Jamaica Inn

Ocho Rios, Jamaica Book from

Reviewed by Cat Martin
A classicly elegant hotel where peace and relaxation reign, set in a stunning private cove near Ocho Rios
The Jamaica Inn has been a Caribbean classic since the 1950s - and its colonial allure is somehow timeless. Marilyn Monroe, Noel Coward and Errol Flynn have all cast their shadows on the terrace, leaving behind an old-time glamour. Many guests return year after year, knowing that the standards will always be high, the service impeccable, and the relaxing ambiance unchanged.

Located on a stunning private cove just east of Ocho Rios, the hotel has been in the same family for over 50 years. First impressions are impressive if a bit daunting (immaculate balustraded pavilions, perfectly manicured grounds), but despite the classic grandeur, Jamaica Inn is a surprisingly unpretentious parallel universe.

Spread over 8 acres, there’s heaps of room for everyone, and the stunning white-sand beach never feels crowded. The suites and cottages vary in size from generous to super-sized; all have a sea view and are elegantly furnished. All in all, it's great for those who want a quiet, classy atmosphere, and some good old-fashioned spoiling.

Highs

  • Friendly local staff, many of whom have been here for decades. Don't miss Barman Teddy's fabulous highballs
  • Dining is a real event - revel in getting dressed up for 6-course fusion dinners, and sitting at candlelit tables laden with crystal and bone china
  • For those who want real privacy, the cottages each have private access steps into the sea and most have a private pool; great for honeymooners
  • The large private cove, with its glittering water and golden sand, is incredible. During our 2014 revisit we could barely tear ourselves away
  • No children under 10 are allowed, so it's a refreshingly adult place - the emphasis is on escapism and rest

Lows

  • The high probability of musical entertainment over dinner - a bit cheesy at times
  • Some may find it too formal and old fashioned
  • The white plastic beach mattresses feel a little outdated, but they are at least comfortable, plus some of the rooms are beginning to look a little tired
  • Occasional music from the nearby Sandals resort may break the spell in the West Wing, but it doesn’t go on late
  • Very popular so you’ll need to book in advance

Best time to go

Consistently warm tropical weather ensures Jamaica is a popular destination year-round. On the coast, temperatures range from 22C to 31C. Mid December-April is most popular. 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 it isn't a big deal). Low season is from mid-April to mid-December - fewer crowds but less reliable sunshine.

Our top tips

Ensure you take a trip to the famous Dunns River Falls just 10 minutes' away, but take your swimming gear as this is usually participatory viewing!

Great for...

Beach
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 53 suites and cottages
  • Restaurants and bar (open daily)
  • Over 12s allowed all year; over 10s allowed during summer
  • 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
  • Croquet lawn
  • Private beach
Room: Cottage 7

Rooms

There are 4 Wings (West Wing, Main Wing, East Wing and Beach Wing), plus 8 private cottages, with steps to the sea or beach. Décor throughout is calming. In the suites there's more a traditional colonial design, while the cottages are more modern. But whichever you opt for, expect a mixture of white walls with historic prints, blue striped cushions, hand-carved four-posters, hard-wood floors, plantation shutters, and balconies akin to living rooms with oversized sofas and writing desks. Most importantly, each room has a glorious sea view.

The cheapest (still lovely) are the Balcony Suites set on the upper floor, next up are the Deluxe Veranda Suites which have larger living-room style verandas. We loved our Premier Veranda Suite in the West Wing, which had the biggest terrace we saw anywhere in Jamaica, and overlooked the gently lapping sea.

Top choice is the White Suite - a luxurious, very private suite with its own pool, garden and direct sea access. The Cowdray Suite is lovely too, set upstairs on the East Wing with superb views, plus a dressing room and an extra-large veranda.

Romantics will enjoy the 1-bedroom Cottages set on the beachfront or overlooking the sea, but if you want real privacy, go for one of the 2-bedroom Cottages. Each has a private entrance, a mixture of Jamaican and Indonesian style and great sea views. With the exception of Cottage 6 and Blue Cottage, they all have private infinity or plunge pools. To really treat yourself, opt for the ultra-modern Cottage 7, which has access to its own private cove; we thought this would make an exceptional honeymoon hideaway.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

A la carte meals are served in either the Seaside Restaurant (breakfast and lunch) or Garden Restaurant (dinner), and are generally very good. The atmosphere in both is buzzy and the food delicious. If you'd prefer, you can book a meal-plan - either half or full board.

Breakfast overlooking an aquamarine sea is a treat. We loved the authentic Jamaican breakfast, which changes on a daily basis and includes steamed callaloo, ackee and salt fish, or spicy escoveitch fish. The crusts are cut off your toast, which we felt was a little OTT, but the service was excellent.

Enjoy a complimentary cocktail between 11.30am and 12.30pm, to whet your appetite for a restaurant lunch (we loved the guacamole shrimp cocktail and calamari rings).

Afternoon tea and pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres will keep any hunger pangs at bay, and after enjoying the marvellous sunset from the cocktail terrace, head to Teddy's Beach Bar for the eponymous barman's renditions of popular tunes as well as his excellent mixologist skills.

Dinner is an extensive menu that may include coriander snapper with chilli ginger sauce or poached papaya in lime and cinnamon syrup. There is usually a live band playing, but if you'd prefer, room service can be ordered and your meal served course-by-course.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Laze on the beach (oft heralded as Jamaica's best), or if you're feeling active, enjoy complimentary snorkelling on the adjacent reef, kayaking and sailing
  • Read on your veranda, take a tour of the tropical grounds with the gardener, or play croquet on one of the sweeping lawns
  • The Ocean Spa, located in a thatched enclave at the end of beach, offers a wide variety of natural-ingredient treatments and massages, as well as yoga and pilates classes. We liked the sound of the Couples' Sunset Massage or the Tropical Spice Renewal hot-stone massage
  • The late Noel Coward’s house, Firefly, in Port Maria is a 40-minute drive away - a little gem, with a big view
  • Rafting on the Rio Grande, Port Antonio, is an all-day trip, but worth the effort for its stunning scenery
  • Jamaica is a wonderfully diverse island, with tonnes to see and do. For a more comprehensive guide, see our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Sailing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

Babies and young children are not allowed, however children aged 10 and over are allowed at certain times of year (March 1st - December 14th). Children aged 12 and over are allowed year round.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Jamaica Inn