Prize Trip to Guernsey with Aurigny and Bella Luce Hotel
We have just come back from a luxury 2 night stay in Guernsey, courtesy of a trip I won from Aurigny (the airline of Guernsey) and the beautiful Bella Luce Hotel (and its unique gin tasting experience). We went in September and unfortunately picked a rather wet and windy weekend to go, so we did not get to experience the full splendour of Guernsey. It is on the wish list to go back for a longer trip.
It was a fabulous experience and we felt very pampered.
Flying from Manchester airport was rather traumatic – which is story for another day – but once we finally got through security to the boarding gate, our lovely holiday began properly.
The Aurigny aircraft was quite a small propeller plane with comfortable leather seats.
The staff were extremely attentive and the hostess who served my tea deserves a special mention. When she put my tea bag in the cup, she straightened it out and tucked the little label under the outside rim of the cup before she poured the water in. This meant that when my tea was brewed, I just had to unhook the teabag, instead of trying to fish about in the cup with a straight stirring stick to retrieve it. I have never seen a stewardess do that before. Kudos! They also understood my need for milky tea and gave me about 6 little milk pots.
It was a pleasant flight with only a little bit of turbulence in the English Channel.
When we arrived, we took a taxi for the 10 minute drive to the Bella Luce Hotel. The taxi driver gave us lots of good tips for places to eat near to the hotel. We kept his card and used him again for the return trip to the airport.
Bella Luce Hotel
The 4 Star Bella Luce Hotel and Restaurant is beautiful! It is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and nothing was too much trouble. By the time I had settled into the room and had my first 3 cups of tea, we had run out of milk and teabags, so the Housekeeper brought me a huge handful of both, which actually lasted me until the following morning When they cleaned the room and replenished the tea and milk, they put twice as much on the tray as had been there when we arrived. Clearly they take note of the preferences of their guests! The following morning, when I manged to lock our valuables in the safe but then could not get them out because I had not set the safe properly, the girl on reception was extremely helpful in dealing with my crisis.
The hotel room was lovely. It had a huge four-poster bed and a modern bathroom, with a big bath.
Bella Luce is a foodie heaven. There are two menus on offer, one of which is a fireside type of menu with food such as home-made burgers – and yes, you can curl up in front of the open fire and munch your chips. The other menu is exquisite, fine-dining and it lives up to its name! We chose that menu on our first evening. I savoured every mouthful of the delicious combinations of flavours and I was really quite sad when the last dishes were cleared away. It is rare that I really have such a full sensory experience of an evening meal.
The chef uses locally sourced products where possible and fresh, organic produce, which is then individually prepared and beautifully presented.
Breakfast was equally as delicious. On the breakfast table each day was an information leaflet with the daily weather and suggested activities for the day, which was very useful.
Gin Tasting Experience
Part of the prize was a complimentary gin tasting experience. The Wheadon family, who own Bella Luce, have developed their own brand of high-quality gin, which has no additives or artificial flavours.
From small beginnings of a simple distilling pot, the hotel has recently invested in new distillation equipment, which was hand-crafted in a village in Germany that is renowned for its home-distillation operations.
The manager, Jack, who gave us the presentation was extremely passionate about the whole process.
We started the gin tasting experience with a large glass of Wheadon’s gin, with some quality tonic. I am not normally a gin drinker, so I was starting to feel bit light-headed before we even started.
Jack explained the history of gin and the ways in which different companies make their gin. We tried several well-known brands, which I found varied from burning my throat to being somewhat metallic in taste and leaving quite a harsh after-taste.
The Wheadon’s gin is made with natural ingredients and I could clearly distinguish the different botanicals that had been used at different stages of the distillation process. It had a smooth taste and there was no unpleasant after taste.
For more information on the gin tasting experience and Wheadon’s Gin, please go here.
You can the Wheadon’s gin at the Bella Luce Hotel and in some stockists on the island. You can also buy it Duty Free on the Aurigny flights, although it is not (at time of writing) available at Guernsey airport.
We bought ourselves a bottle and have enjoyed this delicious drink with some quality tonic on numerous cold evenings since our return.
Walking and Exploring
On the afternoon we arrived, we set off to explore the area. Bella Luce is situated in an area called La Fosse, on the outskirts of the village of St Martin’s, which is about 10 minutes from the coast, on the south east side of the island. We walked down the road from the hotel and soon came upon some fresh apples that had fallen off an apple tree and the homeowner put on the wall, with a sign for passers-by to take one.
