Hotel reflects Montego Bay’s heyday

Ahhhh, the new S Hotel Jamaica! This just-opened addition to Montego Bay’s hip strip is a hands down winner for business or leisure, and what boutique hotel dreams are made of.

Love, love, LOVE this brainchild of Crissa Hotels, sister hotel of its namesake in Kingston. If you’re considering a trip, stop reading this now, book it, and tick Jamaica’s newest gem off your to-do list.

Entering what feels like your personal red-carpet entrance into the stunning lobby, with gorgeous views of the very South-Beach-esque pool and beach beckoning, you immediately feel like this is a place for the beautiful people…and yet, the unshakably rootsy Jamaican vibe makes you feel instantly at home. Not to mention the genuinely warm welcome by the effervescent Andres and the front desk team with their beaming smiles.

The decor is beautifully minimalist, but with warm, eclectic touches everywhere your eyes land. Artfully arranged seating nooks invite you to perhaps see and be seen, but also, well…stay a while. Soaring walls of elegant stone tile are complemented by accents of rattan, warm wood, and authentic Jamaican straw mats. Beautifully chosen art adorning the walls both nods to a bygone era and the island’s rich culture. And, greenery makes it all come alive, seamlessly worked through the specially designed-space.   The lobby cafe’s cool air-conditioned comfort is the perfect spot to do a bit of work, if you must, but it’s made much more bearable as you sip your Blue Mountain coffee, sunk into a comfy couch surrounded by homages to roots reggae. This while gazing onto a serenely beautiful wall to wall view of the pool and sea beyond.

I could have lingered in the cafe for hours, but at check-in time I’m actually excited to settle in. As a lover of unique hotels, it’s always gratifying to find one that simply ticks the boxes. But I still wasn’t prepared for just how much I would want to stay in, instead of going about the business I was in Montego Bay for.

All stark, modern lines in black and white, the room feels crisp, clean and immediately inviting with its stacks of downy pillows. Again though, quirky touches like a House of Marley record player with a Legend album, a Red Stripe bottle vase and set of dominos, remind you of time and place; you’re certainly not in a faceless modern hotel that could be anywhere in the world – the beating heart of this one is most definitively Jamaican.

Once settled, I’m tempted by the beautiful freestanding tub, complete with (of course) a wooden tray rest for your book or cup of tea as you release any tension and soak away. Should I draw the gauzy curtains to add to the spa-like vibe? Or, luxuriate in the rain showers – his, hers and…theirs? The bathroom design is simply stunning.   I’m thrilled to discover the exercise mat in the closet awaiting my choice of morning yoga or meditation, as it’s little touches like these that could make my morning. That’s assuming I can wake up after snuggling into this immensely comfortable bed.

An RFID proximity key, charging cube (modern essential!), energy and AC saving controls, and a perfectly sized 4K TV that welcomes me by name show. The hotel is invested in meeting the expectations of today’s seasoned traveller. But with all of that, perhaps my favourite thing in the midst of all the swish modernity? Books, books, and more books, everywhere. Even in the bar…bookended between the bottles. It’s a reader’s paradise.   Warm lighting in the lobby at night highlights a coffee table book of Jamaican art by Judy McMillan, a jaunty fedora lamp striped with red, green and gold; and the story of the Katherine Hepburn retro car replica that sits at the hotel entrance. The pool’s spot lighting twinkles just beyond, adding to the beauty of the evening and the feeling of warm hospitality.

If bringing back Montego Bay’s heyday while adding a serious dose of modern flair and style is the intention, I’d say S Hotel Jamaica is off to a flying start. This hotel truly sets a high bar.   I could say more – lots more – but what’s the point of travel if you don’t discover some of the fun stuff for yourself.

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