The beautiful beaches on the Channel Island of Guernsey

None of the Channel Islands sparkles quite so majestically as Guernsey.

To visit it is to take a relaxed step back in time to an England of the 1950s, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

The rhythm of life affords people time to appreciate their surroundings and time for each other, time for courtesy and everyday pleasantries that have all but vanished elsewhere.

The ferry crossing was painless, as long as you don’t mind making your way to Poole, Dorset, to take it. The Condor Liberation is a fairly new vessel and comes with bars, restaurants, a duty free shop and even a children’s zone which caters mainly for those past toddler age.

We spent the crossing in the comfortable Club Lounge, with spacious seats and a decent menu. On arrival our hotel, Les Rocquettes, was just a 10-minute drive from the ferry port.

But then nothing is very far here. Guernsey is just 25 miles square making everything easily accessible. Les Rocquettes makes for a perfect base for any family keen to explore what Guernsey has to offer.

Once a private mansion, it has been a popular family owned hotel since 1946. We stayed in a superior king-size room with balcony that, in our case, overlooked the central quadrangle and car park.

Other rooms have views of the beautiful gardens which flank the house, a veritable bloom of rich colour complete with a duck pond. The main part of the house contains pretty salons with plush leather sofas and its formal restaurant, which doubles as breakfast room.

The hotel’s most popular eatery, the Oak Bar, has a 1950s flavour but in all the wrong places. The menu is acceptable, so long as you like old favourites such as fish and chips and burgers.

Unlike the white-tableclothed Oak Restaurant in the main house, the ambience here is decidedly woodchip. That said, the service is superb throughout and it’s no wonder that many customers are repeat visitors.

It may also have something to do with the jewel in its crown: the spa, gym and indoor swimming pool. Complete with a toddler pool, it was a joy to have this option on hand with which to entertain a little one who loves the water.

On Sundays, guests are treated to some rather good jazz, a perfect accompaniment to sipping cocktails on the terrace. It’s also worth noting that Les Rocquettes offers two and three-bedroom, self-catering apartments by the week. As a town the island’s capital, St Peter Port, has it all.


For outdoor delights try safe swimming at Fermain Bay

Fringed by picturesque mast-topped harbours, it has just the right balance of excitement and tranquillity, and one of the best ways to get your bearings is on a 30-minute Petit Train tour.

Already a success in neighbouring Jersey, the “little train” has finally made its way to Guernsey and is a fun way to see the sites, as it pulls you along St Peter Port’s cobbled streets past splendid Regency architecture.

A pre-recorded commentary is full of facts and the tour includes every highlight from Castle Cornet, the fortress that has protected Guernsey for more than 800 years, to Hauteville House in which the author Victor Hugo, in exile from France, wrote his masterpiece Les Misérables.

Of course, Guernsey has more to it than just St Peter Port, including 27 (count them) white sand beaches, two of which, Cobo and Portelet, are especially family-friendly.


The pretty harbour of St Peter Port

With its vast expanse of sand, the wonderful Cobo offers the perfect setting to let your toddlers roam free.

The best thing is that driving to any of Guernsey’s beaches is a short trek. It took barely 20 minutes to get to the tip of the island, more’s the pity. The pastoral scenery as you wind your way down country roads rivals anything Devon and Cornwall have to offer.

The island’s occupation by German troops during the Second World War remains an important part of its history and we could not visit Guernsey without having a look at the Occupation Museum, which is bristling with memorabilia and even contains a mocked-up High Street, its shops and walls adorned with German signs and posters.

For those who want a holiday at “home” with a bit more to offer, Guernsey is the perfect place to go. 

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