Sitting in the water at the edge of the heated open-air swimming pool at the elegant Longueville Manor on Jersey as the sun set slowly behind swaying foliage and love doves flitted from tree to tree, everyday stresses seemed to slip slowly from both mind and body.
That’s the kind of gentle cleansing effect a stay at this delightful rural hideaway has on one.
Tucked away from the main road behind a grove of trees, Jersey Island’s Longueville Manor is a tranquil English rural retreat providing acres of fine foliage to wander through at leisure, as well as an elegant restaurant, outdoor swimming pool and boutique spa facilities.
Steeped in history, the 30-room and suite luxury property was formerly owned by Reverend Bateman in 1863 and even had its own colombier (dovecot), located behind the kitchen garden which once housed over 700 pairs of pigeons. Bought by Sidney Lewis and his wife in 1948 when it was a run-down post-World War Two German occupied building, it is now owned by Malcolm and Patricia Lewis.
Even from the perspective of its circular driveway, Longueville Manor, a member of Relais & Châteaux, emanates a radiant sense of Old World taste, with an attractive bare stone façade, Tudor-style wainscot windows and an ornate shell sculpture adorning a central fountain.
Inside, along the ground floor, are a collection of cozy rooms including two sitting-rooms opposite each other with soft sofas and armchairs, one boasting a beautiful wooden carving along an entire wall and an open fireplace, with sunlight filtering in from French doors, with a small terrace outside. Books and games abound with Scrabble, Monopoly and Cluedo ready for use. A bar nearby provides a most relaxing ambience for lunch-time conversation or a post-dinner digestive.
Weather permitting, guests can also enjoy a spacious outdoor poolside terrace surrounded by decorative stone pots filled with colorful flowers and plants. Beyond this stretches an 18-acre woodland, simply called ‘The Woods’ comprised of assorted trees, some over 150 years old, including sycamore, oak, hazel, chestnut and ash, with a gravel-strewn pathway winding its way through them and quaint wooden bridges over a meandering stream. A nearby pond provides an obviously suitable refuge for our feathered friends as idling ducks float dreamily hither and thither. Being there in autumn, the russet and yellow leaves floating slowly down from above simply enhanced an already romantic setting. Families are well catered on the property’s grounds with a children’s’ playground located in secluded space tucked away behind some trees. Artifacts of the past include an old water mill-wheel and a stone grain tower.
As befitting the property’s ambience, rooms are given floral names. We stayed in ‘Pascali,’ Nr. 14, a top-floor junior suite with fine views over the garden, woods and pool. Elegant and cozy in a downhome way, it comprised an open fireplace, both bath and shower, with British REN toiletries, and a full-length sofa and coffee table. A second table was replenished with generous bowl of fruits and berries daily. The room even had a rather romantic reading nook along one window.
Food lovers and horticulturists will be delighted to know that Longueville Manor, the island’s only AA Five Red Star hotel, operates its own extensive Victorian wall-garden and glasshouse filled with assorted herbs such as basil and borage and vegetables including kale, pumpkins, chard and lettuce, as well as fig, pear and apple trees. The property also has its own smokehouse (it may once have been either an ice-house or the crypt of a chapel) where salmon is smoked and served on the restaurant menu. Nearby are twenty-four beehives which supply the property’s honey requirements. Reflecting the manor owners’ concerns about protecting the environment, a special program entitled the ‘New Leaf Initiative’ is ongoing, which includes energy and water savings, recycling and education.
Several options are available for dining. In warm weather, light barbecues, afternoon teas and snacks are served alfresco on the poolside terrace while inside there are two choices of restaurant atmospheres – the sumptuous, cozy15th century Oak Room with its historic oak paneling is perfect for the intimate romantic evening or the contemporary, light and modern Garden Room for a fun occasion with friends, or a light lunch. Both also serve childrens’ menus.
Under the expert eye of executive chef Andrew Baird, who has worked at the manor for a quarter of a century, a sample dinner menu includes monkfish and langoustine ragout, ‘coq au vin,’ lemon grass scented crème brûlée and traditional farmhouse chees. There is also a ‘Discovery’ tasting menu while a la carte version features roast free range quail, poached lemon sole and grilled fillet of Angus beef, with scrumptious desserts such as Valrhona chocolate sphere and baked apple terrine. Friendly general manager and master sommelier, Pedro Bento, who matches, and maybe surpasses, Baird for loyal service, maintains a comprehensive wine list of over 400 bins. He also hosts special wine tastings in the property’s cellars.
As for leisure activities, an all-weather tennis court stands beside the walled garden and across a narrow pathway is a small gym, an outdoor Jacuzzi and a separate aptly-named idyllic sanctuary ‘Cottage Garden Spa’ where we indulged in an invigorating facial using REN Skincare products with an exquisite massage that accompanied application of the ‘Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask.’ Under the direction of Scotland-born spa manager, Lana Sheppard, many of the therapies and treatments are fruit and herb based and complete an interesting circle of relationships between the kitchen gardener, the chef and the therapist. A collection of treatment experiences, including the shorter ‘Relax Me’ to the more decadent ‘Spoil Me’ and ‘Gentlemen’s Package,’ encompass pedicures, manicures, massages and facials. The Moroccan Rose Ritual, the Body Detox Wrap, aromatherapy and Swedish are among several specialized treatments on offer. The 90-minute de Mamiel holistic treatment, named after its creator, Australian-born aroma therapist Annee de Mamiel, draws upon the ancient traditions of Chinese medicine in which a full skin diagnosis is followed by facial and body acupressure, herbal compresses and Qi rejuvenation massage.
Another leisure option is ‘Fizz Too,’ the hotel’s exclusive private luxury yacht that caters for up to eight people. A British-built ‘Princess 42’ model, it contains two en-suite cabins, a saloon, spacious fly bridge and a watersports friendly cockpit and bathing platform. What else does not need for a wonderful day out to the other Channel Islands, a hop over to France, an island tour or simply a spot of dolphin and seal watching? A full day charter includes a seafood and cold meat salad lunch with dessert, wine and champagne whilst a half day offers a selection of snacks, with full steward service, of course.
For those wishing the best of both worlds – the quiet, rustic Turneresque atmosphere of the property and a mere 10-minute drive away the liveliness of Jersey Island’s capital Saint Helier with its many museums, cafes, music venues and art galleries -Longueville Manor is an excellent accommodation choice.