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Jamaica looks every inch the perfect Caribbean paradise, with its fine, white sand, bright green, verdant interior, luxurious resorts and surrounding bright aqua Caribbean Sea. But culturally it's very different from its neighbours. A real melting pot of people, Jamaica is lively as well as laid-back, and it is intensely proud of its African heritage. The best places to stay in Jamaica reflect this blended background too.
Of course there are the vast all-inclusive resorts - all the mod. cons. in paradise, but there are also small, independent hotels and guesthouses. Perfect if you want to experience the heart and soul of Jamaica and not just the sun, sand and sea.
Anyone who's seen a photo of this paradise island will know that Jamaica has some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Treasure Beach and Frenchman's Cove frequently appear in top ten lists.
Jamaica also has some amazing diving, with a couple of especially well known sites at Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios.
Plus, Jamaica produces some of the world's best coffee, in the Blue Mountains. And this is also the home of reggae and Rastafarianism. Once at the very heart of the slave trade, the island's history is really worth the research, though it's understandable that you won't want to spend too much time inside Jamaica's museums.
You might not have thought of it, but Jamaica is actually a brilliant place to explore on foot. The lush interior is rife with idyllic waterfalls surrounded by jungle hiding exotic animals, and there are lots of charming settlements and fishing villages to 'come upon' from the jungle.
Visitors flying into Jamaica land in either Kingston or Montego Bay, which is probably the island's tourist heartland. Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are where you'll find all the large resort hotels, in particular the all inclusive options. If you're looking for an independent hotel you'll find many of the best places to stay in Jamaica dotted around the other centres, or surrounded by their own beautiful island-paradise-style wilderness.
Kingston is bustling, the Jamaican's Jamaica; Negril has a laid-back, beach-y character with some very cool spots - both on the beach and on the cliffs; Port Antonio is fertile tropical charm incarnate, tucked away with a few off-beat places to stay; Treasure Beach has a really simple, off the beaten track charm; and the Blue Mountains offer a very gentle local Jamaican experience.
Use our guide to the best places to stay in Jamaica and start planning your trip to this Caribbean beauty.
For a once in a lifetime experience
- GoldenEye in Ocho Rios is one of the world's great five star beach front hotels. Villas and cottages have mahogany details and direct beach access. There are two restaurants - both of them excellent, a freshwater infinity pool, an extensive spa and even a library. And the emphasis is on privacy. The Bond reference is because this is where several of the books were written - amongst all this beautiful peace and sunny tranquility.
- The Caves just outside Negril is a beautiful, grown up five star hotel with private cottages and ladder access to the sea. Possibly the perfect spot for a Caribbean honeymoon.
- Portland's Trident Villas is a glamorous, modern beachside resort, with big bathrooms, an infinity pool, a modern spa, private beach and gym, and manicured gardens. Plus all the suites share private plunge pools.
- For something a bit different one of the best places to stay in Jamaica is Negril's Sunset at the Palms, an elegant treehouse hotel. Lush and secluded there are three restaurants and bars, serving fantastic regional and international delicacies.
For Jamaican flavour
- Geejam in Portland is a gorgeous, hillside hotel surrounded by six acres of lush, green forest, very close to the famous Blue Lagoon. There are just seven rooms, with dark wood floors and furniture, and terraces over looking the sea - some have their own verandah hot tub.
- Strawberry Hill is a boutique hotel converted from a former coffee plantation. They still have plenty of Jamaican art and antiques and of course astounding mountain views across the hills to Kingston.
- Also in the mountains, this time near Port Antonio, Mockingbird Hill is an elegant, eco-friendly hilltop hotel with no phones or TVs, and some of the island's best food, served in an ocean facing restaurant.
- The Tryall Club near Montego Bay is a classic Jamaican, colonial style hotel, but still a bit different from the beach resorts. It's big and has plenty of facilities.
For a classic Caribbean Island holiday
- Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios is a classic Caribbean beach hotel with sea views from almost every room, a magnificent private beach, both formal and informal dining
- Country Country is right on Negril's Seven Mile Beach, and its colourful cottages give it a classic beach holiday feel. There's a great atmosphere and a simple, but good value restaurant.
- Negril's Round Hill is a five star resort, oozing elegance (and a stylish clientele to match) with a private beach and loads of facilities and activities on offer. This is the kind of resort you definitely don't need to leave.
- Rockhouse in Negril offers a collection of thatched, stone cottages with muslin-draped four poster beds and outdoor showers. Surrounded by tropical gardens on all sides but the ocean, so you feel secluded. There's also a great spa.
