Are you looking for things to do in Jamaica Inn and a review of the hotel and restaurant? Read on for more information!
“Your room’s the most haunted in the inn. People staying in it have felt a hand on their shoulder in the middle of the night…”
Jamaica Inn is a historic coaching house in the middle of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. With spectacular views over the moor, a smuggling museum, a historic pub and a boutique hotel, there’s loads to enjoy here!
This guide will detail Jamaica Inn’s history, some of the best things to do here and a full Jamaica Inn review.
About Jamaica Inn
Jamaica Inn is a historic coaching inn situated in the middle of the wild Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.
It was an 18th century smuggling house, somewhat infamous for holding illegal contraband transported from the Cornish coast.
This history inspired Daphne Du Maurier, a famous writer who loved Cornwall. After a trip to the inn, she created fictional characters Mary Yellan and Patience and Joss Merlyn, who lived out a smuggler’s tale!
Nowadays, Bodmin Moor is a hotel with a pub downstairs. There are so many interesting attractions here too – read on for more!
Is Jamaica Inn haunted?
Yes, Jamaica Inn is allegedly haunted!
Some of the spookiest episodes have involved paranormal activity, sightings of ghosts and moving objects.
The strange incident of the phone crashing down to the floor is famous on YouTube:
There are also talks of the ghost of a girl called Hannah living in one room. In this room, there is a box of toys. People have reported leaving the toys out and coming back to find them in other places.
And of course, in the room that we slept in, people reported feeling a ghostly hand on their shoulder in the night…
Jamaica Inn history
The Jamaica Inn history is a bit of a rabbit hole, so let’s get going!
The inn was built in the 18th century as a purpose-built coaching inn. It definitely existed by 1760, when it was bought by John Broad.
It has always had an association with smuggling. John Broad was a retiring sea captain and had connections with Jamaica – hence the name.
Smugglers frequently transported goods from the south coast, which had good connections to France and Spain.
However, the authorities patrolled this side of Cornwall more regularly, so some smugglers favoured the north coast too!
Jamaica Inn seems a long way from the coast, but the old routes cut straight through the middle of Cornwall. It is, in fact, ideally placed between both coastlines. Plus, its location in the middle of the barren and inhospitable moor means that the authorities would never bother to check.
Its position close to Devon was also ideal, as gangs would take contraband across the Tamar, into Devon and to other points in England.
There are even alleged secret routes from Jamaica Inn all the way to the beach, and cellars in the inn that have never been found!
In the 20th century, Daphne Du Marier came to visit. Her trip here inspired her to create the fictional character Mary Yellan and her uncle and aunt, her uncle’s brother and of course – the Vicar of Alturnun.
Jamaica Inn, the fictional piece that she wrote about the inn, became a bestseller.
Today, Jamaica Inn has been renovated and is a prime tourist attraction in central Cornwall. Smugglers and wreckers are a thing of the past, and you’ll be sure of a warm welcome when you stay here!
What were smugglers and wreckers?
Smugglers are gangs who operated in the 18th and 19th centuries. They took contraband from both coastlines to various hiding places around Cornwall, such as Jamaica Inn.
Smugglers weren’t always bringing illicit substances into the country. In fact, the trade increased because taxes rose, and everyday people couldn’t afford them. The most smuggled product was actually salt!
Gangs of wreckers also operated in Cornwall in the 18th century.
They would climb aboard shipwrecks around the rocky coastline and steal any booty. Cornwall’s dramatic coastline is incredible to look at, but the jagged granite has caused many shipwrecks over the years. Wrecking was therefore quite lucrative!
On a darker note, it is thought that some wreckers deliberately lured boats ashore with false lights. There isn’t much evidence to support this, however!
About Jamaica Inn (the book!)
Jamaica Inn is a best-selling novel written by Daphne Du Maurier.
The author arrived at Jamaica Inn in the most stereotypical of conditions – on a dark, eerie and windy night.
The next day, she rode a horse over the moors. Like so many people before her, she experienced the mist falling around her and found herself barely able to find her way.
She dismounted from the horse who luckily could still navigate in the fog and who led her back to safety at the inn.
Slightly traumatised after her experience, Du Maurier stayed at the inn for a few more nights, hanging out in the pub and learning about the smuggling history.
Thus, the idea for Jamaica Inn was born!
Jamaica Inn plot
I won’t go too into Jamaica Inn’s story in this blog post, but it focuses on Mary Yellan, a girl who moves to Jamaica Inn after her mother dies.
She lives with her kind but passive Aunt Patience and cruel Uncle Joss. Soon, she learns that Jamaica Inn is the centre of a foreboding wrecker and smuggler gang.
