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The Club Hotel and Spa is located in St Helier, the main town in Jersey. It is a five star hotel and is very proud of its numerous accolades, which include a 'Top 200 Hotel' award from the AA and a Michelin starred restaurant, which has been listed in Egon Ronay's top 25 restaurants in the UK.
This isn't the kind of hotel that I usually stay in when I'm on a city break, as I am very much of the opinion that a hotel is just a place to lay your head at night and I'd rather spend my money enjoying the place than the hotel, but Jersey is an island of luxury and opulence, so it seemed more appropriate to splash out. That and I used my Tesco vouchers, so it didn't actually cost anything!
Booking the hotel was an extremely painless and simple process. As I was using Tesco vouchers to pay for the stay, I was expecting to be treated a little less well than those paying full price and I was also expecting it to be a more complicated process. But no, I was pleasantly surprised. A quick call directly to the hotel and a short conversation with a pleasant lady was all it took to secure my stay. You can book through their very well presented website (www.thejerseyclub.com) and there are often details on there about special offers available throughout the year.
Jersey has a small, but surprisingly busy, airport that connects the island to various places in the UK, including Southampton, Gatwick, Blackpool and Leeds. You can also get ferries to the island from both the mainland and the other islands in the Channel Island group.
Outside the airport, there is a taxi rank and I believe that a taxi directly to the Club Hotel will cost around £20. When we arrived though, there weren't actually any taxis waiting although there was a long queue of people waiting by the taxi rank. I have to say, I think this is the first airport I've ever arrived at, anywhere in the world, where there hasn't been an abundance of taxis outside waiting for the easy fares.
Having had a glass of wine on the flight, we decided to be brave and attempt the bus. It turns out that we weren't that brave after all, as the getting a bus on Jersey is the simplest thing possible. There is one bus from the airport and it goes to Jersey's main bus terminal in St Helier. Smiling rather self satisfactorily at the ever expanding taxi queue, we headed off on our way, courtesy of the friendliest bus driver I've ever met.
From the terminal in Liberation Square, the hotel is a 15 minute walk (with cases) around Fort Regent up on the hill, or a ten minute walk along the underpass that goes directly underneath it. It is quicker and flatter under the Fort and you are less likely to get lost, but it is far prettier the other way and the noise of the traffic is much less offensive.
The Club Hotel is located on Green Street, which is separated from the main square of St Helier by Fort Regent. It isn't a particularly fantastic location as there are other hotels that are either closer to the centre or closer to the beach and this is neither. Having said that, it isn't so far away from either that it is inconvenient. Also, because of the location, none of the rooms have nice views of anything, but then there is also no noise from traffic and local bars and so on.
The hotel isn't particularly well sign posted from the street, but if you look out for the Bohemia Restaurant and walk up the cobbled driveway to the left as you look at it, you'll find the entrance. On arrival, we were offered a glass of champagne. We declined the offer but were told that we could call reception and request it at any point in our stay if we wanted. We also had delicious complimentary Jersey chocolates in the room.
The receptionist was lovely and spent a little time explaining all of the features of the hotel to us. She also gave us details of the times that the spa was available to residents and also when breakfast was. By this point I was only half listening because I was too busy looking around the luxurious reception area and lounge, so when she asked if we wanted the complimentary times, I looked at her a little stupidly and said yes, thinking to myself 'of course I'd like a list of the times (for breakfast etc) and why on earth would I pay for them?' It wasn't until my other half pointed out that I don't read The Times that I realised she'd meant the newspaper; something that he has gleefully told everybody since!
My first impressions of the hotel are that it has been well designed and nicely presented. As you would expect from a hotel of this calibre, the communal areas and rooms are decorated in fairly neutral colours and there are lots of wood and glass features to give that air of luxury. The key is in the detail and this is true here, with fresh flowers in pretty vases and stylish paintings and pictures in expensive looking frames, adorning the walls and furniture.
