The SL Pocket Guide To Alderney
The SL Pocket Guide To Alderney

The SL Pocket Guide To Alderney

Beautiful beaches, great camp sites, plenty of outdoor activities… Those in the know will tell you the Channel Islands are an under-rated holiday destination. If you’re after an alternative to Cornwall or Devon this year, Alderney – the closest to France of the five islands – might just be the answer. From where to stay to what to do once you’re there, here’s why the island is a lovely option for a long weekend break.
By Heather Steele


The northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands, Alderney is spectacularly remote, considering it’s just 10 miles off mainland France. That remoteness has made it a well-kept secret among those who have come to know and love it. Steeped in natural beauty and fascinating history, it’s a place where you can truly escape and enjoy some quality time in the great outdoors.

Part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Alderney is the third-largest Channel Island and is inhabited by just 2,000 people. Because it is easily reached via a ferry or 20-minute flight from Guernsey, many visitors take in the island as a secondary stop-off – indeed, the best things to see and do can be completed in a weekend. But we think Alderney deserves a visit in its own right. Flights from Southampton airport via Aurigny airline take around half an hour. Passengers travel in a small propeller aircraft with minimal luggage, which adds to the adventure. The views of the sandy beaches and blue sea as the plane approaches the island – which is just 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide – further enhances the sense of anticipation.


From lovely hotels to self-catering cottages and campsites, Alderney has accommodation options for every type of holiday. On the quiet cobblestone streets of St Anne, The Blonde Hedgehog is a lovely boutique hotel that opened in late 2019. With nine bedrooms and suites spread across the main house and a detached three-bedroom cottage called the Corner House, each room offers luxury interiors with rustic charm – think plush armchairs upholstered in local fabric, freestanding Victorian bathtubs and original fireplaces, Roberts radios and stylish Oka lighting. Hotel staff have great knowledge of the surrounding area, and can help plan excursions and island tours, whether you want to head on a kayaking trip or go wildlife watching. Four minutes away, the team also runs La Frette Farmhouse, a four-bedroom property in 3.5 acres of grassland, which is available for private hire.


If you want to stay in Alderney for a couple of nights, try The Georgian House in St Anne. The popular family run hotel has a traditional feel, with four cosy bedrooms, a pub and a contemporary restaurant. The oldest hotel in Alderney, its interiors have been given a stylish update while original features like beams and exposed brickwork remain. The pub and restaurant have options for lunch and dinner (we seriously recommend the crab linguini) and guests can also cosy up in front of the fire in the living room with a pot of tea and homemade scones. Under the same ownership as The Georgian House, The Victoria has recently undergone a renovation, and now offers a coastal feel with plenty of welcoming touches. A whole house booking (where you're cooked for by the property's host and chef Ally) is great for families and group trips. 

For something a little different, we loved the look of Villa Mondrian, a modernist four-bedroom B&B in St Anne. Another option is Saye Campsite, which is tucked among the sand dunes of one of the island’s nicest beaches. Recently overhauled to include a new bathroom block, dry room facility and a play area for children, the campsite offers a well-stocked shop, picnic area, coffees and ice-creams. If you’re self-catering, Jeans Store and the Alderney Farm Shop are the good local supermarkets to know.

The Blonde Hedgehog
The Blonde Hedgehog



Back at The Blonde Hedgehog, its prettily designed restaurant has a farm-to-table ethos, with each dish made using locally sourced produce. You’ll first experience this with the bread and butter – the latter is made using milk from a local herd of cows and is a beautiful bright yellow. The stylish aesthetic of the bedrooms translates to the bar area and dining room, which is a bright space with a glass roof, rattan pendant lighting and a buzzy atmosphere. Menus change regularly, but highlights when we dined included pulled pork with macaroni cheese and jalapeño cornbread; a lobster roll; Asian crispy beef salad; and a great portion of fish and chips. The restaurant is especially good for a long Sunday lunch and we loved the breakfasts, which included a great filled brunch sandwich as well as muesli with local jams and yoghurt – just what you’ll need before a day exploring the island.

Elsewhere, Cantina and Bacchus down bunting-lined Braye Street are great for tapas-style dining while watching the sunset over Fort Clonque. Post-beach, The Moorings is a great place to tuck into pizza on its terrace while listening to live music. For a proper seaside staple, make sure to stop off at Braye Chippy next to the harbour. Alongside all the chip-shop classics, it serves moules frites. For decent coffee, try Jack’s on Victoria Street, whose terrace was always packed with locals when we visited. For all-important ice-cream, Sugar Hog is just down the street.

