London's family-friendly countryside respite
205 Rooms / 12 Suites
The Grove is just 20 miles from the center of London but so rich is the offer at this historic manor that you might well be tempted to eschew the British capital altogether and stay put for the duration of your visit.
The former home of generations of the Earls of Clarendon, The Grove dates mainly from the 18th century, though parts of the property are even older. So while the interior décor is refreshingly contemporary, all clean lines and bold colors, the shell is a historic delight. The 26 suites and rooms in the main house – known as The Mansion – all boast views over the formal gardens, which have been designed by acclaimed landscape architect Michael Balston. Keep your eyes peeled for the pieces of contemporary sculpture dotted about the green space.
Indulge in a game of tennis or croquet, swim in the 22-meter outdoor pool and hang out at the urban beach (complete with volleyball court) in the Walled Garden. Sharing this area is the luxurious Sequoia Spa. Guests can bask in ESPA treatments, including the decadent Rose Ritual, a full-body exfoliation and massage inspired by the garden’s climbing roses, or work out in the fitness and exercise studios (a range of classes and personal training are available). There’s a stunning black-tiled ozone swimming pool, too, whose barnlike timber-framed roof evokes The Grove’s past as a busy country estate. Of course, if the spa is a grown-ups’ playground, there’s also plenty going on for kids at The Grove. Amenities for little ones include Anouska’s Kids’ Club, a playful escape that’s open throughout the day to children from three months to 11 years old.
Colette’s is The Grove’s fine dining establishment, where head chef Russell Bateman dazzles with six- and eight-course tasting menus that include delights such as refreshing cucumber and grape gazpacho, local veal with girolles and apricots, and foie gras with alpine strawberries. An à la carte menu is also available in this elegant dining room. Breakfast, as well as opulent buffet-style dinners, is served in The Glasshouse. You can watch the chefs in action here as they prepare British classics such as whole roasted spring lamb alongside international options such as crispy Greek-style pork with tzatziki. Enviable seafood, salad and cheese tables complete the sumptuous picture.
The Stables, the third culinary choice at The Grove, is the spot for more informal dining, its menu characterized with steaks, fish and chips, corn-fed chicken and other comforting favorites. Afternoon tea takes place in The Grove’s four lounges and Library, which once hosted the likes of Queen Victoria during her visits to the house in the 19th century. Barbecues are held outdoors in the Walled Garden on hot days.
The Grove is set within 300 acres of charming countryside that encloses a wetland area, two lakes, woodland criss-crossed with walking and bicycling trails (bicycle hire is complimentary, including helmets for children), and a championship golf course. Play 18 holes or hone your skills with lessons on the course where Tiger Woods took home the cup at the WGC-American Express Championship in 2006. There’s even more fun to be had on the nearby Warner Bros. Studio Tour, a magical opportunity for fans to see where the seven Harry Potter movies were made. Having hosted many of the stars while filming took place, the Hertfordshire hotel is an ideal companion for the fun family attraction.