This week, we’re talking about boutique hotels! The phrase boutique hotel is a hot topic in travel magazines and on everyone’s lips these days but what exactly is a boutique hotel? Unlike all-inclusive hotels, there are no strict requirements but generally, boutique hotels are small sophisticated places to stay. Some boutique hotels are whimsical, artistic or downright luxurious. They tend to have a strong focus on design and décor, offer an intimate ambiance and are perfect for travelers who want a base from which to explore a city or neighbourhood. Read on to find out why boutique hotels are my preferred accommodation, and get my top picks for the best boutique hotels in Jamaica, prices included.
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Why Should I Stay in a Boutique Hotel?
Boutique hotels offer an intimate luxurious alternative to large all-inclusive hotel chains. The rooms hold an element of surprise as quite often, each room is unique in way of design, art work, décor and even view. Since boutique hotels have fewer rooms and by extension fewer guests, it’s easier for the staff to interact with you, cater to your unique preferences and even eventually know you by name if you visit often. A boutique hotel may have anywhere from three to as many as fifty rooms. These factors make it easier to culturally immerse yourself in a destination, and you may end up getting more out of your vacation that way. I love the private intimate feel of boutique hotels, and for the most part they are authentic and no-frills places which give excellent insight into life in that neighbourhood or country. They are often locally owned as well, which means staying at a boutique hotel will boost that country’s economy and directly benefits the local community.
Boutique hotels may also include the perks of larger chains and all-inclusive hotels with airport transfers and unlimited food options. At minimum, a Jamaican boutique hotel will offer free breakfast, hot water, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a fan and lovely view. They are often situated on or near the beach, and many will feature a jacuzzi and pool. However, just like staying at a Jamaican villa, costs can easily stack up quickly because you’ll have to buy your other meals (lunch, dinner) out of pocket and possibly leave the boutique hotel for entertainment. However, many may include meals and entertainment too so it’s important to research thoroughly in order to know what you’re paying for.
1. Hermosa Cove Villa Hotel 📍 Ocho Rios
Hermosa Cove consists of nine unique beachfront villas woven into twelve lush acres of tropical rainforest. Most villas have their own private pools and private nooks, making Hermosa the perfect place for an intimate luxurious vacation. All villas feature fully-stocked kitchens, spacious bathrooms with rainfall shower heads, Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, patios and outdoor dining pavilions. Daily continental breakfast is included with each stay. There are a plethora of activities available here too such as sport fishing, mountain biking, nature walks and snorkeling. Prices start at US$450 per night with the 1 bedroom Coconut Suite.
2. Portland Sea Cliff Resort 📍 Long Bay
This hotel caught my eye from their social media marketing in early 2021. I spent the whole year eyeing their affordable rates and breathtaking cliffside scenery, and thought I’d visit when a special occasion came around. I ended up going for my boyfriend’s birthday last December and we had a blast. Read that review here. Located in the sleepy rural community of Long Bay, Sea Cliff offers a rustic tranquil setting. There’s a saltwater pool on the property with an almost completed swim-up bar, board games and spa services. The sparse offerings in activities provide a perfect opportunity to unwind and unplug. Each room has a balcony with an unbroken view of the cliffs, which allow one to admire a divine sunset and listen to the soothing omnipresent crash of waves along the craggy coast. Jamaican breakfast at the Cliff Hanger Restaurant is included in the room rate, and the staff was very courteous and friendly. Prices for this hotel start at US$165 per night (double occupancy).
3. Geejam Hotel 📍 Port Antonio
Geejam is a luxurious boutique hotel tucked away on a hilltop near Port Antonio on Jamaica’s northeastern coast. Geejam has hosted dozens of famous guests including Tom Cruise, Rihanna and Drake. The hotel features a minimalist earthy design complimented by vibrant island décor. There’s an onsite recording studio which makes the property attractive for its high-profile musician clientele, as well as a private beach, infinity pool, hot tubs and dense tropical foliage which frames breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Bush Bar serves three meals a day and unlimited cocktails. Geejam is the perfect place to disappear off-the-grid for a few days and reset. A stay at their 12 Rumba Rooms start at US$360 per night for two.
4. Rockhouse Hotel 📍 Negril
This boutique hotel is perched above Pristine Cove on Negril’s West End limestone cliffs. Hewn from timber, stone and thatch, the high-end Rockhouse Hotel makes for an exquisite break from the ordinary. Enjoy the property’s spa, snorkeling opportunities and infinity pool which is even more mesmerizing at sunset. Dine at the award-winning Rockhouse Restaurant which serves tasty Caribbean cuisine, stop by the Pushcart Restaurant & Rum Bar for delicious jerk or grab a quick snack and beverage at the poolside grill and organic juice bar. This hotel also provides shuttles to and from its sister hotel Skylark Beach Resort. Prices start at US$195 for a standard room for two.
