With sweeping vistas across a golf course and a thundering ocean at its feet The Atlantic Hotel has everything to offer the discerning traveller. Our Man on the Ground found a well-run hotel with superb staff and an understated restaurant with one of those coveted stars handed out by Michelin to lure you in. If its long beach walks, spa luxury and a little shopping then Jersey is a must for you.
I like things to be easy, especially travel arrangements. Getting to Jersey from Gatwick Airport took me 35 minutes in the air. That’s easy. And upon landing, collecting my case from one of the two very small carousels through customs and then to the Hertz Car Hire desk took four minutes. Easy. And even easier as were staying at The Atlantic Hotel they had thoughtfully arranged for the hire of the car. From handing over my driving licence to receiving the keys six minutes. Easy.
The drive to the hotel situated on the south west coast is a couple of miles from the airport and should have taken 10 minutes but we took a wrong turning and it ended up taking 15. Still pretty easy.
The location couldn’t be better sitting high on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic with a long sandy beach, lighthouse and golf course literally next door, making it is very private. The gardens are large and possess dramatic trees, tennis courts and a small pool for the summer months (there’s also an indoor one for the less hardy).
Our room was on the sea facing side so along with spectacular views we also had the charm of listening to the waves at night. With double door and a Juliette balcony to welcome the world in. The hotel exterior could easily be mistaken for a Miami 1930’s beach building although it was built in 1970’s. It has that Deco vibe that works especially well next to the sea. Low sitting on the cliff it has a look of quality not quantity.
Dinner here is a must really as the chef Mark Jordan holds one of the island’s four Michelin stars. And it shows. The dining room at Ocean is on the formal side and the food zings with flavours. Not surprisingly there is a lot of fish on the menu as well as Jersey beef, Mark is the only chef on the island who has a licence to butcher this protected breed. The service is exemplary and the wine list is vast enough to meet the demands of the yachting fraternity and discerning visitors alike.
The crab salad was light and delicate with a citrus bite and looked beautiful. Chicken with truffled mash was a cold day crowd pleaser that delivered a cosy plate I didn’t want to share. A rather odd saffron granita was soon forgotten upon the arrival of a superb lime, cassis and white chocolate sorbet with foam, a Michelin trick for sure but a worthy one. If it hadn’t ‘lime’ in the title I would have described it as ‘sublime’. The meal was rounded off with petit fours that were (as was the whole meal for me) considerately gluten free.
Breakfast is taken in the same grand dining room but with the curtains open it becomes a light filled room serving local fare. My smoked haddock with perfect poached eggs set me up for the day well. I should also mention the beds, which are firm but soft enough for a sleep full of dreams. It might just be the sea air but I couldn’t help thinking that it might be the best bed I’ve ever slept on.
The island is small so it doesn’t take long to discover although a lot is best taken on foot. The vast beach of St. Ouen’s Bay is a few miles in length with a picturesque lighthouse at the southern end (worth catching at sunset) is a lovely walk with little villages and pop up cafes along the way.
Despite the opulence on the island (you can spot Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari dealerships) the speed limit is a sobering 40 mph, as I found out on Saturday night. Driving along at 37mph I was flagged down by the world’s politest policeman and kindly informed that my speed was a bit excessive as I was driving in a 30 zone. I dutifully agreed and was sent on my way. Returning later that night my wife mindful of the earlier incident was driving at 28 mph and was dutifully flagged down by, you guessed it the world’s politest policeman. He said, “I know you’re on holiday so I don’t want to spoil that” “I was doing less than 30” my wife carefully replied. “This is a 20 zone here madam, so keep an eye on it and mind how you go”.
St. Helier is the principle town and King Street is where you’ll go if shopping is on your mind. Things can be cheaper here with no VAT on most goods. There are a couple of good old school department stores (think Selfridges or John Lewis) as well a healthy clutch of independents.
Just off King Street is St. Helier Central Market a Victorian glory that provides stalls and shops with flowers, butchers, wine and cakes shops with the odd gallery thrown in. There’s also a great little café in the centre called Bernie’s Market Tea Stall. A gem of place offering cream teas for less than £5, gluten free cookies and wonderful service, a great pit stop.
There’s plenty to do on this island and we ran out of time over a weekend. A lot of history (most of the road names are in French) and the German occupation is still within living memory and covered by a few museums. But the real reason for coming to Jersey I feel is that is feels like a slight time warp (in a good way), a bit 1953 but with internet and colour TV. The people are charming, the countryside is beautiful there is hardly any traffic (even the policeman was on foot) and it’s totally safe.
I haven’t even mentioned the world-famous fudge, butter or the Jersey cream that yields a premium everywhere it is sold. The seafood is plentiful and tasty. And as if it couldn’t be any more charming when I returned our brand-new hire car (Ford Fiesta which was perfect for exploring) the office was shut on Sundays so you leave the keys in a cute little wooden chalet in the car park. So, as well as offering all of the above it remained ‘easy’ right up until the last minute of our stay.
The Atlantic Hotel, Le Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade, Jersey, JE3 8HE, Channel Islands
Tel: +44 (0)1534 744101
The hotel is located in St Brelade on the south west coast of Jersey, with views over St. Ouen’s Bay and five miles of golden sandy beach and set in six acres of private grounds. It is just a 10-minute drive from the airport and has plenty parking available for guests.
Type of Hotel: 4-Star Luxury Hotel (Member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World)
Number of Rooms: 50 rooms and complimentary Wi-Fi
Get a sea view room, and have smoked haddock for breakfast – wonderful!
Price Band: Medium
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Neil Hennessy-Vass is a widely-published globetrotting food and travel writer and photographer and one of our regular writers and contributing editor.
Photographs by Neil Hennessy-Vass and The Atlantic Hotel