II’s classic expat financial services industry pubs: Guernsey

When financial services expats are far from home in a foreign land, or are merely visiting a financial centre overnight, they typically seek to congregate in places where they can, for a brief time at least, be among their own kind.

As we’ve been observing over the last few weeks, as we’ve begun looking at where financial services expats like to hang out, it seems that there are times when even teetotal expats who are weary of the non-stop foreign-ness of their current posting can find comfort and companionship in their locality’s unofficial, but de facto, favourite expat hang-out.

This week, we nominate our choice for the Best Classic Expat Financial Industry Pub on the island of Guernsey.

Establishment: The Swan Inn
Address: St. Julian’s Ave
St Peter Port

Guernsey GY1 1WA
Tel: +44 (0)1481 728 969
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Not surprisingly, the Guernsey pub most often mentioned by financial services executives who work or frequently visit that island is located in the heart of the financial district of Guernsey’s main centre, St Peter Port.

Guernsey, it should be noted, isn’t an expat posting like, say, Muscat or Tokyo, and so the pub favoured by financial services types is likely also to be popular among locals and tourists, which, we’re told, the Swan Inn – as the pub calls itself – is.

The Swan is relatively small by modern pub standards, owing to the fact that it’s housed in an old inn, which was built, according to the lettering over the entrance, in 1899. (Whether it has always been known as the Swan, and the exact size of the pub, weren’t known at the time this article was going to press, as the pub’s management declined repeated requests for an interview.)

Among the Swan’s nearest neighbours is Ogier, the international law firm, and it’s also within walking distance of such Guernsey institutions as the Channel Islands Securities Exchange, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission and Guernsey Finance, as well as various banks, asset managers and trust companies.

It also happens to be just around the corner from Guernsey’s main police station, and as a result, recalls one Guernsey financial services executive, “back in the day used to be the preferred drinking hole for officers”.

Across the street from the Swan used to be, until recently, a popular take-away outlet called the Ribshack, which, locals will tell you, is where the Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop worked one summer many years ago. (During a 2014 visit to Guernsey, he tweeted:  “Outside the hamburger joint I worked in 29 (YES 29) years ago! It’s this place that made me a vegetarian”.)

The Swan is owned by the Guernsey-based Christies restaurant group, which recently renovated it in a style that regulars describe as “cosy” and “traditional”, with ceiling fans, cream-coloured, wood-paneled walls, and framed prints and artworks. There is a “nice warm fire to cosy up to” in the winter.

On its website the Swan calls itself a family-owned, “English Victorian gastro pub”, and its main menu features a fairly extensive range of what it calls “traditional British” dishes that include fish and chips, four types of burgers (including a vegetarian option) and four variations on the classic British home-made pie.

In addition to its ground floor pub, the Swan features an upstairs dining room that gets mainly enthusiastic reviews on Tripadviser (almost every one of which gets a personal note of thanks on the site from the Swan’s manager of the day).

Although not viewed by International Investment staff, the walls of the gents’ loo in the basement are said to feature unusual artworks of some description.

To find financial services executives bar-side at the Swan, regulars suggest dropping in on a Thursday or Friday night. “There is a good Saturday crowd [too], but [it’s] less specifically finance-related”, explains one.

Fridays, he says, are the most popular, “and it does have a very good atmosphere, and they turn the music up later on”.

Adds another financial services exec:  “It’s one of the best pubs in the island for watching the rugby. Always a great atmosphere, and it always has people spilling outside, certainly in the summer.

“Later on Friday and Saturday nights, it turns into a bit of a party pub.

“Dancing on tables has been known to happen.”

To see last week’s best classic expat pub, in Muscat, Oman,  click here.
To comment on this pub, or suggest other pubs for inclusion in International Investment’s weekly column on best classic financial industry expat pubs, email iieditorial@odmpublishing.com.

Next week: International Investment’s choice for best classic expat pub in Luxembourg.

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