Cliffhouse

Hanover, Jamaica Book from

Reviewed by Cat Martin
A laid-back villa in Cousins Cove with a superb pool, extensive gardens and friendly staff: a great base for a relaxing holiday (sleeps 10)
As one might expect, Cliffhouse is perched on a clifftop overlooking the Caribbean sea - perfectly positioned to catch sunset every evening. A spacious self-catering property set in 3 acres of leafy garden, it's located just off the west coast road between Montego Bay and Negril in the unspoilt community of Cousins Cove, far from the touristy resorts.

Outside, there's a large L-shaped pool and direct access into the sea from a private jetty (although no beach). Inside, the vast open-plan living area is the hub of the house, with high lofty ceilings, which keep it cool. Simply furnished as opposed to slick and glossy, it's relaxing and attractive, in a beach-chic way.

With 5 lovely, light bedrooms (4 doubles, 1 twin, all with muslin-draped four-poster beds and private bathrooms), it's an ideal rental for families or groups of friends. And the icing on the cake? The friendly staff can cook and arrange activities - fishing, beach trips, crabbing - or leave you to your own devices. It's all very easy.

Highs

  • Totally private and perfect for groups, with a secluded garden and a private swimming pool
  • Simple pleasures: picking fresh fruit in the garden, snoozing in a hammock, watching the sun set
  • The friendly team, who guests say are an integral part of the holiday: the fabulous cook Yogi, manager O'Neil and housekeeper Angelita
  • A well-equipped kitchen and barbecue for self-catering, plus a great outdoor dining terrace
  • Panoramic sea views and your own platform into the ocean to check out the reef-side location; great for avid snorkellers

Lows

  • The house isn't quite as glossy as it looks: some minor maintenance would have been welcome prior to our visit (e.g. fixing the stereo)
  • Some won't like having staff live on site, however unobtrusive they are
  • Despite the vast amounts of space it’s actually quite dark in the house, even in daylight with all shutters open
  • The nearest proper beach is a 20-minute drive away at Half Moon, but it is shallow, sheltered and very private
  • We found the loos a bit temperamental to flush

Best time to go

The house is available all year, and does not shut. The usual rental is 7 days, but shorter lets maybe available at late notice; enquire when booking. Consistently warm tropical weather ensures Jamaica is a popular destination year-round. On the coast, temperatures range from 22°C (72°F) and 31°C (88°F). Mid December - mid April is High Season. May, June, October and November are Shoulder Season in terms of climate but also Jamaica's rainy and hurricane seasons (it rains for a short spell most afternoons, but isn't a big deal). Low Season is from mid-April to mid-December - fewer crowds but less reliable sunshine.

Our top tips

Bring your own snorkelling equipment - even if you've never done it before, you will love it here, and it's hard to hire good stuff locally. Glasses-wearers might consider buying a prescription mask (or goggles) before leaving.

If you plan to hire a car, check the deposit required: some companies ask for $1500 which can max out your card, so either bring 2 cards or find another hire company!

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Villa
  • 5 bedrooms
  • Self-catering
  • Recommended for kids aged 5+
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Hammocks
  • Music Library
Room:

Rooms

All 5 bedrooms are spacious and simply furnished with a sense of understated cool: white walls, four-poster kingsize beds, good sheets, white chests of drawers, carved wooden shutters terrazzo tiled floors and plenty of storage behind louvered doors. The master bedroom upstairs benefits from a private terrace; otherwise, all rooms are similar.

The ground-floor rooms are interconnected - though you can lock the doors if you prefer - and 2 open out onto the living room. Three are doubles, and one can be set up as a twin by request. All have ceiling fans (three have air-con), and metal grills on the windows remove any security concerns.

All bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms with showers over tubs. The white ceramic tiles may be laid at a jaunty angle, but things are functional, though the shower pressure is rather low. Remember to bring toiletries and hairdryers as this isn't a hotel.

