Sitting so closely to France, it is no wonder that the island is a unique blend of French and British styles, cultures and influences. Embodying this concept completely, is the 4 star, family owned hotel spa, Hotel De France. In addition to our review of Hotel De France, you will also find some of our favourite island attractions and highlights (The War Tunnels and Durrell Wildlife Park) towards the end of the piece.
Hotel de France is certainly one of the more spacious and open hotels on the island of Jersey. With 126 bedrooms ranging from spa rooms to suites, there is a good sense of space throughout, especially in the vast lobby!
The hotel is home to two restaurants; one of which, named Saffrons, we sampled during our stay for a fabulous Indian fusion meal. The other, the Garden View Restaurant, is a more informal dining experience and is also home to the hotel breakfast.
An Award Winning Dose of Relaxation
Another string to this hotel’s bow is their award winning Ayush Wellness Spa. This expansive and luxurious spa is Jersey’s largest, with an absolutely whopping 17,000 square feet of space to unwind in. The spa is home to a wonderful spa pool complex, which has its own sun terrace and landscaped gardens to relax in. Plus, six private treatment suites, relaxation lounge, yoga studio and library make for a plethora of spaces and moods to try during your visit.
The spa is centred around a blend of Indian and European influences and in particular, it is focused on the concept of Ayurveda, or “the Science of life”. According to the spa, this ‘science’ is more India “more than 5000 years ago, Ayurveda is truly a natural holistic form of healing and believes that the rhythm of life is at one with the rhythm of nature. At Ayush Wellness Spa [their] Ayurvedic physician works along with both Indian and western therapists to customise herbal medicated treatment oils, provide consultations, lectures and treatments in a spirit of compassion and acceptance.” We weren’t lucky enough to sample a treatment during our visit; however, on speaking to fellow guests, we were assured this spa experience was one of the best around.
Indian cuisine is of course a favourite across Britain and we have all been subject to a late night curry or two. However, Saffrons is a completely different kettle of fish and offers a really refreshing take on flavours we have become accustomed to.
Lead by Chef Maratier, Saffrons selects only the very best local produce and they have created a menu, which offers healthy, contemporary and delicious Indian cooking. We found each dish to be crafted with great techniques, vibrant colours and a refined taste. Far from the typical idea of Indian cooking we have come to know, dishes aren’t heavy and they are not over bearing. In fact, they are light and have oodles of flair, spiciness and fun about them.
We were lucky enough to sample Saffrons Tasting Menu and matching wines (£57), which promised a thorough exploration of the restaurant’s best dishes.
The first dish was a real hit for me. Mint infused corn fed chicken, which had been cooked in the tandoor, was then served with spiced quail breast, mango & fennel salad and a makhani chutney. The mango gave a lovely sweetness to both the chicken and the spice of the quail, making for a well-balanced dish. Spice was not too over powering, but delicate and extremely well executed.
One of the stand out wines during out visit was the Sula Sauvignon Blanc, an Indian wine which offered an usual, but enjoyable, citrus nature with a hint of spice. Wines throughout were expertly explained and we went away with a new understanding of wines from areas we would not have previously considered.
The second course used one paneer tikka as its central element and came marinated in fenugreek. Paneer can sometimes be tasteless and lifeless; however the fenugreek really gave a complex, bitter sweetness to the paneer, which was complemented by a gorgeous mint chutney. A very strong dish visually, the colours again where sublime.
Carrying on our exploration of Indian through the eyes of Saffrons, the next two dishes were again examples of refined, modern Indian cuisine at its best. The carom infused red mullet was presented alongside a delectable crab meat polenta and a Goan xacati sauce. Absolutely wonderful. This then led to a delicate clove flavoured lamb cutlet, with smoked aubergine & pea puree. All in all this meal was great fun and packed full of twists and turns.
Our final thoughts
On reflection, fine dining options at Saffrons were of the highest caliber and we really enjoyed this fresh, healthy and caring approach to Indian cuisine. Fantastic levels of attentive service and knowledge of the menu made for a fun, educational and inspiring meal. However, on the whole, we felt that Hotel de France was on the whole a little dated and behind other hotels on the island. Décor is especially an issue for me here, as the colour schemes, dark carpets, dark wallpaper and older looking finishes seem to be in need of a little rejuvenation. Although, not an unpleasant visit by any stretch of the imagination, we just found the atmosphere to be slightly antiquated and in need of some vibrancy.
For more information on Hotel De France or Saffrons, please visit: hoteldefrancejersey.co.uk
The Jersey War Tunnels
If you are a fan of history or a fan of learning about the areas you travel to, then a visit to the Jersey War Tunnels is a must. The war tunnels are one of the island’s lasting reminders of nazi rule during the 2nd World War. Having been left defenceless during the conflict, the German army swiftly took over Jersey and controlled the island for 5 years. The war tunnels are an eerie reminder of this period in history and carve a 1km journey underground. On the visit to the tunnels we learned of the occupation, the resistances, the starvations and the effect on day to day islanders. For me, as someone who has a real interest in the era, this was a highlight of the entire trip and will stay with me for a long time. Well worth the £11.50 entry fee. More information here.
Take a look at the attraction here
Durrell Wildlife Park
Spanning across 32 acres, this charming wildlife park has won many local awards as the best island attraction. Beginning as a conservation-themed zoo over 50 years ago, Durrell offered a surprisingly large showcase of creatures from across the Animal Kingdom.
Highlights included a spacious Orangutan island (where giant swings and walks make perfect play spaces), and a gentle family of majestic gorillas. In fact, this family of gorillas are direct descendants of ‘Jambo’, a gorilla who became famous in 1986 for protecting a young boy, when he accidentally had fallen into the enclosure. With Tamarins, Lemurs, Meerkats, Snakes, Bears and many, many more animals on show, we had a terrific time exploring the park. Find out more here.
In the next installation of our Visiting Jersey series we will be reviewing the Jersey Grand and sharing our truly unique experience aboard a Jersey Seafari excursion. This is not one to be missed!
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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