- Negril's Sweptaway is a large but peaceful, adults only, all-inclusive beach front resort with a choice of six restaurants and an award winning spa.
- Jakes in Treasure Beach is a chic hotel right on the water. The decor is an eclectic mix of antiques, with more stained glass and mosaic than you'd expect. Some cottages have their own kitchens, and they run plenty of classes - cooking, art, fishing, for example.
- A little way along the coast from Montego Bay you'll find Coyaba, an elegant, but friendly beach front hotel. Here you can try all sorts of watersports just minutes from the hotel, and there are babysitters, kid's clubs and a spa, to make it as relaxing as possible.
- If you're looking for a small family friendly resort, Hermosa Cove in Ocho Rios is for you. There are just nine, cosy, hand-crafted villas with kitchens and private pools. If you don't want to self cater there's an excellent seafood restaurant and the hotel will happily stock your fridge for you.
- The Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay offers luxury for all the family. Elegant and serene, there's also plenty to do, from riding, tennis and kids clubs. Their villas range in size, the largest has seven ensuite bedrooms. There is also a huge spa.
For great value
- Catcha Falling Star in Negril is a stylishly rustic cliff top hotel, with charming thatched cottages. Here you'll find outdoor showers, bougainvillea filled gardens and terraces overlooking the sea. Some cottages have their own kitchens too, though they don't allow children. Rooms start from as little as £52 per night.
- Also in Negril, and also a laid-back, cliff side hotel, the Tensing Pen offers secluded cottages, some with their own ladders directly into the sea. They're big on yoga and spa treatments, and there's the echo of reggae music heard throughout.
- The Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rios is just a few minutes from the centre of town, but it's also got great cliff top views. This is a classical tropical hotel. Rooms start from £85 per night.
Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Jamaica, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively widen the net and check out all our Caribbean recommendations.
Best Hotels in Jamaica
Catcha Falling Star 21 rooms from $85Negril, Jamaica
Stylishly rustic clifftop hotel. Rooms in thatched cottages feature four poster beds, outdoor showers and terraces with seaviews. Some come with kitchens. Outdoor pool, bougainvillea filled gardens and waterfront massages available. Great Caribbean cuisine and lively bar area. A great value choice.Total relaxation - Secluded setting, massages available and quiet terraces overlooking the ocean to read fromViews - Great views from its location on the Negril cliffsLocal markets - Cars into town can be organised by hotelRestrictions on children - No childrenRecommended by - Fodors
Jakes 49 rooms from $115St Elizabeth, Jamaica
Chic boutique shorefront hotel. Rooms feature an eclectic mix of mosaic headboards, antiques and stained glass windows. Cottages with kitchenettes. Outdoor pool, lovely gardens and access to beach. Excellent seafood cuisine and laid back bar. A very cool stay for families or couples.Beach Life - Very cool atmposhere, especially considering the Pelican bar, Jamaica’s coolest bar a boatride awayFamilies - Full of family friendly fun, from art and cooking classes to river safari; larger suites are perfectFishing - Catch snapper, jackfish, kingfish, tuna or grouper and ask the chef to cook themSights nearby - Black River and YS FallsRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet, Fodors, Kiwi Collection
Tensing Pen 22 rooms from $120Negril, Jamaica
Laid back hotel on cliffside. Rooms have muslin-draped four poster beds, terracotta floors, big bathrooms - some with outdoor showers. Outdoor pool, yoga space and spa treatments. Very cool reggae can be heard throughout the property. Superb modern Jamaican cuisine. Secluded, relaxed and friendly.Honeymoons - Some of the cottages sit in their own coves, with outdoor showers and ladders leading directly to the oceanTotal relaxation - Yoga lessons on the sea-facing terrace, no other hotel in sight and no televisions in the hotelFishing - Mahi mahi, wahoo, blue and white marlin, sailfish, tarpon, and barracudaSecluded setting - For escaping.Recommended by - Fodors, I Escape
Terra Nova 48 rooms from $176Kingston
Opulent grand hotel in centre of city. Elegant rooms feature antiques, luxurious fabrics and big bathrooms. Outdoor pool and terrace. Excellent fine dining in the restaurant; charming old fashioned bar. A superb choice to explore the capital from.City Style - Explore the capital from this old-fashioned luxury hotel, with fine bar area and chandeliered dining roomsRomantic Break - Mansion built in 1924 with antiques, gilded mirrors and romantic bedroomsSights nearby - Devon House heritage sightSpaRecommended by - Fodors
Hibiscus Lodge 26 rooms from $138Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Stunningly situated clifftop hotel. Rooms feature tropical print furniture, large bathrooms and views of the sea or gardens. Outdoor pool, lush gardens & popular restaurant. Just a few minutes walk from the centre of Ocho Rios. A great value choice for a beach holiday.Sights nearby - Short walk from the centre of Ocho Rios. Dunn's River Falls. Dolphin Cove and Mystic Mountain are within 15 minutes driveSwimming Pool - Outdoor poolSailing - Can be booked nearby.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.
