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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Spotlight on....Chateau La Chaire

A few weeks ago I “celebrated” the fact I am now in my mid-thirties (enter the hysterical crying emoji, here) and The Husband had declared the whole weekend my "birthday weekend".....and I was not going to argue!! 

I had no idea where we were going or what he had planned for my birthday weekend but in true covert-esque-style I received a text message from him during the day on the Friday telling me not to make any plans for the weekend from 1pm onwards on Saturday. I'll admit that my appetite for knowing everything was whetted.

He gave me another "clue" on Friday as to what we would be doing when he simply told me that I needed to dress "smartly" for dinner as we would be eating at a nice restaurant. My interest was further heightened by this little titbit of information. However I left it at that as I didn't to want to pester him and try and make him cave by telling me what the plan was, and ruining his surprise.

My patience was duly rewarded somewhat on Friday evening when, returning home after having consumed a healthy amount of alcohol, he said "I've told you to pack smart clothes for tomorrow night haven't I?" 

Ah ha, the Sherlock Holmes in me was all-over clue number three...... So I needed to "pack" my dinner outfit. Meaning we wouldn't be making our way to the restaurant from home. Meaning we would be based elsewhere. The poor chap couldn't think of a way to back track quickly enough, and for fear of telling me anything else decided to stop speaking and go to sleep. Although I highly suspect that his decision to sleep was more down to the fact that he was drunk.

And so dawned Saturday: the day of the secret getaway. We had a lazy start to the day (which may or may not have involved me crying stupidly for absolutely no apparent reason and me almost having a hissy fit because none of my "smart" dresses fit me any-more) and having packed the car up (why does one overnight stay require SO much stuff? Please tell me I'm not the only one who struggles here) eventually left home around 11:30.

Even though geography is not my strong point (in fact it can be described as atrocious at the best of times!) it was difficult not to be able to narrow down where we were headed on a small 
9 x 5 island.  We were headed out east so I knew we were not destined for Hotel Christina, La Place or, well anywhere that was in the opposite direction to the one The Husband was driving me in!

Nowhere on Jersey is far and within the blink of an eye we had pulled up to Château La Chaire which was to be our home for the next 24 hours. 



Nestled in 8.5 acres of Jersey's north-eastern idyllic woodland in Rozel you will find Château La Chaire. It is as imposing as it is charming and welcoming, and the setting could not have been lovelier; especially for a girl who dreams of living in a country parish one day.

La Chaire, which means “pulpit”, dates back as far as the middle of the 18th century when famous botanist, Samuel Curtis, created the finest gardens of their day on the site. La Chaire was so called due to a large rock that overhung the nearby hillside, although thanks to the Napoleonic wars, and the fact that Rozel was to be commanded by a battery of 24 guns, not much is left today. But not all is lost; a remnant of the guns’ placement is clearly visible today.

La Chaire has changed hands on a number of occasions since the days of Samuel Curtis, and it would not be until after the end of World War II that La Chaire would open its doors to the public as a hotel.

What did I think of the place? I'm glad you asked because here are my unbiased pro’s and con’s of the lovely Château.

Cons:

Parking

The car park is set a bit of a way from the main hotel entrance. There is no parking directly outside the entrance due to limited space so you can either walk your bags up from the car-park, or you can drive up to the entrance, drop your stuff off, drive back down to the car-park and walk yourself up to check in.

What did we do? We went for the walk-it-up-yourself option because between the two of us we did have enough hands to ferry all of our stuff up the not-too-much-of-an-effort set of stairs.

Room decoration

The room we stayed in was called “Poppy”.  The decoration was outdated and in my opinion a makeover is long overdue.

The Husband said that the hotel is in the middle of renovating its rooms and as he booked quite late he thinks we got one of the ones that are yet to be redecorated. I don’t want to be too negative as it’s just unnecessary but the room was a huge disappointment.

Room facilities

There were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. Say what?!? I don't know about you but I like a good old cup(s) of tea. Or at least the option to make myself one (or two, or three...) So I was a bit disappointed about this. 

