Healthista writer Parisa Hashempour escaped London for a getaway to The Grove hotel and spa, London’s country estate, this is how she got on
It’s impossible to prepare for the surprise of first seeing The Grove Hotel. After jumping off a train at bustling Watford Junction, I was swept to the country estate in a matter of fifteen minutes or less. It’s hard to believe that the grand mansion nestled among 300 acres of greenery, forestry and golf courses is only 18 miles outside of London.
The country estate is the former home of the Earls of Clarendon and was once used by Queen Victoria as a country retreat and I can see why she wouldn’t mind spending a bit of time there. Tucking you cosily away in the (almost) countryside, the beauty and stillness of The Grove Hotel and its surroundings has a calming effect. Driving up to the eighteenth-century mansion leaves you feeling as though you’ve been instantly transported to the set of Downton Abbey.
Unusual pieces of artwork, skeletal sculptures… are dotted around the country estate
The lobby is light, airy and spacious, every type of purple flower fills rounded crystal vases that immediately accost both your eyes and nose upon entry. The back wall of the lobby is home to a selection of keys that are scattered and stuck to the wall. This eccentric contrast of flowers and metal epitomises the feel of the place.
In many ways, The Grove mansion is traditional in decor with classically beautiful chandeliers and simple cream sofas in the drawing rooms. Yet there’s also the occasional quirk of design. Unusual pieces of artwork, sculptures of skeletons (even one made from the junk found on the site of the old London Olympic grounds) are dotted around the country estate.
Exploring my room at The Grove Hotel
A classically beautiful room with a grand four poster bed greeted me on arrival, all cream bedding with sofas and armchairs dotted about the room. Two bay windows looked out over the front entrance, drive and lawn.
Because the mansion is so old, each room is decorated and designed slightly differently. In my particular room, the bathroom held the ultimate wow factor. Behind two sliding doors covered in oriental branch-patterns hid a spacious, white bathroom. A mirror lined the back wall and gave the space a light and open feel. The central piece of the room was a classic rounded white bathtub (which of course I instantly jumped into.. fully clothed.. to take photos in the full-length mirror).
The ultimate relaxation
I hardly wanted to leave my room but my spa day awaited me. The Sequoia Spa is an award-winning treatment centre located just a two-minute walk from the main mansion building. It’s easy to see why the spa has become so successful. Each spa experience includes a herbal tea on arrival, use of the spa’s facilities, a personal consultation and either lunch, afternoon tea or evening supper. Plus, the spa even has its very own juice bar.
A mindful massage
After idling in the relaxation area for a little while with a magazine, Ellie, my massage therapist came in to collect me. My treatment was absolute magic – I chose for the mindful massage which was done using ESPA soothing body oil (I opted for sandalwood and frankincense oil – heavenly musky). Ellie was friendly and warm and explained to me the mindful element of the massage – to begin the massage three chimes would be played over the chakra points on my body.
The massage ended with a rose quartz crystal being rested on my forehead
Ellie described these points as swirling balls of energy and said the chimes would open up my heart. At the end of the session, these chakras would be closed up and apparently I would go throughout my day feeling happier and more open to being kind. Before beginning the massage we ran through a short visualisation practice as I lay face up on the treatment bed. I’m pretty sceptical of anything hippy dippy but whether or not my chakras were truly opened – having Ellie guide me through breathing and visualisation practices set me up for an incredibly relaxing massage.
Starting on my front, Ellie worked one side of my body at a time, ending with a more intense and focused massage on my back and shoulders as this is where I had the most tension. The massage ended with a rose quartz crystal being rested on my forehead which was supposed to awaken my mind, however, the scalp massage that followed did more to send me into a semi-slumber.
Lunching and lounging
A name card at my table indicated where I should sit and I wasn’t waiting two minutes before a waitress had arrived with my food. Lunch was served in a large bento box and included a soup, starter, main and pudding. I had a Thai soup, chilli prawns, a salmon and wasabi salad and berries with cream for dessert. The quality of the food was supreme and I practically scraped the box clean – it’s funny how lying still on a massage bed can give you such an appetite.
Sunbeds lined the sides of the room and light filtered in through an open wall of windows that lead out onto a sun terrace
Still sat in my robe, I chilled out in the airy dining area a little longer with a cup of elderflower and dandelion tea – I loved how we were able to wear our robes around the entire spa. If we needed anything from reception it was totally acceptable to pop out there with just a robe on. The Sequoia Spa went above and beyond to make sure that I was comfortable at all times.
Walking into the swimming pool area was like diving head first into the pages of a glossy luxury magazine. Sunbeds lined the sides of the room and light filtered in through an open wall of windows that lead out onto a sun terrace. Huge wooden beams hung above the pool and a steam room was tucked away toward the back of the large pool room.
Swimming up and down the lanes, the water was perfectly warm (although I did make the mistake of getting in after being in the jacuzzi and then it felt freezing). A jacuzzi ran the length of the pool with seats inside that sat facing out to the pool area (I’d make awkward eye contact with anyone sat in it as I came to the end of each length up and down the pool).
a combination of ye olde decorations and low lighting made The Stables restaurant a cosy place to tuck into some gourmet food.
After a relaxing swim, the best thing in the world is to melt into a sauna. I was spoiled for choice as there wasn’t just a pool area steam room but also three other female-only saunas to choose from.
But there’s so much more to the country estate…
Later that day I headed to The Grove’s restaurant, The Stables. The Grove has three unique restaurants run by over 70 chefs and prides itself on being able to offer something to everyone. I was amazed to hear that produce comes from the estate’s very own fruit and vegetable garden and even more impressed when I actually spotted a chef out picking lemon balm leaves – fresh food at its finest.
The Stables is set within the original stable block of the estate and had a rustic, New England design. A combination of ye olde decorations and low lighting made it a cosy place to tuck into some gourmet food. I opted for an asparagus and prosciutto starter, both were cooked to perfection and followed it by a melt-in-the-mouth steak.
Riding through areas jumbled with trees and littered with bluebells, smoggy London seemed a world away
The morning breakfast buffet was equally as mouth-watering offering an abundance of food from indulgent pastries, cheeses and hams to a wonderfully fresh selection of fruit and of course the option of a hearty full-English.
The country estate is also home to a golf course, fitness studio and even has a walled garden area that has a 22 metre outdoor heated pool, tennis courts, croquet lawns and even it’s very own beach (yes, beach!)
Bikes and hikes
The hotel and spa are also surrounded by acres of network trails which you can take to either on foot or by bike. The hotel has bikes that are available for guests to use and the morning before I left for the city I jumped at the opportunity. Riding through areas jumbled with trees and littered with bluebells, smoggy London seemed a world away. The area is bursting with history and we were told that one area we walked through used to have a bunker underneath it where Britain’s trains were operated from during the Second World War.
I fell completely and utterly in love with The Grove Hotel and Spa. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone from the London area especially. It’s close enough to visit the spa for even just a day trip if you didn’t want to commit to a full night away.
Room rates start from £340 per room per night including breakfast for two.
The Grove is just 20 minutes from London Euston to Watford Junction, which also has key mainline train services to Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly. The station is served by the London Overground on the Metropolitan line. It’s a 10-minute journey by taxi from the station to The Grove – either jump in a cab outside the station or phone the hotel ahead and a private car can be arranged.