurants, but we found the stretch of sand behind the S Hotel surprisingly pretty and sedate. The hotel’s full service spa is another great place to unwind, with all guests invited to take a soak in the Irie Baths — a series of subterranean plunge pools with different temperatures — and book additional treatments, from massage to facials to baths infused with curative local ingredients like lemongrass and lavender.
In fact the hotel as a whole presents as an oasis amid the bustle of MoBay, yet providing easy access to Hip Strip attractions like Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records sports bar just across the parking lot, and Margaritaville and other drinking and dining options a few steps further down the street. And of course the hotel concierge can arrange for tours to any number of area attractions.
For more, visit the S Hotel.