Devon House is a famous mansion in Kingston, Jamaica that dates back to 1881. This property was once the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Steibel. Over the years Devon House has been transformed into an interactive tour experience that includes restaurants, shopping, and even an ice cream shop. The tour attracts dozens of visitors daily, with the main draw being the house itself. Many elements of the original home have been preserved while some additional recreations have been added to the mix.
Devon House exudes a tropical vibe, beginning with the towering palm trees and expansive grounds and continuing throughout the property, which features a blend of French and uniquely Jamaican antiques. The Devon House tour is a good choice for couples looking for a more low-key experience that is both peaceful and enjoyable. If you’re thinking about visiting Devon House while in Jamaica, don’t put it off because it’s one of the more informative attractions in Jamaica. If you want to know more about what to expect during a Devon House tour, read on because we’ve got everything you need to know including the cost, history, and activities!
As one of the most popular vacation stops in Jamaica, there’s a lot to learn about Devon House and how it came to be. Here’s what you should know:
Quite a lot of fascination still exists regarding the 19th-century mansion that is Devon House, as well as George Stiebel, the man who created it. Stiebel worked as a carpenter and trader and is said to have acquired his wealth from gold mining in Venezuela. Devon House, located in Kingston, Jamaica, was first called Devon Penn before Stiebel purchased it from the St. Andrew Parish Church upon his return from Venezuela. The house was redone to suit his tastes and features a striking Georgian architectural style.
One of the things that stands out about Devon House is the way various cultural elements were incorporated into its final design. This house went from being a ‘simple’ home to one of the most notable historical landmarks in Jamaica. Devon House’s eventual fate was much unlike that of the other millionaire homes in this area (two others are known to have existed), which were demolished and rebuilt in a more modern style.
In 1960, George Stiebel’s widow Agnes moved to New York. The house she had once shared with Stiebel was left vacant until it was opened in 1968. In 1990, it became an official National Monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. The Minister of Welfare and Development at the time, Edward Seaga (the former Prime Minister of Jamaica), was partly responsible for this pronouncement.
Today, Devon House is a national heritage site and it is owned by the Government of Jamaica. Despite its tagline and history, no one has lived in this house for years. Rather, the Devon House property is now home to a variety of shops (20 in all), restaurants, a spa, and a delicious ice cream shop all of which visitors to Jamaica can enjoy!
Expert tip: Visiting Devon House in Jamaica is certainly exciting and there are lots more activities available on this island as well. Check out our list of amazing things to do in Jamaica which includes visiting breathtaking beaches and unforgettable historical sites. We’ve got some details on the best restaurants in Jamaica too!
An exploration of Devon House will start with a tour of the property. Though the actual walk-through can take between 20-30 minutes, there’s still more to explore once the main tour is over. From shopping to eating, a tour of Devon House can wind up being a whole-day affair. Before getting to that part though, you'll need to book your tour. There are various ways to set up a Devon House tour including making arrangements through your resort. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy at Devon House in Jamaica:
The purpose of visiting Devon House is to experience its historic ambiance and learn what makes it stand out. For this reason, once you get there, you should be open to exploring. During a guided tour of Devon House, you’ll be led through the various rooms (nine in all) which include the Ballroom, Games Room, Dining Room, Palm Hall, Drawing Room, Sewing Room, Young Girl’s Room, and Master Bedroom. Inside the various rooms, you’ll notice that there's a mix of Jamaican and French antiques and some reproductions throughout the space. Take lots of pictures and ask questions along the way as your guide shares insightful tidbits about the house, as well as interesting facts about Jamaica.
Devon House and ice cream go hand in hand. That’s why we recommend taking a minute or two to try the homemade ice cream at this location. The flavors here are part of the reason some say Devon House has the best ice cream on the island. The ice cream shop here is known as Devon House I-Scream and features 27 different ice cream flavors. Local flavors are in the spotlight here including Rum Raisin, Bordeaux Cherry, Devon Stout, Coffee Coconut, Pistachio, Soursop, Rocky River, and more. Take as much time as you’d like to try the different island-inspired flavors!
You won’t have to worry about going hungry at Devon House as there are a couple of restaurants on the property that you can choose from. This includes the Mahogany Tree Bar or Grog Shoppe. The restaurants here range from casual to fine dining. You can also visit the Devon House Bakery for a Jamaican patty if you just want a quick bite!