Rockhouse 34 rooms from $145Negril, Jamaica
Unique cliffside hotel. Rooms in thatched stone cottages feature muslin-draped four poster beds & terraces - some with outdoor showers & some in secluded spots amid the tropical gardens. Outdoor pool, fantastic spa & three restaurants. Boutique & laid-back with unbeatable views. Great value too.Spa breaks - Outstanding facilities in open air thatched spa centre on the cliff edgeRomantic Break - Four-poster beds, infinity pool and stunning sunsetsCooking classes - Complimentary cookery demonstrations every FridaySights nearby - 2.5 miles from Negril TownRecommended by - Fodors, Tablet, Kiwi Collection
Country Country 20 rooms from $160Negril, Jamaica
Colourful fairy tale style cottages on Negril beach. Rooms are decorated in tropical prints with shutters, bamboo furniture & terraces. Located directly on the beach yet set amid lush gardens. Excellent, simple food served at the restaurant. Buzzy atmosphere - a great value classic beach holiday.Active Holiday - Situated on the beach, with miles of coastline to walk along and watersports to enjoyBeach LifeOn the beach - Located directly on Negril's Seven Mile beachGreat walks - Walk for miles along Negril's beachRecommended by - Frommers
Idle Awhile 14 rooms from $160Negril, Jamaica
Chic beachfront hotel. Rooms come with colourful walls, nautical striped furniture, dark wood shutters and gorgeous bathrooms. Fresh and tasty cuisine from the restaurant and bar on the beach. Use of nearby hotel's fitness facilities. Peaceful, contemporary and cool.Total relaxation - Carefree ambience with a quieter environment than some bigger resorts and spa treatments availableSights nearby - Short taxi ride from central Negril or the West End CliffsOn the beach - Situated on Negril's Seven Mile BeachSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Fodors, Frommers
Spanish Court 108 rooms from $185Kingston, Jamaica
Charming city hotel. Modern rooms offer dark wood furniture, big beds and ipod docks. Outdoor pool and rooftop terrace, spa and gym to enjoy. Fantastic international and Jamaican food is served. Chic central base to explore this colourful city from.City Style - This chic hotel is perfect for exploring the city's museums and nightlife.Swimming Pool - Infinity edged lap pool on the roof terraceSights nearby - Devon House Heritage SightSpaRecommended by - Fodors
Shaw Park Beach Hotel 94 rooms from $190Ocho Rios, Jamaica
All inclusive beach resort. Elegant rooms have private balconies facing the sea and colourful furnishings. Outdoor pool and lush orchid filled gardens. Spa and gym for your pleasure. Superb cuisine from restaurant, both local and western foods. Quiet and charming and great value for money.Local exploring - Enjoy the White River passing through the resort, Shaw Park Botanical gardens and plethora of watersportsSailing - Ocho Rios outing aboard the 90-foot yacht San SanOn the beach - Lovely, secluded stretch of beach on Cutlass BaySights nearby - Rose Hall Mansion & Montego Bay City TourRecommended by - Fodors
Coyaba 50 rooms from $206Jamaica
Friendly, owner managed, elegant beach front hotel. Charming rooms feature tropical print furnishings, dark wood furniture and all with private balconies. Outdoor pool, gym and spa. Three restaurants serving fresh local cuisine. Ideal for families.Beach Life - All watersports are minutes from hotel & most equipment can be hired. For those who like to relax, the hotel is on the beachFamilies - Interconnecting rooms available, babysitters and kids clubLocal markets - Shuttle service runs from Coyaba to “town” three times weeklySpa - featuring candle lit indoor treatment roomsRecommended by - Fodors
The Tryall Club 87 rooms from $313Jamaica
Sumptuous villa resort. Rooms are colonial-chic with lively prints, large bathrooms, views of the golf course or coast & private pools. Outdoor pool, gym, golf course, tennis courts and gardens. Choice of restaurants offering excellent local cuisine. A great choice for adventure types.Active Holiday - Abundance of activities can be organised by hotel from safari, swimming with dolphins, rafting as well as all watersportsGroups - Private villas come with fully equipped kitchens and private chefs if required giving a very secluded stayGolf - 18 hole course within hotelLocal markets - Take a golf cart over to the water wheel market-exclusively for guestsRecommended by - Frommers, Fodors
Mockingbird Hill 10 rooms from $248Port Antonio, Jamaica
