Having played at important role in Guernsey history since its creation over a century and a half ago, The Old Government House Hotel & Spa celebrates its 160th birthday this year. The imposing St Peter Port building began life as a home for local merchant, Nicolas Le Mesurier, who built his residence in the early 1700s in a scenic spot overlooking the harbour. By the end of the 18th century, it had been bought by the government of Guernsey to be used a home for the Lieutenant Governor. It served as his official residence until 1842, hence the hotel’s given name.
In 1857, the building was opened as The Old Government House Hotel by John Gardner and enjoyed a reputation as an ‘old and comfortable country mansion.’ Affectionately referred to as the OGH, the hotel remained in the hands of the Gardner family until the start of World War II. After the German army invaded the island in June 1940, the hotel was initially used a military headquarters. A year later, its role changed to a ‘Soldatenheim,’ a place where German officers would spend their leave or time off. Each of Soldatenheim were run by Red Cross Sisters, who were expected to adhere to a strict code of conduct that prohibited nail varnish, lipstick and any hairstyle that wasn’t short. Towards the end of the war, fixtures and fittings, such as two baths and a large kitchen range, were removed from the hotel by the German Authorities for use elsewhere. After the British liberation of Guernsey, a pivotal moment in Guernsey history, the OGH was restored to its former glory thanks to a range of alterations and extensive refurbishment.
Throughout the 20th century, the hotel continued to be a well known St Peter Port landmark and venue for prestigious events. In 1957, the hotel had the pleasure of hosting The Queen for lunch when, together with the Duke of Edinburgh, she witnessed the hoisting of the Royal Standard and met local representatives over a lavish meal. Red Carnation Hotels bought the Old Government House Hotel & Spa in 2008, and whilst the company refurbished the property to the highest standards, they were careful to preserve the original features of the building and to maintain the heritage and historic atmosphere of this very special Guernsey landmark.
Discover the fascinating history of The Old Government House Hotel & Spa and Guernsey when you stay at the hotel.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.