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Where to stay in Jamaica

Jamaica is a showcase of beautiful beaches fringed by tropical landscapes of jungle-clad mountains, rivers and waterfalls. This is the land of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt and the world’s most famous spy, James Bond. Add in friendly locals and Caribbean sun that shines all year round, and you have the recipe for a perfect luxury holiday. Kick back and relax to the sultry rhythms of Jamaican life, chilling out to irresistible reggae beats and swaying in a hammock by the sea. These are are just some of our favourite hotels in Jamaica. This sun-kissed island’s best hotels range from following in the footsteps of James Bond at author Ian Fleming’s former home to a stylish jetsetter’s perfect 21st-century retreat. GoldenEye Talking of all things Bond, a hotel that is inextricably linked with the character and the novels that gave him life is GoldenEye. This is where Bond author Ian Fleming lived and where he wrote many of the novels that made his name. No ordinary hotel, GoldenEye is formed of a cluster of private beach huts, cottages and villas lining the sands and the aquamarine lagoon and surrounded by tropical greenery, offering a rather idyllic home away from home. From designer interiors to secluded verandas and VIP touches – for instance, each lagoon cottage comes with its own kayak – these retreats are guaranteed to wow. However, if you do manage to drag yourself away, you can sip a GoldenEye cocktail perched above the lagoon and the beach, swim in the freshwater pool and enjoy the rich, tasty flavours of a Jamaican jerk barbecue by the beach, followed by rum at the Bamboo Bar. Jamaica Inn Jamaica Inn is a boutique retreat by one of the best private beaches on the island, surrounded by the tropical landscapes of Ocho Rios. It has been a favourite with the rich and famous since it opened its doors in the 1950s, and combines old-world glamour with 21st-century style. This hotel has been run by the same family for decades – and this family was friends with Fleming during his time in Jamaica. The hotel’s bar, Teddy’s Bar, a popular meeting spot, is mentioned in Fleming’s first Bond book, Dr No, as the place to be seen on the island. This bar is also said to be where he coined the famous ‘shaken, not stirred’ phrase that has become synonymous with Bond. S Hotel Jamaica The S Hotel Jamaica is an exciting newcomer on the island’s hotel scene, offering something a little fresh, bold and unapologetic. It has already created a buzz since it opened last year, not just in Jamaica but across the Caribbean and beyond. Set on the famous Montego Bay, where guests can relax on a private section of Doctor’s Cave Beach, this sleek retreat has already won numerous awards, and it’s not hard to see why. With an irresistible ‘Mykonos meets Miami’ vibe, it combines 21st-century style with characteristic Jamaican charm. The rooms feature colourful art by local artists and local touches such as turntables spinning Bob Marley tracks, the restaurant serves up exotic fusion food and there’s a Sky Deck with a rooftop pool and bar – this is the place to be at sunset, cocktail in hand. The hotel is on the Hip Strip, so right on the doorstep there are excellent restaurants to refuel in while discovering the art galleries, boutiques and reggae clubs. Strawberry Hill Set in 26 acres of tropical gardens high in the Blue Mountains at an altitude of over 3,000 feet, Strawberry Hill offers guests the opportunity to discover another side of Jamaica, beyond the beach. The white, wood-framed plantation-style cottages have plush four-poster beds and verandas looking out over the mountains and the lights of Kingston below. They are romantic, secluded and private, reached via footpaths winding through the greenery. Take a dip in the striking infinity pool, which has some of the best views, feast on exotic Caribbean flavours and sip a cup of the famous Blue Mountain coffee on the Great Lawn. Spend afternoons on a scenic mountain trek or taking a trip to a beach on a tiny inhabited island. In the evening, retreat to the cosy wood-panelled bar, accompanied by a pianist at the vintage piano. The Caves The Caves is certainly a hotel with a difference. Made up of a labyrinth of grottoes carved into and atop a volcanic cliffside, it has plenty of atmosphere and character and is rather unique and special. The cottages and suites are nestled in the lush gardens, with colourful interiors and soaring ceilings. Guests can wander down stone pathways through the gardens to the sea. Head out on the water in one of the hotel’s kayaks or take a guided snorkelling tour through a mesmerising underwater world of hidden caves and grottoes. Back at the hotel and the caves above ground, dining and drinking experiences here are pretty unbeatable: dine by candlelight in a cave strewn with bougainvillea petals or under the stars on the edge of the cliff, and drink rum in a bar set in a candlelit cave on the waterfront. Thomas Ryves is Marketing Director at Exsus Travel. Exsus Travel specialises in creating the very best luxury tailor-made holidays, honeymoons and family adventures in over 80 destinations worldwide. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Thomas Ryves