It can be fun to shop around for a cool souvenir once you’re done touring an attraction like Devon House. You can find a gift shop on the Devon House property and a boutique as well. At the shops located on this property (chocolate shop included!), you’re sure to find something unique to take home with you that’ll remind you of your visit to this historic attraction.
Expert tip: As there’s quite a bit to do at Devon House, it is a good idea to ensure you give yourself enough time to explore the property without feeling rushed. Consider it a half or whole-day affair depending on what you plan on doing while there.
The price you’ll pay for a tour of Devon House can vary based on your starting point and the tour operator that you choose to take you there. There are a variety of tour options available which can influence the price you pay as well. A starting point for Devon House tours can be about $25 USD per adult— this is the price you'll pay to tour the Great House with the choice of three things: a scoop of ice cream, chocolate from Chocolate Dreams, a fresh bottle of coconut water from Coco Raw, or a gourmet patty from Devon House Bakery.
If you plan on staying outside of Kingston or won’t be renting a car while in Jamaica, then a full-day tour can be a good option. You can book a full-day tour through a tour operator like El Sol Vida. Tour packages with this company cost around $131.25 USD starting from Montego Bay and $100 USD starting from Ocho Rios. The tour with El Sol Vida includes travel in an air-conditioned car, admissions, and hotel pickup/drop off. If you’re not sure which tour of Devon House will be best you can ask resort staff for advice as they can help you find the best local tour guides in your area.
Expert tip: In addition to your admission costs, you may want to bring some extra money for shopping at Devon House as well. After shopping and exploring Devon House, it will be possible to explore some other great options for shopping in Jamaica. Our list includes the best craft markets, malls, and other places where visitors can find good shopping in Jamaica.
Aside from Devon House, there are several popular attractions that you might want to try in Jamaica. Some of our favorite activities are listed below:
The Bob Marley Museum is located in Kingston, Jamaica. The popularity of this museum has to do with just how well this space captures the life and memorializes the music of the late Jamaican reggae music icon. This museum is certainly worth a visit in Jamaica if you’re a Marley or reggae music fan and want to find out more about his life, music, and inspirations. The museum is located in the artist’s former home which was converted by his wife Rita Marley.
While in Jamaica, you’ll have options on the type of Bob Marley tour you want to embark on including the ‘Combo “One Love”’ tour, the ‘Bob Marley Home’ tour, and the ‘Making of the Music’ tour. All of these tours explore various aspects of Marley’s life with the latter focusing on the work and influences of the reggae star.
Good to know: Though tours are not included in the all-inclusive package offered by Sandals all-inclusive resorts you can easily book your tours or excursions through the resort tour desk or during the booking process.
The Blue Mountains is a notable landmark in Jamaica being that it is the tallest peak on the island (1,500 ft)! It is possible to get up close to these mountains while in Jamaica and you can do so by simply taking a drive in this area or going on a hiking or biking tour. Either option is bound to be a good experience as the Blue Mountains are incredibly scenic. In the Blue Mountains, you’re likely to see intriguing wildlife such as wild hogs, small chipmunks like the coney, and a variety of fauna and flora including trees like pine, tangerine, and soursop. The Blue Mountains also offer the opportunity to explore the forest via the longest zip line in Jamaica, see waterfalls, and do coffee tours as well.
The Blue Hole in Ocho Rios is one of Jamaica’s most spectacular attractions. This natural site is located in the mountains and just a glimpse of it feels like coming face to face with a true paradise. At Blue Hole, Jamaica, you’ll find freshwater pools, refreshing waterfalls, and rugged nature trails. It might take some walking before you get to the attractions here, but it’ll all be worth it if you’re looking for a nature-oriented experience. Visiting the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios can be a romantic couple’s activity, particularly if you pack a picnic to take along. There are numerous tour operators through which you’ll be able to book this tour.
The Luminous Lagoon is a natural wonder in Jamaica that can be witnessed in only a few places in the world. This lagoon glows at night due to microorganisms known as dinoflagellates that live in the water and emit a blue light when touched. Of all the places where this bioluminescent glow can be seen in the world, the glowing lake in Falmouth known as the Luminous Lagoon is said to glow the brightest.
The Luminous Lagoon experience is highly-rated and worth experiencing. This is one of the only tours available at night on this island and for this reason, you may find that the whole experience has a unique feel. As part of this tour, you’ll hop on a boat to the intersection of the Martha Brae River and the ocean. Some people choose to get into the glowing waters to experience this phenomenon from a closer perspective while others are perfectly satisfied taking things in from their comfy seat as part of a guided boat tour.
