Hip Hotels

Sharmadean Reid's Hotel Tour of Jamaica

WAH Nails founder and aspiring hotelier Sharmadean Reid went to explore Jamaica’s hippest hotels, resorts and eco shacks. Read her dispatch from the North side of the island.

ROUND HILL Hotel and Villas
Montego Bay
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I was travelling around Jamaica with my two-year-old son Roman so I looked for a hotel near Montego Bay that meant we wouldn’t have to go far when I got out of the airport: being on a plane with a baby is hard enough. Round Hill Hotel and Villas was perfect – very ‘olde worlde’, with amazing staff… They give you a rum punch on arrival (standard!) and then you check in at an archway verandah with a postcard view of the sea.

The room itself was perfect. Super stylish, two double beds, everything you need. The food was good and the spa was also great; I had one of the best massages of my life there. They also had a library that made me feel like I was in a really posh, rich person’s house where I was learning loads. There’s great art on the walls, including loads by this guy called Jonathan Routh, I’ve been Instagramming all his work. It was just bloody great. Round Hill had an old English charm, the polish of an American resort, and the tropical Caribbean vibe that I wanted.

Port Antonio
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After four nights at Round Hill, we got a driver to take us to Port Antonio, which is a very wet part of Jamaica. It’s a bit like going to Manchester: always rainy. (Much less grey, though!) The journey takes four hours, but you’re so excited by what you see out the window that it goes really fast.

I wanted to do this trip on a ‘high low’ vibe, so we stayed at this eco-hut place called Great Huts. If Round Hill was your classic resort, Great Huts was your eco-touristy, backpackers spot. It was cool and really interesting, but the basic accommodation came as a bit of a shock after the luxury at Round Hill. It would be perfect if you and your boyfriend just wanted to smoke weed, have sex and do a bit of surfing, but it’s not the place to go with a baby.

Port Antonio

Geejam was the most expensive hotel I visited: it was more than double the price of Round Hill. I wanted to stay there to see what luxury accommodation entails in Jamaica and Geejam is famous because there’s a recording studio attached to it - people like Snoop Dogg, Drake, Diplo, Amy Winehouse have all recorded there. The rooms were small and it has a very modern design that I didn’t think was sympathetic to the location. It was sleek, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.

Port Antonio

This was a really sweet, classic bed and breakfast that would be great if you were travelling on a tight budget. I’m not sure I’d recommend it – it’s cute but it’s not particularly luxurious.

Port Antonio
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This was the best place we stayed at, hands down. I did loads of research on Almond Hill and Round Hill and basically this guy Lord Monson owned the whole bit of land, which is dissected by a road. He sold the beach side to a guy called John Pringle who opened Round Hill Hotel, and on the other side he has two villas, one of which is Almond Hill.

I would wholly recommend renting villas with staff. Price-wise, it works out cheaper than a hotel, and they prepare three meals a day. It was the best food I ate in the whole of Jamaica and the kids were always safe. There was great art on the walls, great books, a really good DVD library, loads of boardgames, lovely letter papers in the rooms… all those lovely touches. It was everything that I came to Jamaica for – to explore the country’s colonial history in a luxurious setting.