Last week, I was one of a small group of journalists invited to discover The Grove – a luxury golf and spa hotel in the Hertfordshire countryside.
The Grove is a chic, understated retreat just a quick 30 minutes train and taxi from London, although the noise and pollution of the city really feels like a million miles away.
On arrival the large open-plan reception area is buzzing with new arrivals and guests relaxing in the bar and adjoining lounges. Airy, minimal and filled with contemporary art, The Grove’s public areas provide an excellent base for socialising and winding down after a day on the golf course or in the spa.
After our afternoon tea among the Russian Christmas decorations and McQueens floristry workshop, I was shown to my room, through a dramatic maze-like corridor of sumptuous velvet drapes in dark, dusky colours (very Hotel Côstes).
Inside, my room couldn’t be more of a contrast; it was light and breezy in a palette of cream and oatmeal with art deco furnishings, mirrored wardrobes, antique furniture, a white orchid and the most beautiful four-poster bed with cream silk-chiffon drapes.
It reminded me of the interiors of Chanel, rue Cambon, in Paris with the wall of mirrors and sleek, classic design. My room was exceptionally large and boasted a cosy seating area with two ever so comfortable armchairs and an elegant dusky pink velvet chaise longue, strategically placed in front of the huge wall-mounted, 42″ plasma screen TV with surround sound.
The cream marble bathroom was similarly luxurious, with a vintage-style free-standing bath and the most powerful, spacious massage shower, which really revived me after a day of dashing around Christmas press days, travelling and multiple rose thorn-related injuries.
Everything you could possibly need was there, including two flannel bathrobes, a double amount of towels in every shape and size, face cloths and a well-stocked cosmetics stand by The White Company.
The Grove really pay attention to the smallest of details to make your stay enjoyable and my room came stocked with a number of high end magazines, plenty writing materials, quality teas and real coffee with a cafetiere and the most impressive mini bar I’ve ever seen, complete with cocktail stirrers and paper coasters.
All of this was topped off nicely with a stunning view of the knot gardens, terrace and rolling countryside from my bedroom window. I really could have become accustomed to life here in the mansion building!
The only thing that they could have improved on was the Wifi charges, which started at £8 per hour. Of course most guests come to relax rather than be chained to their computers, but complementary net access would really add to the ‘home away from home’ nature of the hotel.
The grounds at The Grove are quite spectacular, with knot gardens, elaborate water features and acres of greenery around the award-winning, Championship-level golf course (Tiger Woods is known to drop by for a few rounds).
Among the grounds facilities is an outdoor pool with sun deck, a pool bar and even an urban beach, with sand imported from Devon.
Chatting over a long breakfast got the better of us journalists, so I didn’t get a chance to try The Grove’s Sequoia spa, but it looks absolutely incredibly zen, with cream and black furnishings, natural slate tiling and exposed wooden beams.
Sequoia has an extensive spa menu and guests can book tailor-made treatments using ESPA products. All hotel guests are able to use the spa facilities including a fitness studio, large black mosaic pool, vitality pool, sauna, relaxation lounge, zen garden and juice bar.
There are three dining options – a luxury buffet at The Glasshouse, fine dining at the 3 AA Rosette restaurant Colette’s or home-cooked comfort food at The Stables.
We started with a drink at the bar followed by dinner at The Glasshouse, where we experienced the bountiful ‘cooking theatre’. The array of cuisines was impressive but not over-the-top, meaning that the chefs could concentrate of producing top quality dishes.
For starters there was fresh seafood, sushi, tapas, cold cuts, salad and pasta. I bypassed starters in exchange for two mini main courses – the first plate consisting of Thai chicken curry with rice and vegetable noodles with Thai crackers. My next helping was a succulent cut of roast rib of beef with delectable rosemary potatoes, sweet potato mash, savoy cabbage and baby carrots.
Everyone left room for dessert, as the sweet selection was out of this world! There were martini glasses filled with white chocolate and passionfruit, yogurt and raspberry shots glasses, Crème brûlées, mini financiers, home-made fudge and hearty carrot cake.
In the morning, we headed down to The Stables, overlooking the golf course, for a long breakfast of Eggs Benedict/Royale, cappucinos and orange juice. Breakfast can also be taken in your room, in one of the lounges or in the Glasshouse, where the luxury buffet continues.
After checking out, I took some time to explore the grounds and the lounges before taking a taxi back to Watford Junction station. The lounges are perfect for relaxing, having a business meeting or socialising and all are individually designed, featuring interesting contemporary art, plush sofas, flower installations by McQueens and extensive libraries.
All lounges have glass doors leading out to the grounds where you can find some idyllic water features and interesting stone statues.
The Grove really is an incredible place to stay, with exceptional service, classic contemporary style and interesting design features. Far from a stuffy country mansion, The Grove has a relaxed, informal atmosphere where you can enjoy the facilities in peace or spend a sociable evening in one of its many lounges or restaurants.
With an enviably picturesque location less than an hour away from central London, The Grove is an ideal hideaway that you’ll wish you’d know about forever.
See more pictures from my stay at The Grove, here.
Perfect for: Weddings, spa breaks, country retreats and golfing weekends.
Clientele: Couples, small groups, celebrities and occasionally the England football team (keep it on the down-low).
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Rooms at The Grove start from £290 per night (including breakfast) and there are a number of packages available.
* Chérie City was a guest of The Grove.