Good to know: Jamaica has a fairly consistent climate which is part of the reason the Luminous Lagoon here glows the brightest in the world. This means that you can visit this attraction pretty much any time of year. The best time to visit the Luminous Lagoon is at night as the effect can mostly be seen when the sun goes down.
The best time of year to visit Jamaica is between the months of mid-December to mid-April. This time of year is considered peak-season for travel to this destination and can be quite a busy time to go. Many visitors prefer traveling during the peak season as the weather tends to be more consistently sunny (hello, beach time!) and there can be more activities to do on the island as well. During peak season, it is not uncommon to find resort and flight deals. Many other islands in the Caribbean consider mid-December to mid-April to be the high season as well.
Although these months tend to be the most popular time to travel to Jamaica, there are other good times to visit Jamaica outside of peak season. Your decision on when to go should take into account the type of experience you're hoping to have. If you’d prefer to avoid crowds, November can be a great time to visit this island. You can sometimes find worthwhile resort and flight deals for travel between November and mid-December. Ultimately, there isn’t really a bad time to visit Jamaica as there's always sunshine and plenty to do!
There are loads of options for places to stay in Jamaica but by far the most popular choice tends to be the all-inclusive resorts. Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts have several properties located in Jamaica. Sandals Jamaica includes six resort locations including Montego Bay, Royal Caribbean, Negril, Ochi, South Coast, and Royal Plantation, while Beaches Resorts has two properties in Ocho Rios and Negril.
Sandals Resorts in Jamaica are located near some of the best visitor attractions in Jamaica and guests can benefit from complimentary transfers to their resort and back to the airport once their vacation is over. There are tons of perks that come with staying at all-inclusive Jamaica resorts and this includes the extensive list of quality inclusions that guests love. These inclusions range from gourmet dining at multiple restaurants to day and night entertainment, luxury accommodations and so much more!
Insider tip: Another perk of staying at a Sandals all-inclusive resort is how friendly and helpful the staff tends to be. Resort staff often share knowledge and local tips to point you in the right direction in terms of tours, restaurants, and other local attractions. This can be key to not missing out on some of the amazing things Jamaica has to offer!
Devon House is open for tours daily from Monday to Saturday. Tours can be arranged between the hours of 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Outside of this time, you can call the property’s management office to book special tour packages. Tours of Devon House range between 20-30 minutes in duration.
Devon House is around 30 minutes from Montego Bay. It can take a little more time to get between this attraction and Ocho Rios or Dunn’s River — around an hour and a half each way. From areas like Negril and Whitehouse, Jamaica, it can take around three to four hours to get to Devon House. Though you will be able to arrange tours to Devon House from any of these locations, the most convenient place to stay if you want easy access to Devon House are Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Devon House is located in the center of Kingston (the capital of Jamaica). This popular landmark can be found on the corner of Hope Road and Trafalgar Road. In times past, this area was known as the Millionaire’s Corner as two other millionaires resided on this street next to Devon House. These other houses have since been demolished to make way for other development projects. George Stiebel’s Devon House is the only one left standing.
Insider tip: If you want to explore more attractions in Jamaica including historic sites, then staying at Sandals’ all-inclusive resort can be a great option. Most tours booked through this resort include transportation to the site and back to your resort which takes away the hassle of having to plan this!
There’s no doubt about it, Jamaica is an exciting destination! It's hard to set foot on these sunny shores and not break out in smiles and just a feeling of pure joy. These feel-good vibes can be amplified if you plan the right tours on the island and visit places like Devon House. Attractions like this are not only beautiful to see but they can also help provide some insight into the history of Jamaica and its people.
If you’re planning on visiting Devon House while in Jamaica, you might want to stay at the all-inclusive Montego Bay resorts or all-inclusive Ocho Rios resorts. These couple-oriented resorts are ideal for lovebirds looking for a mix of luxury and fun with lots of quality inclusions. Sandals Resorts offer luxurious accommodation, day and night entertainment, land and water sports, multiple restaurants including gourmet options and so much more. In the lap of luxury with your sweetheart, it will be hard not to fall in love all over again!
Expert tip: Still not sure where to vacation? Read our post on Barbados vs Jamaica to weigh the pros and cons of a vacation on these beautiful islands!