Charming rooms with local details, AC, and quality toiletries
Villas with outdoor showers, terrace loungers, or sea access
Two top-notch restaurants with fresh juices and local fare
Casual poolside grill serving sandwiches and burgers
Ocean-view infinity pool with adjacent bar and loungers
Well-regarded spa offering variety of treatments
Socially and environmentally conscious management
Yoga and snorkeling equipment available (fee)
Shuttle service to beachfront sister property
Free Wi-Fi and parking
No in-room TVs
Snorkeling equipment requires a fee
Restaurants are a bit pricey
No fitness center
At least a 90-minute drive from airport in Montego Bay
The 34-room, four-pearl Rockhouse Hotel is a lush, laid-back haven with a stunning cliffside setting in Negril. An ocean-view infinity pool, well-regarded spa, and daily morning yoga (fee most days) offer relaxation, while snorkeling equipment (fee) and cliff jumping get the heart pounding. Rooms vary between simple garden-view hotel-style units to more upscale cliffside villas with outdoor showers, but all have air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, free mosquito repellant, and minibars. There are no TVs in rooms, nor any kids under 12, helping to create a peaceful environment. The beautiful, eco-minded design and delicious food at three dining spots are also top-notch. Reasonable rates make this is a popular spot for getaways and weddings, so if it's booked, consider the similar Tensing Pen Resort, though it allows children.
Gorgeous cliffside resort with a no-kid policy and laid-back atmosphere
Originally developed in 1972, Rockhouse Hotel was one of the first hotels in the West End area of Negril, attracting well-known artists such as Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. In 1994 the property was sold to a group of Australians by the Jamaican owners, and it has been run by them since. The hotel's design is meant to fit organically with the environment, and the entire property settles snugly into the preexisting cove formations and volcanic rock cliffs. Lush vegetation and stone pathways fill the grounds, leading visitors between private thatch-roofed villas and traditional hotel-style units. Expect to see adrenaline junkies jumping from various cliff points or a bridge, often followed by snorkeling among tropical fish and coral.
As there are no kids under 12 allowed and rooms lack TVs, the vibe is peaceful and relaxed, though a game room and lounge off the restaurant provide board games and a TV -- it was off most of our visit, except for a World Cup match. Unlike some of the big all-inclusives elsewhere on the island, the Rockhouse strives to be (and encourages guests to be) part of the community. At check-in, guests are given a Rockhouse Passport, a passport-looking booklet filled with various Jamaican activities to be checked off -- think jumping from the bridge, going to Rick's Cafe, and having a spa treatment. All furniture is crafted from local timber, hot water is solar-heated, and the private owners established the Rockhouse Foundation, a registered not-for-profit that has invested over three-million dollars to transform suffering schools in Negril.
This isn't the most luxurious or clean-cut property, but that's largely what brings visitors -- mostly couples and wedding groups -- here. This is one of the top hotels in the area, particularly given its reasonable rates compared to the comparable Caves. Families wanting a similar experience can head to , which allows children under 12.
Situated on beautiful cliffs with gorgeous clear water below
Located directly on the cliffs of Negril's West End, there are no beaches. Rather, the hotel has rocky inlets sculpted into diving platforms and much clearer water than on the beachfront side of Negril. The major advantage is that the Rockhouse faces some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country. Note that it's between a 90-minute and two-hour drive from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, and the hotel can arrange transportation.
A few vendors are just outside the Rockhouse gates (following the guests who have money), selling sundries such as sunscreen and souvenirs such as a carved wooden horse. There's little outside of other hotels and their restaurants within easy walking distance, but taxis are readily available. Those walking should note that there are no sidewalks, while those driving should be careful of large potholes and aggressive drivers. In the vicinity (either by long walk or short drive) are plenty of great jerk joints and "brownie" stands. A three-minute drive south is Ricks Café, a Negril icon since 1974 that offers quality live reggae performances, famous cliff-diving, and sunset cocktails.
Charming, simple rooms with AC, outdoor areas, and minibars
The 34 rooms vary between traditional hotel-block units and stand-alone villas, though all are outfitted in a similarly simple design. Expect local timber in four-poster beds with mosquito netting, stone accents in walls or floors, and pops of color in yellow floral-motif bedspreads or green walls. Rooms aren't exactly high-end, but they're charming and comfortable. Rooms used to be intentionally devoid of TVs and Wi-Fi, but now they have free and fast Wi-Fi. Also standard are well-stocked minibars, air-conditioning and ceiling fans, old-school safes, mosquito repellant and coils, and desks. Rooms have outdoor spaces, varying from shared balconies in Standard Rooms to ocean-view stone terraces in villas. Bathrooms also differ, though most come with outdoor stone showers. Hairdryers, magnifying mirrors, and quality toiletries -- including aloe vera -- are provided.
Most past guests agree it's worth securing a stand-alone villa, and the Premium Villas offer a more secluded, private retreat.
Ocean-view infinity pool, highly regarded spa, and yoga for a fee
A highlight at the Rockhouse is its spa, which lies in the center of the resort surrounded by greenery. It offers a broad range of holistic treatments for singles or couples, either performed in the main facility or a three-walled hut overlooking the sea. Massages use local natural ingredients such as cinnamon and brown sugar, and a relaxation lounge is on-site. Though the hotel lacks a fitness center, the hotel hosts daily yoga sessions for a fee, or Mondays for free. Cooking and painting classes are also available at select times for a fee.
The ocean-view infinity pool is a popular hangout spot, and it's surrounded by ample loungers and umbrellas. An adjacent stand sells food and drinks, plus guests can rent snorkeling gear here. The surrounding water have coral and tropical fish, making it a great spot for snorkeling and swimming.
A gift shop sells sundries and souvenirs, while a lounge next to the Rockhouse Restaurant has board games and a TV accompanied by various movies.
Three dining options serving great food amid excellent views
The cliffside, all-day Rockhouse Restaurant has a casual atmosphere and excellent locally focused cuisine (with vegetarian options). It's a popular spot for guests and non-guests alike, particularly given its gorgeous ocean views. Dishes aren't cheap though, and are generally on par with New York prices. In 2009, the property added Pushcart, a reference to the island’s famed bobsled team (during Olympic training, pushcarts were used in place of the bladed bobsled given the lack of ice in these parts). The restaurant is distinctly Jamaican in both menu and decor, serving standard island fare such as curried goat, fish with bammy (cassava bread soaked in coconut milk and deep fried), and jerk dishes. The space features paintings of local heroes such as Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey, and is a popular nighttime spot thanks to a DJ and ample rum drinks. Both spots offer juices and smoothies made with fresh ingredients from their garden.
The poolside grill serves casual lunch fare such as sandwiches, burgers, and jerk chicken, plus a variety of cocktails and beverages. A daily happy hour is also available.
The Rockhouse is a popular spot for a destination wedding in Jamaica. But plan to book early. The hotel only permits 20 weddings throughout the year, only during the off-season (the summer and fall), requires a great majority of their rooms booked for at least three nights, and only schedules one wedding per week so that the staff has enough time to adequately prepare the grounds. This is big difference from the area's many all-inclusive properties that churn out upwards of four or five weddings each day.