The Grove, Hertfordshire

LOCATION: A country estate in Hertfordshire, a thirty minute drive from London or 20 minutes from Heathrow.

For Londoners, close enough to home to make it convenient, yet far enough away to feel you’re really escaping the city.

FIRST IMPRESSION: We drove along the long winding driveway, past a canal, golf course and immaculate grounds up to the striking 18th century manor house.

The Grove has played host to celebrities such as Jude Law and Victoria Beckham and it’s easy to see why. Once inside, the vibe is elegant, modern and luxurious.

THE FACTS:  Our home for the night was the West Wing, the more contemporary part of the hotel.

Our room was spacious with a trendy red sofa, supersized headboard, free-standing bathtub, White Company toiletries and a beautiful view over the grounds.

In the main Mansion House, the 26 rooms and suites are full of individual character and period detail, many with a working fireplaces. One even has a baby grand piano.

But what gives the place personality is the quirky modern art at every turn.

Throughout the labyrinthine corridors are cases by “object artist” Volker Kühn displaying fluffy chicks, plastic dolls, feathers or model cows.  

It might not be everyone’s taste, but the art blesses the hotel with a sense of humour not found in many of its kind.

There are three restaurants to choose from, but we plumped for the Glasshouse.

There’s no such thing as food envy here as you can sample a bit of everything from their luxury buffet, including sushi, tapas, Thai stir fries or carvery. 

 Make sure you leave space for the chocolate fountain – to die for.

WHO'S IT FOR: When we visited in the days in between Christmas and New Year, the hotel was full of families who had retreated to the Grove to take the stress out of the holidays.

The kids’ club and family activities every day through the festive season are a big draw for well-heeled locals.

This wasn’t ideal for a child-free couple, but the hotel was well-equipped to cope, with  adult-only times in the swimming pool and a grown-ups’ lounge.

A GOOD BASE FOR: If you can muster the energy, it’s worth exploring the Grove’s own grounds.

The walled gardens are home to a man-made beach complete with sun loungers and beach volleyball court.

It being winter, we walked off our afternoon tea with a stroll through the manicured grounds with bridges, fountains and streams.

WOW: The heavenly Sequoia Spa is arguably the hotel’s best feature.

The huge gym is so impressive that even I was inspired to work out, casting aside my strict no exercising on holiday rule.  

The energetic among you will also love the group exercise classes or outdoor tennis courts.

I rewarded myself with a dip in the 22 metre pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. 

Then it was time to sample an amazing Espa treatment before stretching out in the Relaxation Room.

HOW MUCH: From £229 for a superior king room including breakfast

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