Review: The Grove, Hertfordshire

This little slice of heaven is easy to reach by all modes of transport – even helicopter, as the hotel has its own helipad

Location: Hidden in 120 hectares of Hertfordshire countryside, you’ll find The Grove. Ten minutes off the M25 or the M1, and a 10-minute taxi drive from Watford Junction station, this little slice of heaven is easy to reach by all modes of transport – even helicopter, as the hotel has its own helipad.

First impressions: We soaked up the magnificent views as we passed the perfectly manicured fairways of The Grove’s golf course. From the outside, this glorious 16th-century estate looks like something from a period drama. The warm welcome from the staff was so comforting and reassuring, considering we are still following Covid rules and regulations.

The facts: This 215-room former family estate underwent an extensive renovation over the lockdown period. All three dining rooms – The Glass House, The Stables and Lounges – plus the lobby and 189 West Wing guest rooms have been transformed, but have kept The Grove’s signature warmth and character. Textures are rich – think plush velvets, leathers and tweeds in jewel-like hues on furniture, drapes and carpets – creating an inviting environment to settle down for a cocktail or afternoon tea. There’s a new kid on the block, chef Maarten Geschwindt, who is overseeing all five dining outlets. He came from The Savoy, so is no stranger to fine dining: the scallop starter I was served in The Glass House was to die for.

Explore: In the walled garden, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, walking through topiary creations before finding myself at a beach. Even better, this unexpected stretch of sand came with an outdoor heated swimming pool and deep-cushioned lounge beds – I couldn’t believe I was 10 minutes from Watford Junction station. This area is also home to a kitchen garden, where most of the produce the chefs use is grown. The extensive grounds feature a range of activities, including laser clay-pigeon shooting, archery, tennis and the championship golf course. Alternatively, guests can explore the woodland on foot, bike or Segway.

Wow: It’s no wonder The Sequoia spa has won awards, with its black mosaic-tiled pool, heat-experience rooms and specialist treatment options. I’d recommend a full-body calming massage, which will leave you feeling rejuvenated and mentally restored. Alex, my masseur (who wore a mask and must take two Covid tests a week), managed to make me feel so relaxed that I almost fell asleep, while she fixed the deep knots and tension that I’d built up over a year stuck at home.

Book it: Room-only rates start at £370 per night.

Flora Ioannou

As the art editor and production editor of all Travel Weekly Group products, Flora is responsible for the visual style and images in our print publications. She also creates the overall design and supervises others working on the production desk. She has more than 30 years in the travel industry and has built up a great knowledge of the luxury travel sector.

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