The Blonde Hedgehog
The Blonde Hedgehog




Alderney is only a few miles long, so one of the best ways to discover the island is to head out on a walking tour – specifically one run by the Alderney Wildlife Trust, which has its HQ on Victoria Street Chat to Roland, and he’ll help to organise trips around the 2,000 diverse acres of woodland and wetlands the island has to offer. Alternatively, you can hire bikes – including electric models – from the friendly team at Cycle & Surf to cover more ground. Round the island, we loved seeing Les Etacs rock, 100m off the coastline, which is home to nearly 6,000 pairs of gannets from mid-February until the end of September. Watching – and hearing – them dive into the sea was one of our trip highlights. There’s also a chance to see seals – and occasionally dolphins – in the day or the island’s famous blonde hedgehogs at night. Book early, and the team can also organise boat trips to Burhou to see the colony of puffins.

In the summer months, you could easily spend all your days at the beach. Saye and Braye are especially popular for their white sands, while Clonque has lots of rockpools teeming with life – ideal if you’ve got kids in tow. Don’t miss the beautiful Arch beach, where you can spot Victorian fortresses and a lighthouse at low tide, or walk through the rocks to the adjacent Corblets Bay. 

The Channel Islands have a fascinating history, so make sure to set aside an hour to explore the Alderney Museum in St Anne. To learn more about the island’s time under Nazi occupation, visitors can book a tour with Bill’s Taxis. Stop-offs will include the Odeon, a five-storey concrete bunker built by the Germans in the 1940s, an original Roman fort near Longis Bay and a series of Victorian forts dotted along the shore. We also loved taking a walk through bluebell-filled woodlands and meadows to reach an old watermill, which is one of the oldest surviving sights on the island.

Families will love Alderney Railway Society’s unique train set-up. The only one on the Channel Islands, it comprises two former London Underground carriages, pulled by Elizabeth the diesel locomotive. Trains run from Braye Jeans Stores to Mannez Quarry most Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. It’s worth noting that August is a great time to visit the island, as locals celebrate Alderney Week – an annual carnival, wildlife festival and sailing regatta.



The second-largest Channel Island has enjoyed a huge boost in tourism over the last few years. Visitors can now expect to find a lively food scene, unique shopping areas and beautiful beaches. Flatter and less rugged than Jersey, much of the island can be explored by foot, though it’s worth hiring a car if you want to see the best bits. Guernsey can be reached by plane in just over an hour from the mainland and via a speedy ferry from Alderney.

Once there, visitors should make a beeline for the small town of St Peter Port for the best seafood restaurants – the Fleur du Jardin overlooking the port is great for a pub lunch, while Octopus and The Hook also come highly recommended. If you're in the mood for fine dining, it doesn't get better than Le Nautique. Venturing further afield, Portinfer is popular with surfers, Le Jaonnet has several hidden coves to explore and Beaucette Marina is worth a visit – locals say Saltwater is the place to eat.


The largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and vistas in the country. St Helier, the capital, has a laidback feel and is where you’ll find the best pubs and places to eat – Samphire is a top choice, while Ocean Restaurant is renowned for its seafood. Visitors should drive around the windswept, rugged coastline and make a beeline for the south and west coast beaches, where you can spot castle ruins and interesting architecture. Portelet beach is a particular highlight, as is Plémont, where there are plenty of outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy, including kayaking, surfing, coasteering and wildlife tours.

Locke’s Stories is housed in a beautifully refurbished National Trust building, serving up creative antipodean-style brunch dishes and great coffee. In St Brelade, The Oyster Box comes with panoramic views of one of the island’s most popular and beautiful bays. The outside bar area is ideal for pre-dinner drinks and cocktails. Alternatively, head east to the picturesque harbour of Gorey to find Sumas, a firm favourite with both locals and visitors that has a contemporary seaside feel with views of Gorey Castle and the Royal Bay of Grouville. Arguably the most beautiful place you’ll ever tuck into a wood-fired pizza, there are only two ways to reach Portlet Bay Cafe: down a lot of stairs or by boat. Whichever way you choose, the food is excellent and the outlook stunning.


Three miles from Guernsey, Herm is only accessible by boat and can be completely discovered in just a day or two. It has a distinct village-like feel and is perhaps the most scenic of all the Channel Islands. It’s only a mile and a half long, but there are several nice pubs and restaurants to visit. The best way to explore is a coastal walk starting at Belvoir Beach, then follow the circular beach route. Don’t miss Shell Beach – loved by locals for its clear waters and sand made of tiny shell fragments. The island is car free, so be sure to pack good walking shoes.


Often considered the jewel of the Channel Islands, Sark is renowned for its unique landscape. The island is car free, and a visit here feels like stepping back in time thanks to regular appearances of horse-drawn carriages amid the historic buildings. It’s only three miles long, but there are several quiet beaches and coves to explore – Grand Grève could easily be mistaken for a secluded Greek beach. Seigneurie Gardens, home to rare species of tropical plants, is worth a visit, as is Window in the Rock – a cool landmark with epic cliff views. If you visit one restaurant during a trip, make it La Sablonnerie, which serves delicious local produce.

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