The Grove is a quintessential English country pile – think sash windows, sprawling rooms and centuries of historic nooks and crannies to explore. The red-brick mansion house dates as far back as 1500 and has a history-book’s-worth of happenings in its walls. Owned in 1753 by the Earl of Jersey and British Ambassador to France, The Honourable Thomas Villiers, it was frequented by artist George Stubbs, who painted some of his famous horse paintings in the stables. Explorer Captain Cook also visited, bringing a sapling of a then-newly discovered Black Walnut Tree, which still stands in the grounds. Oh, and in the 1800s Queen Victoria would weekend here. So just a few A-listers, then.
Just 18 miles outside central London, a 14-minute train from Euston station zips you to the rolling Hertfordshire countryside. As well as the historic mansion, there are extensive modern wings, a spa you can easily spend all day in, and 18-hole golf course, plus nature walks through the surrounding woodlands – you’d never guess you were so close to the city. But the real draw, and one that makes The Grove a hit for families, Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter is only an eight-minute taxi ride away. Magic.
Golf fanatics from the city – the course hosted the British Masters in 2016. Plus overstressed city workers who come to flop in the huge spa with vaulted timber beam rooftop.
Rent bikes and cycle around themed woodland tracks, including one music-themed route which takes you past a series of clearings where you can play on unique wooden instruments. Plus, the hotel is dog friendly, and the concierge team will even take your pet off your hands if you fancy some alone-time.
With 300 acres of grounds – including manicured wall gardens boasting water features and art works, staying in needn’t mean not venturing outdoors. For a small country house there are three in-house restaurants, plus an indulgent afternoon tea ceremony.
As every bit as traditional as you might expect, rooms are a fresh palette of nudes and creams, but things are given a modern update with smatterings of contemporary art. Bedrooms come complete with sash windows, some with four-poster beds and rolltop baths and dark oak vintage furniture gives the optimum balance of old and new.