Mary attempts to uncover mysteries surrounding this gang and essentially tries to escape alive.
Why is it called Jamaica Inn?
There is lots of discussion around where the name ‘Jamaica Inn’ comes from.
The most likely story seems to be that John Broad had connections to Jamaica, and called it that as homage to his experience in the country. Broad is also thought to have encouraged smugglers to leave their contraband here.
Other people theorise that it comes from a local family who had connections to nature, but the dates don’t add up – they’re about 50/ 60 years out.
Where is Jamaica Inn?
Jamaica Inn is a coach house located in the middle of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. It is about halfway between Bodmin town and Launceston, located on the Devon/ Cornwall border.
How to get to Jamaica Inn Cornwall
You can reach the coaching house by car or public transport.
Take the M5 to the Exeter end, and then join the A30 heading towards Cornwall. Keep driving down the road – eventually, the A road will traverse through moorland.
Eventually, you’ll drive past some brown tourist signs to Jamaica Inn. Follow these signs – they will take you down a quieter road, and you’ll reach Bolventor. You can’t miss Jamaica Inn once you get here – the village is tiny!
Public transport directions
The nearest station to Jamaica Inn is Bodmin Parkway. You can take a train here from London Paddington, Reading, Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and other stations in Cornwall.
You can use the bus service from Bodmin Parkway to Jamaica Inn – the 76 bus. Double check bus times before booking your train, as they can be quite infrequent in rural Cornwall!
Things to do at Jamaica Inn
Sit out in the cobbled courtyard
Jamaica Inn is enigmatic inside and out.
One of the best things to do here is taking a drink in the courtyard! Here, you can enjoy the charismatic exterior of the pub, taking photos in the stocks or seeing the charismatic sign on the front of the door.
Eat hearty pub food at the smuggler’s bar
The smuggler’s bar is even more characterful! It’s incredibly atmospheric, with historic decorations everywhere and notes from all over the world stuck to the bar.
Jamaica Inn serves a range of delicious food, including pies, burgers and pasta. There is also a vegan and vegetarian menu, and you can purchase Jamaica Inn beer and rum to drink with it!
Stand on the spot where Joss was killed
This isn’t as dark as it says it is – you’ll know if you’ve read Jamaica Inn!
Joss Merlyn was the baddie smuggler in Daphne Du Maurier’s novel Jamaica Inn. He was eventually killed, and there is a plaque commemorating this on the floor in the bar, not too far from the fireplace. See if you can find it!
Enjoy Joss’s bar
Once you’ve enjoyed your pub food, pay a visit to Joss’s Bar is tucked away around the corner.
This is another one for any Du Maurier fans. It depicts a scene from the novel – Joss pouring an old-time drink for bar dwellers!
Visit the Smugglers Museum
If you want to visit one of the best collections of smuggling artefacts in the world, visit the smuggler’s museum at Jamaica Inn!
The smuggler’s museum depicts the history of smuggling, both in Cornwall and elsewhere. It journeys from smuggling’s heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries up to the modern-day.
You’ll find exhibitions of artefacts where people have hidden contraband, newspaper cuttings old and new about smuggling and plenty of photos!
Learn about Daphne Du Maurier
The Daphne Du Maurier museum has the world’s finest collection of Daphne Du Maurier-related artefacts. Recent additions include letters to her from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Entry to the Smuggler’s Museum and Daphne Du Maurier Museum costs £3.95.
Browse the farm shop
The farm shop is a great place to purchase local products.
Whether you fancy buying some Cornish gin, rum made at the inn itself, Cornish cheese or locally-made honey, you can find it here in the farm shop!
The Jamaica Inn rum was created by the owner, and has a few different flavours including vanilla. Jamaica Inn is the only place where you can buy it!
Enjoy stunning views of the moor
There is a platform by the car park where you can see a lovely view over the moorland. It’s beautiful on a bright, sunny day but also worth checking out in foggy, gloomy weather.
The moors can be so atmospheric!
Come back for a murder mystery
Can you think of a better place to play a murder mystery? Jamaica Inn has regular international murder mystery nights.
You could visit for a Mexican banquet and Mexican-themed murder mystery, or work out what happened in Pisa while eating pasta at the Italian night!
Do the Brown Willy run
The Brown Willy run travels from Jamaica Inn to the summit of Brown Willy.
It is an organised run that takes place once per year. If you can’t make it for the annual run, you can always do it independently – or at the very least, hike from Jamaica Inn to Brown Willy!
Stay the night!
Once you’ve appreciated all of the other things to do in Jamaica Inn, then why not rent a room for the night!
Jamaica Inn has 36 bedrooms and suites of different styles.
Some are more old-school and are located in the historic inn, whereas others are in the new wing. There are also family rooms and dog-friendly rooms.
I stayed in one of the historic, and here’s my take on it!
Jamaica Inn Hotel Review
We checked into “the most haunted room” at the inn – one of the beautifully refurbished rooms in the historic part of the hotel.
After checking in, we were directed to our room – our keys had been sanitised and were in the room already.
Despite being in an old place, the rooms at Jamaica Inn have been decorated to perfection with modern amenities, including:
- flat-screen TVs with channels including sky sports
- high-speed wifi
- chests of drawers groaning with tea
- squash and locally-made biscuits
- deluxe bathrooms with beautiful bathtubs and power showers, and shampoo and body wash in dispensers
While there are plenty of modern features, the room is very historic. It has a beautiful four-poster bed and beams on the ceiling.
Plus, there are apparently resident ghosts – but don’t worry, they’re all friendly spirits!
If you’re into the weird and wonderful, it’s a perfect break!
Jamaica Inn Restaurant Review
If you like food, you’ll love Jamaica Inn’s breakfast!
There is an a la carte breakfast for hotel guests, with a full English, veggie and vegan options, smoked salmon and omelettes. We loved the breakfast variety!
They also have a light bites menu with lunch options like sandwiches, sausage rolls, pasties, jacket potatoes and salad.
They also serve a delicious afternoon tea, served from 12 noon to 5:00 pm. Gluten-free cream tea is usually available.
And, of course, there’s the vast dinner menu, with servings big enough to feed even the hungriest of eaters. I’ve tried the pie and vegetable risotto, and they were both delicious.
There are also themed classics like the Jamaica Inn triple stack monster beast of Bodmin burger!
There are plenty of options for omnivores, and three vegan options: a black bean and apple burger, veggie pie and risotto!
All food is made from seasonal ingredients and the menu changes twice a year.
Things to do near Jamaica Inn
Jamaica Inn is in an excellent location to enjoy a range of Cornwall attractions. You can visit places on Bodmin Moor, in Bodmin, and on Cornwall’s north and south coasts from here!
Things to do on Bodmin Moor
Minions and the Cheesewring
Minions is the highest village in Cornwall, and it’s an excellent spot for walking and seeing archaeological sites. Two particularly enjoyable sites are the hurlers and the Cheesewring.
Golitha Falls are among the best waterfalls in Cornwall, located along the River Fowey. They have been designated an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) with lots of woodland flowers and animals.
Colliford Lake is the largest inland body of water in Cornwall. It has a whopping surface area of 900 acres. It’s run by South West Lakes Trust and is a lovely place for walking and picnicking.
At 420 metres high, Brown Willy is the highest peak in Cornwall. From the top, you can enjoy incredible views over the moor and to both coastlines. It’s a fairly strenuous walk, but it is doable as a hike from Jamaica Inn.
Rough Tor (pronounced Row Tor) is the second-highest peak in Cornwall. You can hike to the top of the tor or enjoy this circular walk around Rough Tor and Brown Willy.
Things to do in Bodmin
Bodmin Jail is another eerie experience. Enjoy the 4D tour describing some of the reasons Victorians went to jail in Cornwall. There’s even some more information about smuggling! You can also visit the historical cells. I would recommend doing a guided tour to learn more about the jail.
Bodmin Town Museum
Bodmin Town Museum details the history of the town and the moor.
Bodmin Keep is the military museum of Cornwall, with lots of information about the Duchy’s army.
Port Isaac is a north Cornwall village famous for being the filming location of the popular TV show Doc Martin. It is a historic village with a fun atmosphere.
You can walk around the cliffs around Port Isaac, where there are fabulous views of the village.
Boscastle is a village that is owned by the National Trust. It has a beautiful river and famous natural harbour. You can also hike up the cliff with some magnificent views!
Tintagel is home to Tintagel castle, a famous tourist attraction with epic ocean views. This is the rocky coast of Cornwall, with some of the best views in the entire Duchy.
Fowey is a beautiful medieval town. As well as various historic buildings and a labyrinth of streets, it has a stunning coastline and estuary scenery.
Readymoney Cove, a secluded beach, is at the end of the town, and you can also climb up to St Catherine’s Castle. There are lots of restaurants and bars in town.
The Best of Jamaica Inn!
Hopefully this Jamaica Inn review and list of attractions has shown you what you can do here! It’s definitely worth passing through or staying at while you’re in Cornwall.