S Hotel Jamaica in Montego Bay | Luxe, boutique, and all-inclusive Caribbean hotel

by W. Andrew Powell

Montego Bay is a beautiful place for a vacation, and it’s easy to fall in love with the S Hotel Jamaica on the shores of Doctor’s Cave Beach.

Featuring 120 rooms, the all-inclusive, luxe, and adults-only boutique hotel right on the “Hip Strip” offers two pools, walk-out access to the beach, six restaurants, and a number of bars to enjoy those hot, sunny days.

After spending a few days at the S Hotel Jamaica, it was very difficult to leave, but I left feeling refreshed, and with a mission of visiting again soon. Watch the video above for a look at the whole trip, and read on for my review of this fantastic Caribbean hotel.

Location, style, and Jamaican flavours

S Hotel Jamaica pool and Doctor’s Cave Beach

A short 15 minute drive from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, the S Hotel Jamaica is located on the popular Jimmy Cliff Ave, close to shops and restaurants. Outside the airport you can easily jump in a cab to get to the hotel, or book a transfer in advance with one of the local tour companies.

The hotel is beautiful, modern, and features lots of Jamaican flavour. You’ll see statues of important and famous Jamaicans, art, and of course, locally-influenced dishes throughout the menus.

And the iconic, red umbrellas make the main pool area pop, in a space that is welcoming and refreshing, with ample shade for those afternoon breaks, and a party vibe that gets dialed up with music and performances.

S Hotel Jamaica rooms and suites

S Hotel Jamaica Junior Suite King Ocean View room

There are no bad rooms at the S Hotel, and most of the rooms offer ocean views. I stayed in the Junior Suite King Ocean View room, and it was well-designed, clean, and comfortable.

My favourite part though was the balcony overlooking the pool. It’s a view that you’ll want to step out to see every morning, and then you’ll want to watch at least one sunset because the hotel had some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.

All of the rooms at the hotel are made for one or two people, so it’s focused around singles and couples, and the top room types include a soaker tub, while every room offers spa-inspired bathrooms. There are also authentic little local touches, like the decorative record player with a Bob Marley album.

There’s also free wi-fi and bottled water, blackout drapes for sleeping in, a desk, and balconies feature a table with two chairs. At a little more than 540 square feet, the junior suites are the perfect size, and I loved the espresso wood finishes with white throughout the room.

Restaurants, food, and drinks

S Hotel Jamaica - Roots Rock restaurant

There are six restaurants for guests to enjoy at the S Hotel, and that starts with Marketplace by the pool.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, the buffet restaurant has a wide range of dishes. Starting at 7 AM and going right to 10 PM, Marketplace offers Caribbean dishes, plus International food, and you can choose to sit indoors our outside. They also offered an omelette station with breakfast, and had other special dishes at each meal.

Vibes Bar & Grill is the other main drop-in restaurant and it’s open from 11 AM until 6 PM with options for sandwiches, burgers, salads, pizza, fresh juice, and of course the main pool bar with just about any drink you could come think up.

Dinner at Rocksteady

Also on the main floor of the hotel is the 24-hour S Cafe where you can grab nibbles, coffee, treats, pastries, or a smoothie. For anyone who wants a cool place to relax in the day and read a book, this is a great spot, or swing by late for snacks too.

And then there are the three main dinner restaurants: Rocksteady, Jamrock, and Roots Rock. Open from 6 PM to 10 PM, the dinner restaurants require reservations, but they’re included in the all-inclusive rate, and they have fantastic meals. While Rocksteady has an Italian flair, Jamrock is the steakhouse, and Roots Rock offers Jamaican dishes.

All of the restaurants offered something unique, and the colourful Roots Rock was one of my favourite spots, plus I loved the menu and tried as many local dishes as I could.

Throughout your stay you can easily enjoy the all-inclusive menu and drinks, but there are opportunities to upgrade your experience with extras, like wines, champagnes, or even ordering a floating breakfast to the upper-deck pool. Everything else though is included with your all-inclusive rate.

Drinks at all of the bars are excellent and I met a number of bartenders who were happy to create something original if there was anything I wanted to try.

Pools, Doctor’s Cave Beach, and activities

Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay

In addition to the main pool area, the S Hotel also has a smaller rooftop pool, and guests can enjoy 30 minutes of access to the Irie Baths in the spa.

The main pool is spacious and has lots of reclining chairs for sun tanning and relaxing. I enjoyed laying out and swimming a lot, and there are sun beds available on a first-come basis, as well as reserved cabanas for Cabana Ocean View suites guests.

The rooftop space is nice during the day, but it’s perfect for watching the sunset, whether you want to get in the pool or enjoy a complimentary champagne toast. There’s also a bar open on the rooftop during select hours of the day, so you can sun and enjoy a cocktail.

S Hotel Jamaica also offers a number of activities, and while I was there they had a cooking class, cocktail-making session, plus they have pool volleyball, painting classes, band performances on the pool deck, yoga, and a lot more.

Finally, a visit to the S Hotel wouldn’t be complete without a few hours on the beach, and Doctor’s Cave Beach is wonderful. The sand is beautiful, the water is warm and refreshing, and the hotel offers private lounge chairs for guests. You may find locals and drinks and things for sale the farther you wander from the hotel’s lounge space on the beach, but the beach seemed safe, fun, and lively during the day.

Montego Bay highlights

You can easily spend a week at the S Hotel without exploring Montego Bay, especially if you want to relax and unwind, but you can book experiences in Montego Bay through the hotel, or take a taxi into town, which is about a 15 minute drive.

Hip Strip is filled with souvenir shops, and a few bars, but the main area of Montego Bay is more interesting. I recommend booking a tour guide through the hotel, who can help you see some of the main highlights, and enjoy the culture and heritage.

A few major highlights include the Harbour Street Craft Market, the historic St. James Parish Church, Rose Hall Great House, and you can book boat experiences, day trips, visit Sam Sharpe Square, or explore the Montego Bay Cultural Center.

Final thoughts

S Hotel Jamaica lobby

I fell in love with the S Hotel the moment I stepped through the front doors. There is so much character, Jamaican spirit, and heart to the hotel, and the staff were incredibly welcoming, open, and honest.

Over the few days that I was there, I had great conversations with the bartenders and staff, and every meal and drink felt like it was made for me, which is a rare quality at an all-inclusive hotel.

The boutique nature of the hotel shines through in every room and restaurant, and I love how proudly the hotel celebrates their Jamaican roots.

Montego Bay and the S Hotel are a fantastic vacation destination any time of year, however you will find the best weather from December and March, during peak season.

Summer is the hottest and most humid time to visit the area, with highs between 29°C and 33°C, but when I visited in May there was only a few rainy moments, and it wasn’t quite as hot, so it’s worth considering.

Couples looking for a romantic getaway will love the atmosphere, meals, and sunny days under the sun, with so much authentic, local charm. Visit shoteljamaica.com for more details about the hotel, and to book your stay.

S Hotel Jamaica sunset

All photos by: W. Andrew Powell, The GATE.

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