The Grove Hotel: Beach & Barnyard Chic in Hertfordshire
Outside London in Hertfordshire, The Grove Hotel occupies a bucolic country estate originally built by the Earl of Clarendon in the 18th century. The historic mansion typifies English country charm with its carefully preserved exterior and gardens. The interiors not so much. One salon is furnished with navy velvet Victorian chesterfields and Bristol blue grass chandeliers, celebrating the owners' design proclivities described as "groovy grand."
The Grove was voted Britain’s #1 hotel upon opening in 2005.
“It’s quite possibly the most exciting hotel development in the UK over the last 100 years,” chirps Claire Dawson, commercial director, while we're sipping cucumber martinis in the greenhouse-themed Glasshouse restaurant. “We’re a luxurious retreat that’s very tranquil with a few unexpected tongue-in-cheek embellishments.”
The ESPA-operated Sequoia Spa is located in a restored 18th century barn with a 65-foot indoor pool. There’s also a series of popular Bikini Boot Camp spa days and a Walled Garden with another pool and man-made beach. Yes, a beach, of course, for volleyball tourneys in the English countryside. Next to that there's a potting shed with a demo kitchen and snooker table for "spa cookery parties."
“ESPA is selective in who they represent,” says Dawson. “They’re not trying to Hoover up lots and lots of hotel spas.... It’s just so fun and clever. I mean, who’d think of putting a beach in the middle of Hertfordshire?”