As winter approaches in England, the urge to get away for some winter sun and top up your vitamin D levels along with a sun-kissed glow tan is always high on the priority list. Understandably, it isn’t always possible for everyone to book long-haul flights to sunnier planes on a whim, even when a break is needed. Sometimes a refreshing timeout is more important than 30 degree temperatures.
I recently visited Jersey for a much needed break. For those that don’t know, Jersey is about a part of the United Kingdom but resides as a small Channel Island close to France, only 40 minutes flight from London. I’m no stranger to Jersey, having visited a couple of years ago in the summer months, I was excited to see what Jersey had to other for those that needed a winter break, so we went ahead and did the island break. I really wanted a trip that involved a few things to sight see, most of all, have lots of down time just taking in the fresh sea air and long walks to wind down.
After my trip, I wanted to share a quick weekend guide to a winter break in Jersey, especially after hearing how many of you were interested in visiting for a relaxing getaway.
Getting There & Around
The easiest way to get to journey is by plane, especially from the ‘main land’. A flight from London Gatwick fly’s directly to Jersey in around 40-50 minutes, but can be as quick as 30 minutes on a good day. That’s even faster than getting a train or tube across London – just let that sink in…
To get around in Jersey, I would definitely suggest hiring a car, with a pick up and drop off at the airport like we did with Hertz. Although Jersey isn’t a very large island, it can take up to 30 minutes to get around from one place to the next, even by car. Plus, there aren’t very many dedicated footpaths in the rural parts of Jersey, which can make it even more difficult to get around.
Driving around just gives you the ability to do anything and everything during the day and with so many parking facilities around the island it makes it so easy to find somewhere to park near each attraction or destination. Should you wish to have a wine or three with dinner, there is a handy option to take a taxi to and from dinner, without breaking the bank.
Where To Sleep
It was my second time visiting Jersey, but there was one hotel that stood out to me on my first visit to Jersey, The Atlantic Hotel. It’s only a four-star hotel, but it definitely gives all the other five-star hotels on the island a run for their money, with exceptional service, great facilities and a wonderful view from every part of the hotel.
The 50-room hotel has recently completed some refurbishment on the hotel, giving a beautiful nautical theme throughout each of the rooms. Filled with lots of blue and white colours, with lots of natural light, it makes it feel big, bright and airy by day and rather cosy by night, ready for a restful sleep on the island.
One of the most important things about a hotel stay for me in the bathroom amenities, something that most people don’t understand about but it speaks volumes for me. I am pleased to report back that The Atlantic Hotel has Molton Brown amenities throughout the hotel, with the nautical theme carrying through to the products, with “Costal Cypress and Sea Fennel” scents.
The hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, with single gender saunas in each of the changing rooms. The outdoor pool is the perfect place to have a sunbathe by after a spot of alfresco lunch, that’s exactly what we did on our last visit to The Atlantic. If sunbathing isn’t your thing or like us, you visited in the winter, there is nothing better than getting competitive or warming up over a game of tennis in their on-site tennis courts.
My favourite part about the hotel is where it is located. You can see the whole of St Ouen’s beach right below and it’s only a few minutes walk to get to the beach itself. It’s perfect for those early morning or sunset walks, nothing clears your head better than fresh sea air.
Best Places to Eat
1.Ocean Lounge and Restaurant
The Ocean restaurant is the resident dining experience at The Atlantic Hotel, with Executive Chef Will Holland, who took over from Mark Jordan since our last visit. However, since we arrived to the hotel around lunchtime, we decided to take advantage of the Ocean Lounge having a lovely, quick lunch before heading out to explore Jersey.
Starting with a duo of cocktails to warm us up, followed up a rich tomato linguine for myself, and some fish goujons and chips for Zoe. The lounge is the perfect place for lunch or for a post dinner drink too – the bar team are always happy to keep you hydrated with innovative concoctions.
Later that evening, visiting the main restaurant for dinner. The tables were draped in a pearl white table cloths and the room was lit by candle light, giving it a lovely ambience. While the restaurant lives up to its name by offering an array of seafood dishes, there is a good range of dishes that are ideal for those that aren’t so keen on seafood, like me.
Zoe and I both started with crispy truffle risotto with mushroom duxelles, truffle mayonnaise, rocket and Old Winchester cheese.
For our mains, I ordered the roast Jersey beef sirloin with bread and beef fat pudding, savoy cabbage, grelot onions and a red wine sauce. Even though I had my steak cooked medium-well, it was still suitably juicy, succulent and flavoursome.
Zoe ordered the roast Monkfish tail with bubble and speak, shellfish cream, wilted greens and red wine sauce. The monkfish was a suitably chunky and meaty, which impressed Zoe a lot.
After such a heavy meal, Zoe and I decided to end our meal on a savoury note, picking a selection of cheeses from their extensive, global cheese trolley that was absolutely heavenly. Served with chutneys, frozen grapes and crackers, it was the perfect way to finish a lovely meal.
