Jamaica Inn has been both beloved by regulars and discovered by lucky newcomers ever since its opening in the 1950s—and yet it remains relatively unknown. That’s partly due to its size—just 47 rooms; its style, which despite its signature cornflower blue coloring (everywhere) is unflashy; and its location at the edge of Ocho Rios, a town which is overrun with cruise ship passengers on some days and otherwise simply rundown.
But if you’re looking for a low-key vacation at a small-scale property that will feel authentically Jamaican, a reservation here is worth considering. Still owned by the same family that has run it since 1958—the descendants of brothers Ray and Charlie Morrow, of Upper Forge, New York—the property is a throwback in its look but not its demeanor. Converted and much expanded from a private house, though you can’t really tell it, the hotel consists primarily of long, low wings enclosing a serene sweep of sand. Enter your room in the west wing, pass through the bedroom to the porch beyond, and the water laps up just a few feet away; the sea-level view is sensational. Enter your room in the east wing, and your porch faces the hotel’s courtyard, its croquet pitch and pool beyond. But no matter east or west or in-between, from many rooms you can walk out the door and in about 20 steps dig your toes in the sand. If it’s no-frills (or, more precisely, unadulterated) beach bliss that you’ve been craving, this is the place to get your fill, as long as you don’t mind that overall the property is not “posh” in the usual luxury-hotel sense. The rooms, when you stop to look at them, are almost stark in their simplicity, but don’t worry—their adjoining porches are as large as the bedrooms, and they’re so well furnished that they’re more like living rooms. When you’re not on the beach, you’ll be lounging here quite happily.
For those who do need more, on the right side of the property there are 6 cottages whose modest facades are quite deceptive. These unassuming little huts house 1- and 2-bedroom suites that are not only much larger but markedly more modern than any other lodgings (except for the west wing’s White Suite, the hotel’s original statement suite). Flanking generous living and bedrooms are enormous outdoor showers, private plunge pools and steps leading down from verandas straight into the sea. That you would never expect these interiors behind such exteriors makes them all the more seductive; they’re playful and shrewd, and something of a reflection of the management style here.
Round Hill Hotel and Villas