The Caves

Negril, Jamaica Book from

MOST PHENOMENAL FOR FOODIES MOST PHENOMENAL FOR FOODIES
Reviewed by Cat Martin
Gorgeous, colourful rooms - plus an exceptional restaurant and rum bar - on an extraordinary cliffside location just outside Negril; a true heaven for couples
At the western edge of Negril, The Caves’ end-of-the-road location provides extremely peaceful seclusion. And whichever way you look it’s all very photogenic - blue skies, red pennants, lots of honey-coloured stone. This is no accident: the unobtrusive beauty here is carefully conceived, and symptomatic of the attention to detail which underpins the whole place. Leave your individually designed cottage and explore the cliffside to discover hidden stairways, sun decks and grottos that gradually reveal themselves above an endless azure sea; be sure to check out sunset from the spa's hot tub.

The exotic rustic look hasn’t dated since the hotel's opening in 1993. And rather like other Island Outpost hotels, feels like staying with very gracious hosts - from the exotic Ciffhanger cocktail on arrival to being invited to come behind the bar and help yourself. It’s all-inclusive, and the food is wonderful (especially if you opt for the private cave dining experience), but there’s not a day-glo wristband in sight. There is plenty to see if you want to explore the area, but you might not bother. And when you do have to leave, the superb service, tranquillity and blissful views will stay with you for a very long time indeed.

Highs

  • One of the Island Outpost collection, so you get amazingly unobtrusive and friendly service - no corporate uniforms here
  • Colourful, daring-to-be-different décor makes a change from hushed tones of bamboo or white
  • Our breakfast was the best we tasted on the island during our 2014 revisit
  • Location - pretty gardens, dazzling sea views, decks set up for perfect sunset watching, and the comfiest sun beds
  • No children allowed, save in the Deluxe Villa - this is couples' heaven

Lows

  • Not ideal for those who suffer from vertigo, as there are many unprotected drops into the sea
  • Booze cruises from nearby hotels may occasionally break the spell by mooring in the bay for snorkelling - you may be bothered by music and nudity, but they don't stay long
  • Step ladders into the sea can be tricky to negotiate: you need to be nimble footed (but there is always the pool...)
  • A lengthy disclaimer makes daunting reading on arrival, but you have to sign it to go through the magic door
  • The décor may not be to everyone’s taste, and there are no twin rooms

Best time to go

It gets fairly hot during the hurricane season. which runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. The cooler months from December to March are still lovely and warm. The hotel shuts in September for a few weeks.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 11 suites and cottages and 1 villa
  • All inclusive
  • Over 16s only (except in the Deluxe Villa)
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Snorkelling
  • Yoga
Room: Two Birds

Rooms

There's an unpretentious, homemade feel here, and nothing is too slick or formulaic. There's a range of accommodation to suit all needs: see our Rates page for a full listing.

We stayed in Bird Nest, a massive first-floor 1-Bed Ocean View Suite with drop-dead ocean vistas. It gave us the feeling of being holed up on an island in Thailand thanks to its cheery yellow walls and floors, green batik bedspread, woven cane lampshades, handcrafted pots and cups. The bathroom had a huge shower and tub, with plenty of Blue Mountain Aromatics oils and products.

Other than our room, the best sea views can be found in Butterfly and Sea Turtle (both 1-Bed Ocean View Suites), Moon Shadow (a 2-Bed Ocean View Cottage) and Sundancer (a 2-Bed Ocean Front Cottage). One Drop, a 1-Bed Partial Ocean View Cottage, is closest to the ocean and has an outdoor shower.

A cosy favourite with honeymooners is 1-Bed Ocean View Cottage Stardust, the furthest away from the other buildings and near the lighthouse.

Deluxe Villa Clandestino is a separate 3-bed villa, plus adjoining 1-bed annexe, set within lush jungle on The Caves property - it is very popular with families as all ages are welcome here. It comes complete with a private pool and BBQ, plus guests have full use of the hotel’s facilities. If booked on an all-inclusive basis, a private butler is also included.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Food is seasonal and local and although meal are included in room rate, this doesn’t feel like an all-you-can-eat affair. There’s a choice of 2 or 3 options for all courses, which are read out to you, and it's actually very relaxing to not have to agonise over menus; order the 'Combo' for a sample of entrees at dinner.

Breakfast and lunch are taken in the gazebo. Try the local fruit plate - a delicious collection of mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and naseberry. Lunch is a delicious series of salads and grilled fish or chicken.

Dinner is taken in the Evening Dining Room, which on a warm night is actually under the stars. Start with a Cliffhanger (Appleton Gold Rum, ginger and watermelon juice) - a great addition to any sunset. Expect classy Caribbean fare: we had split pea soup, ackee, mixed salad, and mains of grilled chicken and curry conch. Afterwards, you can try one of the specialist rums on offer in the Blackwell Rum Bar hidden in the limestone cliff, or head to The Sands for a cocktail.

For the ultimate intimate dinner you can also request private dining in one of the two caves. Totter down the breakneck coral staircase and you will discover your very own private cave, crammed with twinkling tea lights - it’s achingly romantic.

If you're staying in the Deluxe Villa and not opting for the all-inclusive package (rates on request), the hotel can take you to the supermarket or take a grocery order and charge it to the room. A number of the suites and cottages have kitchenettes, too, but these are only really suited to preparing snacks.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take an early morning leap of faith into the azure blue sea - or alternatively use one of the 5 access ladders dotted about. The jump is not for the faint-hearted, but you can watch the daily morning dive by a member of staff - amazing
  • Take a memorable massage in the seafront Aveda Amenity Spa, or discover the Jacuzzi set into the terraces, or the sauna at the top end of the property. You can partake in a yoga lesson, too
  • Grab the floats, snorkels or kayaks for a gentle paddle. More adventurous types can head up to Negril for motorised water sports: water- and jet-skiing, parasailing, banana boating
  • There are weekly cooking lessons on offer, as well as mixology classes. Ehere better to learn how to mix a tropical punch?
  • The Caves has an arrangement with the Couples Swept Away Fitness Center (15 minutes away) for guests who want to use the facilities (pool, spa, 24 tennis courts, badminton, Pilates studio, fully equipped gym with state of the art equipment, walking/jogging course, sauna, yoga)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Jet skiing
  • Kayaking
  • Kayaks to borrow
  • Parasailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Due to the precarious nature of the setting (open drops into the sea, plenty of steep steps) children under 16 are not permitted in the main resort. However, all ages are welcome in the self-contained Deluxe Villa.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Set in half an acre of jungle gardens (just a few minutes' walk from the main resort), the Deluxe Villa is the only accommodation that welcomes families. Sleeping up to 8 people, the villa has 3 bedrooms, plus a 1-bedroom annexe, as well as a full kitchen, a private pool and private parking. Note that children staying here are not permitted elsewhere in the resort (e.g. the bar, restaurant, etc).

Families Should Know:

Children staying at the Deluxe Villa are not permitted to go elsewhere in the resort (e.g. the bar or restaurant area).

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for The Caves