Hotel Mocking Bird Hill

Port Antonio, Jamaica Book from

Reviewed by Cat Martin
Peaceful, hilltop eco-hideaway with an excellent restaurant - a great base for exploring the unspoilt Port Antonio region
Cool breezes and panoramic views welcome you to this 10-room hilltop retreat, just a short drive from Port Antonio. Set within 6.5 acres of verdant tropical gardens, Hotel Mocking Bird Hill is a perfect base to explore the natural attractions nearby - beaches, rivers, the lush Jamaican rainforest - and a glorious spot to relax in.

Friendly and informal, the hotel has excellent eco credentials and has twice been voted Caribbean Green Hotel of the Year. Rooms are airy and light, simply furnished with white louvered doors, bamboo furniture, handpicked flowers and hammocks on their balconies. Even better, the popular restaurant wins plaudits for its sustainable ethos and excellent homegrown fare.

Welcoming owners and staff provide top tips on where to go and what to see, so the hotel tends to be empty during the day - ideal if you're in search of solitude. Honeymooners love the romantic setting and candelit bedrooms, active types enjoy hiking, rafting and snorkelling nearby, and with over 40 bird types in the garden (including 2 endangered species), birders will be in their element.

Highs

  • Peaceful hillside setting that offers panoramic views of the Blue Mountains and coastline
  • Impressive green policy that isn’t just lip-service to the cause: breeze cooled rooms, solar water heating, UV treated drinking water, chlorine free pool
  • Extensive gardens with pretty terraces and plenty of room to sit, read, and hide
  • Great attention to detail - excellent service and simple things are done well
  • Delicious food - try the pawpaw carpaccio, mahi-mahi with sage and coconut milk, or orange custard with wild orange liqueur

Lows

  • Mosquito nets are provided, but squeamish types may not like the geckos, mosquitoes, tree frogs and moths (especially at dusk and after rainfall)
  • The owners have 2 large (well-behaved) dogs who follow them around (although they are tied up at meal times) - not to everyone's taste
  • It is a 45-minute walk into town along a busy (unlit) road and taxis can take 15-20 minutes to arrive, so it requires advance notice and planning to eat out in the evenings

Best time to go

With so much to do, it’s a great place year round. Weather wise, consistently warm tropical weather ensures Jamaica is a popular destination year-round.

Our top tips

Ask for the hotel to arrange a tour of a coffee plantation in the Blue Mountains; it's fascinating.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Art gallery
  • Board games
Room: Superior Room

Rooms

The 10 breeze-cooled rooms have white tile floors, pretty sea-blue and white fabrics and handmade bamboo furniture. Kingsized beds are comfy (some can be made up as twins), and we loved the local artwork and lashings of handpicked flowers. The overall impression is light and airy, enhanced by most rooms having balconies with hammocks and views over the garden and beyond.

Superior Rooms are on the upper level with great views overlooking the sea. Deluxe Rooms are a little larger with an additional seating area and folding doors which open up so that the room and balcony become one in good weather. Garden View Rooms, as you may imagine, have wonderful views over the lush grounds.

The Superior Room 10 is popular with honeymooners as it offers 2 terraces. The Suite, created by combining 2 Superior Rooms, has a living room with a daybed, but no outside terrace or hammock.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Meals are taken on the open terrace of the Mille Fleurs restaurant, which has a terrific ocean view, and is one of the best on the island. The a la carte menu changes daily and is a sumptuous mixture of Jamaican and Continental food, using locally sourced seasonal produce.

Breakfast is a generous spread of artisan cheeses, callaloo omelettes, homemade museli and yoghurt, fresh fruit, local jams (papaya, mango) and several types of home-baked bread (mango and banana were our favourites); you can also order something hot from the a la carte menu.

Lunch could be grilled tuna salad with cashews and Jamaica spices or jerk chicken, but most guests are out and about dining at one of the informal beachside eateries; the hotel can also make up a picnic lunch on request.

The inventive 3-course dinner menu offers several delicious options, such as shrimp-filled plantain boats, seared citrus Mahi Mahi with orange cucumber, or lobster and crab steamed in beer, with treats like mango souffle for dessert.

In keeping with the hotel's drive to reduce carbon emissions, the restaurant offers Meatless Mondays, where the menu showcases a choice of fusion vegetarian dishes such as callaloo and feta quiche, spicy okra and tomato with yoghurt or ackee soufflé with a creamy thyme sauce.

If you're staying for a few days and want a change of scene, venture downhill to the eateries in Port Antonio.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • This region is one of the best places in Jamaica to go bird watching - there are 40 different birds on the hotel's property alone, of which 2 are on the endangered list: the Ring-tailed pigeon and the Black-billed Streamertail
  • Visit the local beaches: take the complimentary 5-minute shuttle to the beautiful white sands of Frenchman's Cove. Nearby Winifred Beach is good for snorkelling
  • Hike in the Blue Mountains under misty, forested canopies, and keep your eyes peeled for miniature orchids, primordial ferns, and, with luck, the endangered Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
  • There’s plenty to do if you stay home: have a massage, hang by the pool, tour the grounds, relax in the wellness garden
  • There are tonnes of recommended walks, and for a real treat, hike up from the river and walk to the Reich waterfalls (take swimming gear to take full advantage)
  • Take a boat from Port Antonio to the 180ft deep Blue Lagoon for beautiful scenery and swimming
  • Local dive sites are within a 15-minute boat ride, and with almost no current year round it’s a great place to scuba or snorkel
  • The hotel offer music tours of the island which explore the history of Jamaica’s most acclaimed musicians and producers
  • Soak up the Spanish and English colonial past of the nearby rural township of Port Antonio

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Rafting
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are welcome but most guests seem to bring babies or teenagers - younger kids may be bored at this hotel, though there are heaps of great family adventures in the vicinity. Children under 12 stay for free - maximum of 1 extra bed per room.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Garden View Rooms are the best for families as they are on the ground floor and can easily accommodate an extra bed. The Economy Room is reserved for older kids and is near the pool so a good one to book if your family is slightly older.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

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

Kid Friendly: Winnifred Beach

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