The Grove review
THE GROVE REVIEW
We head to the luxury and family-friendly hotel The Grove in Hertfordshire
Just how much fun can you cram into a weekend? If The Grove is anything to go by, it’s a lot. This five-star hotel in Hertfordshire has it sussed when it comes to family activities and has earned is place as the go-to bolthole for London parents looking to combine some me-time with plenty for the children to do.
The hotel has been extensively refurbished by award-winning interiors studio Martin Hulbert Design, who has worked on the likes of Chewton Glen, and The Grove’s sister property The Athenaeum, and relaunched in May with a new look for the two restaurants, its lounges and the West Wing bedrooms.
We pitched up for a one-night stay on a Friday evening – our mission – pack in as much as possible in 24 hours, combining it with some great food, and hopefully some RnR by the pools (there’s two – one outdoors by the ‘beach’ and one in the luxurious spa. Actually, make that three – there’s a pool for tots, too).
The rush-hour traffic on the M25 had been brutal so we headed straight up to our room on arrival for a quick change in time for our dinner reservation. We’d booked for the Glasshouse restaurant, with huge windows overlooking the glorious grounds, and filled with quirky artwork. It’s a big and vibrant space, and we settled in to one of the booth-style tables, which work well in keeping a sense of privacy while also being able to watch the action.
We unwound with some excellent Gs&Ts while we perused the menu. While there’s a wide selection of dishes from around the globe, ingredients are sourced from ethical UK-based suppliers, as well as using produce from Jemima’s Kitchen Garden – a very pretty spot in the grounds, which is home to bees, hops, wild flowers, fruits and vegetables.
The kids spied sushi on the menu – a favourite in our household so we picked that to share as a starter, along with a crispy duck salad. The platter of sushi was something to behold – so impressive that a nearby table saw it and ordered the same. It was divine, with excellent Maki rolls, California rolls, nigari and sashimi, all stunningly presented. The duck salad didn’t disappoint either.
For mains, kids happily wolfed staples from the children’s menu, including a generous pasta Bolognese. We opted for Beef Wellington – one of my favourite dishes and hard to get right. The steaks were cooked perfectly medium-rare, and the mushroom filling delicious.
We people-watched while we decided if we could fit in a dessert. This a popular spot and lively – it was great to see people dressing up for the occasion and having a fabulous time – everyone welcoming the chance to go out-out after months of lockdown.
We saw the list of desserts and couldn’t resist, finishing with an absolutely divine cherry crème brûlée.
Early night on the cards, we headed to a very comfy king-sized bed, a pull-out bed for the eldest and a chaise converted into a bed for the youngest – he’s tall for eight so it was a tad on the small side but would be ideal for a tot.
The room itself is decorated in elegant greens and browns, reflecting the nature of the grounds. It’s traditional with a modern twist, with features such as ornate metalwork for the wardrobe doors. We also had a view of the grounds and the stunning sequoia outside – which, we assumed, they named the award-winning spa after.
Well rested, we rose early for breakfast. We wanted to pack a lot in. I wondered how hotels would be handling the Covid hygiene measures when it comes to the buffet breakfast. Here, there are staff on hand to help you to your selections, from the very generous counters of pastries, cold meats, waffles and the traditional English.
Our first activity of the day was archery. Down at the club, you can choose from laser clay pigeon shooting, Segway tours, cycling, hawking experiences, and football.
Given it’s pretty much guaranteed I’m not much cop at outdoor pursuits (read on for my reviews on trying golf and polo previously!) I was all set for having fun but epic fails. However, it seems I could have found a new vocation in life. I was awesome, scoring bullseyes, winning at the colour combination games, and pretty much outdoing my family. Eldest was so impressed that he said I could audition as an elf in Lord of the Rings – not sure what he meant, but I’ll take that.
Next was a walk around the woods. There’s a sweet musical trail where children can play on giant-sized xylophones as they walk around. Making our way from the woods, we headed to the table tennis, football, giant chess, had a wander to the beach area, complete with white sand and deckchairs… there was too much to do. I could see other families making their way to the outdoor pool – I was getting FOMO.
We donned our bathers and headed to the water. It was an overcast day but the pool was perfectly heated and it was bliss.
We had just enough time to wolf some lunch from the outdoor kitchen before heading to our booking for the indoor pool (we’ve been feeling pool-deprived since the lockdowns).
There’s only a small number of people allowed in the indoor pool at a time and what an incredible pool it is – tiled in black, it gives the illusion of dark tranquil water and it really is mesmerising. We swam, we had some grown-up time in the whirlpool and steam room. It was incredible. I was kind of regretting not booking in for a spa treatment too.
Afterwards, we had a quick stroll around the grounds to the formal gardens on the other side of the hotel – these are stunning with their lily ponds and views over the golf course and beyond.
There was the prospect of afternoon tea but we really had to head home. We loved our quick retreat to The Grove – next time we’re booking in for two nights! There’s also plenty to do in the area, if you can tear your yourself away from the hotel, such as Warner Bros Studios and the Natural History Museum at Tring.
This really is a perfect place for a family weekend escape.
Nightly rates at The Grove start from £370 for a West Wing Classic Room, on a room-only basis. For more information or to book please visit www.thegrove.co.uk or call 01923 296010.