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Tensing Pen Resort 3.5

Negril, Jamaica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Gorgeous views over the cliffs, plus some of Jamaica's best sunsets
  • Children welcome (unlike the nearby Rockhouse or Caves hotels)
  • Charming rooms have ceiling fans, fridges, kettles, and outdoor spaces
  • Most units have air-conditioning, and some have outdoor showers
  • Small ocean-view pool and rocky waterfront area
  • Bridge and various spots for cliff jumping, plus several terraces
  • Free continental breakfast and quality Jamaican cuisine on-site
  • Spa services in open-air hut and daily yoga (fee)
  • Free all-day coffee and tea, plus books and games for borrow
  • Walking distance from bars and restaurants, including famed Rick's Cafe
  • Free Wi-Fi and parking

Cons

  • No TVs, phones, or music players available
  • Pillar rooms lack air-conditioning
  • No fitness center on-site
  • Close to a two-hour drive from airport in Montego Bay

Bottom Line

With an intimate collection of 22 cottages (28 rooms), Tensing Pen is where travelers come to unplug -- no TVs, phones, or radios in the units -- and enjoy the breathtaking cliffs of Negril's West End. Although lacking a beachfront, guests can jump from various points into the ocean, rent snorkeling gear, or take a dip in the ocean-view pool. A spa hut and yoga pavilion are available for wellness activities, and a low-key restaurant and bar are open all day. Rustic rooms are lovely and come with outdoor spaces, but the striking Pillar units with outdoor showers lack air-conditioning. Rates are extremely reasonable, particularly given all rates include continental breakfast. It's worth comparing rates with the similar Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel, though it's adult-only.

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Scene

Intimate boutique hotel set along rugged, beautiful cliffs; children allowed

"At Tensing Pen, Life is Simple." That's the motto here and the hotel certainly aims to create a relaxed, laid-back vibe. Opened in the '70s as a tiny hippie hangout, this modest-size property has since grown into one of Negril's top-rated resorts. The 22 thatched-roof cottages (divided into 28 rooms) and open-air facilities are built into the cliffs of Negril's West End, overlooking turquoise waters and allowing for a tranquil, nature-focused getaway. There are no TVs in the rooms, but free Wi-Fi allows guests to stay connected if they choose. 

Cottages are spread out over the large property, allowing guests private lounging on multiple terraces or in a hammock, or mingling by the pool. Cliffs also allow for great jumping points, as does a bridge that's popular for photo ops. The cliffs can be a bit dangerous for young children, which is perhaps why some neighboring hotels like the Rockhouse hotel don't allow kids under 14. But Tensing Pen welcomes children to the resort, though the atmosphere is never too loud and most guests are couples. The only real time that serenity is disturbed is when a catamaran booze cruise passes by on its way to watch the cliff divers at Rick's Cafe. Expect to see two Rhodesian Ridgebacks lulling about, gorgeous fauna, and fantastic sunsets when the weather is clear.

Location

In Negril's West End, within walking distance from some great restaurants and bars

Though it feels private and secluded, guests only have to ascend the short driveway and take a few steps to find jerk stands along the road. It's just a short walk from must-see attractions like Rick's Café, other resorts, and tasty jerk restaurants including 3 Dives Jerk Center. Negril's downtown, nightlife, and Seven Mile Beach are between an eight- and 15-minute drive away. Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay is just under a two-hour drive, and the hotel can arrange  transportation for a fee. On-site parking is free, though those driving should beware of potholes and aggressive drivers.

Rooms

Rustic rooms with ceiling fans, mini-fridges, and outdoor spaces

The 22 cottages here come out to 28 rooms, all of which have a simple, yet charming design. Expect wooden four-poster beds, terra-cotta tile or wooden floors, locally inspired artwork by Jamaican artists, and white linens, plus lovely stone detailing in some. All rooms come with furnished outdoor spaces, some with gorgeous ocean views. Garden Rooms are located at the southern side of the property, near the jumping bridge. There are four Pillar units, which are tree house-style rooms on stilts, offering floor-to-ceiling wood and outdoor stone showers, but no conditioning. All other units have AC, while standard amenities consist of ceiling fans, storage space, mini-fridges, kettles, and old-school safes. Bathrooms have showers and free toiletries, but no hairdryers. No TVs or phones are provided, though Wi-Fi is free and reliable. 

Features

Free breakfast, poolside bar and restaurant, and massage hut

Tensing Pen doesn't have a traditional sandy beach, but there is a small rocky area for water entry. Guests can climb down the cliffs and swim from a handful of ladders that have been built into the rugged cliffs, but the general consensus is that guests can't finish their stay without jumping from the long bridge that's 18 feet above the water. Snorkeling gear is available, but it requires a fee. 

A small but lovely pool is set below the restaurant and reception area, atop a steep drop-off on one of the cliffs. It has a beautiful view over the ocean and is surrounded by loungers. At times, it can be difficult to secure a lounger, particularly those under umbrellas. Spa services such as massages and skin treatments are available in a cliffside hut, hidden from the rest of the resort. Salon services like manicures and hair styling can be done in rooms. Yoga classes are held at the open-air SeaSong Hut daily for a fee. No gym is on-site

All rates include a tasty continental breakfast with fruit, cereal, pastries, peanut butter, and yogurt, and hot dishes can be purchased. Lunch and dinner fare receives positive reviews, though the restaurant was largely vacant during our evening meal. An all-day bar serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic fare, and Jamaican coffee and tea are available 24/7.

Like many properties in Jamaica, weddings are popular and lovely. Various spots around the resort are available for ceremonies and receptions, and groups can rent the entire property. A gift shop is next to reception, and both books and games are available for borrow by the restaurant. Wi-Fi and parking are free.

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Things You Should Know About Tensing Pen Resort

Address

West End Road, Negril, Caribbean

Phone

(876) 957-0387

Also Known As

  • Tensing Pen
  • Tensing Pen Hotel
  • Tensing Pen Jamaica
  • Tensing Pen Negril

Room Types

  • Bungalow
  • Cove Cottage
  • Garden B Room
  • Garden Room
  • Garden Studio Room
  • Patio Cottage
  • Pillars
  • Pine Pillar Suite
  • Red Birch Cottage
  • Rock Cottage I
  • Rock Cottage II
  • Run of the House Garden View
  • Run of the House Ocean View
  • Seagrape 2 Room
  • Seagrape Room
  • South House
  • The Long House

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