Easyjet has been flying from Liverpool to St Helier for a couple of years now, so we thought it was time to hop over there and take a look. I had imagined Jersey as being a proper old fashioned seaside destination and was actually quite surprised at how much this perception was challenged. Of course, there are beautiful beaches and seaside cafes, but there is also rugged coastline, amazing countryside and plenty of smart shopping opportunities.
We stayed at the Grand Jersey hotel. Three of us, my husband Steve, his dad Arthur and I, checked into the hotel late afternoon and had a couple of hours before dinner to wander along the front and harbour at St Helier. The weather overall was pretty torrid, with wind and rain battering us, but hey, it was March so what can you expect, and that first afternoon was a belter with lots of sunshine!
In true British holidaymaker fashion, our first meal was fish and chips at Hectors in the town, and very nice it was too, served with a decent cup of builders tea!
The Grand Jersey is five stars and has bar prices to match, but a quick recce of other possible drinking establishments revealed a seedy side to the town that we didn’t really fancy, so it was back to the Champagne Bar at the Grand for wine and bottled beer. At least we were served nuts and olives to soften the blow.
Our room had no view, but we did pay a bargain price for it via an Easyjet deal, so no complaints. Arthur’s single room did have a view and was good value for money too. There were three pillows each, an abundance of cushions, a nice bathroom with rainforest shower head and plenty of reading material, so I was happy. The bed was very comfy and we slept really well.
Breakfast was serve yourself, full English or continental, with tea, coffee, juice and toast served at the table. All very civilised and tasty too.
Our first full day was dry a.m. so we walked from St Helier to the War Tunnels, approximately an hour’s trek through the countryside – would have been less if we hadn’t got lost, but that’s normal for us! I’m so glad we walked instead of taking the bus as I saw my very first red squirrel!
The War Museum is a must see if you go to the island. It takes you through the history of the German occupation 1940-45 and really gives you an insight into what life must have been like in those war years. The tunnels themselves are quite eerie, but the effect is to transport you back in time and it works really well. Each visitor is given a passport as they enter and you are encouraged to trace the history of the individual named on your passport.
The afternoon was shocking – so much rain! Not much to do except relax in the hotel. Dinner that night was Italian, at Vecchio Milano, a good place to eat with huge portions.
Day two, I wanted to see the shops, so the boys tagged along while I happily shopped in the centre of St Helier. There’s a good selection of retailers, including some very nice local pottery. I really enjoyed the indoor market too. A chance to spend some one pound notes! When did I last see one of those!
The Grand has a spa, so I took myself off there in the afternoon leaving the boys to read the papers. The spa is a little underwhelming. It has a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, rainforest shower etc. but little in the way of atmosphere and the layout is a bit higgledy piggledy. They sell Espa products and I was surprised that I didn’t get that lovely Espa fragrance hit when I walked in – they need to use more candles!
We ate in the Grand’s Victoria restaurant that night, giving us a chance to dress up a bit. I had seabream on crushed new potatoes followed by a cheese plate. The food was really good.
Day three was a total washout weather wise, but luckily we had booked an all day island tour, so didn’t get too wet. We saw loads of the interior, including a few Jersey cows and countless fields of Jersey Royal potatoes. The rugged coastline is just beautiful and I imagine that on a sunny day, we would have had some marvellous views.
Our final day, we wandered along the seafront and had huge American pancakes for lunch at a café which looks like an upturned boat: The Friegate. Yummy – I’d have those again!
So, would I go back to Jersey? A resounding yes. The hotel? Yes again. In Spring? err maybe not! I’ll go in summer next time!