Hilton Rose Hall, named for the historic Rose Hall plantation house located only a mile from the resort, is the only Hilton in Montego Bay and part of Hilton By Playa all-inclusive resorts.
The resort is only 15 minutes from Sangster International Airport (MBJ) and sits among a cluster of other all-inclusive resorts like Sandals Royal Caribbean and Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, though you’d never know it.
Arriving at Hilton Rose Hall feels like entering a secret tropical paradise, inhabited only by guests in the resort’s 489 rooms and the friendly, welcoming staff. But was the experience as idyllic as it appeared at first glance?
Here’s what you need to know before booking your stay.
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Hilton Rose Hall has a two-night minimum stay requirement with room rates starting around $275 per night for two adults in the less busy late summer and early fall. For two adults and two children, you can expect to pay around $415 per night during the same time period.
In the busier summer months, the rates bump up to between $400 and $700 per night for two adults and between $550 and $850 per night for a family of four. Children under three, however, stay for free.
As part of the Hilton Honors program, this resort is bookable using Hilton Honors points. You’ll pay between 60,000 and 70,000 points per night for between two and four guests per room.
If, like me, you are traveling with your spouse and three children, the only room type available to you is an Oceanfront Royal King Suite. While spacious and comfortable, it is significantly more expensive at around $1,000 or 350,000 points per night.
If you have Hilton Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status, you will receive your fifth night free when redeeming Hilton Honors points.
We paid cash for our stay, but as Hilton Gold members, we were eligible for other benefits, including a room upgrade, VIP welcome amenity of wine and a snack, complimentary early check-in and late check-out, premium Wi-Fi and discounts on spa, butler and photography services.
For the most part, when this resort says all-inclusive they mean all-inclusive. All of your meals, drinks, activities and entertainment are included, as well as a kids club, non-motorized watersports, shaded beach seating and a fully-stocked minibar. You’ll only pay extra for spa visits, cabana rentals and romantic beachfront private dinners.
- Extremely friendly and helpful staff.
- Energetic, engaging activities team that got everyone in the area involved in the fun and games (including me).
- Two private beaches with lots of seating.
- Fabulous water park.
- Delicious food.
- Very family-friendly.
- Bartenders were generous when pouring cocktails.
- Loud and busy lobby with long waits during check-in, where it was difficult to even hear the front desk staff.
- Air conditioner in our room was fighting a losing battle.
- Spotty internet, even with the premium Wi-Fi package.
- Disappointing room service — bland, lukewarm and not many options.
- Room showing wear and tear — lamps not working, paint chipping and it was obvious a lot of damage had been painted over
While we certainly saw plenty of couples and adult friend groups, it was obvious from the moment we arrived that Hilton Rose Hall was one of the most family-oriented hotels I’d been to in some time.
In addition to adult welcome beverages there was a station with various juices to welcome kids to the resort as well. Every staff member we encountered was friendly and conversational with our kids, making sure they knew about the evening entertainment so they wouldn’t miss out on the fun.
Between the kids club, the full schedule of activities, shallow ocean swimming areas and the top-of-the-line water park, any family would enjoy their time here.
Because we had five guests, we couldn’t fit in a standard room. And while the bellman was escorting us to our room he told us we were lucky because we had the nicest room in the hotel.
Our large oceanfront suite opened to a spacious living area with a kitchen, eight-person dining table and a seating area with a chaise lounge and queen-size sofa bed. The primary bedroom was separated from the living area by a long hallway and had a comfortable king bed. The room had two full bathrooms, one with a tub and the other with a shower. Our suite also had three furnished oceanfront balconies.
I would have preferred a bit more local flair in the room, but it was clean and well-decorated, with only small signs of the wear and tear that come along with being situated on the beach. Though it was obvious the walls had seen some dings and dents, the hotel had made an attempt to paint over them so they weren’t noticeable. We did have a hard time keeping the room cool, but that may less of an issue in smaller rooms.
Because we were in a suite, our room had two minibars — one in the kitchen and one in the primary bedroom. Both were stocked with bottled water, pineapple juice, Coke, Sprite and Presidente, a pilsner brewed in the Dominican Republic.
Dining and drinking
The Hilton Rose Hall has a total of nine bars and restaurants, only a few of which required reservations. We stopped by the reservation desk at check-in to grab a spot at the seafood restaurant the following night and the schedule was pretty much wide open.
Only the Italian restaurant had an up-charge of $15 per person; all other restaurants were included.
Every Saturday is “Jamaica Day” at the main buffet and there was a selection of local delicacies to choose from. We had one breakfast at the buffet and one at the beachfront Moonstone restaurant. Both served menu items you’d see at any hotel like pancakes and yogurt, but also local dishes like ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s national dish.
Our favorite meal was a dinner at the Seaside Restaurant. Tables are situated outside and right on the beach, which, for me, is a good start to any meal. We started with fish cakes and vegetable samosas to share as a family and both were delicious. The samosas were spicy (but not too spicy) and the pastry was crisp and flaky.
My main dish was a curry shrimp with steamed pumpkin rice and steamed vegetables. The shrimp was served with a sweet and spicy sauce that paired well with the seasoned rice and steamed veggies.
The only disappointing meal we had during our stay was when we ordered room service during a thunderstorm the first night. The food was pretty bland and boring, especially the soggy, unseasoned fries.
I sampled a variety of cocktails during my time at the resort and my favorite was the margarita. Most drinks were made to order, but the daiquiris were pre-made. I tried one and it was sweet and delicious, but I wouldn’t have been shocked if someone had later told me it was virgin as I couldn’t taste a drop of alcohol.
The daytime games were similar to “Minute to Win It” party games. The kids and I played one where you had to pick up a tennis ball from an orange safety cone with your knees and drop it in a hula hoop on the ground and another where you had to place a large ring attached to a fishing pole around an empty liquor bottle.
The games were a riot to watch and participate in and there usually was both an adult and child winner, so everyone had a fair shot at prizes. The nightly entertainment didn’t start too late in the evening and the acts were great fun to watch, including a limbo dancer who gave new meaning to the question “How low can you go?” and a troupe of dancers who displayed Jamaican music and dancing through the decades.
The star of the show, however, was a jack-of-all-trades named Zapata. He performed three different times throughout the evening: once as a unicyclist, another time as a snake charmer and a third time as fire eater. My family was in awe of his many talents.
The water park had something for everyone — from a swim-up bar and full-size water slides to a series of kid-sized water slides and lazy river that families could enjoy together. There was also a quieter pool that looked out over the beach.
You could visit the pools and beach at any time, but the lifeguards came on duty at 10 a.m. At 10 a.m. on the dot, reggae and R&B music also started pumping through speakers, the water park’s slides and lazy river turned on and the bar and restaurant near the water park opened.
Both beach areas had ample seating and one had cushioned beds with natural umbrellas for shade. There was plenty of seating around the pool and beach areas and we never had trouble finding a spot. Prime spots with umbrellas were snatched up early (around 10 a.m. when the pools officially opened), but chairs were easy to come by.
My kids weren’t keen to visit the kids’ club, but we did check it out and there was plenty to keep little ones busy, including a nearby playground and swing set. There was also an indoor teen club with TVs and video games for older kids. There were lawn games and ping pong that you could play as long as the activities shack was open.
Even with so many other resorts nearby, I would 100 percent return to Hilton Rose Hall with my family. Even if the rooms could use a fresh coat of paint, it was convenient to the airport, never felt crowded, had delicious food and offered all-ages fun.
Possibly most important of all, we got our money’s worth out of its generously-poured margaritas.
Featured image by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy.