I can seldom think of a good reason to leave my sofa in St Ouen, let alone visit town, so it was with great interest that I accepted the novel assignation to spend the night at the glorious peach-coloured palace on St Helier?s
Waterfront. I am a reclusive nerd with a wardrobe full of heavy metal t-shirts and crumbs in his beard, so I was curious to find out if squeezing into a suit and staying at the Radisson Blu could make me feel like the kind of high-powered tycoon who parks his yacht in the marina and paddles ashore to conduct business deals in luxury.
Knowing that they?d put us up in one of the suites, I abandoned my rusty chariot in the front car park and jogged round to the classy marina side to make my entrance in style. With my glamorous lady wife in tow, this enabled me to feel like some aristocratic captain of a floating gin-palace, and I was able to stroll confidently into the hotel whilst appreciating the way in which its south-facing walls of glass reflect an extravagant view of gleaming pleasure boats, freewheeling seagulls and Elizabeth Castle. Whilst checking all of this out, I was lucky not to have stumbled straight into the enormous fish tank in the lobby, a mass of water which would only need to be slightly larger to be the subject of an unreliable ferry service and night raids by illegal French fishermen
Like many Island residents, my usual view of the Radisson Blu is of an apricot wedge that passes slowly by as I make my daily crawl towards St Helier, and like any new building higher than a sandcastle there?s been some grumbling about its appearance. This is a shame, because the minute you step inside the building you?re struck by how airy and spacious it is, projecting a sleek, modern appearance that made me imagine I was in the VIP lounge at some voguish European airport. Grumblers should also be aware that the view from the business class rooms is fantastic, with the suites and meeting rooms boasting a vast, blue-tinged panorama that stretches from the marina, past Elizabeth Castle to incorporate the twinkling lights of St Aubin?s harbour. Truly, St Helier is more beautiful if you look at it from the right angle – in this case outwards towards the open sea
There?s a lot to be said for a newly-constructed hotel, especially when it?s tailored to the demanding business clientele that visit our offshore piggy-bank. Needless to say we got free internet and the enjoyment of a lovely pool, sauna and gym on the ground floor, but the massive corporate meeting rooms at the top of the hotel made me wish I?d brought a PowerPoint presentation, a laser pointer and some platinum cufflinks. A Hollywood-style futuristic boardroom that can transform into a swish banqueting area, the glass-walled Le Hocq space is so imposing that you half expect to find Michael Douglas in there, or perhaps some of the X Men, planning to free St Aubin?s Fort from Magneto and Juggernaut.
The modern approach was also evident in the comfy furnishings and chic decor of our room, where it was surprisingly easy to ignore the flatscreen television in favour of wall-to-ceiling windows that were perfect for keeping tabs on my imaginary super-yacht and looking suave for the benefit of any onlookers. Thankfully, the suite area is easily shut off from the huge bedroom proper, either for business purposes or for my wife to block out my snoring whilst she enjoyed the free espresso machine and library of on-demand movies. There?s a second TV opposite the bed too, although I was momentarily disappointed that it wasn?t visible, Partridge-style, from the bathtub. Not that this mattered, as the bed was gigantic and extremely comfortable, so I spent many hours lounging around in my hotel bathrobe like a cross between Yoko Ono and Patrick Bateman.
Lounging around was very much a necessity, as I felt that true luxury could not be experienced without an extensive sampling of the Waterfront Brasserie on the ground floor. Despite me forgetting to book a table on a busy Saturday night, the staff were friendly and fast, and so delicious food arrived as fast as I could shovel it down.
As a vegetarian gourmand, the food at even high-end hotel restaurants can be a little boring, but after a starter of creamy mozzarella salad I enjoyed a hearty mushroom, braised onion and stilton pie so much that I considered ordering a second one and smuggling it home in a paper bag. Purely in the interests of research, I then ignored the diet I?m allegedly following and guzzled a wonderfully nutty semifreddo dessert. My wife was equally delighted with fresh local crab salad, a perfectly tender steak and a pudding of rich, gooey chocolate brownie, enhanced with the unexpected inclusion of pine nuts. They?re surprisingly tasty in chocolate cake; I know this because I slyly finished her plate whilst she was distracted by the view.
A proper businessman probably would have spent a few hours in the lounge bar, sipping on a fine cognac and listening to the gentle sounds of the sea outside. However, I?m just a pretend businessman, so I went back upstairs to soak in the bathtub and watch Jackass 3 in bed. After sampling the kitchen I wished I?d had space for their extensive room service menu, but I needed to preserve my powers for a morning visit to the swimming pool and then at least an hour grazing the hotel?s vast smorgasbord of breakfast foodstuffs.
The waterfront location is perfect for business and leisure visitors alike, as anybody without my yokel?s inbuilt horror of ?the town? is just a short stroll from our capital?s many charming attractions. Luckily for me, I found the relaxed, modern interior of the Radisson Blu so soothing that I had no desire to do anything other than enjoy the hotel itself. I was sad to leave, not only because our suite was perfectly air-conditioned, extremely comfortable and more spacious than most people?s houses, but because that incredible view is even better when the sun comes out. Standing in the massive window, with the boats and people down below, you really feel like this Island is your oyster. At least until you realise that people are only staring up at you because you?ve forgotten to put on any pants on under your bathrobe.
Call and spend the night or weekend!
Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel
Rue de l?Etau, St. Helier
Reservations: 01534 671 173