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Where to Stay in Kingston
Kingston is a large and growing city, but due in part to tough competition from other tourism markets on the island, most neighborhoods have just a few hotel offerings, if any. The only area of the city with a concentration of hotels is in the centrally located neighborhood of New Kingston. The area bordered by Hope, Trafalgar, Old Hope and Oxford Roads contains more than a dozen hotels, including upscale luxury properties and several comfortable but cheap hotel deals in Kingston. Most of the city’s remaining accommodations are located within a mile of this lodging nexus.
Downtown Kingston, situated next to the Port of Kingston on the shores of a scenic natural harbor, is the most historic neighborhood in the city and an area of great interest to sightseers. There are just a few hotels in this part of town, but Downtown is easy to reach by taxi from any destination in Greater Kingston.
Kingston Hotel Tips
You won’t find the extravagant vacation resorts common in other areas of Jamaica while in Kingston, unless you count the opulent Hotel Strawberry Hill, located a good distance northeast of the city in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. However, in the banking district of New Kingston, you’ll discover several lodging options from finer hoteliers. Most of the city’s most comfortable and well-appointed hotels are located in this compact area, alongside a few real bargains.
Outside this section of New Kingston, accommodations vary from mid-range hotels to cheap, no-frills motels and guest houses. When evaluating lodging in these farther reaches of the city, security is an important factor to consider alongside room quality, amenities and price. Not all parts of Kingston are safe for tourists, particularly after dark, so it’s important to stick with hotels that feature thorough security measures. Several of the least expensive hotels operate without guards or enhanced security, and this should be taken into consideration when traveling on a budget.
Kingston Hotel Recommendations
Three of Kingston’s finest hotels, the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, the Courtleigh Hotel, and the Kingston Hilton Hotel, are located adjacent to one another in New Kingston’s banking district. The Jamaica Pegasus may be the city’s most famous hotel, with several levels of upscale rooms and amenities that include on-site restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, a modern health center and gourmet room service. The smaller Courtleigh Hotel next door is generally more economical and features some of the city’s best expanded suites. Finally, the Kingston Hilton Hotel is competitive with the Jamaica Pegasus in terms of accommodations, amenities and room rates, with notable features that include expanded lanais in select rooms and the renowned Palm Court Restaurant.
A short distance west but still in the general area, the Hotel Four Seasons is Kingston’s closest approach to a boutique hotel property. Exceptionally private and smaller in size than the surrounding hotels, this facility’s charming rooms and landscaped courtyard pool are the perfect places to relax after a day of sightseeing in the tropical heat.
Hotel Strawberry Hill is 45 minutes away by car, but as the biggest lodging draw in the general Kingston area, it deserves its own mention. Its most impressive features are its spacious cottage-style accommodations, lavish day spa and bird’s-eye views of the city skyline. If you want access to the activity of Kingston but a quiet refuge in which to spend the night, look here.
Aside from a network of buses that is often too crowded and complicated for tourists, Kingston has no public transit system. Renting a vehicle is an option, but the city’s confusing web of roadways can make driving more of a harrowing trouble than it’s worth. Most travelers are best off relying on official taxis and hotel shuttles throughout their time on the island.
A few of the finer hotels are equipped to arrange shuttle transportation to and from the airport and some of the more significant tourist destinations in the area. If you’re not sure if your hotel offers these services, make a point of checking before your flight to Kingston departs.
All legitimate taxis are licensed and sanctioned by the Jamaica Union of Travelers Association, or JUTA, and can be recognized by their red license plates. Unless you have a car, it’s important to travel by taxi to cover any distance after dark. Taxis often do not have meters, in which case fares are negotiated between you and the driver prior to departure.