Elegant, eco-friendly hilltop hotel. Rooms feature muslin-draped four posters & bamboo furniture but no phones or TVs. Outdoor pool, spa treatments and rooftop canopy. Some of the best food on the island is served in the ocean facing restaurant. Chilled and charming - perfect for total escape.Active Holiday - Plethora of activities nearby such as snorkelling, bird watching and hiking- hotel provides extensive infoFoodies - Short or intensive Jamaican cookery courses available; Mille Fleurs is a fantastic restaurantEco - Solar heated water and lots of upcycling. Sustainability is the key word here.Spa - Outdoor garden of Wellness area offering a selection of holistic treatments including herbal baths, facials & more.Recommended by - I Escape, Fodors
Hermosa Cove 9 rooms from $250Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Nine hand-crafted villas. Bedrooms are full of warmth with dark wood and leather furniture and views of the gardens. All come with kitchens which can be stocked by the hotel. Private outdoor pools, and excellent seafood restaurant. Intimate, luxurious and a real home from home.Hideaway - Private villas come with their own pools and walled gardens, if you wish, there is no need to leave as staff can prepare dinnerSights nearby - Dunn's River Falls and Dolphin Cove.Secluded setting - For escaping.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Fodors
Strawberry Hill 11 rooms from $270Blue Mountains, Jamaica
Boutique hotel on a hilltop perch amid the Blue Mountains. Gorgeous rooms feature antique Jamaican furniture, mahogany four posters & mountain-view porches. Outdoor pool, spa & yoga terrace. Delicious 'new Jamaican' cuisine, chilled bar area. A stylish stay with unbeatable views across Kingston.Hideaway - Enjoy the infinity pool with a view, hammocks and spa treatments before laid back drinks in this chilled hotelViews - Amazing 360 degree views from its hilltop location.Great walks - Get Rasta Dave to take you on one of his guided walks through the Blue Mountains. He is a mine of local information.Sights nearby - Craighton house coffee estate hike and tour tripsRecommended by - Fodors, Kiwi Collection, Tablet, I Escape
Jamaica Pegasus 300 rooms from $300Kingston, Jamaica
Contemporary city hotel. Rooms feature art deco style furniture and large bathrooms. Outdoor pool and sun terrace, tennis courts, gym, jogging track and spa. Choice of excellent Jamaican and international cuisine in restaurants.Local exploring - Perfect base to see the city sights fromSights nearby - Devon House and Bob Marley’s Tough Gong StudioSwimming Pool - Olympic size outdoor poolGreat walks - In the Blue Mountains
Jamaica Inn 51 rooms from $316Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Sublime hotel on a magnificent beach. Large, elegant rooms feature four poster beds, white shutters, antique furniture, and sea views. Outdoor pool, gym and spa for your enjoyment. Choice of excellent restaurants for either formal or informal dining. Secluded, gorgeous and grown-up.Hideaway - Cottages have private access to the beach and private pools, mobile phones and TVs are restricted adding to the seclusionRomantic Break - Enjoy 6-course fusion meals, adult atmosphere, spa, beach activities and gardensOn the beach - Situated on one of Jamaica's loveliest beachesSpa - Waterfront treatments at the Ocean SpaRecommended by - I Escape, Frommers
Half Moon Resort 197 rooms from $319St. James, Jamaica
Luxury resort overlooking Montego Bay. Elegant rooms feature four poster beds, antique furniture and seaside terraces. Riding, tennis and gym facilities. Outdoor pool and large spa. Superb traditional regional cuisine in choice of restaurants and bars. Secluded, opulent and family friendly.Families - Clubs for younger children and teenagers, along with plenty of kid-friendly activities within hotelActive Holiday - Horse riding, watersports, tennis, yoga and swimming with dolphins to keep all active types happyGroups - Villas with up to seven ensuite bedrooms are perfect for larger families and groups.Spa breaks - A 68,000 square foot spa awaits you, with wonderful treatments, pool and views
Sunset at the Palms 85 rooms from $375Negril, Jamaica
All inclusive adults only 'treehouse' hotel. Elegant rooms have bamboo furniture, large bathrooms and wooden balconies. Outdoor pool, spa, tennis courts and gym. Three restaurants and bars providing fantastic regional and international dishes. Grown up, lush and secluded.Honeymoons - Beautiful tree house rooms, massages and spa treatments, adults only atmosphere and sunset drinksCooking classes - Island cooking classes.Sights nearby - Negril LighthouseRestrictions on children - Adults only hotel
