REVIEW: A Michelin starred foodie break at the Club Hotel and Spa, St Helier, Jersey 

Today’s review is by regular reader reviewer  ‘Roffen Explorer’.

Why Jersey?

The Bailiwick of Jersey nestles in the Bay of St Malo. It forms the southernmost group of Islands in the British Isles. In recent times, Jersey was made famous by the 1980s TV detective series, ‘Bergerac’. A lot has changed in the intervening 30 years. But Jersey is still a magnet for discerning tourists, and financiers alike.

BA fly four or five times a day from Gatwick. It’s one of their shortest routes (being slightly longer than the route to Leeds/Bradford). Yet a return CE ticket will still earn you 80 Tier Points. Moreover, there are some attractive ‘ex Jersey’ long haul fares, so it could form a good start and end point for a longer Tier Point run.

Jersey has so much to offer. There are fine dining restaurants across the Island, with fresh seafood in abundance. There are a wide range of activities for all the family on the island, including historic castles, the Jersey War Tunnels, beautiful beaches and coastal walking and of course the VAT free shopping. La Mare Wine Estate is a ‘must-visit’ for anyone looking for a distinctive tipple – among other things it produces ‘Jersey Royal Gin’ (which is available in the Jersey Airport BA Lounge).

My wife and I have visited Jersey every year since 2011. We quickly discovered how easy it is to make savings when booking flights, hotel and hire car on the BA website. We find it a truly relaxing and refreshing place to visit, where, having been so many times, we don’t have to rush to see all of the sights in one trip.

 

The Club Hotel and Spa

Located on the eastern slopes of Fort Regent, The Club Hotel and Spa is a boutique business hotel located a short stroll from St Helier town centre. The hotel boasts 38 rooms and 8 suites. As its name suggests, there is an in house spa and pool. The hotel does not face or have views of the sea. But Jersey is a small island, and the sea is never far away.

The glory of the hotel is its restaurant, Michelin Starred Bohemia, under the care of Head Chef, Steve Smith. It was ranked 11th best restaurant in the UK in the 2018 Good Food Guide and has received 5 AA Rosettes

 

Before our stay

We tend to be in touch with the hotel as soon as we book our stay, and both Jackie and Gemma in the reservations team, were extremely helpful to us in booking and amending restaurant reservations across Jersey. They have a good knowledge of the local restaurant scene.

 

Check-in

With the restaurant fronting onto Green Street, the entrance to the hotel is at the rear of the property, accessed through an archway in the building.

The main problems with the hotel are beyond its control and caused by its location on the slopes of Fort Regent. This means that parking can be tricky (see later), and one has to negotiate slopes with luggage to gain access to the lobby.

The lobby is an intimate space, and the reception staff are located just after the door. They are always willing to help guests with luggage from their cars. Senior staff at the hotel are also very responsive to guests’ requests, and are proactive in greeting guests as they pass through the lobby. On checking in, as is standard practice in hotels around the world, a credit card deposit is taken against any use of the minibar in the room.

The hotel doesn’t feature an ‘executive lounge’ and associated rooms as it really isn’t a big enough property. But the boutique nature of the hotel is reflected in its staff who all do their best to offer an attentive, personal service.

First-time guests can have a tour of the property on arrival.

 

Rooms

For all of our stays at the Club, we have always gone for a ‘Studio’ room. These rooms are slightly bigger than the standard rooms and feature a separate shower and bath. The studio rooms are mostly located on a quieter corridor facing out of the front of the hotel.

Wi-Fi in the rooms is complimentary and has always been reliable. Some of the bathrooms feature sinks which are (for no apparent reason) much lower than one would ideally choose. But this year we enjoyed a bathroom with a sink at a more practical height.  The room features a kettle and tea and coffee making facilities. One thing we would really love to see in the room is a ‘Nespresso’ type coffee maker. The Nescafe sachets do seem a little dated!

Housekeeping do a really good job of cleaning the room twice a day. The turndown service features complimentary shortbread biscuits which has become one of the distinctive features of this hotel.

The bathroom features a fairly standard walk-in shower. The toiletries are from Elemis. 

 

Spa and pool

The Spa offers a good range of treatments. The pool is compact but is a saltwater pool which is a lovely touch. The atmosphere in the spa is serene and tranquil.

Outdoor pool

In the summer guests have the additional option of an outdoor heated pool and a secluded area with sun loungers which catches the afternoon sun.

Spa

 

Food and drink

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

The hotel has improved its breakfast offering over the years. This year, our stay included full breakfast. A continental buffet-style breakfast with fresh juice, pastries, fruit, ham and cheese is available and there was also a selection of hot dishes available on a menu cooked to order.  These included Full Jersey Breakfast, Kippers, etc.

In the evening, guests can choose between enjoying the contemporary simplicity of the Bohemia Bar Menu, or to dine in the more opulent surroundings of Bohemia Restaurant itself. We were able to sample both of these options on our stay.

Bohemia Bar

The Bohemia bar is a chic, contemporary space with an atmosphere that would not be out of place in London. There is an extensive cocktail menu, and the experienced bar staff will also mix cocktails which are not on the menu upon request. The bar is a lovely place to visit for a nightcap after an evening in one of Jersey’s other restaurants.

The bar menu is accessible and classic and it offers a range of high quality and reasonably priced casual dining.

 

We always save our experience of the more formal Bohemia restaurant for our final night. The centrepiece of Bohemia’s offering is its tasting menus – which cater for omnivores, pescatarians and vegetarians. The experience, especially when accompanied by a sommelier wine pairing for each course, is theatrical in its nature.

Bohemia restaurant

The staff work hard to deliver a high-quality service. The food is exquisitely presented, and the generous cheese trolley adds to the elegance of the meal.

Following a meal in Bohemia, it is certainly reassuring to know that one’s bedroom is only a short lift ride away!

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Was anything lacking?

The hotel has gradually improved its offering over the 8 years we have stayed there. Sometimes it can feel that the high quality and attention to detail of Bohemia could be more consistently rolled out across the whole of the hotel.

Aside from our hope that the in-room coffee making facilities could be upgraded, the main problem with the hotel is the car parking arrangements. The car park is split level due to the sloping nature of the site. The upper car park, which is where the majority of spaces are situated, is accessed by a steep, narrow ramp. During our most recent stay, the car park was often quite full (unusual as we were staying off-season) and parking was very tricky in the confined space. But to his credit, the GM, Tim Phillips did his very best to mitigate the problems that were caused by this.

 

Conclusions

Having stayed in many hotels across the globe, many of which can feel impersonal because of their sheer scale, we can honestly say that we look forward to returning to the Club Hotel and Spa each year. The welcome is on a ‘human’ scale. We appreciate the clean lines and ‘business’ feel of the hotel, and look forward to our visit to Bohemia each year as a gastronomic climax to our stays.

We have no hesitation in recommending the Club Hotel and Spa – and Bohemia Restaurant – to readers, and hope that you will enjoy discovering this boutique gem in the Channel Islands.

You can find more information and prices for the Club Hotel and Spa here. 

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