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Our Jersey Staycation: 24 hours at Greenhills Country House Hotel
The appetite to holiday closer to home is growing. Whether it be for environmental reasons or the uncertainty of Brexit, 2020 is being touted as the year of the staycation.
To test our staycation suitability we invited local writer Ed Knight and his partner to spend 24 hours at Greenhills.
This is the story of their first staycation in Jersey.
Like most 20-something couples in Jersey, we'd never done a staycation
A last-minute weekend trip for us usually involves expensive flights to a UK city. We scrimp on the accommodation, then regret it. We eat where TripAdvisor assures us is best, with mixed results. Then before we know it, we're flying home feeling a little the worse for wear.
After a couple of underwhelming UK breaks, we decided to spend our last two days of annual leave holidaying in our own backyard.
Planning the staycation
Our plan was simple. Take the money we'd fork out on flights and spend it at one of Jersey's best hotels. Drink our fill of cocktails. Eat a slap up meal. Get a great night's sleep and then explore all the spots we'd always meant to go to, but never had.
The checklist for the hotel was a little unusual:
- In the country
- It had to have a fire
- The food had to be top class
- They had to do breakfast in bed
This limited our options, but I happened to know just the place!
Getting a great deal for accommodation and dinner
That evening we booked a Superior Plus Room through the Greenhills website for £132 per night. By no means the most we'd spent on a night's accommodation, and the photos put all the dreary, overpriced places we'd stayed in London to shame.
As another little bonus we got 20% off dinner for booking in advance.
The warmest of welcomes
I'm not afraid to say I was apprehensive before we arrived. I wasn't sure if classy Greenhills would be a little bit out of my league. I'm a man who frequently orders "the red wine please", and their cellar is renowned! But I needn't have worried, as I immediately felt right at home.
It was blowing a hooley when we arrived, and as much as we wanted to spend some time admiring the manicured gardens, the fireside was calling. We tumbled through the front door in a windswept mess, only to receive the warmest of welcomes from hotel manager Carmelita and her team.
They picked us up, dusted us off, and after a quick and friendly check in, Tiago guided us through the hotel's intricate labyrinth of corridors to our private quarters - otherwise known as room 11.
Our luxurious room: money well spent
On first impressions, the room was something special. Spacious and tastefully decorated. A modern L-shaped couch stretched out in front of the plushest looking bed I'd seen in a while.
Our Superior Plus Room. Full of character & wonderfully comfortable.
I caught site of my partner staring into the bathroom, mouth open. "His and hers sinks!" she said, with the look of glee she usually reserves for strangers' dogs on the beach.
We hastily popped the bottle of bubbles that was waiting for us in the mini-bar, and toasted to our luxurious new digs. Holiday-mode engaged.
Next stop: cocktails
Pit-stop Prosecco polished off, we made our way to the hotel lounge and sunk into a sumptuous couch. Greenhills' cocktail menu is compact, but I'm not a fan of too much choice. Give me a well-made classic any day. Mojito ordered, we did what we were told: sat back and relaxed.
Mojito á la Greenhills. Expertly made & highly recommended.
This seems like a good time to talk about the service Greenhills has built its reputation on. They seem to have struck the perfect balance, attentive but not too fussy. The staff are there exactly when you need them. They're knowledgeable, without making you sound clueless - essential when it comes to me and wine! They get top marks from me.
Before we knew it, our table was ready for dinner. I instinctively went to finish my drink, expecting to be given the hurry up. But it never came. At Greenhills things are done at your pace, and never rushed.
Dinner hits the spot
Greenhills restaurant is full of country character. It's elegant and comfortable, but not stuffy. I felt at home in my jeans and flannel shirt.
The menu reflects the relaxed yet refined nature of the restaurant. Hearty local ingredients are given elaborate twists, and although we weren't certain of all the intricacies of each dish, a starter of scallops, main of pork belly and creme brûlée to finish was a winning combination for me.
Plump Jersey scallops, beautifully cooked & presented. Can't beat them.
Greenhills Head Chef Lukasz Piestrasz has managed to make country cooking look sexy. The six dishes I saw come out of his kitchen looked as good as they tasted, and tasted as good as they looked.
The plates weren't over-stacked with massive hunks of meat. This was well-balanced, country fine dining. As ever, I got the fear that I wasn't going to be full. But as I toddled back to our room after dinner, I was thoroughly satisfied.
Breakfast in bed? Done deal.
Thirty seconds after waking up, we decided we had to make the most of a bed this comfortable. That meant picking up the phone and ordering breakfast to be delivered to the room.
Ten minutes later, in marched two friendly waitresses who'd whipped up a magnificent breakfast spread. We're talking coffee, tea, juices, croissants, breads, jams, marmalade and a full english to top it all off.
Luckily for us checkout wasn't until 11am, just enough time to recover from the king of breakfasts.
Exploring the countryside around Greenhills
Before our staycation we'd made grand plans to explore the beautiful bays to the north of Greenhills, and get lost in the country lanes around the hotel. Unfortunately, Hurricane Hooley was still blowing, and the intermittent hail storms gave us just a 30 minute window to get out and about.
Quaint granite farmhouses round ever corner. This is the local architecture I love.
During our brief but relaxing walk, we cruised along quiet green lanes, admiring the abundance of old Jersey farm houses that seem to have all but disappeared from our home parish of St Brelade. It was like stepping back in time, and we promised that next time there was a sunny weekend, we'd come back to finish exploring.
Thank you Greenhills
After 24 hours at Greenhills, it's as if you've been welcomed into the family. It's easy to understand why so many guests return to the hotel year after year. Packing our bags we both felt attached to the hotel and the staff. I didn't want to leave.
Ten minutes later, we were home. No airports. No trains. No expensive taxis. We were actually relaxed!
I realise I've said hardly anything negative about Greenhills. The sceptic in you will say "of course he hasn't - Greenhills invited him". But hand on heart, I genuinely can't think of a single bad thing.
Except the weather. It was awful. Sort it out Greenhills.
Greenhills Country House Hotel reopens for 2020 on the 7th February
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