Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa

nr Kingston, Jamaica Book from

Reviewed by Cat Martin
A peaceful and stylish mountainside retreat, more like a generous family home, but one with world famous music legends in the family photos
Perched 3100ft above Kingston, serene Strawberry Hill offers spectacular views from its infinity pool: the Blue Mountains down to the sea. It’s cooler up here, and since the 1940’s this has been the place to go for a traditional Sunday tea. Chris Blackwell (founder of Island Records) bought the 26-acre property as a family home in 1972, but it didn’t become the first Island Outpost hotel until 1994.

The 19th-century Georgian style cottages dotted about the exotic hillside garden have maintained much of their old fashioned rustic-chic charm. Many famous musicians have enjoyed the peaceful setting, simple luxuries, and spectacular views. As with all the Island Outpost properties there is a refreshing lack of corporate uniformity, and the blend of friendly staff, first class spa, musical history and relaxed surroundings works well. Strawberry Hill really doesn’t feel like a hotel - more like the family home it once was. Perfectly located for checking out Kingston and the Blue Mountains, this is also a fabulous place to unplug and unwind: vigorously eat, sleep, and chill.


  • Mesmerising views by day or night - especially the sparkling lights of Kingston, just half an hour below you - during our 2014 revisit, we couldn't stop staring!
  • An abundance of handmade details, nothing here is rolled out en-masse
  • High “Princess-and-the pea” mahogany beds with immaculate sheets are bound to give you a great night's rest
  • There are some exceptional excursions to be had; we loved our trek with Rasta Dave - a gentle walk to a breath-taking waterfall
  • The peace and quiet with a background reggae beat makes it very easy to lose track of time


  • We found the service and food to be a bit patchy, but we're assured a new manager will be appointed soon in order to bring it back to Island Outpost quality
  • It can be cool and damp up here in winter (one local called it “Arctic”) but bring a jumper and use the electric blanket
  • Some bathrooms look a little dated, though these are undergoing a rolling refurbishment
  • Lightweight timber walls with plantation shutters mean the peace can be disturbed by your neighbours' phone conversations and music from local parties
  • Poolside could become crowded in peak season

Best time to go

The hotel is usually shut in September, and undergoes a gentle upgrade on a room-by-room basis. It may also be forced to close at 24-hours notice during Hurricane season (officially June-November, though August and September are peak months).

The hotel hosts different events: album launches, model shoots, music videos, and Backgammon tournament weekend in April/May (serious players only). Guests will be advised if their visit is likely to clash with a major function. The hotel will be full when the cricket is in town!

Our top tips

In-room reading states: "In keeping with the casual atmosphere of Jamaica, jackets, ties, and formal clothes are never required" but 3100ft can be a little chilly, so take a jumper. Walking boots for local hikes, and binoculars would be useful. A trip to the waterfalls usually means you will be IN the water as opposed to looking at it, so dress accordingly.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique hotel
  • 13
  • 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
  • Daily paper
  • Board games


The 13 rooms, studios, villas and cottages are dotted about the immaculate grounds. The aptly named Mountain View 1 & 2 (a Deluxe Room and 2-Bedroom Villa respectively) turn their back on Kingston, so it’s worth deciding if you want the distant city view or not when you book.

Furnishings may look a little tired, but it’s part of the comfortable charm, and the sense of simplicity is very restful: you get white painted timber walls and shutters, exposed beams, linen sofas, and 4-poster beds with immaculate sheets (so flat they look like they are sprayed on) and plump pillows.

Bathrooms are stocked with Strawberry Hill products and have a handmade feel, with simple tubs and clay tiles. There’s lots of white paint, but the polished hardwood floors, mahogany and cane furniture, local artwork and bright cotton printed lampshades add some colour.

All Studio Suites have lovely private terraces and simple kitchenettes. Birdshill (the only 1-Bedroom Villa) is popular with Honeymooners thanks to its roll-top bath and private gazebo with a daybed and views of the mountains. Ours was the 2 storey, 2-Bedroom Villa Highgate; it's ideal if travelling with older kids as it has a separate bedroom. We love that both bedrooms have terraces, one of which offers stunning views over Kingston.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Electric blanket
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Food is a modern twist on local Jamaican cuisine and you won't want to rush. There are several choices of dining room, but our favourite is the open air Jade Vine Terrace with its mesmerizing views beyond the pool to Kingston far below. The smaller Library Verandah and Bamboo Room are recommended for residents and smaller parties.

Enjoy a lazy breakfast on the spacious terrace and let the gentle sound of Jimmy Cliff ease you into the day. There's a choice of continental (included) or cooked (extra charge).

For lunch you could try the bizarrely named Fat burger, Rasta Pasta, or Strawberry Hill Farm Salad. For dinner we enjoyed crab cakes and fruit salsa, followed by baked snapper with lemon butter sauce. After dinner you can retire to the cosy bar with wood-burning fireplace and sample the signature Blackwell Rum.

The menu is rotated every few days, and vegetarian and children’s menu are available. Birdshill, Highgate, Mountain View 2 and Bamboo all have full kitchens while the Studio Cottages have kitchenettes.

If you want to eat out, Eits Cafe comes highly recommended thanks to its warm service, delicious Jamaican cuisine and stunning views; it's also very popular with locals.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • At the hotel check out the extensive collection of platinum and gold discs - it’s a who’s who of the music industry - simply hibernate in your house, browse through the book on Island Records or the interesting collection of DVDs - American Roots music to the legend of Leigh Bowery. Marley fans can take the Natural Mystic tour of the yard area, No.56 Hope Road
  • Try the many popular guided tours and walks from 20 minutes to 2 hours: private gardens, coffee estates, waterfalls, bird watching, nature trails. We loved our Gordontown Trail trek with Rasta Dave
  • Enjoy the immaculate garden, full of mango and banana trees, hibiscus, birds of paradise, and a coffee crop, as well as star apples, avocados and guava trees
  • Book a spa treatment in the Aveda spa, designed to provide a transformative experience. Yoga can be arranged by appointment
  • It’s a great place to bird watch: 120 species breed on the island, 255 in total, with most endemics found in the Blue Mountains: rare Jamaican blackbird, Todies, Hummingbirds, Sad and Rufoustailed Flycatchers, Pewees
  • Jamaica is a wonderfully diverse island, and there’s tonnes to see and do, for a more comprehensive guide, check out our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Scuba diving
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Yoga


Kids of any age are welcome, that said, it’s very quiet so they may get bored.

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2-Bedroom Villas and 2-Bedroom Cottage are the best option for families as they have a second double or twin bedroom plus a full kitchen; the Studio Cottages are the only ones which can take a rollaway bed. All rooms can accommodate a baby cot.


Babysitting is available on request.

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced, there are terraces with low walls, and some windows open out onto precarious hillside drops - so not really suitable for inquisitive toddlers.

Kid Friendly:

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