ALTHOUGH there will be a lot less travel involved in the average staycation, especially for Jersey residents, it’s nevertheless important to have the chance to get away from it all.
In terms of distance travelled, this one was a local affair: no parish boundaries were crossed as my wife, Kate, and I made the journey of just over a mile from our home in St Aubin to La Place Hotel. Yes, I know – we should have walked there.
But if we could hardly claim to be getting away from it all in a geographical sense, there were other elements to the escape that we hoped would be achievable.
First of all, a bit of luxury, and we weren’t waiting long on that front, with a friendly welcome from staff and a glass of fizz in the bar before heading to our deluxe room on the first floor to put our feet up and relax.
Getting away from it also meant a 24-hour grace period from chores at home. Both our laptops were packed for the trip – a necessity, unfortunately – but there was no tidying, washing, cooking and the other things that one inevitably saves up for the weekend.
For us, fond though we are of our little cottage, it’s sometimes nice to have room to swing a cat, and the room at La Place certainly delivered. As well as the bed – wider than it was long – there was a desk, window seating overlooking the hotel’s courtyard and a pair of lounging seats next to an occasional table.
There was acres of space in the room itself, and the ensuite bathroom was also vast, with a walk-in shower and separate bath and the option of subtle floor-level spotlighting should one not want too rude a shock when looking in the mirror first thing in the morning. Bathrobes, large fluffy towels and White Company toiletries all enhanced the luxury feel.
Before Covid-19 curtailed most people’s travel options, our last major trip was to Japan in late 2019, when we realised how every square inch counted in a big city like Tokyo.
An affordable room came with a bed that was either a large single or a small double, and around 18 inches’ gap between the edge of the mattress and the walls – so that’s why we were particularly enjoying the wide open spaces of La Place.
One of the other attractions of getting away was the chance to treat ourselves on the catering front. As well as being extensively refurbished in recent years, the restaurant at La Place has gained a growing reputation, and we were looking forward to testing it out.
The three-course seasonal dinner menu, which costs £32 with coffee, was part of the luxury stay package, and after a light lunch at home before setting out for our long journey across St Brelade, we were definitely ready for something a bit more substantial by 7pm.
I started with scallops, crispy pancetta and chorizo – beautifully cooked and very tasty – while Kate tucked into picked crab, gambas, peppered mackerel and anchovies, which also earned the thumbs-up.
We did read all the menu choices for main courses, but ended up back at the top where the rib-eye steak and rack of lamb stood out. I had the steak – it has to be medium-rare for rib-eye – and the flavour was exceptional, not just of the meat itself but also the accompanying triple-cooked chips, vine tomatoes, field mushroom and Jersey watercress.
Kate went with the lamb, which again was beautifully pink, very tasty and came with an indulgent dish of gratin dauphinoise, as well as carrots and broccoli.
While staff at some establishments may sometimes try to persuade customers to splash out on wine from the lower, pricier reaches of the wine list, restaurant manager Jamie enthused about the house wines, sourced for the hotel by Victor Hugo. We tried a glass each of the sauvignon blanc and the merlot, and thought both to be great value and a fine complement to what was on the plate.
While I opted for, and enjoyed, the raspberry brûlée , Kate selected the English and continental cheese selection – a generous selection which gave both of us something to enjoy while polishing off the remainder of the red wine.
While tempted to adjourn to the bar after dinner, the lure of our deluxe room was too great, and so we headed for the stairs.
Given the location of La Place in leafy north-east St Brelade, and having a three-course dinner to work off, we probably should have started our Sunday with a stroll around the lanes. But the opportunity for a lie-in was irresistible, and we were approaching breakfast time.
Kate contented herself with boiled eggs and soldiers, but I felt that somebody should try the house breakfast, so stepped up and enjoyed an excellent spread.
It was soon time to check out and make our way home. We’d been away for less than 24 hours, but it felt much longer, and surely that’s the key to a good getaway, even when the journey time’s only five minutes?