How does one even begin to describe a stay at The Grove Hotel? Located amidst 300 acres of lush Hertfordshire countryside, The Grove is a retreat in a world of its own. Hannah Tan-Gillies and our intrepid doggy reporter #TeamCocopup check into a five-star resort like no other.
From the moment you enter The Grove, you are instantly enveloped in its magic. Driving down the road and you can already get a glimpse of the façade of the main building. The main house undoubtedly retains the elegance and history of its regal past. Formerly the home of the Earls of Clarendon, the main house was also a popular weekend spot for Queen Victoria and a string of British aristocrats.
There are three main lobbies and a seemingly infinite number of lounges at The Grove, each one offering its own distinctive take on contemporary countryside luxury. The interiors, designed by Martin Hulbert, are the embodiment of sophistication and panache; perfectly blending into the rich pastoral landscapes that surround it.
Art is everywhere and is very much the essence of the hotel. Even in a seemingly blank corridor, you will see playful, leafy sculptures of rabbits with tennis rackets or golf clubs in hand, playing the wide array of sports on offer at The Grove.
We stayed in one of the hotel’s dog-friendly Deluxe Rooms. which are generously spaced and with French doors opening out to a small terrace. The room was luxurious without being out-of-reach and combined polished, elegant furnishings with touches of home. Charlie had his own dog bed and bowl and was delighted to receive his very own dog toy courtesy of The Grove too. If you can, we highly recommend enjoying your breakfast in-room on your semi-private terrace. It is such a joyful and relaxing way to wake up in the morning.
Most of the maze-like hotel is dog-friendly, but the ultimate treat for pampered pooches is a walk around The Grove’s impeccably manicured grounds. The Formal Gardens are brimming with spring blooms, with modernist steel sculptures elevating the space. Charlie was desperate to have a swim in the ornamental canal (he did not), which was beautifully covered in lily pads, and home to a mother duck with her ducklings. The Walled Gardens are an equally enchanting place and offer plenty of fun activities for families and pooches alike. The gardens are dotted with oversized armchairs, a giant game of chess, and the wonderfully quaint Jemima’s Kitchen Garden, which grows plenty of the herbs and vegetables used across the hotel’s three excellent restaurants.
There is also Ralph’s Beach, which is home to an artificial beach and an Olympic sized pool. While other hotels would usually not allow dogs poolside, Charlie was able to lounge and enjoy the sunshine in Ralph’s Beach too. So much so, it took everything in him to not jump in for a refreshing swim as well.
The Grove has three award-winning restaurants, and we were lucky enough to dine in two of them. The Stables offers casual clubhouse classics with flair and offers incredible views of The Grove’s multi-award winning 18-hole golf course. We sampled the steak sandwich and burger which were superb, although the flatbreads were also a site to behold and certainly conjured some food envy from neighbouring tables.
The Glasshouse boasts an ‘Estate to Plate’ philosophy and it certainly shows in the quality of food on offer. Led by Executive Chef Maarten Geschwindt; the fine dining menu offers a creative reinterpretation of classic British fare with an Asian twist, all made with (very)locally-sourced ingredients straight from Jemima’s Kitchen Garden.
We especially enjoyed the grilled scallops with kasundi and coriander and the crispy duck salad with cashews. The Norfolk quail, tender yet overflowing with flavour, was a culinary revelation proving that simple food done well is always a revelation. There are no precocious foams here, just good, truly delicious food.
Here at The Grove, you will find a magical place that is so far away from the daily stress of reality that it is almost impossible to leave. Incredible service, whimsical surroundings, and the ultimate in luxury hospitality right in the heart of Hertfordshire. A stay at The Grove is like a dream, one you certainly don’t want to wake up from.
Nightly rates at The Grove start from £370 for a Classic Room, on a room-only basis. For more information or to book please visit www.thegrove.co.uk or call 01923 296010.