Hotels Luxury People Restaurants

Bohemia Restaurant + The Club Hotel + Spa St Helier + Lavender Farm Jersey

Eternally Rhapsodising | Love in a Warm Climate

St Aubin Bay Jersey © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“So here we are…having our lovely cake and eating it too, one’s great aim in life.” Nancy Mitford

The Club Hotel and Spa Jersey © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

We’re up Green Street. Chasing stars, potentially flickering, preferably established, Michelin stars. Steve Smith, Head Chef of Bohemia Restaurant, has held a Michelin star for more than a decade. Bohemia is the first restaurant in the Channel Islands to be awarded five AA rosettes. This ranks it among the 15 highest rated restaurants in the UK, joining the galaxy inhabited by the likes of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. Country Life recently listed Bohemia in its top five Jersey restaurants, calling it a “Michelin starred restaurant perfect for a treat”.

The Club Hotel and Spa St Helier © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The restaurant takes up the street level of The Club Hotel + Spa in St Helier. The interior of the five star hotel and restaurant is all modern elegance infused with the inherent chilled vibe of the island.

Coming over all Mitfordesque, it’s time to treat ourselves. The menu is a polished blend of Saxon and Norman influences, reflecting the archipelago itself. Even the mineral waters are British Hildon and French Badoit. Cheese is served with English biscuits and French bread. Steve Smith polished his skills under Lavender’s Blue favourite Jean-Christophe Novelli – another Anglo-French success. We want our lovely cake and we want to eat it too, but first there’s:

Bohemia Restaurant Jersey Lunch © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Bohemia Restaurant Jersey Pudding © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Strawberry pannacotta with Jersey yoghurt is our cake of choice. Steve explains, “The menu is driven by the seasons and also driven by what we can get consistently and in good supply. Recently, we had a great week for getting hold of John Dory and halibut so those items were on the menu. We will work around what we can get in good supply.” We’re impressed by some seriously synchronised sauce pouring and cloche lifting. It’s a wrap. Pure rhapsody.

Lavender Farm Jersey © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Ok, here goes, we’re off for lavender chocolate treats at Jersey Lavender Farm in St Brélade. Nancy would approve.

Lavender Farm St Brelade Jersey © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Architecture Design Fashion Hotels Luxury People Restaurants Town Houses

Clarance Hotel Lille + Lavender’s Blue

Unique Boutique

Ok, it’s a feeble excuse. But since Lavender’s Blue have once again been asked to sit on the Nominations Committee of the World Boutique Hotel Awards, we simply had to hop on Eurostar Business Premier to five star intimate luxury in Lille. Three blind mice arches on either side of a gated pedimented Corinthian pilastered archway line the pavement of Rue de la Barre in Quartier du Vieux. Beyond this most enigmatic of screen walls, set back behind a courtyard, is the façade of a gorgeous nine bay three storey 18th century stuccoed mansion. It’s Relais + Châteaux; it’s really a château.

Clarance Hotel started life in 1736 as the home of Count and Countess of Hespel. Current owner Aurélie Vermesse says, “It took me more than two years to set up La Clarence as a hotel, opening in April 2015. Today, I have 30 employees, a Michelin starred restaurant, and I generate €2.7 million in turnover!” Our coterie, an outré beau monde, is at home among the soignée haute monde, social carousels in slow motion, floating through the airily graceful reception rooms. A row of French (what else?) windows lighting the rear enfilade opens onto a gloriously private walled garden with the tower of St Catherine’s Church as a backdrop. Fruit trees and beehives surround a pond of waterlilies that would give Monet a run for his money. Clarance Hotel is divine, so chic.

It’s not just us feeling Lille. “For those who want a London career,” surprises Annunciata Elwes in Country Life, “but enjoy a French attitude to cuisine and culture (cheese and wine), apparently Lille is the next commuter property hotspot. Website Emoov claims that the combination of the capital’s higher wage potential, Lille’s more affordable properties (34.9 percent cheaper) and a Eurostar commute of only an hour and 22 minutes is a winner.”

By nightfall, turndown of our light and spacious bedroom includes a handwritten card from the hotelier: “’There, all is order and beauty, luxury, Peace and Pleasure.’ I wish you a pleasant stay at Clarance. Aurélie.” And the all important chocolate truffles. Our room, No.14, is called Le Voyage. It’s one of just nine rooms on the second floor. The others are called No.12 Allegorié; No.15 L’Albatros; No.16 Hymne; No.17 Le Flacon; No.18 Le Jeu; No.19 La Musique; and No.20 Clarance. No.13, its door luckily unnumbered, is the broom cupboard. A segmental arched window looks across the courtyard to a pleasing jumble of chimneys and rooftops. Directly below are seats perfect for enjoying a nightcap of Les Rochettes Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2015 from Loire Valley.

The categories for this year’s World Boutique Hotel Awards are Beach or Coastal| City Explorer | Classic Elegance | Culinary ExcellenceFamily | Honeymoon Hideaway | Inspired Design | Newcomer | Relaxation Retreat | Romantic Retreat | Wellness SpaSustainability | Stunning Views. We could easily nominate Clarance Hotel for all 13. Ok, Beach or Coastal might be pushing it.

