“Mockingbird Hill is the perfect spot for those looking for a hideaway in one of Jamaica's most beautiful corners. Set on a hillside amid seven acres of lush tropical gardens, with stunning views over Port Antonio, the property is a little piece of heaven on an island where it feels slightly overrun by large resort-style hotels. Owners Shireen and Barbara have honed their craft over the last twenty years and they offer superb personal attention and genuine interest in all their guests. Mockingbird Hill's ten beautiful rooms are decorated in cool whites and blues and furnished with bamboo pieces, muslin draped beds, plantation shutter windows and balconies for soaking up the views. You won't find any flat screen TVs or phones (though wifi is available), but quite frankly who needs them when you can watch the birdlife from the comfort of your terrace. Another good reason to visit is Barbara's cooking. Renowned as one of the best restaurants on the island, at Mille Fleurs you'll find a delicious mix of Jamaican and European cuisine. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible (most are organic) and virtually everything you put to your lips is made on site, from the Muesli at breakfast to the array of breads accompanying your gourmet dinner. Just be sure to ask if you can dine on the deck - a beautiful candlelit space which can accommodate up to eight, with glorious views over the twinkling lights of Port Antonio below. For enthusiasts you can book a cookery class with Barbara, and allow her to share some of her secrets! Sustainability is at the heart of all Shireen and Barbara do, so the moniker "eco-chic" is (for once) really well deserved. They are passionate about looking after the planet from the solar heated water to the upcycled light fittings - a great new use for empty Bombay Sapphire bottles.”
Written by Sarah Empson
“Why do people love staying in your hotel?
What we hear most often from our guests is the fact they appreciate the attention to detail, the many little things that make them feel that we genuinely care for them, ranging from all the fresh flower arrangements to the many little gifts in their rooms and the feeling of being home. Our guests also love the thought we put into making them feel comfortable and creating the opportunity for them to enjoy an authentic experience and really learn and appreciate the culture and the country. In addition we find that guests enjoy the detailed information we provide in our information folders which we are now enhancing with an app to help guests plan and prepare for their holiday before they even arrive . Most guests appreciate the sustainable operations and the contributions made to the community.
We have only 10 rooms on over 6 acres of land with large extensive gardens. The guests love the sense of space and the lush tropical gardens. They enjoy a boutique hotel experience and the very best that Jamaica has to offer: fresh, local, organic food, endless adventures on their doorstep and healthy, rejuvenating living in harmony with nature.
What is there to do in the area or on site?
There is lots to do in terms of nature related and soft adventure activities during the day. Jamaica’s most romantic beach is just 5 minutes away. The charm of Port Antonio is that unlike the other destinations that just have one main beach, there are a number of different beaches, each with their own individual character. So Frenchmen’s Cove is our “elegant” beach, then there is the colourful Winifred and Boston beach, then Long Bay and San San….. Something for everyone and this provides a nice variety rather than just going back to the same beach. Needless to say there are diving and snorkelling opportunities.
For hikers there is a wide variety of hikes from the Blue Mountains to tropical rain forests to a hike along the coast. Individually tailored visits to coffee estates, a music / cultural tour in Kingston, rafting (more like punting – not white water rafting) exploring waterfalls are just some of the wonderful experiences to be enjoyed here – and birding is a highlight here.
What kind of breakfast do you offer?
There is a wide range of breakfasts to choose from – whether a light start with either Banana Pancakes, Waffles with stewed Fruit , Breakfast Sundae with homemade Muesli, Yoghurt and Fruit to Continental or a variety of egg dishes and a full breakfast. There is also a range of savoury breakfast from a Jamaican breakfast to specialities such as the Blue Mountain Breakfast with smoked Marlin and sauté Callaloo, Fried Bammy and Plantain.
Do you offer other meals? And can you recommend good places to eat out locally?
The restaurant is open for all meals. While most non-resident guests come for dinner, the word is slowly spreading that we offer the best breakfasts on island. It’s a wonderful way to start the day with a leisurely breakfast enjoying the panoramic views.
For lunch there is also an array of dishes to choose from salads to burgers to Pasta dishes and then of course there is the a la Carte daily changing menu for dinner.
There are a number of informal eateries that can be enjoyed during the day which we recommend in combination with the various excursions. A list of places is provided in the information folder that guests receive.
Which are your most popular room types, and why?
It all depends on the reason for our guests stay – For honeymooners and those coming for a romantic retreat, the deluxe rooms are the winner – they have the best views and are the most private rooms, especially room #10 which has 2 balconies.
For families and bird watchers, the garden view rooms are a favourite – given the direct proximity and views into the gardens… one can actually see the hummingbirds darting from flower to flower.
Most of our guests who come just to relax book the superior rooms – with the hammocks they can just look out from their plantation shuttered balcony and enjoy the views overlooking the gardens with the sea in the background.
Finally for those booking a long stay and seeking more living space, we have the suite with a separate living room and bedroom.
This is why even with just 10 rooms; we have the different room categories.
What facilities do you have for children and can you fit extra beds in your rooms ?
We have 2 garden view rooms with large balconies that are fitted with a day bed that folds out into a 3rd bed. In addition, we can place a baby cot in the room as requested.
In addition there is one “economy” room that we only allocate to families with children as this room is next to the swimming pool deck and the gazebo – ideal for children who enjoy the space to play and be close to the pool. Since this room does not have the views and privacy of the other rooms, it is much more reasonably priced to accommodate children. This room is confirmed on a request basis – simply email us.
What message would you like to give Hotel Guru readers?
Tell us what you are interested in and we will be happy to assist with suggestions and recommendations. We’ve been here for over 20 years, so if you have questions, or need advice about the destination contact us. Often guests underestimate the travelling time and then end up stressed driving all over the island. While it is a small island, given the road conditions, it still takes time to travel from one end to the other so best to perhaps focus on a few points rather than trying to cover the whole island. For an authentic experience, the north east corner of the island with the wonderful combination of the Blue Mountains and the lush, tropical coastline of Port Antonio is perfect.”
Hotel Mockingbird Hill is a small independent hotel with a soft and welcoming touch. It is ideal for an independent traveller who wants to eat well (there is an excellent restaurant) and explore – or enjoy their painting and cooking classes.
Originally published by The Telegraph (view article)