Big up Kingston – The Spanish Court Hotel

Hotels provoke strong reactions among travelers. Stay at a really terrible, cookie-cutter property, and it’s likely to color an entire trip. Just the opposite is also true – when a traveler finds himself at truly unique hotel, aligned with the rhythms and particularities of a destination, tempered by friendly hospitality, it can vastly improve any travel experience.

With these two extremes in mind, Gadling recently had a chance to visit Kingston, Jamaica’s new Spanish Court Hotel. We found ourselves immediately taken by the latter of these two extremes. In a city of hotels characterized by their bland, unassuming accommodations, the Spanish Court is truly a breath of fresh air, bringing much needed style, sophistication and casual Jamaican hospitality to a city very much on an upward swing. This 107 room “boutique” hotel also represents something of a Caribbean coup: having been built entirely using local Jamaican artisans and materials it is an entity that is distinctly Jamaican in its identity, from the locally influenced food menu to the black and white photos of Jamaica in the hotel’s lobby.

Over two quick nights earlier this month, we jumped around on the Spanish Court’s mattresses and scrutinized the thread count on the towels, sampled the breakfast buffet and took a swim in the pool. On the whole, we liked what we found. Ready to take a closer look? Check below for our gallery and observations.

Public Spaces
Upon arriving at the hotel, guests enter the property’s thoroughly modern main lobby. The most immediate impression is of the space’s modern feel and distinctly Jamaican touches. The dark hardwood floors, black and white photos of Jamaican plant life and open-slat room dividers lend the area a distinctly Caribbean feel.

Complementing this are the room’s more modern touches, including futuristic cloth-covered chandeliers and electric blue furniture. You feel as though you’re sitting in a kind of futuristic living room, comfortable yet defiant in its quirkiness and aura. To up the comfort level, the room is scattered with daily Kingston newspapers and coffee table books to encourage relaxation.

On the other side of the main lobby is a small dining area, which plays host to a small breakfast buffet each morning featuring a relatively basic setup of toast, fruit and cereal. Also within the dining area is a small bar where guests can gather for a nightcap or socialize with friends.

On the second floor is the Spanish Court Hotel’s pool area and Sky Bar. The pool is notable for its style, a freestanding above-ground rectangle that forms a single unbroken solid shape. The water laps right to the form’s edges. From the pool deck, visitors can also “drink in” a bird’s eye view of New Kingston’s nearby office towers while enjoying a cocktail at the pool deck bar.

Guest Rooms
Inside the hotel’s 107 rooms, guests are greeted by a similarly upscale experience to the property’s public spaces. Though a little small, all rooms are appointed with a nice mix of style and amenities to maximize comfort. The room we stayed in was outfitted in a color scheme of beige and dark red. On the wall behind our bed was a series of black and white photos similar to what was found in the main lobby. Next to the double bed was an iHome iPod clock radio, ensuring we were able to cue our favorite Reggae soundtrack throughout weekend – always a nice touch.

The bathroom was comparable to the main room, filled with the usual arrangement of towels and decked out in marble flooring. We particularly liked the “rain shower style” shower head, a simple feature many upscale hotels still frequently overlook.

The room was flanked one one side by a series of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the hotel’s courtyard. Since we happened to be on the ground floor, this resulted in a less-than-desirable level of outside noise (part of it was probably the grand opening ceremony). Thankfully the shades and curtains helped to lessen this Make sure when you get a room you ask for something on the second/third level or off the main courtyard.

Gadling was recently invited by the Spanish Court Hotel to visit Kingston, Jamaica’s unexplored capital of music, food and culture. All this week we’re bringing you our observations on all this up-and-coming city has to offer. Though the trip was paid, all opinions remain our own. You can read our previous “Big up Kingston” posts HERE.