When we booked to stay at The Rockhouse ahead of our wedding in Jamaica, I knew it was going to be special. This luxury boutique hotel nestled subtly into the cliffs of the West End of Negril, above Pristine Cove, had dropped onto my radar several times since working in travel. The dreamy instagram pictures I’d seen of its infinity pool and thatched roof cottages perched on the cliffs all helped add to the excitement of our wedding and honeymoon (weddingmoon?) – rolled in one. Plus The Rockhouse has picked up various accolades including the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ at the World Travel Awards.
And this dreamy vision gets even better once you’re there…
On arrival, the quirkiness of this hotel unfolds when you’re handed a ‘passport’ of activities to complete during your stay. The ethos here is that your Rockhouse experience will enhance the soul, body and mind.
And so this little book challenges you to dip your toe into as many activities as possible, from eating at the local Pushcart restaurant and taking an organic garden tour, to playing dominoes as the locals do and scuba diving in the cove.
One of the toughest was to ‘take the cell phone challenge’ – basically to switch off all devices while you’re there. Had we not had a wedding to plan (and family to get in touch with) I may have just about managed this one.
Then again, when you’re staying somewhere as beautiful as The Rockhouse, staying away from instagram is pretty hard.
The most surprising challenge? Well that rather amusingly, was to ‘enjoy local herbs’. The most thrilling? That was to take part in a spot of daredevil cliff jumping. You obviously have to be careful when you’re doing this, but the way The Rockhouse is laid out across various rocky platforms makes this the perfect place to leap into the sea.
While we were sussing out where we could jump from, we heard about a tradition for newlyweds to jump off a bridge that adjoins some of the sea-facing villas.
After a day or two of deliberating, I finally made the decision to make the leap, although after my leg flinging tendencies from zipwiring in Brazil, I decided it was best to do it alone, while Mr C captured it on video.
It’s not quite the height they leap from at Rick’s Cafe but for a scaredy-cat like me, it was frightening enough. Obviously I landed right on my bum – which stung a bit at the time but is quite amusing now.
Had we been staying a little longer than three nights, we might have managed the other activities. But I did squeeze in a spot of yoga on the morning of our wedding day. With ocean views and a sea breeze, it was an amazing way to start my wedding day.
The rooms at The Rockhouse are divided into five or six different categories ranging from basic studios to garden villas and premium villas. We started our first night in the rustic surrounds of a studio, where a room of dark wood furniture, a mosquito netted bed and bold Jamaican prints adjoined a small bathroom with a semi-outdoor shower which I loved.
And from our balcony we could just about see the sea. It was the perfect place to enjoy a big mug of Blue Mountain Coffee and the hearty signature Rockhouse Special breakfast on the morning of our big day.
By the second day, we’d not had the best sleep thanks to a noisy generator next to our room. But on the upside, the customer service here at The Rockhouse went above and beyond our expectations, because as a result of the noise, we received an upgrade to one of the Garden Villas which turned out to be absolutely beautiful.
Here, everything is a little bit more luxurious than the studios and the villa is essentially a circular cottage with a mezzanine level of two beds (handy for in-room spa treatments or if you fancy a nap). They also have wrap-around windows and your own patio space outside. I was in my element.
You have iPod docking stations, plenty of storage space and a slightly larger bathroom. Like the studio, this adjoins a circular outdoor rainforest shower which I loved (once I’d got used to the visiting iguanas) where you can enjoy your morning wash to the sound of the waves.
The pool area here is gorgeous and is located perfectly so you can swim right up to the cliff edge and stare out to sea. On our first day, we spotted dolphins leaping out of the water and there’s a poolside bar with super cheery waiting staff who are always on hand to serve you rum punch, fresh juices and light bites.
This is where I realised I never wanted to leave this hotel and where I discovered my new obsession with Jamaican cocoa bread – a pillowy and buttery soft bread they use for everything from the Rockhouse burger to the marlin club sandwich. Divine.
Next door to the hotel is Pushcart restaurant – a modern take on the traditional Jamaican jerk centre. Interestingly, it’s set on the cliff where Steve McQueen leapt from in the film Papillon (some brave locals still do take the leap from here) – but the amazing views over the Rockhouse Hotel were enough for me. We didn’t get to eat here in the end (we were a bit early and our transfer to our next hotel was waiting) but we had a good nosey at the brilliantly colourful decor.
(we prefer Clarks with an ‘e’).
If you don’t make the trip over to the colourful Pushcart Restaurant next door, then the main Rockhouse restaurant is a great dining space, overlooking the crashing waves (which you may have to dodge on a particularly choppy day).
It’s filled with vibrant Jamaican posters, chess boards and at night, it’s lit up beautifully with fairylights. We opted for the free room service over coming here for brekkie. However we did enjoy some fabulous cocktails in the bar and restaurant on our wedding night, which was a lovely end to our special day.
Aside from all these highlights, we spent the rest of our time at The Rockhouse swimming in the sea, exploring the various lookout points and enjoying a foot treatment in the spa (which is complimentary if you’ve just tied the knot and uses ginger and turmeric to detox your body – lush).
We also discovered other lovely touches such as complimentary massages by the pool on Tuesdays and cocktail eveningss on Wednesdays.
From leaping off cliffs into the ocean and enjoying the leafy paths surrounded by natural gardens and humming birds, The Rockhouse Hotel is a dream. I dare you not to fall in love with the place.
Until next time x
For more information about Jamaica, go to VisitJamaica.com and follow the tourist board on Facebook, instagram, Pinterest and twitter. You can also use the site to help your wedding and honeymoon planning too.
We covered the cost of our stay at The Rockhouse ourselves but a special thanks to the hotel staff who went above and beyond to make the stay special for our weddingmoon. We’ll be back!