Thomas Ryves is Marketing Manager at Exsus Travel, a leading luxury tour operator, which gives him an opportunity to indulge in his love of travel all over the world – his recent trips range from Brazil to Thailand, and he has plenty more destinations on his wish list. Since 1998, Exsus Travel has specialised in creating the very best luxury tailor-made holidays, all over the world. Pioneering and passionate, our commitment is simple: to deliver first-class client service, every single time, to hunt down the very best hotels in compelling, hypnotic locations, and to plan unique and memorable personalised experiences along the way. The result? Extraordinary, immersive holidays. By combining our specialist knowledge of more than 80 countries on all seven continents with personal holiday wish lists, our team of experts will transform ideas into travel reality, and craft every detail of each trip to perfection. Whether it’s a relaxing beach break, an epic safari, an exhilarating adventure holiday, an idyllic honeymoon or the ultimate family getaway, we can make it happen. The name Exsus comes from the Latin ‘exsuscitare’: to awaken, to excite, to breathe life into.

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  1. Thanks for offering the luxurious side of Jamaica, which to be honest is quite new to me. I wasn’t aware that Ian Fleming lived and works there, so that has an appeal to me as a writer and somebody who loves books. (James Bond movies were always my favorite when I was a kid.) There’s great diversity here with these places and lots of cultural flairs. That’s the kind of thing that makes a trip much more memorable and will have you wanting to visit again and again. So I can understand why a writer would want to live there!

    1. Hi Dave,

      Jamaica is simply perfect for a luxury Caribbean holiday, and as you can see here, it has such a wide range of hotels, so there’s something for everyone – it’s easy to see how it appeals to creative types too!

  2. To me it looks as if everywhere in Jamaica comes with a stunning view. I’ve been to a few Caribbean Islands and I’m now thinking that Jamaica should be getting the next tick on my list.

    1. Hi Sally,

      Yes, whether it’s the beach and the sea or the mountains, these hotels certainly have wow-factor views, and Jamaica has so much more to offer too, and it has plenty that makes it distinctive from other Caribbean islands as well. We definitely recommend you visit – you certainly won’t be disappointed!

  3. I had no idea the place where Ian Fleming lived as he wrote some of the Bond novels was now a hotel, that’s pretty cool! Seems like a great location looking out over those perfect blue waters too. It’s the weather that really tempts me with Jamaica, those rich blue skies and the warmth, then the warm and friendly vibe is a close second. It definitely does make a difference when you stay somewhere you feel welcome and when the air has a sense of energy about it because it’s so invigorating. Hadn’t thought of Jamaica for a holiday before but I’d rethink that now. I could definitely go for any of these places for two weeks, but I doubt I’d ever want to return home after that.

    1. Hi Gem,

      Yes, Jamaica really is amazing and ticks so many boxes – and it’s no surprise that Ian Fleming loved it so much! And it is indeed very cool that you can now stay where he lived and experience it for yourself. This slice of the Caribbean definitely comes highly recommended – the only problem being, as you say, not wanting to go home…

  4. Well, Ian Fleming to Bob Marley to Usain Bolt – it just about sums up Jamaica’s diversity. But you’ve got to have some cricket in there too. Wasn’t Michael “Whispering Death” Holding, the lethal fast bowler with the athletic silent run-up, from Jamaica too?

    I’ve heard that there’s a Bob Marley museum and how long before there is a Usain Bolt museum too? He was – and is still – such a legend.

    Obviously I’d have to have a martini at Golden Eye and watch some cricket too. Could be some visit.

    1. Hi Jack,

      Sorry we missed out the cricket (!). There is indeed a Bob Marley museum, which is well worth a visit – it is housed in his former home in Kingston, the capital.

      A martini at GoldenEye and some cricket sounds like a good way to spend some time in this lovely country…

    1. Hi Tamara,

      Lucky you having already been to Jamaica before – but we definitely recommend giving it another try – there is so much to do and see, and so many wonderful places to stay, once is never enough!

