The Grove, Hertfordshire
By Amanda Constance on January 4th 2011
Built in the 18th century as the former home of the Earls of Clarendon, the Grove is set in 300 acres of parkland just 40 minutes from the centre of the capital. The restoration of the Grade II* country house into a hotel in 2003 included the addition of the West Wing, a large, contemporary extension. There are now 211 guest bedrooms and 16 suites spread between the original Mansion building and the West Wing with the interior designed by Martin Hulbert of Fox Linton Associates
We had two inter-connecting superior rooms in the West Wing. Families with two or more children you can book the children’s twin room at 50% of the price of the parent’s room. Our rooms were spacious with a large king size bed, large bathroom, wall mounted 42-inch plasma TV and contemporary furniture in luxurious fabrics and neutral tones. There was individually controlled air conditioning which we never got the hang of. We sweltered in our room whilst the children froze.
There are three restaurants from Colett’s, an a la carte establishement, the Glasshouse, a brassiere style buffet affair and The Stables, a relaxed pub-style eaterie. Eating with the children we opted for the Glasshouse for all our meals. Dinner was far too busy but breakfast was a very relaxed affair. The Sunday lunch was excellent despite dodging sharp elbows in the carvery queue. The children loved all of it, especially the chocolate fountain.
The most impressive part of the hotel, the Sequoia spa has 13 treatment rooms, a large indoor pool, plus a fitness studio, Jacuzzi and relaxation rooms. Children over the age of 8 are allowed to accompany their parents to the pool but in the main this appeared to be a blissfully quiet child-free zone, a place to spend the whole day.
Think glossy North London ladies in their 4x4s. Dinner and lunch at the Glasshouse seemed to be very popular with day visitors. Breakfast was calmer, lots of families with young children all up with the lark.
Children are made very welcome. Boxes of age/gender specific toys are placed in the rooms for use during the stay and the most delicious bedtime cookies arrived at tea so we enjoyed them there and then. Anoushka’s is the hotel’s kid’s club for babies to 12 year olds where you can drop your darlings off to enjoy the play areas, indoor pools and entertainment. Our six year old was unimpressed though and said it was for babies. There are nature trails and treasure hunts outdoors and you can explore the grounds on bicycles for free.
An outdoor 25 m swimming pool in the Walled Garden, tennis courts, croquet lawn and an 18-hole golf course by renowned designer Kyle Phillips. There’s also an original three-acre walled garden and the Grand Union Canal running through the grounds.
The spa and the grounds.
Arriving in the large car park our hearts sank. The hotel is too big, too busy and impersonal. The summer would be a better time to visit with children to take advantage of the outdoor swimming pool and all that outside space.
A Superior West Wing room costs from £295 a night, a Superior Mansion room costs from £440 per night
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