This Old-School Boutique Resort on a Private Cove is Still the Grand Dame of Jamaica

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Looking for a secluded beach getaway that pairs supreme relaxation with the most genuine hospitality? Jamaica Inn is a thoughtfully preserved boutique resort, opened in the 1950s on the Caribbean island’s north coast. It proves that destinations do become better with the right patina.  

A gated entrance beyond neighboring northcoast town Ocho Rios separates the manicured blue and white inn from its wild and lush surroundings. Once inside the covered but open-air lobby, all attention goes outward, to a 700-foot private beach with sand the color of sun-drenched plantains, and a clear-blue Caribbean. The hotel’s 55 guest rooms are built with this singular view in mind, so that hand-painted original tile floors, white flowing linens and curtains, and wood and wicker furniture serve as backdrops to the stunning vistas. 

With all signs pointing to the beach, it becomes the place to start the day and end it, whether on a sunbed below your suite’s veranda, sipping a fresh fruit punch, or at the almond tree-shaded bar cooling off with a Red Stripe. The water is always a few feet away for dipping into, or else snorkeling around the nearby reef, where local conservation efforts keep a coral nursery. Standup paddle boards, kayaks, and boats (with guides) are always ready for guests to go exploring along the coastline.   

Back in the hotel, you’ll get your sea views regardless, but do upgrade to a romantic couple’s or spacious family cottage if the budget allows. These standalone guest quarters come with direct beach or sea access, either by jungle path or bluff-side stairwell. They each feature plunge pools, and the largest of them, Cottage 7, comes with a breathtaking infinity pool over the Caribbean. 

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The one guest room that’s nicer still might be Suite 21, which can book up to two years ahead of time. Positioned on a little peninsula, its rooms and patios jut out over the sea, from the wraparound balcony to the private sundeck and the bathroom’s adorable soaking tub. The suite has housed celebrities and dignitaries, from Marilyn Monroe to Winston Churchill, whose oversized desk still sits proudly in one corner.    

But if you can’t snag that particular reservation and its bathtub views, just opt for an overwater bungalow spa appointment for a similarly serene feeling. The massages include local lemon balm-infused oil, plus, one last relaxing plunge pool awaits below the bluffs, suspended between the five-star treatment and the sea always before it.

Top Takeaways

Location: Ocho Rios, Jamaica 

Rating: Five-Star

The Vibe: Old Hollywood meets colonial charm at a 65-year, family-run resort where Ian Fleming famously frequented the bar, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller honeymooned, and Meghan Markle celebrated her (first) wedding.    

Food + Drink: Three onsite restaurants – the Sea Shanty, Beach Bar, and Terrace Restaurant – offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They serve traditional Jamaican meals, such as curried goat, grilled fresh-caught fish, even wood-fired pizzas. Continental breakfasts can be delivered on “floating trays” for guests staying in one of the cottages with private pools. Fresh juices and cocktails, from the Planter’s Punch to Vesper Martinis (ask about its origins here), are poured in the lounge and beachside.  

Amenities: Sea-facing terraces from every guest room; a private cove beach; free kayaks, SUP boards, and boat excursions; snorkeling in the nearby coral reef; croquet & rosé; afternoon tea; overwater spa treatments.  

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: The private beach might be the most beautiful on the island, but the staff really make your stay special with their warm and attentive service. 

5 Nearby Attractions: Sea turtle hatching at various beaches (seasonal); Dunn’s River Falls & Park for waterfalls and freshwater swimming; roadside jerk chicken lunch at Scotchies; White River floating on bamboo “punting” rafts; and Stush in the Bush for a prix-fixe, plant-based farm lunch or dinner.    

Any Personal Neighborhood Recs?: Ten minutes away from the hotel, by car, Harmony Hall is a beautifully restored Jamaican-Georgian manor from the 1800s. Up its grand staircase, a sweet boutique shop stocks locally made designer clothing and homewares from across the Caribbean. Downstairs, rum drinks and dinner are served on the lawn of a design-forward restaurant. It’s all run by two Jamaican sisters, Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau, known for their homestyle Caribbean cookbooks.   

Rooms: 55 guest suites, all with sea views, including five secluded cottages with large verandas, sea access, and plunge pools.

Pricing: Deluxe veranda suites start at $374/night, while the most private rooms, Suite 21 and Cottage 7, start at $1284.

Closest Airport: Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston (2.5 hours), Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (1.5 hours), and the soon-to-open Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios (15 minutes)

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