To overcome this the hotel does offer to bring you a tea/coffee to your room in the morning. But not only do you have to tell them the time you'd like it brought to you the next morning when you "book" it, they charge you for the pleasure. Being a 4* hotel I thought this was a bit cheeky.

Breakfast

A Full English is probably one of my most favourite "meals". I've had my fair share of them in the last 34 years so I think I know a thing or two about them. Some have been amazing and some have been not so amazing. For me a Full English isn't complete without a few key components, one of which is Heinz Baked Beans. Sadly they were very much absent when my breakfast arrived. Plus there was only 1 sausage (and a long skinny one at that!), and only one egg....which was brought out separately on a side plate....the bacon must have been nice though as I don't remember being disappointed by it!

If I was there again I would definitely order the Eggs Benedict - The Husband ordered that and it looked amazing.

Pros:

Our welcome

As soon as we arrived we were offered a complimentary glass of Prosecco. I don’t think I need to expand on this point do I?

The reception team was very friendly and quick to check us in and generally make sure we were well looked after and catered for. 

Common areas

The Drawing Room was very elegant and a lovely space to relax and sip our Prosecco in. It was decorated to suit the style and period of the hotel. What do you think?





And after enjoying the coolness and fizz of the Prosecco we sat down to enjoy our cream tea before being shown to our room. 



The home made scones were the perfect consistency of chewy and moist and made the perfect backdrop for lashings of Jersey cream and home-made jam.





The Husband wasn't too impressed that I didn't leave any of my half-share of the cream for him...oops.




Probably one of the best parts about the Drawing Room was the stash of sweeties that was just waiting to be devoured. They were displayed in gorgeous glass apothecary jars, the sort that I just love, and never did Rhubarb & Custard boiled sweets look so delicious and edible!

The restaurant & food

Situated in a room just off reception the walnut-clad walls of the restaurant speak of a time of decadence and elegance. Of a time when it was the norm to "dress up" for dinner. 

Our food was cooked to perfection but the East End girl in me definitely did a double-take when I saw the portion sizes....or should I say when I almost didn't see the portion sizes. Yup the portions were small but definitely perfectly formed. 

The only negative comment I would make is that our wine bottle was kept in a cooler some distance from our table. This meant that on the few occasions when our glasses ran dry and there were no waiters in-situ to refill them, we were unable to do so ourselves without walking to the other side of the small room to retrieve our bottle and then returning it once we were refilled. Obviously neither of us were that desperate for a top-up, but I didn't expect to have to ask for some more wine to be poured. 

The setting

In my opinion the setting and location are definitely the hotel’s saving grace and combined are its unique selling point. Just take a look for yourself....




See that cute little set of stairs...? The Husband and I decided to go on our very own countryside adventure. Do you want to see what we discovered???

The answer is.......not much actually. We saw this greenhouse....



.......And that was it! So much for my countryside ambling excursion.

We meandered lazily through the green lanes of one of the prettiest parishes, if not the prettiest parish, Jersey has to offer, stopping every now and then so I could snap a picture or two. I was also on the look-out for the wartime plane that is rumoured to lie buried somewhere in the grounds! (Spoiler alert: I didn't find it, so no cool pictures of that coming up!)




And in true Petty-style, a debate or two ensued. The first being about what house we should live in; this one:


Or this one:


What do you guys think? Which one would you go for?

Our second debate was about this sign right here...


I said it needed an exclamation mark after "Slow" to warn drivers/cyclists to slow down (or at least a comma). As it stands right now the sign implies the squirrels are just slow....mentally? Physically? Too much ambiguity! Needless to say The Husband didn't agree with me - does he ever? - and we decided to agree to disagree.

Anyone with me on this argument? Or am I just wrong?

And so it was with one eye on the look out for slow squirrels crossing, and the other eye catching a last glimpse of the gorgeous surroundings, that we waved goodbye to Château La Chaire. 

Would I go back for another stay? Probably not, at least not until all of the rooms have been renovated but despite this I had a wonderful, perfect getaway. Thank you, The Husband. 


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