Nestled nearly 90 miles south of the British coast and only 12 miles west of France, the Channel Island of Jersey is a gorgeous, undiscovered gem. Full of history - the island was the only part of the British Isles to be invaded by Germany during World War II - spectacular coast lines, and a rich culture, HELLO! Online recently visited the bailiwick to discover why Jersey is the ideal weekend break.
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What to do:
The Jersey War Tunnels are a must-see in 2015, with this year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Due to their close proximity to France, the Channel Islands were both occupied by the Nazis between 1940 and 1945. Situated in an underground hospital built by workmen and prisoners of war, the War Tunnels explore the differing ways that the war affected the island - from the decisions made about whether to flee or stay, to the way the British politicians on the island had to deal with the aftermath of invasion, and even the betrayals and romances that took place between neighbours.
The island is also home to numerous historic castles - many of which are ideal for unique wedding venues - and Mont Orgueil is one such treasure. Situated on the east coast of the island, Mont Orgueil protected Jersey from possible French invasion for over 600 years and is perfect for explorers.
A network of staircases, towers and secret rooms hold hidden treasures - including light artist Chris Levine’s holographic portrait of the Queen, the only one in the entire world - and children (and adults young at heart) can use the dress-up room to become knights, princesses, or jokers.
Lace up walking boots tight for a stunning trek across the north coast of the island, taking in the rugged terrain soaring high above hidden bays. On a clear day it's possible to see for miles out to sea, and La Mare wine estate is the ideal halfway - or stopping - point. Set in the grounds of an 18th century farmhouse, La Mare produces cider, butter, chocolates, and fudge, as well as delicious wines.
A guided tour explains how the working 25 acres produce the wines and offers a real sense of history for the local area, while the vineyard restaurant is the perfect place for a relaxed lunch.
With over 20 beaches on offer, make sure you also find the time whilst on the island to feel the sea breeze on your skin and the sand between your toes. St Aubin's Bay offers the sun's rays from sunrise to sunset, while St Ouen's Bay has five fantastic miles of golden sands and is the best spot on the island for surfers.
Where to stay:
With a stunning view out on to the south coast of Jersey, the Atlantic Hotel in St Brelade is the only hotel on the island to be included in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an exclusive collection of the very best independent hotels around the world.
Set in six acres of private land alongside a golf course, the Atlantic boasts views over Les Mielles, a conservation area of international significance and outstanding natural beauty, and is perfect for couples, friends, or families.
Swimming pools, a tennis court, and a spa pool are available for all guests to use and relax in during their stay, while the on-site bar offers guests an enjoyable way to unwind in the evenings.
Where to eat and drink:
The Michelin-starred Ocean Restaurant at the Atlantic Hotel has clearly influenced by the coastal region which can be spied out of the large shutter windows.
Breakfast is a decadent continental choice, with buffet-style offerings and hot items available from the menu, while head chef Mark Jordan's sophisticated dinner menu offers guests a choice of a la carte and daily specials - don't miss out on the cheese selection - while vegetarians are also served well.
The hotel's sister restaurant Mark Jordan at the Beach, situated on the beach a stone's throw from St Aubin's Bay, is an upscale beach cafe, A relaxed environment with a first class menu welcomes guests - who shouldn't miss the restaurant's Signature Burger, a plump beef burger topped with a juicy egg.
As mentioned above, La Mare Wine Estate does a good lunch menu but if you're in the mood to treat yourself after the wine tour, try their tasty afternoon tea menu. For those who like a spot of history with their meal, visit Old Smuggler's Inn in Ouaisne Bay.
Positioned right on the coast, the foundations of the inn once saw pirates swigging their ale and singing as they bought ashore their ill-gotten goods. Now, the Inn has reclaimed the old cottages, and the menu focuses on local produce.
How to get there:
Condor Ferries new state-of-the-art fast ferry, Condor Liberation, can get you to the island in less than five hours. A year-round service, the Condor Liberation has an on-board duty free and a fabulous new first class cabin, with complimentary drinks and biscuits for your trip.
For further information on the Jersey, activities and itinerary suggestions or for special offers, including hotel late deals and discounts please visit Jersey.com or call 01534 44 88 00.