An easy drive along the north coast from Montego Bay, this is the most glamorous of Chris Blackwell’s merry trio of hotels (the founder of Island Records, who made Bob Marley a global superstar, also owns Strawberry Hill and The Caves). The centrepiece here is, of course, the five-bed room villa which was once home to Ian Fleming, and where he wrote his James Bond novels. But put the literacy legacy and Marley music connections aside, what makes this hotel continue to shine is its clever combination of spacious clapboard villas and funky, feel-good Jamaican spirit. It’s a tough choice deciding between the step-onto-the-sand beach villas and those facing the lagoon near the tiny, lemongrass-scented spa.
The look is similar – polished wooden floors, white walls and high ceilings, outdoor showers – but the lagoon-side cottages are more private and come equipped with kayaks. Watersports are the thing at Goldeneye, with stand-up paddle boarding, glass-bottom-boat rides around the bay and morning fishing trips. Or simply laze on the beach and play backgammon at the open-air Bizot bar, where the driftwood shelves are lined with bottles of Blackwell rum. At night, cross the torch-lit wooden bridge to The Gazebo for delicious suppers of curried shrimp with coconut rice. Six years after opening, this gorgeous, laid-back hideaway still has serious groove.