Opened in 1950, the Jamaica Inn is one of the oldest and most gracefully aged of the classic Jamaica luxury resorts. It sits on its own private beach, which is rare in Jamaica, and each of the 52 suites and cottages has a Caribbean view. It is a timeless place, which may be why there are no TVs, radios, or clocks in the rooms, with a quiet serenity about it that may have been the appeal to such guests as Marilyn Monroe, Ian Fleming, and Katharine Hepburn. The grounds are immaculately kept, and the dining is as romantic as starlight and live music can make it. But the standout feature is that each suite has an oversize covered veranda that guests could literally live on. On it, they’ll find a full-size sofa, wingchair, breakfast table, coffee table, and, should one want to write home about it, writing desk.
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About an hour and a half from the airport at Montego Bay, Jamaica Inn’s Ocho Rios location is convenient for exploring the island’s north coast. Although the tourist crowds and vendor hustle make it not to everyone’s taste, Dunn’s River Falls, which is more or less a scramble up a set of rapids, is extremely popular. A bit farther afield, but less crowded and, many say, more beautiful, the Ire Blue Hole promises swimming in natural pools and, for would-be Tarzans, swinging over the water on a rope. Another thrill venue, Mystic Mountain, offers aerial tours, and a zip line, but what gets most hearts pounding is the Jamaican version of the Olympic bobsled run, more than 3,000 feet of gravity doing its work down the side of a mountain. For a venture into the heart of downtown Ocho Rios, Miss T’s Kitchen, under a roof with no walls, has made its reputation on such classic Jamaican dishes as curried goat and oxtail stew.
Need to Know
Rooms: 47 suites and 5 one- and two-bedroom cottages. From $316 low season, $529 high season. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 1 p.m. Dining options: Many guests like to start the day with breakfast on their private veranda. Favorite lunch venues are the seaside restaurant or directly on the beach, where the adventurous might say yes to the Jamaican curry goat. After cocktails on the cocktail terrace, dinner is usually served alfresco on the Dinner Terrace, except to the incurably romantic, who have the option of dining privately on the beach. Chef Maurice Henry’s dinner menu might include Caribbean seafood ragout or the grilled catch of the day, accompanied by candlelight and, most nights, live music. Spa and gym details: Perched among the cliffs of Cutlass Bay, the Ocean Spa at Jamaica Inn offers a full menu of services, from a basic massage to a pineapple and coconut body buff. The fitness center is small, but yoga and Pilates sessions, circuit training, and other fitness classes are offered.
Who’s it for: Couples who like to remember how things used to be, or imagine that they do. Our favorite rooms: Because they are on the water, the Premier Verandah Suites in the west wing are more private than those sitting directly on the beach. But to be blown away, opt for the two-story, one-bedroom Cottage 7. Just built in 2012, not only does it sit on a bluff overlooking its own private cove, to which there is easy access, but it also has an infinity pool and, should one not be in the mood to venture outside, a bathroom the size of a spa. Plan ahead: The Jamaica Inn really is old school, so dress the part for dinner, with collared shirts for men and dresses for women.