[By Jen Macdonald]
We enjoyed a five-star break in the Hertfordshire countryside at The Grove Hotel – above, the view from our bedroom
WHO WENT: Jen Macdonald, 30, from Worth, mum to Theo, 2 months, and FashCatherine editor, Catherine Hudson, 30, from London
The golf course at The Grove Hotel, (pictured above) will host the British Masters contest in October 2016
Hotel: The Grove Hotel
Address: The Grove, Chandlers Cross, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG
Phone: 01923 807807
Nearest rail station: Watford Junction – a 10 minute taxi ride away
Rates: Bed and breakfast in the West Wing starts from £310. Visit the website for the latest deals
Pool? Yes, in the spa – it was a bit cold and didn’t have much seating around it
Wi-Fi? Yes, in room and in communal areas
Choice of oils given before treatment? Yes
Use of other spa facilities given? Yes
Lockers and changing room? Yes
Does it feel luxurious? Yes, in the treatment rooms and relaxation room
Did I feel relaxed? Yes – I fell asleep after my treatment, in the relaxation room
Perfect for: A girls’ weekend away with a best friend or two, or for a golf-loving couple, or a family looking for a country retreat
FashCatherine credentials: The spa entrance is very grand and the treatment was top notch. The grounds are idyllic to wander around – true British countryside. The food at The Stables was comforting and cosy, and the lunch buffet at The Glasshouse has to be seen to be believed – this is the singular reason we would go back for a return visit. Read on for more info…
Catherine and Jen – friends for over twenty years
My baby boy, Theo, was born tongue tied, which means he was born rather angry and has been keeping my husband and I awake into the wee hours, and beyond, ever since. My friend suggested I take a night away to relax and, more than anything, enjoy a decent night’s rest. You know what they say, ‘a happy mum means a happy baby’ – let’s say, I was willing to give it a try… The journey to the beautiful Grove Hotel was super easy for me arriving from Three Bridges, with a quick change at Clapham Junction and then on to Watford Gap where we took a 10-minute taxi ride to the hotel.
Our bedroom, in the west wing – quite modern looking for the age of the building
I was so excited about visiting the hotel, once frequented by Queen Victoria, that I had read up in anticipation before our visit and on first impressions, it was fabulous. The bedroom was very modern with a balcony overlooking the manicured country estate grounds.
I was completely wowed by the freestanding bath and gigantic TV – what more could a new mum on a weekend retreat want? The hotel itself was simply beautiful with various rooms decorated in all manner of elegant tastes.
The Grove has beautiful grounds
The Sequoia Spa, at The Grove hotel:
The dramatic Sequoia Spa entrance, with its sweeping staircase, is otherworldly. We were greeted warmly and introduced to the sauna and steam facilities, which we were able to access at any point, as hotel guests.
The swimming pool was slightly on the chilly side, but the poolside and spa areas are beautifully furnished encouraging the relaxation we were after. I was booked in for a postnatal massage, which was tailored to the aches and pains I have been experiencing since giving birth.
The treatment itself was 50 minutes of pure relaxation and concentrated on the pains I had been experiencing in my lower back and legs. After the treatment I was led to the relaxation room, which was a haven, and I met up with Catherine who had had a personalised facial. We chatted, read magazines and had a nap in the dimly lit room on memory foam day beds. I felt like we could completely relax, without feeling under a time pressure to leave – fantastic when you need to get away from reality, even if just for a little bit.
The walled garden
Things to do:
The hotel offers so many activities for families from golf to hiring bikes to cycle around the stunning grounds. We decided to go for a little ramble in the grounds and came across the beautiful walled garden. Within the garden was a manmade beach complete with swimming pool – which would be so much fun in summer.
Furthermore, there was a whole building dedicated to a range of activities for children – and over enthusiastic adults! There are also a number of lovely trails in the grounds that take in a wildlife centre, beehives and a canal. The hotel is certainly geared for families and keeping the children entertained. You have everything you could possibly need to keep the family entertained in a safe and friendly environment, so I would definitely visit again with children in tow.
I don’t know where to begin with the food since it was simply incredible and there was just so much of it! We began our weekend by having a buffet lunch in the Glasshouse, the likes of which I had never experienced before. Forget anything served on cocktail sticks; this buffet was a wide selection of ranging from roast dinners and fresh stir-fries to pizza and curry. It was no surprise that the restaurant was crammed with both adults and families tucking in heartily and exchanging knowing, smug glances.
We had dinner in the family-friendly Stables restaurant, (pictured above), within the grounds but outside of the main hotel. The restaurant was perfect for families and offers a seasonal and affordable menu.
We had burger and chips, and a fish dish for our mains, (pictured above) finished off with melt-in-the-middle chocolate puddings. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed; we thoroughly enjoyed it.
But my favourite meal of our stay has to be the divine afternoon tea, which involved a never-ending supply of sandwiches, cakes and (the best bit) scones!
This was served in one of the beautifully decorated rooms within the main hotel. Again, nothing was too much for the friendly and attentive staff, and I was able to return home to Theo and my husband refreshed and more awake than I had been in months.
Modern decor with traditional features, at The Grove hotel, Hertfordshire
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The stay reviewed in this article, in November 2014, was supported by The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire.