The Biarritz Hotel, high above St Brelades bay, has one of the best beach views in the UK. A private agapanthus-lined path descends through pink daisies and hydrangeas to a sandy beach that has been rated in the British Isles’ top three. When the tide is out, this is a vast beach that gently shimmers towards the horizon. A seawatery paradise for kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and swimming.
Long ago, Jersey was the Duke of Normandy’s possession, and the island’s customs and place names tell the story of that heritage. Only 14 miles from Brittany, but 85 miles from England, Jersey is almost France. Canvas prints of silhouetted surfers and glinting ripples washing onto the sand help to create the Biarritz Hotel’s coastal aura.
A mere 10-minute taxi ride from Jersey’s airport, the hotel is easily accessed after a flight from the mainland. Or you can put your car on a ferry and sail across, ready for some leisurely driving. Most roads on Jersey have a 30 mph limit.
Offering 43 rooms, there is a friendly and tranquil ambience about a hotel that runs its cafe on an honesty box basis and offers morning prayers at 8.45 am in The Sanctuary.
Our dual aspect premium room had a balcony large enough for sun-loungers, chairs and table, through a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door. Light pine furnishings, pastel-shade striped curtains and a feature wall fern-wallpaper built on the seaside theme. A framed retro Jersey tourism poster reminds guests of the island’s eternal appeal.
The Biarritz looks down on a quintessentially British ice-cream licking seaside scene. Beneath the buckets-and-spades seawall promenade, children net-fish rock pools, Jersey folk take on their challenge of swimming 30 bays in 30 days, and the bronzed soak up even more rays in one of Britain’s sunniest spots.
The Biarritz Hotel is in pole position for exploring all of this 9-miles-by-5-miles island. It is less than 100 yards to the nearest bus stop for a network that covers the entire island. With a Liberty Bus bus pass guests can explore a range of attractions. Alternatively, bikers and hikers can explore Jersey’s network of Green Lanes and cliff paths.
Gorey Castle overlooking a picturesque harbour was constructed to withstand medieval siege tactics. Now it is Jersey’s poster monument with a castle that’s well worth exploring before grabbing an ice-cream, made from Jersey Cows’ cream, at Rhona’s famed shack.
In St Helier a causeway takes visitors to Elizabeth Castle. The imposing fortifications were once governed by Sir Walter Raleigh and King Charles l took refuge here when the English Civil War took a turn for the worse for the monarch. It is location marinated in centuries of history.
Though it is the German Second World War occupation of the island that has left the most physical and mental scars. Surviving pillboxes provide reinforced concrete evidence of Hitler’s desire to build an impregnable fortress. More on the Jersey War Tunnels that commemorate those tough years another time.
Once Durrells, the wildlife collection put together by naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell is now known as Jersey Zoo. It hosts 1,400 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and over 130 endangered species making for a great family day out.
For a snapshot of Jersey’s flora, you can visit the Botanical Gardens at Samarès Manor. Although Samarès derived from the French for salt marsh, a rich and fertile soil now encourages Jersey Lilies to flourish alongside a Japanese garden and a well-established arboretum.
At the end of the day, head back to catch a waiter-served sundowner on the terrace of the Biarritz Hotel before dinner. Guests are offered a two or three course, table d’hôte menu. For the main course there is usually a choice of fish, meat or vegetarian options followed by five or six desserts. Service is remarkably slick.
Focusing on a small selection of dishes keeps culinary standards consistently high. At breakfast, staff man the hot buffet, to ensure that guests are always able to put together their own take on the Great British breakfast.
Quite rightly the cleanly crisp Biarritz hotel likes to think that it is a three-star venue with four-star service. Perhaps it is time to add five-star location to that billing.
Biarritz hotel fact file
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