2. Mark Jordan at the Beach
I’m no stranger to Mark Jordan’s culinary creativity, as I mentioned he used to be the Executive Chef at The Atlantic Hotel. Many of the hotels guests are often recommended to visit Mark’s fine establishment by the beach and I was keen to see how it compared to the dishes we previously tried of Mark’s a few years ago.
Mark Jordan at the Beach has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and 2 AA Rosettes and was listed in the Tatler restaurant guide in 2014. Anywhere that is good enough to be featured in Tatler, is good enough for me.
The restaurant has a lovely ambience with a smart-casual dress code and simple setting. While the restaurant may look more simple compared to other restaurants on the island, it makes up for the fantastic food and service that is provided.
I ordered the shallow fried potato gnocchi, with wilted spinach, wild mushrooms and parmesan cream.
Zoe ordered the pan seared Jersey scallops with roasted cucumber and a cucumber and chive beurre blanc.
For our mains, I ordered the fillet of cod served in a Thai style broth with chilli, coriander, coconut and crushed new potatoes. Firstly, Zoe was surprised to hear that I picked a fish dish over a meat dish, even though I do enjoy a good fillet of cod. It was just the way it was served that sold it to me, i’ve never heard of fish being served in such a way and I wanted to try it. The verdict? It was the BEST cod dish I have ever had to date. I would honest go back to Jersey just to eat it again.
Zoe swapped with me for the night and left her usual choice of seafood or fish and went for the 30 hour braised Harmony Farm short rib with celeriac purée, onion rings and caraway cabbage. Zoe mentioned how tender and well cooked the ribs were and the sauce was just divine.
Finishing up with a spot of dessert, I ordered the vanilla crème brûlée with poached pair, cinnamon meringue and pear sorbet and Zoe ordered the crispy thin apple tart with toffee ice-cream.
I have to say, Mark Jordan at the Beach really hit the mark for me and I would certainly recommend it to anyone visiting Jersey to have lunch or dinner there. It’s a must!!
3. Hectors Fish & Chips
If you’re out and about, I would definitely suggest visiting Hectors Fish & Chips. They have been rated the number one place on the island to have fish and chips, even TripAdvisor thinks so! They have a restaurant next door that is open until 2pm during lunchtimes, but you’re equally welcome to go in and order a take away. We got to Hector’s in the nick of time to get a takeaway, before we drove to the harbour and picked the perfect lunch spot overlooking the water. It’s the little things like that I miss when living in London, especially as I spent most of my life growing up by the seaside.
Things To Do & See
1. Mont Orgueil
If you like history, then a visit to Mont Orgueil castle is definitely for you. Not only is it a castle that still stands in its entirety against the French invasion over 800 years ago, it still boasts all the original medieval detailing from back in the day. The castle sits at height, with stunning views overlooking the fishing village of Gorey which are unmissable. The castle acted as a prison during English Civil War to some of the men who had signed the death warrant to the royalist Charless II’s father, Charles I, including Thomas Waite and Henry Smith. It still remains as one of Jersey’s most valued attractions and well worth a visit.
2. Jersey Zoo
Jersey Zoo is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of some of the rarest animals out there. While it isn’t like your typical zoo, filled with the classic zebras, giraffes and other mammals, it is home to some of the most incredible creatures. The zoo started off as a conservation site but 50 years later it is open to the public to enjoy and come home with memories that will last a lifetime.
3. Long Beach Walks
The beaches of Jersey are remarkable, where some of them stretch for miles on end. We spent a lot of time on St Ouen’s beach by the hotel, which allowed us to complete a total of a three to four walk in total, there and back. Completely uninterrupted, serene and with crisp winds and lively waves, it truly makes you appreciate the power of mother nature. If you’re a keen surfer, there is plenty of opportunity to surf at St Ouen’s beach where the waves get rather high and strong. The sunset beach walks in the winter are the best, with the sun setting around 4/4:30pm, it makes you get to experience the whole sunset, from start to finish. Let me tell you, i’ve never experienced such a beautiful sunset moment like that, especially on a beach. Jersey just keeps giving!
4. The Botanical Gardens at Samarès Manor
The Botanic Gardens are privately owned by Seigneur de Samarès, Vincent Obbard. The gardens are not like any I have seen before, with such diversity such as renowned herb and Japanese garden, it makes for a fun morning or afternoon out, with a wander around the Manor House and a pit stop for a cup of coffee and cake.
5. Visit Hotel De France Spa
Hotel de France’s spa is one of the most famous spas on the island, especially with the Ayush wellness spa which specialises in ayurvedic treatments. The aim is to leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and completely indulged. I went for a massage and I honestly didn’t want to leave, partially because I almost fell asleep from how relaxing my treatment was but because the spa was so gorgeous, I could have stayed for a whole day of pampering. After all, Jersey is the perfect place for a rest and relaxation break, so why not add in a massage or two while you are there?
Would you visit Jersey for a relaxing winter break?
Until next time…