If you're planning a summer staycation, this is the ultimate country retreat, and it's just 18 miles from London
The Grove is a country hotel that combines unbeatable five-star luxury, flawless service, an exceptional spa, championship golf course and 300 acres of stunning countryside. It’s also just 40 minutes from London – the perfect staycation if you can’t face the faff of travelling abroad this summer.
Long rated among the best five-star resorts in the UK, The Grove is a favourite for stressed-out Londoners seeking a respite from the city. But this summer, there’s even more reason to visit wherever you’re travelling from following an impressive refurb which has transformed the look and feel of the hotel. Expect fresher modern interiors, new dining concepts, and an incredible array of pop-ups for summer.
Whether you’re after a girls weekend, a romantic break, or a family activity holiday, the facilities are so extensive you’ll find loads to love.
They’ve nailed the atmosphere here – that happy combination of five-star service with a laid back vibe. Service is impeccable and yet never stuffy or uptight and staff are warm and welcoming. The redesign by award-winning interiors studio, Martin Hulbert Design, is a bold mix of contemporary art, black velvet and pops of vivid colour. Yes, it looks great on Instagram.
We loved the opulent country house style with marble fireplaces in the grand halls and lobby areas, but sleek minimalist rooms and huge comfy beds. Many rooms overlook the beautiful landscaped gardens, which make for stunning views at sunrise. Though grand and traditional in style, the overall atmosphere is pretty relaxed.
We were blown away by the range of facilities on offer here and the expanse of the grounds. As well as the award-winning Sequoia Spa activities include woodland trails, archery, Segway tours, hawking walks and cycling.
In the picturesque Walled Garden, where we spent most of our stay sitting in over-sized deck chairs soaking up the sun, you could also take advantage of the all-weather tennis courts, chill by the heated outdoor pool or play volleyball on the impressive white sand of Ralph’s Beach, a pop up complete with quaint beach huts and a Jude’s ice cream shack.
The highlight for us though – travelling with two boys aged 6 and 9 – was the daily sports camp Football Escapes. We’ve done our fair share of holiday kids’ camps but this was in another league and hugely impressive.
The company co-founded by football legends Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora and premiership football coach Sam Hubert, offers world-class coaching from a team of UEFA licensed coaches, all from renowned English Premier League clubs. Most of their camps are abroad and The Grove is the only location where you can try out the camp in the UK.
I’ve never seen coaches who were so dedicated, kind and patient with kids as young as 5 as they helped them hone their football skills in daily 2 hour sessions over the course of 3 days. The fact that the coaches are premiership footballers is the icing on the cake for football-mad kids as they train and crack jokes alongside football heroes.
My sons haven’t stopped telling everyone how much fun it was since we got back last month. The fact that we got to chill out in the spa for 2 hours while they were playing each day was an added bonus.
Whichever of the restaurants you eat at, you’re assured a great experience. Newly appointed Executive Chef, Maarten Geschwindt, oversees all five of them including The flagship Glasshouse, The Stables, The Lounges, and two pop-up restaurants in partnership with Madhu’s and Jimmy Garcia.
We loved the laid back informality of the Stables, the hotel’s cosy restaurant set in the original 18th century stable block overlooking the golf course. This summer the restaurant is focussing on working with small scale farms to source local and truly sustainable produce and a range of dishes using ingredients grown on the estate. The daily BBQ in the Walled Garden by the outside pool was also impressive featuring a range of meats, fish and paellas.
Its worth mentioning that the nine cooking-station breakfast buffet here is pretty incredible too – so outstanding, in fact, that many people travel over from London simply to have brunch.
The Sequoia spa, which offers room upon room of experiential treatments to lose yourself in for hours. Start your day in the gym where they run regular morning yoga and Pilates for guests. Then pamper yourself with a calming circuit of experiential hydrotherapy pools, steam rooms, saunas and aromatic showers.
Make sure you book in for the Relax and Restore massage where you’ll spend two hours enveloped in a blissful treatment that begins with a unique VR mindfulness meditation to quiet the mind and ease emotional stress. We also loved The Orangery Experience – the ultimate Vitamin C boost – a luxurious body treatment followed by a calming facial which left our skin genuinely glowing.
Nightly rates at The Grove start from £400 on a B&B basis.
The Football Escapes package at The Grove costs £1,960 for two nights for two adults and two children sharing a Deluxe West Wing Room.