Don’t call it a comeback / I’ve been here for years / Rocking my peers / and putting suckas in fear*. That’s right. There I was, taking advantage of the full range of opportunities available in my hard-earned retirement (translation: drinking rum and watching Sky Sports HD) when the call came in from Gallery Towers.
“Is that Advocate X? We’ve got a new mission for you. A mission only you can fulfil. Well, maybe only you and Lady X – we’ve noticed she’s got excellent taste in pretty much everything apart from men.”
“I see. And does this mission involve men?”
“Good. What does it involve, then?”
“Reviewing a hotel.”
“Excellent. We’ll be staying in a suite, then?”
“And there will be Champagne?”
“And access to a state-of-the-art spa?”
“And the use of a private cinema?”
“And dwarves wandering around with silver platters piled with endangered animals served medium rare balanced on their heads?”
“No. But we weren’t joking about the other stuff. And we’ll throw in some more Champagne.”
Wow. And this was in Jersey? I booked us in for an early Valentine’s midweek treat and informed a delighted Lady X that she should drop the adorable, if slightly hyperactive, Baby X at her parents’ house in the afternoon (together with a large supply of nappies, blueberries and digestive biscuits – which, we have discovered, are pretty much all you need to keep a baby alive) so that we could enjoy a proper break.
The day arrived, so I sneaked out of work at 5pm sharp and met up with Lady X in Grand Jersey’s Champagne Lounge. It had been a while since I had been to the Champagne Lounge, and I had forgotten just how many different bottles there were to choose from. I spent a good few minutes happily eyeing the list and, despite being tempted by the Krug and vintage Roederer, plumped for a bottle of NV Taittinger.
Moments later it arrived, accompanied by the manager, who (despite our not having been to the reception desk) i) knew who we were, ii) reminded us what time we were booked in for dinner, iii) passed us a list of films to choose from for later, and iv) let us know our bags were already in our room (with clothes hung up) so we could head upstairs whenever it suited us. Crikey. If every guest gets the same treatment, the man must have a memory like a particularly well-endowed elephant
A couple of glasses later, we went up to our room, and were greeted with what seemed like a full-on apartment, containing a large lounge and balcony with views from Noirmont to Fort Regent. We were then pleasantly surprised to find that the bed was covered in rose petals (although I somehow managed to keep a straight face when Lady X thanked me for being so thoughtful). The décor is sleek and modern, and I must make special mention of the funky lighting behind the bed, which can be set so as to cast a decadent red glow over the bedroom.
Having got changed into our glad rags, we then went back downstairs for dinner. Having been to a few work functions at Grand Jersey, we were impressed by the way the cavernous main dining room had been changed using curtains and artful lighting into an intimate dinner area. The other notable element was the service – again, the staff knew our names and appeared by our table the instant we looked like we might want something.
The menu at Victoria’s wasn’t the longest in the world (we ended up mixing and matching from the à la carte and table d’hôte menus) but we were both pleased with our choices when they arrived. The wine list contained some interesting selections from around the world – although our choice was very traditional (a 1999 Ch. Trotte Vielle – which turned out to be excellent value for money). I’ve mentioned this before in other reviews but it’s always worth saying – some customers (such as me) really like pouring their own wine and water and so it was good to see that Grand Jersey left both the decanter and the carafe within reach.
When dinner had finished, we moved on to the piece de resistance of the evening – use of a private cinema. The bar staff had thoughtfully kept the bottle of Champagne we had started earlier on ice and brought it through, together with a couple of extra complimentary glasses of fizz. Now, if I were once more a young and thrusting lawyer trying to charm my way into the affections of a series of beautiful new acquaintances, then I wouldn’t even be saying this (as I simply wouldn’t want anyone else to know about my secret weapon) – but my God, having your own cinema with total privacy and easy access to alcohol is basically a shaped explosive charge designed to blow off even the sturdiest of chastity belts.
You can choose from a decent list of films or bring your own DVD – you’re shown into a room full of proper comfy cinema seats and provided with said booze and then that’s it – you can do whatever you like. Which (of course) in our case was snuggle up and watch The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There’s nothing like a bit of Scandinavian murder mystery to get you in the mood for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, we had a lie-in for what seemed like the first time in years before heading to the spa complex. The spa itself is a subterranean labyrinth with (aside from the treatment rooms) a pool, gym, spacious changing rooms and a very cool ‘chill-out’ room where you can relax before and/or after your treatment. Lady X had chosen a facial while I had gone for a massage – and we had been given a double treatment room. This was just as well, as the spa’s entire staff seemed to comprise of very attractive females and I’m not sure how happy Lady X would have been to leave a mostly-naked me alone to day-dream with any of them.
The treatments over, we were both feeling about six times better than when we had arrived the previous day. I was able to check out and then walk straight to work which drove home a surprising point – we could have been anywhere in the world for the last fifteen hours. You can drive past Grand Jersey every day on the way into work and not think twice but once inside, you certainly don’t feel like you’re in St Helier until you step outside again.
In particular, every single member of staff we had met (and we counted about fifteen) had been as friendly and helpful as was humanly possible and gave every impression that even if we had asked for dwarves with silver platters, they would have arranged it in a heartbeat and taken the risk of imprisonment and possible deportation on the chin. That’s the sort of service you can’t put a price on, and the principal reason that we’re likely to return in the very near future.
* If you don’t get this reference, fire up iTunes immediately and download ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’. You can thank me later.