A friendly welcome on this historic isle

A view from the Grand Jersey Hotel
A view from the Grand Jersey Hotel

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GARETH BETHELL finds a warm welcome and plenty to see and do on a short break in Jersey.

I’ve never been a fan of VIP areas in nightclubs.

You might say it’s because I’ve never been invited into one, but I just don’t see the point.

I do enjoy being made to feel important though – which is why our trip to Jersey was so much fun.

On our flight out there were just 18 of us on the tiny plane, and it made us feel like film stars.

The downside of such a small aircraft is that it does tend to move around a bit. But I’d say it’s worth it to be able to sit back and pretend you’re on your own private jet.

We stayed at the Grand Jersey Hotel, so the five star treatment didn’t end on landing.

The hotel, which has 123 luxurious rooms, is right on the seafront and our window overlooked the historic Elizabeth Castle and had views out across St Aubin’s Bay.

The Grand Jersey has two fantastic restaurants, the more casual Victorias and the upmarket Tassili.

This three-AA rosette restaurant offers the very best of Jersey’s local and seasonal produce. The cheese board alone is worthy of mention, because firstly I love cheese and secondly, it was the best cheese board I’ve ever seen.

Away from the hotel Jersey, with a population of 92,500 and the most sunshine in the British Isles, has a real traditional, friendly and welcoming feel.

There’s plenty to do, whether you’re a couple or a family.

Seeing as our hotel was right opposite, our first port of call was Elizabeth Castle, which has defended Jersey for more than 400 years.

At low tide you can walk to it or, if your girlfriend happens to be wearing heels, you can get the amphibious bus, which is exciting for males young and old alike.

Work began on the castle in the 1590s and it was home to Sir Walter Raleigh while he was Governor of Jersey, from 1600 until 1603. It’s a great place to explore.

It was occupied by German forces during the Second World War and the Militia Museum gives a real insight into its history.

You can learn more about Jersey’s history at the Maritime Museum.

Set in the historic harbour of St Helier, the museum is all about seafaring, navigation and the elements, told through the stories of Jersey people.

Through interactive exhibits Jersey’s maritime past is brought to life and it’s a great place for families.

HMS Havick, a quarterdeck sloopbuilt in 1784 that was captured and commissioned by the Royal Navy, is worth checking out.

The museum is also home to the Occupation Tapestry, which was made by the people of the island to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Jersey from German occupation during the Second World War.

If you’re out and about and in need of refuelling The Portelet, a 17th century family-run pub, is a great place for a bit of time out.

This traditional pub changes the menu daily and focuses on fresh seafood. It also overlooks the stunning Portelet Bay.

And after a busy day of exploring, the Grand Hotel’s spa is well worth dipping into.

UK Residential Spa of the Year in the Professional Beauty Awards 2009 and in 2010, it combines a range of treatments and a soothing atmosphere.

Events in Jersey this month include an International Air Display on September 8, an autumn walking week of free walks from September 10-17 and the Branchage Film Festival from September 22-25.