Fancy a winter break by the sea? Jersey may just be the perfect spot. Josie Ayre spends a weekend on the island…
Why go? Located smack bang in the middle of Jersey’s main town, St. Helier, The Club Hotel & Spa is the perfect location for a luxe winter break. The hotel’s location in the transport centre of the island lends itself well to a winter weekend discovering the new island.
Best for: A bit of everything! With the island’s VAT-free shopping just a two-minute walk around the corner to the hotel and beautiful coastal stretches a short drive away, a weekend trip to The Club Hotel & Spa can encompass a variety of activities. Big high street names such as Monsoon, Topshop, Next and The White Company comfortably sit next to the local department stores Voisins and De Gruchy while more boutique and jewellery stores like Catherine Best and Jersey Pearl are all easily accessible on-island are all VAT-free meaning you can shop for less (and take home more).
If all that wasn’t enough, The Club has it’s own Michelin starred restaurant, Bohemia downstairs and –as the name suggests – a spa which offers a variety of treatments as well as an indoor salt water pool, herbal steam room, experience shower and salt cabin. You can’t go wrong with a Mud Rasul Experience (£65 for two people sharing, £45 for one) which is a DIY spa treatment that you can share with a partner. During the 25-minute treatment you will cover yourself in Rasul mud which is known to improve skin texture, detoxify and soothe skin leaving you smooth as the day you were born. If you’re not in for a treatment, you can use all of the facilities anyway, so relax away.
The look: While the rooms may not have the prettiest of views, each of the 43 rooms and suites are kitted out with luxuriously soft Frette dressed beds to make sure you have the best nights sleep possible. They may not be the most memorable rooms, there are a few special touches: if you fancy booking in a last minute spa treatment you can check out the available times on the handy timetable left at the end of everyday, Elemis products litter the bathrooms and freshly backed shortbread is left by your bedside every night for those with a sweet tooth. The communal areas are smart with a breakfast room and lounge for you to put your feet up in and if you’ve made your way through the minibar already, you can help yourself to drinks from the honesty bar at any time.
I’m hungry: Well, you’re in luck! The Club has it’s own Michelin starred restaurant, Bohemia, downstairs. The jewel in the crown of the hotel, the restaurant’s head chef Steve Smith has cultivated a variety of menus for all different tastes and occasions. Perfect. We went for the pescatarian menu and the tasting menu (£75 each) for dinner which both consist of 8 courses (9 if you opt for the cheese board at a £15 supplement) and both cross over when dietary requirements allow so. The sweet & sour grapefruit with black pepper and tarragon may come out looking more like a dessert but as it turns out is the best way to cleanse the palette ahead of what can only be described as a beautifully refined – and sometimes surprising – fine dining experience.
One of the highlights from the pescatarian menu include the Lobster dish which is delightfully meaty and blends well with the unexpected accompaniment of charred and pureed sweetcorn while the other is without a doubt the turbot which is – confusingly – served with ox cheek and a rich red wine sauce which is as moreish as the rest of the menu. While these two dishes were certainly the best, don’t be fooled, the whole experience is as close to faultless as they come: the dining room is dark, chic and manned by knowledgeable staff who finely tread the lines of attentive and discreet and the meal is presented with an understated fanfare. If you’d rather indulge in the sweet stuff from the get go, you can also enjoy Bohemia’s afternoon tea which runs during the day and features three tiers of pure sugar indulgence alongside some finger sandwiches. Lunch starts at a reasonable £19 pp for two courses while dinner is £49 pp and afternoon tea starts from £19.95 pp.
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While you’re there: Even throughout the winter, you can enjoy Jersey’s beaches. Head to St. Brelade’s bay on the South West coast for a breezy but beautiful along the island’s longest beach and then head to the Oyster Box where you can eat local seafood while watching the waves. If you’re a historian at heart then you can educate yourself on the island’s history and it’s links to both France and the UK at the picturesque castle, Mont Orgueil which protected the island for over 600 years.
If you fancy yourself a Dr Doolittle, then Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in the north of the island is the place to head for you. The park’s 32 acres of wetland valleys and mature woodland is home to a variety of animals including gorillas, orangutans, flamingos and a whole host of creepy crawlies and is great if you’ve got kids in tow.
If you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife of the island, start your night off in the Blind Pig in St Helier. The hidden 1920s-esque speakeasy may not be the easiest bar to find, but the cocktails are worth the game of hide and seek. If you’re not a fan of anything on menu then talk to the people behind the bar and they’ll make you a bespoke cocktail to your taste. You can reserve a table by emailing Madamefifi@cesoirjersey.com.
Dress code: Woolies – while Jersey may enjoy one of the best sunshine records in the British Isles, you’ll still need to don your coat and scarf in the winter months. Book now: Flights from London Gatwick to Jersey run regularly and take just over an hour with both BA and EasyJet or if you’re more of a seafarer you can take the ferry from Poole or Portsmouth with Condor Ferries. You can hire a car from the airport with Hertz or an airport transfer to St. Helier, costs from £12 – £20 depending on the time of day. Rooms at the Club Hotel & Spa start at £99 room only or £130 with a Continental breakfast included. Suites start from £210 to £349 with Continental breakfast. If you want more information on visiting Jersey throughout the winter months then take a look at Escape to Jersey.