May 20 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Live in the lap of luxury within 30 minutes of central London
It’s set within some 300 acres of a sweeping Hertfordshire countryside estate steeped in an illustrious history spanning royalty, iconic artists and – more recently – Tiger Woods’ 2006 world cup win.
Yet, while The Grove in Chandler’s Cross feels a million worlds away from city life, you can be kicking back and relaxing there in just half an hour via train from central London.
From the minute you arrive at this luxury five-star hotel, golf resort and spa – a top pick among the rich and famous including the England football team – any stresses start to fade away.
On arrival, a sweeping drive snakes through the lush green grounds and the imposing mansion which forms the main hub of the hotel soon nudges into view.
For centuries, the illustrious Earls of Clarendon – including Captain Cook – owned the estate, hosting lavish royal parties with guests including Queen Victoria and Edward VII.
Artist George Stubbs was also a regular visitor, painting many of his famous horses there.
The aristocratic family left The Grove in the 1920s and, after being used for various purposes before becoming a secret wartime HQ for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in the 1940s, it fell into a state of ruin.
It was rescued by the current owners in 1996 who set about reinstating the splendour and majesty of the estate.
Now you’ll find all the opulence and magnificence you’d expect at a modern day aristocrat’s estate. Glistening marble floors greet you in the foyer and our room for our weekend stay had all the luxuries one could hope for, including a super comfy king-sized bed and a free standing bath. But the highlight was the Juliet balcony overlooking the stunning grounds.
On what was a beautiful late summer afternoon, I could have spent hours sipping wine and admiring the manicured lawns, enchanting courtyards, flowers, lush trees, ornamental ponds and various sculptures forming part of a special exhibition running until September 30, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.
Had I been feeling a little more active, we could have hired free bikes to explore the grounds and its surroundings – or enjoyed a round of golf on the 7,152 yard championship course.
But for us it was off to the Sequoia Spa for some much needed pampering. It’s not hard to see why it has won so many awards – it’s in a league of its own
The sumptuous relaxation room to wait in ahead of treatments was enough to get us thoroughly relaxed.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon dipping in and out of the sleek black swimming pool, hopping between different steam room experiences and sunbathing on the terrace.
There’s also a walled garden dating back to 1878 encompassing 3.2acres including tennis courts, a croquet lawn, outdoor pool and an urban beach.
Dinner in the Glass House buffet restaurant – one of three restaurant options at the hotel – was superb. Dishes from all corners of the globe are served to guests in front of the open kitchen.
Succulent king prawns and tender scallops were among the treats at the seafood section, while the carvery boasted a range of mouth-watering meat joints. My roast beef was cooked to perfection, but it was tough to overlook the Asian section, with tempting aromatic curries and sizzling made-to-order stir frys.
However – having seen the flowing chocolate fountain on the way to our seats – I had to leave room for dessert.
There is also Collete’s restaurant for an award-winning fine dining experience, or informal à la carte dining at The Stables – our choice for breakfast the next morning and, despite still feeling full from our evening meal, a perfectly cooked eggs royal was my final act of indulgence ahead of our departure.
The Grove truly offers the perfect rural break on London’s doorstep – and ensures that any relaxation earned doesn’t disperse with a mammoth cross-country journey home.