“Terribly sorry, Madam, but we’ll have to substitute your crab salad for lobster, will that be alright?” I could get used to hearing that. It’s fair to say, lobster is one of the main dishes in the Channel Islands, and unlike in London, it won’t set you back a pretty penny. But on Guernsey, it’s not just the food that’s luxurious. The Old Government House Hotel and Spa has earned its 5 stars and is a great spot to overnight if you’re just stopping over to Guernsey before heading out to Sark, or one of the other more remote islands.
Service, service, service is the priority here. The staff is immediately warm and welcoming and no request seems to be too much. The hotel has been around for more than 150 years, so I guess they’ve got lots of practice. Their marketing manager told me, “No one tells you things for no reason.” And it appears they listen, whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or even something as mundane as an allergy, the OGH (as they’re known around the island) do a good job at picking up on even subtle cues.
The interior is a classy step back in time with vintage posters, regal fittings, and floor to ceiling silk curtains. Yet, this is a seaside place, and dress is, thankfully, casual. Standard rooms are done up in a traditional, but modern style, some with lovely little balconies. Extra long pillows and lambs wool throws that feel like cashmere invite to a lie-in.
The picturesque high street leading down to the port is just a 5-minute walk down the hill; far enough away from the crowds but close enough for a short stroll after dinner to watch the sunset over the harbour. You could easily spend more than a layover here. There’s a spa and proper gym, with so many machines you’ll never have to wait for one, and even fitness classes. Governor’s Restaurant serves formal fare, while The Brasserie is more casual.
But the best meal of all is breakfast. The OGH rolls it all out with three different kinds of nuts and seeds, kiwi, watermelon and berries, as well as meats, cheeses and Guernsey tomatoes. And trust me, these little gems are worth the trip … like bursts of sweetness, they make their Italian rivals taste almost anaemic. And that’s just the buffet. Eggs and the full English are made to order.
Another treat is afternoon tea. Apart from tomatoes, dairy is what Guernsey does best, and the garden, with great views of the Channel, is the perfect place for it. If the weather turns, the sitting room’s no slouch, with chessboards, and international newspapers.
The Old Government House Hotel has some important, practical things too, like high speed wireless internet (you can even check email via the TV), printers for guests use (handy for boarding passes), and a heated outdoor pool in case the temperatures don’t creep up .
The weather can make onward journeys a bit unreliable, and this is one place you may wish to be marooned.
Old Government House Hotel and Spa
St. Ann’s Place, St. Peter Port
+44 (0) 1481 724921