FeaturesA History of Hospitality

A History of Hospitality

This year, The Revere Hotel in Kensington place is celebrating sixty-five years of service in the hospitality industry. As with many things in life, its origins aren’t exactly precise but its known to have started out as a 17th century Coach House, which later became the Leicester Hotel. It is also understood that the hotel had been used as living quarters for German Officers during the Occupation amid the Second World War.

The Doran family have owned The Revere Hotel since 1952, when an entrepreneurial Marshall Doran moved to Jersey, bringing with him an eclectic mix of English antiques and the zany buzz of New York food. He possessed a strong American accent and drove a navy blue Buick convertible around the lanes of Jersey.  Marshall had spent the previous 15 years living in New York, serving in the American merchant navy, torpedoed off Africa by U181 commanded by Captain Wolfgang Lüth and surviving to complete over 200 transatlantic crossings on the SS America – the passenger liner commuting between NY and Southampton.  He would import English antiques and silver to the US and sell them in an antique shop he opened on 8th Avenue.  So when he moved to Jersey, he was well stocked with artefacts to enhance the Candlelight Grill.  Ridiculously, he had silver handled crystal claret jugs and silver candelabras on the restaurant tables – and many fine period pieces still adorn the walls. 

After surviving his first season, Marshall married Joyce Peart in April 1953 and welcomed their son Paul Marshall Doran in April 1954. Paul was to become the second generation to manage the hotel. Together, Marshall and Joyce made a formidable team through the fifties and sixties, and it was well-known as one of the best places to be seen in the Channel Islands. There have been a few videos uploaded to YouTube of The Beatles, no less, staying at the hotel during their tour of 1963, and, from the stories I’ve heard, they certainly wanted to stay more than “Eight Days a Week”. With guests such as The Bachelors, John Denver and Barbara Windsor also staying, you could see why everybody’s favourite 007, Sean Connery, was also a keen guest.

Marshall was a collector of many things; including art and all manner of armour – plenty of which you can find throughout the hotel. There are granite archways everywhere, massive wooden beams salvaged from shipwrecks, the most amazingly ornate, hand-carved bar and there is even a granite tower out by the pool area. As it is often said though, ‘behind every great man, there’s a great woman’ and this is certainly true of Joyce, who doesn’t seem to have received the recognition she deserves. As I understand it, Joyce was a “powerhouse” and “the driving force behind the hotel’s success” as Paul Doran kindly informed me. Whereas Marshall was behind much of the design of this 17th-century citadel, Joyce was an intelligent, charming and vivacious leader with a high IQ who engaged with guests from 1953 to 1986! She was such a personality that people couldn’t get enough of her witty and erudite presence.

The Dorans have been keepers of an incredibly unique piece of Jersey history for over sixty-five years, spanning three generations (soon to be four). This family has, quite literally, built a legacy that is unrivalled in modern-day Jersey. Did you know that Marshall Doran built Fliquet Castle, also known as Fliquet’s Folly by St. Catherine? You do now. I mean, come on… he built a castle! If you haven’t yet visited The Revere Hotel, with its “Riviera style fortifications” inside – now is the time.

With 56 rooms and two restaurants – Doran’s Courtyard Bistro and the Candlelight restaurant – you can rest assured that you won’t be disappointed. Doran’s Courtyard Bistro has flagstone flooring and real solid oak beams. Even the bar is made of solid wooden beams. If there were another invasion, I would want to be billeted here. The door to Doran’s is a substantial solid wood door, cantilevered with weights to help you open and close it, yet another Marshall insight. The menu here is all about local fish, seafood & some of the finest steaks. The low ceilings add that kind of hunkered down comfort you really want – just walk in and you’ll see what I mean.

The Candlelight allows for an almost medieval setting, but with modern comfort. They cater for Medieval banquets too, where, upon request, you can be given both King and Queen thrones, just to add to that 17th-century vibe you’ve been looking for. With two working fireplaces, you may well wish to summon your own court to attend your coronation (or birthday, or whatever), and make sure you sample a libation from the blackened, hand-carved bar. The amount of granite and wood in here doesn’t just support the building’s history, it supports a feeling of belonging – a cosy feeling of acceptance. You could travel the world to find a place like this but you don’t have to – it’s right here in St. Helier. They are open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and offer a palatial Sunday lunch. They also offer Spanish-themed nights on Wednesdays, just to cement that “Riviera” decree. Be careful if you order the following dish after one too many flagons of mead, but you really have to try the “Drunken Bullock” which is something they are internationally famed for. The “Drunken Bullock” is a Rib-eye steak that arrives in flames, on a sword. You need to see this – it is amazing. This isn’t a glorified meat skewer, it’s a huge sword with a cut of meat on it that might even dethrone the most carnivorous among you.

The Revere Hotel is to be revered, and is, unsurprisingly, still going strong. There are a fourth generation of Doran hoteliers to be born in August, and general manager Mathieu Doran is very pleased to be part of the Revere’s rich history as well as looking forward to the family’s future.

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