Stay Here: Jakes Hotel, JamaicaBy Lucy McGuire
If you’ve ever wondered what a little piece of Barcelona looks like in the Caribbean, it’s time to check out Jakes. This characterful boutique hotel on Jamaica’s serene south coast was the brainchild of Sally Henzell. She was so in love with the Gaudi architecture of Barcelona, she decided to bring the same mosaics, rainbow-coloured glass and curved edges of the Spanish city to her island bolthole in rural Treasure Beach.
And it’s as dreamy as it looks. The first thing you see on arrival at this quirky abode is the vintage car at the entrance occupied by two very inert passengers (they’re mannequins). Follow the path through lush tropical foliage and wild flowers to the inside-outside restaurant and reception area fashioned from red and pink wood and right on cue, you’ll be handed a glass of cooling rum punch. Welcome to paradise.
Jakes: The Background
The history of Jakes is as interesting as the architecture. Sally is the wife of the late Perry Henzell, the scriptwriter and director of The Harder They Come – the first motion picture in Jamaica to catapult reggae onto the worldwide music scene. If you want to find out more, simply explore the hotel library and reception walls – they’re both bedecked in paraphernalia from this legendary film.
Jakes is more ‘shabby island chic’ than overflowing luxury but that’s all part of the appeal. The hotel has 42 rooms and villas as well as a collection of private villas along the Treasure Beach Coast. For those on a budget, they even have the purse-friendly Jack Sprat Shack hostel over the road. At Jakes, all guest rooms come with seaside themed names, including one of the three ‘Octopussy’ honeymoon suites we stayed in. No giggling at the back there.
Jakes: The Accommodation
When we check into our candy-coloured Octopussy suite, it looks like it’s come straight out of a Hansel and Gretel storybook. And as a stand-alone house – but within walking distance of the seawater swimming pool, beach and cocktail bar – it has the perfect amount of privacy we honeymooners are looking for.
Inside, it’s a magical haven. Light trickles through coloured glass bottles etched into the grape-coloured walls. The bed is an ultra cosy memory foam mattress draped in flowing mosquito nets and has a dramatic Gaudi-esque bed head. At the foot of your bed, the wooden shuttered doors open out to the patio, with the ocean right at your feet.
Now here comes the quirky bit: here at Jakes, the bath and shower are outside. And apart from the curved wall that surrounds half of it, you are open to the elements. So yes, those fishermen may be able to see you in the nud. And you may well accidently step on an iguana amidst the soapsuds. But it’s all part of the fun.
The showstopping features of the Octopussy Suites at Jakes Hotel are the sundeck and colourful private rooftop, perfect for basking in the Caribbean sun and watching dreamy sunsets.
Activities range from yoga on the elevated yoga deck that looks out to sea and boat trips to the incredible Pelican Bar (a bar in the middle of the ocean). If that all sounds a bit too energetic, lazing in hammocks and exploring the Robinson Crusoe-like beaches of Treasure Beach are also high on the agenda here. There’s also a Driftwood Spa that offers a range of treatments, like aloe vera body wraps and Café Mocha body scrubs. The hotel also runs weekly outdoor movie nights, live concerts and hosts the famous Calabash Literary Festival every summer.
Meal times here are a delicious fusion of Caribbean and European flavours. We enjoy jerk chicken spaghetti and papaya glazed lamb shanks under the twinkling fairylights of Jakes Country Kitchen restaurant. Another night we head to their casual food joint, Jack Sprat Bar & Restaurant, for traditional curried chicken with rice and peas and jerk chicken pizza (it’s out of this world.) And for authentic Jamaican cuisine and fresh-as-it-gets seafood, exploring the local food haunts around Treasure Beach is a must. Our stay also coincides with monthly Farm-to-Table Dinner, which Jason Henzell and his wife Laura run with a local famer. Set on the edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it introduces us to the sustainable ethos of this breadbasket region. We dine on locally grown produce under a starry night sky.
A stay at Jakes is one of the best ways to experience offbeat rural Jamaica and in short, well, it’s absolute bliss.
Stay at Jakes from £67 per night for a one-bedroom garden view villa based on double occupancy; beds at Jack Sprat Shack cost from £21 per night.
For more information about Jamaica, visit here