Round Hill 110 rooms from $389Montego Bay, Jamaica
Sensational 5* hotel. Large rooms feature white shutters, dark wood furniture and gorgeous bathrooms. Private villas have dedicated staff for every need. Spa, beauty salon and gym at your disposal. Outdoor pool, private beach area, tennis court & kids club. Luxurious, romantic and laid back.Families - Plenty for children's entertainment, kid's club and restaurants are child-friendlyRomantic Break - Enjoy the spa, beach front horse rides, sailing, scuba diving and gourmet seafoodKids Club - Complimentary kids club. Activities incl nature walks, arts & crafts, watersports, talent shows, reggae lessons ...Great walks - Jogging and walking paths around the propertyRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
GoldenEye 47 rooms from $400Ocho Rios
Exquisite 5* beach front hotel. Villas, cottages and stilted beach huts have mahogany beds, shutters and direct beach access. On site restaurants serve up traditional Jamaican styles with a twist, from their organic garden. Historic and luxurious with the emphasis on privacy. Honeymoon heaven!Groups - The enormous villas have kitchen facilities, living room area, hammocks and private terracesWriting a novel - In the spot where all Bond novels were penned, find peace, quiet and inspirationSwimming Pool - Freshwater outdoor infinity pool, plus four acre private lagoonBirdwatching - 255 bird species can be viewed from the surrounding area.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, I Escape, Kiwi Collection
Geejam 7 rooms from $425Portland, Jamaica
Gorgeous hotel set amid six lush acres. Rooms feature darkwood floors, white furniture, wooden terraces and enormous bathrooms. All rooms come with built in entertainment systems. Outdoor pool, gym and spa treatments. Superb Caribbean fusion food in the restaurant. Secluded and chic.Hideaway - Set in 6 acres of forest stretching down to the beach, enjoy the space and quiet from the tree canopy deckPrivate Hot Tub - Several rooms come with private hot tubs on their verandahsSights nearby - 10 minutes drive from historic Port Antonio.Views - Wonderful views from the hillside location.Recommended by - Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
The Trident 13 rooms from $450Portland, Jamaica
Contemporary beachside hotel. Villas have stone floors, big bathrooms, 1960s style furniture, private terraces and plunge pools. Outdoor infinity pool, manicured gardens, private beach area, spa and gym. Two excellent restaurants offering western or local cuisine. Luxurious, chic and glamourous.Romantic Break - Villas have enclosed gardens with plunge pools for maximum privacy, jazz nights and walks by the Blue LagoonSwimming Pool - Outdoor infinity poolOn the beach - Private beachSights nearby - Blue LagoonRecommended by - Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith, Fodors
Sweptaway 312 rooms from $478Negril, Jamaica
Sensational all inclusive beach front resort. Contemporary rooms feature wooden floors, shuttered windows, terraces and bamboo writing desks. Three outdoor pools, award winning spa, tennis courts, gym and private beach area. Six restaurants offering excellent range of cuisine. Characterful luxury.Romantic Break - Enjoy the quiet of an adults only resort, with sailing trips, candle lit beach dinners and nightly entertainmentSpa breaks - Award winning spa offering extensive treatments from the beautiful spa centreRestrictions on children - Adults only resortBirdwatching - Good birding near the hotel.Recommended by - Frommers, Fodors
The Caves 13 rooms from $550Negril, Jamaica
Characterful 5* hotel on the cliffside. Funky, colourful cottages feature elegant rooms with white shutters, dark wood floors and enormous bathrooms. Some have small kitchen areas. Outdoor pool, spa treatments available and ladder-access to the sea. Grown-up ambience with superb service.Honeymoons - Candle-lit dinners in the caves, in-room spa treatments and breathtaking clifftop viewsRomantic Break - Designed for couples and with no children, complete romance, privacy and quietCooking classes - Cooking and cocktail classes can be arrangedViews - Great views from the clifftop locationRecommended by - Tablet, I Escape, Fodors, Kiwi Collection