5. Lashing’s Boutique Resort 📍 Treasure Beach
This list wouldn’t be complete without a boutique hotel from Treasure Beach! This bohemian south coast town is home to the Lashing’s Boutique Resort which has 11 hotel rooms, two penthouses, eight beach club suites and five villas. The main hotel is nestled into the mountain with a delightful view of the coast, while the smaller beach club opens directly onto the beach. There is a shuttle available between both locations. No two rooms or villas at Lashing’s are exactly alike and all ooze personality and charm. This artsy hotel has ceramics and other local pieces on sale, while the Treetop Restaurant caters to all palates with gourmet pizzas and a mix of local and international fare. Lashing’s Resort is very affordable with prices starting at US$60 per night for the beach club suite.
6. S Hotel 📍 Montego Bay
Smack dab on the Montego Bay Hip Strip lies the European-style business & boutique S Hotel. This 120 bed hotel opens onto the Doctor’s Cave Beach, one of Jamaica’s most beautiful beaches. Enjoy cocktails at the hotel’s bright red distinct swim-out cabanas and loungers, and enjoy a swim in its rooftop pool. S Hotel features two restaurants, a poolside grill, an all-day café, and two bars featuring artisanal Jamaican and international cuisine. Prices start at US$350 per night. If visiting Kingston, their sister resort Spanish Court Hotel offers a perfect platform for exploring the city.
7. Tensing Pen 📍 Negril
Tensing Pen Resort is another romantic boutique resort located on the Negril West End cliffs. Experience unforgettable views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea from the hotel’s stunning limestone cliffs of Negril, and allow the uniquely designed rooms hand-built with local stone, wood, and thatch roofs to offer intimate seclusion. Each room is uniquely furnished with fine Jamaican art, and the al fresco Lodge Restaurant serves three meals a day made from fresh local ingredients and the day’s catch. This private luxury in an exquisite location earned Tensing Pen Resort a space in the Condé Nast Traveler Top 40 Caribbean Resorts 2021 list. Prices start at US$190 with the superior garden view room.
8. Jamaica Inn 📍 Ocho Rios
Snuggled against the Ocho Rios coastline lies the Jamaica Inn, a small luxury boutique hotel which has all-inclusive meal plan options available. This hotel has numerous entertainment activities such as kayaking, sunfish sailing, paddle boarding and snorkeling. Jamaica Inn prides itself on their sea turtle conservation efforts as Hawksbill turtles nest and hatch on their beach every summer. Seeing the tiny hatchlings make their first journey to the Caribbean Sea is a lovely spectacle you’ll have the opportunity of witnessing if you visit at the right time. There are numerous airy suites, cottages and bungalows to choose from, but prices start at US$374 per night for double occupancy during off season (mid-April to October) for a superior balcony suite.
9. Sunset at the Palms 📍 Negril
Sunset at the Palms is an award-winning adults-only boutique all-inclusive resort which combines serenity and luxury into the perfect package. Their treehouse suites are nestled into and perched above 10 acres of lush tropical beauty with the pristine Negril 7 Mile Beach a stone’s throw away. Activities include mixology classes, Jamaican dance lessons, nature walks and non-motorized watersports including snorkeling, kayaking, and wind surfing. Enjoy delicious meals at seven restaurants and cafes which celebrate Caribbean fusion cuisine. Prices start at US$451 per couple per night.
10. Luna Sea Inn 📍 Bluefields
Let’s wrap up the list with another budget friendly option, shall we? Luna Sea Inn is located in the quiet fishing village of Bluefields on Jamaica’s west coast. Its location is a great launchpad for exploring the Treasure Beach and Negril resort towns. The perfect blend of history and modern convenience, this hotel’s 9 unique rooms and suites open onto a small beach. Stroll the beach in the mornings then curl up in their beachfront gazebos with a book or drink and snack as the day passes. There are non-motorized sports available such as kayaking, snorkeling and paddle boarding, as well as seasonal seaside dining at the Cracked Conch Restaurant. The Pufferfish rooms start at US$135 per night for double occupancy.
I hope you enjoyed this list of boutique hotels. Look out for more lists of places to stay in Jamaica (nature retreats, budget stays and family-friendly hotels) in coming weeks. Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss them! Share, pin and bookmark this list to help you plan your Jamaican vacation, and make sure to pick up my Jamaica guide on Amazon to help you explore the best of the island.
Take care! ‘Til next time.
Disclosures: Nothing to disclose. At the time of publishing I’ve only visited 2/10 boutique hotels listed above. The other 8 places came highly recommended by friends and independent travel websites.