The rooms are the hotel's best feature in my opinion and they were everything we hoped they'd be. Once again the luxury theme of wood panels and glass was evident in our room, although the wood here was slightly darker making it seem cosier and even more luxurious. The room was quite large although it was made to look slightly smaller because of the huge bed. My 6ft fiancé could lie across it sideways and not hang over the edges! It was fantastically comfortable as well, with duck down duvets covered in Egyptian cotton sheets. The covers were heavy and warm, which was lovely but a little stifling in the warm weather we had. The air-conditioning is more than a match for it though.
There was plenty of room for other furniture as well, including a desk, a couple of arm chairs and a large wardrobe which had a little light in it that came on when you opened the door (it's the little things that impress me the most!). There is also a flat screen TV, although the picture wasn't particularly great as they aren't on digital yet in Jersey. It's amazing how quickly you get used to new technology as already the teletext on analogue seems so old fashioned!
The bathroom again was fantastic and the shower was one of the best I've ever used. The room was well designed and although it was quite small, mirrors were well placed to make it look much bigger. There were L'Occitane toiletries in the bathroom, which I thought were a nice touch. The only complaint I have about the bathroom was that the sink was quite low, even for me and I'm only 5ft4.
Food and Drink
Breakfast is included in the price in all stays and it was great but slightly strange. You receive a continental breakfast, but can pay for a cooked breakfast, with prices ranging from £11.95 to £24.95 and choices including English, Irish, American and Champagne. The reason I say breakfast was strange is that it was half buffet and half waiter service. You served yourself with ham, cheese, cereals, pastries, fruit and yoghurt, the staff serve coffees and toast and there is a selection of preserves and spreads on each of the tables. It resulted in a lot of people walking around all at once, meaning that the breakfast room seemed quite crowded even if it wasn't. We stuck to continental breakfast as the choice was more than enough for me and the food was very good. The toast seemed to prove a bit of a challenge though as one day it was barely warm and the next it was burnt - I would have preferred to have done it myself.
Breakfast was the only meal we took in the hotel as we were on the go for most of the weekend. We might have eaten in Bohemia, the Michelin starred restaurant (which offers taster menus from £49 per person) had it not been closed on Sunday. By all accounts, the food here is exceptional and the head chef Shaun Rankin a bit of a celebrity (he is star of an ITV series as well as reaching the final of Great British Menu). One of the main selling points of the restaurant is that it has a chef's table in the centre of the kitchen, which would make for an eye-opening experience I'd imagine.
You can still try something from Shaun Rankin without going to Bohemia, by looking at the room service menu, which includes his Great British Menu winning treacle tart. The prices for the room service are what you'd expect, but not too pricey and there is a £3 tray charge.
If you prefer a drink in a more relaxed environment, the honesty bar is an excellent choice as you can serve yourself from the wide choice of drinks and it is set in the hotel's library, which is cosy and pleasant.
I have to be honest and say that I was a little disappointed by the spa. Residents of the hotel can use the facilities free of charge from 8am until 10am and then from 6pm until 8pm. We used it one evening and found a small swimming pool, a hydrotherapy bench (a Jacuzzi to you and me), a salt room (which wasn't working), a sauna, a steam room and an experience shower. The experience shower is basically a small tiled cubicle that is lined with about 10 showers, coloured lights and smells to make you feel relaxed. The whole thing was nice enough and well presented considering that it such a small space.
The thing that disappointed me most was that the communal areas were a mess, there were used towels everywhere, the bins were overflowing with rubbish and the soap dispensers in the showers were broken. It was nothing that wouldn't have been solved with a quick tidy up, but the fact that no-one had bothered was a telling sign in my eyes. It was almost as if the spa operators thought it didn't matter because residents weren't paying customers.
I would recommend the hotel as it is a lovely one and for the most part the facilities are good. The rooms are wonderful and the staff are lovely. However I have to conclude that if I'd paid full price for the hotel, which is £215 per night, I'd have been a little disappointed as there were a couple of things that didn't quite live up to my expectations, most notably the spa.