But if seeking mod cons, the open plan living room has a large TV with DVD player (US only) with local and US channels plus cable with sports, film and kids programming - there is also a sound system with mini jack input and speakers in the main room, the day room and by the swimming pool.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbeque
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Juicer
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Swimming pool
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Washing machine

Eating

The large open-plan kitchen is well stocked in terms of equipment and mod cons (pots, pans, a juicer, good selection of knives etc), but it’s fairly simple. There's cutlery and crockery for 12 people plus a lot of plastic cups – these are functional when you want to be by the pool, although a few proper glasses would be welcome.

You can request a specific list of items for the shopping service in addition to the welcome food and supplies basket you receive for booking through i-escape (soap, bread, milk, fruits, juices, cheese, bacon, water, soft drinks and beers). The villa manager keeps the receipts of anything you ask for and guests refund him on arrival. We'd recommend that you take advantage of this service or stock up on supplies in Negril to get you through the first days.

Outside (with a roof) there's a large dining table, which comfortably seats 10, and a BBQ with prep area and sink. If you choose to DIY, the Negril Hi-Lo supermarket is a good place to buy food, or alternatively you can ask chef Yogi to prepare as many meals as you'd like.

With a few hours' notice Yogi effortlessly rustled up a fresh BBQ'd lobster with garlic butter, roasted sweet potatoes and spicy tomato sauce for dinner on our visit - perfect. He also specialises in Jerk Chicken cooked on the authentic drum BBQ served with rice and peas and a fresh green salad, or curried crab with rice and home-made coleslaw, or fresh fish fried and roasted with dumplings and pumpkin, plus salad. Usually Yogi cooks dinner on the first night to allow guests to settle in, thereafter it is up to you how many nights or other meals you want catered.

You could also eat at nearby beaches such as Half Moon, or go down the road for dinner at Kuyabi, Splash or Margaritaville in Negril, but with so much space all to yourself back at home it's very tempting to stay put and enjoy the relaxed surroundings.

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
  • BBQ
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go snorkelling from the private jetty, which leads straight out along a 400m reef - you'll need to bring your own equipment

  • Take a 2-day PADI scuba diving course (the qualified instructor lives in the village) in the comfort of your own pool; the first day is spent in the pool learning about the equipment and safety drills, on the second day you are taken onto the reef for a proper dive, followed by a written test. If you're an experienced diver you can be taken further afield for a proper adventure

  • Drive to the shallow and sheltered Half Moon beach, which is perfect for families. It's a 20-minute drive away; O’Neil can drop you off and collect for a small fee

  • Staff can arrange boat trips up the coast with dolphin spotting en route, fishing in Cousins Cove as the sun rises, or land crab hunting (a favourite for kids)

  • Play golf or go sailing and horse riding nearby

  • Check out the local Sunday night dance party at Byrons Bar with Jamaican sound system and dominoes

  • Head to Negril to stroll along 7 miles of beautiful beach - some are private, some public, all lovely

  • Take a full day trip to Mayfield Waterfalls - 1hr20 drive through old cane plantations and mining towns. Start at the bottom pool and walk your way up, via diving pools and water massage spots. Alternatively, go tube rafting at Chukka Blue

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Badminton
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being

Kids

This is a great place for families with older children. The garden allows them to tear around and let off steam, the large pool will provide hours of entertainment and there is plenty of space in the house. Babysitting and a travel cot can be arranged on request but otherwise there are limited provision for babies and toddlers.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All 4 downstairs bedrooms are interconnected, making these best for children. The sofas in the sitting room and a blow-up mattress serve as extra beds.

Babysitting:

Available on request.

Baby equipment:

  • Travel cot on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large pool with railings
  • Fantastic large gardens
  • Snorkelling and swimming from the jetty

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Kool runnings water park in Negril
  • The Throne Room reef cavern in Negril
  • The Blue Hole Mineral Spring - another swimming pool, this time a natural one

Families Should Know:

The main areas of the house and access to the sea are all secured with gates, the driveway and garden have night-lights and a security light is fixed on the courtyard entrance to the property. Feedback suggests that the property is not well suited to under 5s as the grounds have prickly bushes and sharp rocks everywhere.

Distances:

  • Airport 40 minutes
  • Hospital: 45 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
6/
Service
6/
Value
7/
Overall

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