For classic Jamaican charm with sun, cocktails and carefree Caribbean spirit on tap.
Jetting off to a Caribbean island has long been a honeymoon fail-safe, but it’s the hotels, like island stalwart, Jamaica Inn, whose balance of old-school elegance with modern day comforts truly provides that winning mix. Days at this photogenic hotel are all about embracing the leisurely pace of island life; strolling through the lush gardens, swimming in a warm Caribbean Sea, exhaling with a treatment at the Ocean Spa and relishing sunsets over beachfront dinners. This where to go for unapologetic fly-and-flop and to settle into Jamaica’s go-slow rhythms, as well as the hotel’s jungle-meets-sea surroundings.
Set the scene:
As soon as you set foot in Jamaica Inn you are on Jamaican time – a carefree, languid clock with a barely audible tick. The open-plan reception alone is enough to remove all thoughts of the daily grind with signature powder blues and white interiors blending seamlessly into the heavenly views of sky, sea and tropical palms blowing in the breeze. The hotel’s 55 suites, cottages and bungalows are spread out over 8 acres of preened gardens. All peer out over the sea (the idyllic 700-foot private beach being a focal point). The real stars are the warm and welcoming team, whose laid back charm and easy-going nature sets the tone.
The bedroom’s traditional mahogany furniture is offset by crisp white sofas, sheets and curtains, while marble bathrooms (packed with Molton Brown goodies) are framed by sea views. The refreshing lack of TV’s, radios or clocks ensures ‘Jamaica time’ prevails (though the hotel’s Wifi is top notch for the nomadic workers or those simply wanting to keep an eye on their emails between a leisurely swim and long lunch. Honeymooners with privacy on the priority list should book Suite 21 (which just so happens to have been Winston Churchill’s favourite) which is blissfully secluded on its own peninsula with a fragrant gardens, a four poster bed and sweeping views. A series of cottages all have their own singular style. Cottage 3 is a stand out with its outdoor shower lost in the palm trees, its own infinity pool and perfectly private entrance to the sea.
Food and drink:
Authentic Jamaican menus twist towards a British and American palate. Days at Jamaican Inn typically start at the Sea Shanty restaurant overlooking the bay or on private veranda for a long, lazy breakfast. Choose from a full menu of traditional favourites including eggs of any style, the freshest local fruits or local delights such as ackee and Caribbean friend salt fish. Honeymooners staying in one of the cottages or suites can opt for a romantic (and rather Instagrammable) floating breakfast: a spread of pancakes, eggs and fresh fruit to enjoy from their own private pool with views across a crystal blue Caribbean sea.
Lunch is served at the beach bar, or for those reluctant to leave their sun-lounger, a charming waiter is on the look out for sun-worshippers raising the little red flags attached to their sun beds. It would be remiss of any Jamaican guest to not dig into Chef Mo-Mo’s finger licking jerk chicken, or, for that matter, the fresh and flavour-packed silver snapper, simmered with okra, bell and scotch bonnet peppers in a light coconut curry sauce.
Dinner is a more formal and elegant affair with live music and a dress code (men are required to wear long trousers and a collared shirt) – a great excuse to spruce up after a lazy day on the beach. The only constant within an ever-changing menu of international and Caribbean plates is the lobster nights on Saturday. For more casual evenings without the dress code, Teddy’s Grill (opening in February 2022), will serve wood fire pizzas on the beachfront with less buttoned shirt, more linen billowing in the hot wind.
After opening in 1950, Jamaica Inn quickly gained glamorous mileage in starry circles for its discrete service and understated elegance. Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller toasted their honeymoon here. James Bond author, Ian Fleming, famously sipped martinis at the bar. Seventy years have past and yet, Jamaica Inn has held onto this family-owned spirit with the experience, setting and many of the staff remaining largely unchanged.
Children above ten are very welcome, but the calm and elegant pitch of this hotel feels grown-up and ideal for honeymooners after a guaranteed dose of tranquility.
The Ocean Spa is nestled quietly into the rocks with its wooden treatment hut overlooking the Caribbean sea. There’s no need for spa music here with the sound of the waves splashing on the rocks beneath. Treatments take their cue from the powers of the island’s plants, as are the ingredients for the products which are gathered from the surrounding fragrant gardens – think coconut oil, lemongrass and avocado. The ocean deep massage is as relaxing as the name suggests, or for a more re-energising treatment, opt for the seaweed leaf pedicure which focuses on re-charging circulation. Therapists gently wrap legs and feet in warmed Atlantic seaweed leaves to detoxify, increase circulation and nourish the skin. Be sure to arrive early to make ample use of the sauna and naturally-healing saltwater pool bath, perhaps after one of the weekly yoga classes.
Resident black labrador Shadow IV patrols the beachfront – the fourth generation and just as popular with the guests as her predecessors. In addition to black labradors, the seafront hosts a variety of marine and land wildlife. The beach forms part of a group of protected shorelines in Jamaica, where conservation efforts ensure turtle hatchlings make it safely from the nest to the sea. During the hatchling release season, honeymooners will have the chance to help release the newborns into the sea – a thrilling and heartwarming experience.
Jamaica Inn also supports the efforts of the White River Fish Sanctuary, a marine association comprising local fisherman, hotel owners and local businesses. The group’s efforts have dramatically increased the growth of coral and catalysed the long-awaited return of tropical fish to the surrounding Caribbean Sea.
Located on Jamaica’s north coast, just east of Ocho Rios, transfers from Montego Bay and Kingston airports take around 1 hour and 30 minutes. Jamaica Inn is a more upmarket choice amid the many mega-resorts that are packed in along the Ocho Rios coast.
Rates start from $544.50 (£404.92) per night per couple, including breakfast and taxes. jamaicainn.com/
Related article: Which Six Senses Honeymoon Would You Choose?