We take a break from the nine to five at The Grove Hotel, a wonderfully subtly getaway just a short journey from the city
Words Pendle Harte
The Grove, Hertfordshire
Despite having the look and feel of a country house hotel, The Grove is practically in the city. It may take a leap of faith for the average Londoner to consider Watford as a minibreak destination, but even after travelling here by overground with our oyster cards, psychologically we are almost in Devon. Lying by a pool in the sunshine watching a casual game of beach volleyball on the sand next to us isn’t tallying with our general idea of Watford.
A large balcony, vast and comfortable bed, a luxurious bathroom fully equipped with towels and bathrobes (even in child sizes). The aesthetic is modern and angular, with a focus on slightly odd art installations. Along the corridors, hollow perspex tables are filled with rubber ducks, or feathers, or watering can roses.
Indecisive? Dinner at The Glasshouse is for you. This buffet restaurant offers food from all over the globe – and you can mix it up as you like. Start with sushi, salad or tapas, move on to Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, gnocchi or design your own stir fry in the Asian section. Pudding options are cleverly designed in miniature so that you can try several and all the favourites are represented.
WHAT TO DO
Activities for children are endless. On arrival our two – aged 9 and 12 – head off on a treasure hunt, following clues around the hotel. Borrow a bike – or a Segway – and tour the 300-acre grounds, in which you’ll find giant games of Jenga and Connect 4. There’s an indoor kids’ pool as well as a marvellous (and slightly heated)outdoor pool, and in school holidays there are special events galore, ranging from rounders and football to arts and crafts, jewellery making and even a display of birds of prey. In summer, a fake beach (the sand is real) is strewn with deckchairs and buckets and spades. For adults, there’s an impressive spa and gym too.
For more information and for rates, visit thegrove.co.uk