When thinking about your dream destinations, the Channel Islands may not be the first place that pops into your mind, but once you’ve been there, I guarantee it will be at the top of your list for a return vacation. Guernsey is the most well-known of the islands, made even more so recently due to the popularity of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and the place to stay on this stunning British island is The Old Government House Hotel and Spa.
A property of the award-winning Red Carnation Hotel Collection (The Milestone, 41, and 11 other luxury properties), The Old Government House Hotel and Spa has been affectionately known as The OGH for hundreds of years. The OGH is at the heart of St. Peter Port, Guernsey’s capital, and is just up the hill from the main shopping street, barely five minutes’ walk from the picturesque wharf. St. Peter Port is a bustling harbor town which weaves together a dramatic range of architectural styles reflecting Guernsey’s fascinating history.
Whether you want to visit the dazzling beaches, wander around the harbor and take a boat trip, or just stroll through the quaint old streets of the town, nowhere is better situated than The OGH—as the one- time official residence of the Governor, it was very much at the heart of everything that went on in the island.
Despite the central location of The Old Government House, it is extremely peaceful and tranquil. Set on a charmingly quiet street, the imposing Victorian facade overlooks a delightful little park. Once inside, you realize that the property is arranged around a gorgeous private garden, with terraces and a heated swimming pool. Facing to the South East it is a perfect sun-trap that affords stunning panoramic views over the harbor, castle and sea, with the sister islands of Herm and Sark sitting a few miles offshore – on a clear day one can just make out the faint outline of the French coast. It’s an idyllic spot for relaxing with a book and a drink, taking a dip or a bite to eat, indulging in light conversation or just topping up your tan.
As the most famous hotel in the Channel Islands, The Old Government House is steeped in history, and staying here is a truly unique experience. It still retains the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era, with the traditional levels of superb personal service to match, and yet it has been sympathetically and lovingly restored to include those modern facilities that you would expect in a 5 star luxury hotel.
The original house was built for the wealthy Nicolas Le Mesurier in the 18th century to serve as the Governor’s official residence. In1858 it became a hotel and some 40 years later Guernsey Illustrated remarked on the fine cuisine and the fact its clientele was “of a high class and aristocratic order, which have included many of the royal and noble personages of England and the Continent.” When the Germans captured the Channel Islands in 1940 (read about this in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), they were quick to recognize the hotel’s charms and commandeered it as their headquarters. After the war, the property underwent the first of several major extensions and refurbishments, the most recent of which has just been completed.
Those who stay today will immediately appreciate that, while the original charm and opulence has been left very much intact, no expense has been spared to provide everything that could possibly be desired by today’s most discerning guests.
The OGH has 63 elegantly stylish rooms and suites, each individually designed to cater for a wide range of tastes and requirements. Many rooms have recently benefitted from a major refurbishment, and although the decor is in keeping with the historic nature of the building, every room and suite includes all those modern comforts you’d expect, from en suite bath and shower to air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities to trouser press and in-room safe to iron and ironing board.
All rooms and suites are also fitted with televisions that offer cable television, pay per view movies and radio. Complimentary internet access is provided throughout the hotel, in all rooms and public areas. Guests without a laptop can access the internet through their television in each room, plus the hotel also includes an internet cafe.
Two of the amenities I particularly appreciated were that the hotel is pet friendly and that there are rooms with enhanced security and comfort provided specifically for women traveling on their own. These rooms include female service staff, additional space on the vanity for makeup (and who doesn’t love that?), extra hangers in the bathrooms, and no bedrooms on the ground floor.
The Old Government House Hotel has maintained an excellent reputation for superb dining and a remarkable wine cellar for longer than anyone can remember. From hearty breakfasts to light snacks and al fresco lunches to rich dinners, the Chef and his team provide guests with a succession of delightfully presented treats, prepared from the finest local ingredients.
The Spa at the OGH is amazing and is definitely not to be missed. The Spa menu includes every treatment you can image from head to toe, and there is a wealth of excellent facilities and expert therapists to soothe, refresh and rejuvenate a tired body and weary mind. It is a secluded sanctuary where you can gently unwind, purify and detoxify then slowly re-enter the world revitalized, relaxed and glowing with a sense of well-being. It’s the perfect ending for a perfect vacation.
Room from $255. For reservations or more information, please visit www.theOGHhotel.com, call +44 (0)1481 724921, or toll-free from the USA 1 (877) 955-1515.