“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Samuel Johnson’s dictum, pronounced in 1777, is still true today: The sprawling, boisterous city sweeps up visitors in its constant whirl and doesn’t let them rest for a moment. But what if there were a place of perfect peace and quiet just a short commute away—where visitors could bask in the joys of the English countryside and still have London on their doorstep? A place close enough to serve as a home base for business travelers who enjoy ending the work day with a brisk round of golf or a walk in the woods, but also deep enough into the countryside to host a perfect spa week, a romantic getaway, or an old friends’ reunion?
Welcome to The Grove, the former estate of the Earls of Clarendon, built in 1720 and now a five-star resort and spa with golf, grounds, and gourmet delights just a 20-minute train ride from London Euston station. The Grove’s privileged position in the green Hertfordshire countryside makes it stand out from the crowd: the convenience and amenities of a city-center palace and the historical grace of a country manor, all rolled into one. “The goal was to create an easy escape from this busy life,” says Michael Helling, general manager of The Grove, gazing out at the manicured lawns from a fireside seat in one of the hotel’s cozy lounges. “Judging by the smiles on our guests’ faces, I think we have succeeded.”
The goal was to create an easy escape from this busy life. I think we have succeeded.
One of the delights of The Grove is discovering how seamlessly the modern-day features of a five-star hotel fit into the 18th century buildings and outbuildings. Guest rooms and suites in the original main mansion are accessible by a warren of staircases and velvet-curtained hallways that would not be out of place on Downton Abbey. The West Wing has more guest rooms and an array of flexible function rooms, and stretches out behind the mansion into The Grove’s 300-acre estate. Here, a championship golf course and the award-winning Sequoia Spa share space with formal gardens, walking and biking trails through the woods, and historical statuary and structures (maps for a self-guided tour available at the reception desk).
In addition to the culinary destination that is London today, Grove guests have their choice of three onsite dining options: The Stables gastropub, the lounges in the main mansion, and The Glasshouse, which has recently re-opened following refurbishment, for a theatrical feast. And in the right weather, a true treat awaits: the Walled Garden, a feature of the original estate, has been transformed into the equivalent of a private country club. During the long, soft English spring and summer, guests can slip behind the high brick barriers to laze by the outdoor pool, try their hand at volleyball on the grassy playing fields, explore the hotel’s kitchen garden, or grab some light refreshment in the rustic Potting Shed, and check in on their offspring enjoying their own space at Anouska’s, The Grove’s day nursery.