Country Houses

+ Ça Change

The Silent Banshee

Country Life

Thank you India. Thank you Beulah. Thank you thank you silence.

Architecture Luxury

Peerman Premier + Kingston House South Ennismore Gardens South Kensington London

Sloane Squared

Kingston House

They first entered the public’s consciousness in the 1980s as the backdrop to Lady Diana Spencer being hounded like a kimono’d gazelle by the paps. Mansion blocks were the natural setting for the ultimate Sloane Changer and her kind. Rewind a century or two and it would’ve been mansions for the original girls about crown, the Sloane Endangered. Look them up in Debrett’s. Take Liz Chudleigh, maid of honour to a previous Princess of Wales. Her crash pad was Kingston House, Knightsbridge. An awe inspired guest gushed in 1762,

Kingston House

“Her house can justly be called a gem; it contains a quantity of handsome and costly furniture and other curiosities and objects of value, chosen and arranged with the greatest taste, so that you cannot fail to admire it greatly. Everything is in perfect harmony. The view, over Hyde Park, and at the back over Chelsea, is considered with truth one of the finest that could be pictured.”

Kingston House

Kingston House was pulled down in 1937.

5 Peerman Premier Kingston House South ©

A Twitch Upon the Thread

1 Peerman Premier Kingston House South ©

3 Peerman Premier Kingston House South ©

2 Peerman Premier Kingston House South ©

4 Peerman Premier Kingston House South ©

Like the fictional Marchmain House in St James’s, flats with 24 hour porters took its place. “They’re keeping the name,” says Lord Brideshead. And so, Kingston House was reborn, the exquisite manmade landscape of two acres retained. Enclosed and embraced behind spacious and quiet streets, all this had been planted a century ago so that, at about this date, it might be seen in its maturity. Leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit brick and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God. It’s a sequestered place of cloistral hush, beech faintly dusted with green and grey bare oak. Marchmain House was recorded on canvas by Charles Ryder. Country Life photographed Kingston House the forerunner for prosperity.

Flat 12 Kingston House South © Stuart Blakley

Kingston Revisited

1 Kingston House Ennismore Gardens ©

Peerman Premier’s offices are at Beauchamp Place cheek by jowl with Princess Diana’s restaurant of choice, San Lorenzo. The company specialises in luxury lets and property management in Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge. No bridge-and-tunnel addresses, in other words. Flat 12 Kingston House South is typical Peerman Premier. Its linear lateral layout has been optimised by opening up the reception into the hallway and juggling around rooms to segregate the bedroom wing from more public areas. A terrace is the final consummation of the flat’s plan.

Flat 12 Kingston House South Peerman Premier © Stuart Blakley

The light streaming in from the west is fresh green from the trees outside. All 150 square metres of Flat 12 have been refurbished. White crêpe de chine, dove grey tweed, biscuit coloured linen. Very English, very correct, bespoke but quite delicious. A place to play chemin de fer or watch one of the smart TVs, while warmed by the open fire. Bathrooms glitter with chromium plate and heated demist looking glass. A toothbrush is all that is needed to make this flat home. The Sloane Price Range is fixed at £3,250 a week for a minimum one year lease. Not bad, considering it would take over £5 million to buy the flat. It’s looking unusually cheerful today.

Kingston House South Ennismore Gardens ©

Country Houses Hotels Luxury

Callow Hall Ashbourne Derbyshire + Lavender’s Blue

Dorothy and Friends


Leaf through the editorial pages of Country Life circa 1970 and the text to image ratio is roughly 80:20. Pick up a recent copy of the magazine and it’s more like 20:80. Philosopher of Medicine and BBC New Generation Thinker Dr Charlotte Blease muses, “We are bombarded by media now. There are a million other distractions besides sitting reading a magazine article. And we’ve become used to a smorgasbord of appetisers served up to us that satisfies our attention and kills the appetite for something larger and meatier. Consequently there’s a competitiveness in grabbing our attention immediately before someone or something else does that.”


Dr Blease argues, “Tweets are the ultimate informational candy. Tweets as sweets? Cognitively they’re like a carb overload. They rot the brain. They’re informational infantilism. McMedia.” On that note, for the attention span challenged, welcome to the first McReview by Lavender’s Blue. It features Callow Hall in Derbyshire. A relaxing hotel, handy for visiting country houses such as Calke Abbey and Alton Towers. There. Dunnit. Lived up to our reputation as self styled Snappy Wordsmiths. Even managed a callow pun in that 15 word review.

Of course if it wasn’t a McReview, we would talk about Callow Hall’s quirks such as how the bedrooms are named after previous owners, like Dorothy and David. Castle Leslie is another example of this trend. A different country house trend and not any less eccentrically egocentric is to name bedrooms after places visited by the owning family. Two Northern Irish houses come up trumps. Mount Stewart and Clandeboye. Who wouldn’t want to sleep in Amsterdam, Hague, Rome or Paris at Mount Stewart? And the bedroom corridors of Clandeboye read like BA departure lounges: Burma, Canada, France, Italy, Killyleagh, Muttra, Ottawa, Paris, Rome, Russia, Shimla, St Petersburg and Walmer. Ok, maybe not Killyleagh.