We picked up the coast path and headed towards the peninsula at Jerbourg, although we did not go quite that far around.
We came back up onto the road and headed back to the hotel as it was starting to rain. There is very little open on a Sunday and the one place we did find stopped serving food at lunchtime. On our circular route, we found an Iceland shop that was open until quite late, so we could stock up on our provisions for our walking day the following day.
The views from the coat path were quite spectacular, as the waves were crashing in over the rocks. They were whipped up by the strong winds. Wind can be your friend when it is behind you and pushing you along but when you and the wind are going in the opposite direction, the result can be quite challenging and it can lead to some very windswept hairstyles!
I was actually glad to get back to the Bella Luce and have a hot bath before getting ready for our gin tasting experience.
Walking and History
As we were only here for a couple of days, we decided to use the bus service to get around. The bus services run regularly around the island. The buses are quite small and tend to be packed, with people standing in the middle of the bus. There is a well organised system of people getting right off the bus to let others off and new people on and then getting back on again.
Roads are well maintained, although in places they are very narrow. Drivers are considerate and allow other drivers to pass. Most small junctions operate a filter system, where drivers from each direction let each other pass one at a time. Hire Cars are identified with a large H on front and rear of the car, so those drivers seem to be given extra leeway.
We headed over to Pleinmont on the west coast and went for a walk. Our plan was to walk to L’Eree, where there is Lihou island off the coast, that is only accessible at low tide, however we started off walking in the opposite direction, with the famous last words of “We’ll just walk to that headland and see what is there….”
Guernsey has a very rich heritage and its history dates back thousands of years. On our travels we came across ancient fairy rings, iron age ruins and plenty of old fortifications, which had been used to defend the island at various points in history, from the Middle Ages to the German Occupation in World War II.
These forts were placed right on the cliff side with their cannons and guns pointing out to sea.
This meant they were also very windswept places. From the Fort Pezeries, we were looking straight out to sea to the Les Hanois Lighthouse and the wind was so strong, we could barely stand up. This can be a treacherous stretch of coastline and is known for its shipwrecks over the years.
We made our way around to L’Eree with the full intention of walking over to Lihou Island. You can only cross at certain times of day when the tide is low enough to for the causeway to be completely visible. There are no facilities on Lihou Island, although it s possible to stay there in self-catering apartments. We watched the tide slowly go out and saw one brave (or silly) person start to march out towards the island before the stated safe time – and yes, he or she, got so far and could not cross the last piece of water!
In the end we did not walk across because we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to catch the bus. We decided we would catch the bus and circumvent the island, ending up at the capital of St Peter Port on the north east coast.
We drove through a huge variety of scenery and past many signs to historical site and places of interest. It was such a shame that we did not have more time to explore properly as we really only scratched the surface. We did not get to visit the centre of the island and there are a lot of hidden gems I would like to discover.
St Peter Port
St Peter Port is a thriving town and is the capital of the island. It has two main streets, one alongside the harbour and one which runs parallel to it.
It was time for tea. We went to The Boathouse Restaurant, overlooking the harbour. I ordered a pot of tea and was presented with probably the largest tea pot I have ever seen. Greg and I had 4 or 5 large cups each out of it.
I also discovered why there are so many small cars on the island. I thought it was because of the narrow roads, but it is not. It is because there are parking spaces on the harbour, which are quite small, due to lack of space. Cars that fit into the parking spaces can park for free and those that don’t fit have to pay to park.
We caught the bus back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest after all the walking we had done.
On Day 3, we had a lazy morning, as our flight was at lunchtime, so we did not have a great deal of time to explore much else.
Guernsey is a fascinating place and I would love to visit again. We would come for longer next time and we would hire a car, so we could see even more of the island. Although weather can never be predicted, it would be nice to visit in the sunshine.
Guernsey is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, although the French influence is in evidence in many of the street names and some of the food. Just about everyone speaks English. British currency is accepted in the shops, although you will get Guernsey notes back in your change. Euros are not widely accepted. Buses run on time and cars drive on the left hand side of the road. We flew from Manchester, which is just over an hour flying time to Guernsey.
Aurigny operate regular services between the Channel Islands, as well as flights to and from Manchester, Bristol, East Midlands, London Airports, Stansted, Southampton and Leeds/Bradford airports. Link to Alderney
I would like to say a huge thank you to Aurigny and to the Bella Luce Hotel and Restaurant for providing such a fabulous prize. We had a wonderful time and look forward to returning for a longer break.
©2017 Amanda Goldston