Staycation: The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey
by Tamsin Burnett-Hall
Fancy diving into gourmet seafood on an island escape that’s close to home? The perfect weekend awaits you on the Channel Islands...
Jersey is an island full of surprises, despite being just five miles long and nine miles wide. A mere hop, skip and a jump from the mainland (or more prosaically, less than an hour by air), the largest of the Channel Islands offers beaches, history, seafood and sunshine – 342 more hours of sunlight annually than any other place in the British Isles, to be precise!
Far closer to France than England, it feels familiar yet with a continental twist. Our base for the weekend is The Club Hotel & Spa in the heart of the capital, St Helier. Unusually for this bustling built-up town where space is at a premium, there’s free parking if you’re planning to hire a car to explore the more rural areas and coast, and both an outdoor pool and sunny terrace, and an indoor pool and spa. Rooms are decorated in chic contemporary neutrals, huge feather beds are dressed with luxe Frette linens, and you’ll find Elemis toiletries in the sleek granite bathrooms. But the real attraction here is the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant, Bohemia.
On our first night, we have a drink in the glamorous cocktail bar first; the hotel has a unique rose spirit, Lanique, which makes an excellent cocktail base. Moving through to the restaurant, we pass under a playful chandelier of champagne glasses, a sign of things to come – no solemn temple to food, but a combining of sophistication with a relaxed ambience. The friendly staff tells us we can pick and mix dishes from the three tasting menus (pescatarian, veggie or omnivore). I decide to go fish all the way and what a treat it proves to be.
Chef Callum Graham is a master at work, transforming local produce into culinary works of art and cleverly balancing flavours and textures without overwhelming the purity of the ingredients. From a warm and wobbly Jersey brown crab panna cotta with pear sorbet on to cured and torched local mackerel, followed by turbot with grapes and a stunning seaweed beurre blanc, every mouthful is a delight.
Wine pairings by sommelier Jude are unusual and explorative, such as a Spanish mencía (a floral, fruity red from the Iberian peninsula) with the turbot. The chef’s playful touch really comes out as we get to the sweet stuff. First, our very own ice cream cart with miniature cones arrives, then a perfect meringue dome to crack open and discover a tangy mojito mousse. It’s a glorious finale to this special experience. Our island adventures don’t end there.
Exploring further afield reveals landscape contrasts that are very similar to Cornwall – green inland valleys, long golden-sand beaches, towering cliffs and rocky bays. We’re advised to keep a close eye on tide times, which come in incredibly fast. Some beaches, such as beautiful Plémont Bay, are only accessible at low tide, when a network of sea caves is revealed. There are beach cafés wherever you go (brunching is a way of life here), but the seafood barbecue at Faulkner Fisheries (operating from a converted German bunker) is a real find. If history is your thing, head to the War Tunnels, or the neolithic passage grave at La Hougue Bie as we did. There’s something for everyone on this holiday island!
How to book
An overnight stay at The Club Hotel & Spa starts from £256, including breakfast, based on two people sharing. A four-course tasting menu at Bohemia costs £89 per person, while the full seven-course tasting menu costs £120 per person. For more information and to book, visit theclubjersey.com.