Grazia Escapes: The Channel Islands

Who needs to get all the way to the European mainland; a break in the Channel Islands will fulfil all your holiday needs, says Emily Phillips...

st aubins

by Emily Phillips |
Published on

When you think about getting on a ferry, you’re probably thinking you’re off to France on a school trip. But, if you’re looking for a much more glamorous way to spend your time – that’s only part of the way across the Channel - then look no further than the upmarket bolt-holes of Guernsey and Jersey. Mixing big business havens (they’re hubs of banking and insurance, so you’ll spot all the fancy cars on the boat), with exceptional sandy beaches and natural beauty you wouldn’t think would be populated by English speakers, the islands are a retro gem worth rediscovering.

From taking in the culture and history in Guernsey’s Peter Port, to boarding another little boat to the raw and completely car-free Sark for the day and onto exploring Jersey (and its Royal potatoes) this is a relaxing way to step back in time, just a few hours off the coast of England.

What to do

gorey castle

As we arrive on Guernsey, there’s already a market in full swing along the promenade. Stroll up the harbour’s lanes – The Pollet, La Plaiderie and Le Truchot are all decked with picture perfect shops and restaurants, it’s ripe for an afternoon wander in the sunshine. When you’re done, book in for a meal at Octopus - one of the new wave of culinary hotspots popping up on the islands - with its unparalleled views across towards Herm, Jethou and Sark on a clear evening.

The next day, get up early and head to the port to catch the boat to Sark. Here you’ll find an island completely untouched by modernity, in the best way. It’s clifftops and viewing nooks are best captured by bicycle. Take in the stupendous views as you walk across the bridge at La Coupée, then have fresh and seasonal lunch at the newly decked out Stocks Hotel.

Heading back to the mainland, have a quiet trip to the elegant Candie Gardens, or across to some of the beaches at Vazon.

For our next stop, the ferry on to Jersey was just an easy hour. From there, you’ll find a much bigger island with St Helier mixing city mentality with by-the-sea chill.

Shoppers will enjoy the VAT-free benefits with high street cosmetics and clothes a little cheaper even with local tax. Voisins has all the charm of a Victorian department store, but with brands like Mac and Seafolly and a cute café with gluten free options.

Eating and beaching can go neatly hand in hand here with relaxed brunch, lunch and dinner options at some of the island’s most stunning sandy locales. The Crab Shack at St Brelade gives you views for miles across the award-winning flats, with excellent seafood with a relaxed crowd. Lunch at the art-deco outpost El Tico Beach Cantina is a great excuse for Asian fusion and the most delicious chocolate brownies you’ve ever tasted while checking out the surfer vibes on Le Port and Le Braye.

History lovers will adore a trip back in time at Mont Orgueil Castle, the medieval island fort with attachments to the English civil war and World War II, nestled in the chocolate box town of Gorey. But most of all, it’s about exploring the hidden corners of the island – St Aubin is a quaint market town with a rugged coastline and harbor, while Rozel Bay is a fishing village with white sands and beach kiosks which will take you back in time.

Stay here

In Guernsey

The Ziggurat is a unique Moroccan-inspired boutique hotel nestled at the top of Peter Port’s Italianate Constitution Steps. With its beautiful sun terraces looking out across the island and relaxed seasonal Middle-Eastern inspired dining from their wonderful cook Teresa.

In Jersey

de france jersey

You’ll feel like you’re staying in a Wes Anderson movie when you check in to St Helier’s Hotel De France. Opt to stay in the newly renovated spa wing and you’ll have access to the pool and sauna facilities and you can book in for a dose of relaxation courtesy of the Ayush Wellness Spa.

Ferries to the Channel Islands

Condor Ferries

Condor runs ferries to and from Guernsey and Jersey via Poole, and onto St Malo in France. The drive and walk-on ferry boasts a VIP lounge and duty free shopping on its route to and from Poole.

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