From lavender massages and beach foraging for lobsters to roaring log fires and Jersey crap taste tests…
With the winter months setting in and the stress of Christmas planning mounting by the day, it’s safe to say we could all do with a break.
But where to go, and what to do in order to have a couple of days of relaxation but not lose out on the festive hype and winter weather?
Right now, it’s all about Jersey.
Just a short plane or helicopter away, Jersey is about as luxurious as winter holiday spots can get, and while it’s renowned for its beaches and seafood, winter is when the island really comes alive – in this writer’s opinion anyway.
Needing a break from the London grind, I headed to Jersey’s Longueville Manor for a relaxing and festive few days, and after a long weekend of cream teas, Champagne hot tubs and long beach walks, I was fully restored – and a whole jeans size bigger, but more about that later.
The 14th-century Jersey manor house (just outside St Helier) has been restored to a boutique luxury hotel, with roaring log fires, racks of Hunter welly boots to kit up for beach walks and trays of freshly baked mince pies to wash down with mulled wine before indulging in a lavender and bergamot facial.
Sounds dreamy, right? That’s not even the half of it.
Interiors-wise, your Instagram feeds are in for a rustic treat – rare Norman style doors, Jersey granite fireplaces, exposed brick, freestanding bath tubs and even huge oak beams thought to have come from shipwrecked Spanish Armada warships.
It’s hardly surprising therefore that picking a room is difficult work. Each room is different, with the designs ranging from ultra modern to a more traditional aesthetic, all coming with stories behind the furniture, that the owners will tell you about over kippers and poached eggs in the morning.
I was staying in the Longueville junior suite, a regal set-up inspired by the family’s love of Africa. Decor-wise, we’re talking an 18th Century French four poster bed adorned with giraffe and zebra cushions and a traditional claw foot freestanding bath tub with a leopard on the side. Coupled wth the REN toiletries and scented candles, it’s going to take every ounce of will power to leave your Instagrammable bedroom – but trust me, you should – at least for the food.
Full disclosure – you may have to buy your winter wardrobe in the next size up, because you really won’t be able to help yourselves – this writer speaks from experience.
Kippers, Jersey crab, local lobster, scallops, garden fruit puddings and enough artisan cheese to feed an army – just a regular day at Longueville Manor – and it’s all locally produced.
The scallops are hand dived, the salmon is smoked in-house, the wild mushrooms are freshly picked from the woodland and the milk and cream comes from an organic dairy farmer up the road. Even the honey, strawberry jam and Jersey black butter in the traditional Longueville cream teas are made at the Manor.
If you want to learn more about the local produce, a foraging experience with Kaz (Jersey’s answer to Bear Grylls) is well worth it. I’m not an outdoorsy girl, but this unexpectedly became my highlight – well, after the leopard bath.
After kitting ourselves out at the Hunter welly rack, we met Kaz and his dog on the beach and walked across the stunning beaches and woodlands, tasting seaweed and salsify that we found on our way and learning about the wildlife around us.
The highlights? Making friends with a baby starfish, foraging for lobsters under rocks and collecting shellfish to eat, something that Kaz later cooked up for us over a fire on the beach with his home brewed sparking elderflower. As far as experiences go, let’s just say that one is pretty unforgettable. Although, disclaimer – it does include clambering over very wet rocks, so if it’s not for you, I’d stay at Longueville.
The Manor’s Cottage Garden boutique spa is also an obligatory stop – especially after a tiring forage, using ancient therapies, flower essences and botanical oils to achieve ultimate relaxation.
Whether you’re going in for the REN Head in the Clouds massage, Moroccan Rose Ritual or Hopi ear candling, you will leave de-stressed to the max. My recommendation? The de Mamiel facial – but just FYI, you will come away ready for bed.
Activity-wise, there’s plenty to do in Jersey (the Christmas fairs are not to be missed) but something that really is worth leaving the luxury of Longueville for is St Helier’s Beresford Street Kitchen, known locally as ‘the cafe with a conscience’.
The cafe is a social enterprise, providing training and employment for people with learning disables and autism – not to mention making a heavenly Chai Latte, with every penny going back into the charity. I recommend the avo toast, chip butty or scampi & chips – it really is a wonderful experience and the service is exceptional.
You should also definitely dine out one night in Jersey. I’d recommend Sumas, a cool gourmet eatery just on the harbour of Gorey, on the east of the island, so you could even go for a spin on the Longueville yacht, Fizz Too, beforehand. The restaurant is a firm favourite with locals, and it’s hardly surprising given their endless tasting menus of Jersey’s best shellfish – seriously, bring your appetite!
We’re talking smoked haddock, halibut, soused mackerel and local shellfish bisque to name just a few. But this writer was particularly taken by the Royal Bay Oysters. Top tip – choose to have them seasoned with Sake, pickled jalapeño, yuzu and cucumber – it’s one of my favourite culinary experiences to date.
Just make sure you’re back at the manor in the evening to enjoy the magical winter alfresco terrace. And whether you’re holidaying with a partner or a group of friends, I would recommend going for a late-night hot tub with a bottle of Laurent Perrier – few things feel more luxurious. Then head back inside for a mug of hot chocolate in front of the log fire before curling up in your four-poster bed.
There really is something for everyone here, and whether you’re going for a family stay, a romantic getaway or a long weekend of peace and quiet, if you want luxury and relaxation Longueville Manor could well be your answer.
How to book:
You can book a room or a suite via the Longueville Manor website, with room prices starting at £158 per night. There are upcoming Black Friday deals though, that are cutting prices by 40%, so you might want to act fast.
Longueville Rd, St.Saviour
See you there.