  5. I am fond of hotel rooms with scenic views of cities and nature. Jamaica surely offers a lot of these given the fact that they are known for their amazing landscapes and beaches. I prefer to stay in a hotel or villa with a rustic style to truly feel the peace and tranquility of the surrounding. I feel relaxed whenever I am close to nature and I have more energy to accomplish tasks afterwards. I bet they also serve enticing local dishes that tourists must try to complete their experience.

    1. Hi M.Morris,

      We agree that nature and stunning natural settings have a transformative effect. These hotels certainly deliver on those fronts, and they all take inspiration from their gorgeous setting in their own way. As for food, the restaurants at these hotels are all exceptional, with delicious menus that make the most of local cuisine. If you stay at S Hotel Jamaica, you can even dine at the Tracks and Records restaurant nearby, which is a Jamaican-fusion restaurant co-owned by hotel owner Chris Issa and non other than Usain Bolt…

  6. Jamaica and its beaches are definitely meant for a romantic getaway, so for accommodations I would choose to stay at Strawberry Hill. Its location atop a hill in the famed Blue Mountains is something I would choose over and over. Plus, who doesn’t want to sip the world-famous Blue Mountain coffee right from the source? As I coffee lover this is not only a bonus but a deciding factor as well.

    1. I completely agree with you – Strawberry Hill is ideal for maximum relaxation, peace and quiet in a magnificent setting, and of course, great coffee!

  7. Stayed at Jamaica Inn once and it was amazing. Would love to return in 2021 to try some of these other suggestions.

    1. Jamaica Inn is one of my absolute favourites on the island, but these are all excellent hotels, each has it’s own style and character, all offer a heavenly stay – now you just need to pick which you’ll try next.

  8. Is there any news yet on when flights to Jamaica from the UK will become possible again? Or is there an alternative route? I understand visitors will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, but am still keen to visit as soon as possible. And I do hope it won’t be long before these lovely hotels can safely re-open.

    1. Hi Sandra, good news now that the FCO has added Jamaica to the UK exemption list, so no quarantine required.

      British Airways will resume flights from early August with flights direct from Gatwick to Kingston on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, with more flights being added in September and October.

      Virgin Atlantic will resume flights twice-weekly to Montego Bay from Heathrow, on a Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

      You can also fly via the US normally, but this is not an option at present, and the direct flights are perfect anyway. Jamaica is fabulous.

  9. Hi Sandra,

    Virgin Atlantic will resume flights directly to Montego Bay from Friday October 2nd, flying twice-weekly from London Heathrow on a Tuesday and Friday initially.

    British Airways will resume a direct flight to Kingston from London Gatwick from August with a flights operating on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, with more flights being added later in the year.

    The regulations for quarantine are changing quickly now, so Jamaican is now on the exemption list from the Foreign Office which is great news! https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/jamaica

  10. Not only that Jamaica is a paradise island. Its rivers, beaches and lush mountain side which are breathtaking. Its the best place to be.

    1. Hi Margo,

      Absolutely true – Jamaica really does tick all the boxes and is a natural wonderland as well as having some truly spectacular hotels – it is one of our favourite destinations at Exsus Travel!

    1. Hi Pricilia,

      You are quite right – Jamaica Inn is simply gorgeous, inside and out – and we can’t wait to be back too!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      The Royalton Negril is a lovely all-inclusive resort on the sands of the beautiful Negril Beach. It oozes luxury, and its personalised service and luxe touches will make you feel like a VIP! It has something to offer everyone too, from couples to families.

  11. This is a wonderful list! Is the luxury to be found outdoors? If so, I would definitely add the Holywell Cabins/Camp Site in the Blue Mountains as a place to stay. There’s a cute cafe (Blue Brews Bistro) as well as the idyllic hiking trails and picturesque landmark at the peak of the mountain range. Otherwise, the Sunset at the Palms Resort in Negril is as luxurious as eco-resorts get.

  12. We’ve been wanting to get to Jamaica for years, such a pity that COVID delayed us. Some really useful info here.

  13. We’re just back from a holidsy, surprisingly not Jamaica, where we got talking to another couple.

    Over 30 years ago they’d been on their honeymoon to Jamaica. They loved the island so much that they’ve been back 19 times since.

    You can’t get much more of a testimony than 20 visits.

  14. I’ve got to be one of the biggest Bond fans going. I’ve seen every single Bond film at least once. Visiting Jamaica and staying at GoldenEye has just shot to the top of my travel wish list. It all seems so tempting for a perfect holiday.

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