A couple of weekends ago we headed an hour down the M1 to a beautiful country hotel just outside of Watford in Hertfordshire. It's pretty famous as hotels go, hosting all number of celebrities, sports stars, important public figures and even royalty over the years, so it doesn't need a huge introduction, but in case you haven't heard of it I am talking about The Grove Hotel.
On arrival you head down the longest, most rambling drive way I have ever seen, with golfers on one side of you (The Grove is famous for golf) and wildlife on the other. Every car you pass makes you look twice- we spotted Ferrari's, Rolls Royce's and the odd Fiesta thrown in for good measure!
When you first catch sight of The Grove in the distance it really does take your breath away- a beautiful country house set up on the hill. You can just imagine being on the set of Downton Abbey if you pause for long enough to think.
But when you get inside the hotel has done perfectly in mixing the traditional with modern touches. This is the reception area you are greeted to when the concierge holds the door open for you.
We headed off to our rooms and were greeted with beautiful views of the gardens- The Grove is set in 300 acres of sprawling English countryside. And what a treat- interconnecting rooms. This was the girls room.
And this was ours. The bed was big, sumptiously soft and was just begging to be jumped on. (which we did if you watch this video!)
Any hotel that greets you with macaroons is a winner in my eyes. Although we had to share with the girls which I wasn't too impressed with.
Especially when their room had some cookies waiting for them.
The room was so bright and let in the most gorgeous light.
I loved this bedside table and of course you can't beat a good coffee table book.
We loved the roll top bath in both the rooms- once the girls were in bed we cracked open a bottle of prosecco to toast to my birthday the next day and relaxed in the bubbles.
I loved the way the hotel was funished- if I could have picked this sofa up and put it in my handbag, I definitely would have tried. I love the mustard yellow and retro vibe.
Mini bar heaven.
And you definitely can't beat a bit of indoor foliage.
While Mr E and LL went off in search of a local shop to get forgotten supplies, Mads took the opportunity to walk hand in hand around the gardens. She loved these little rabbits, each holding a different bit of sporting apparatus, including a cricket bat, golf club and tennis racket.
But our favourite was the secret walled garden that you could only get in to with your room keycard. We told Mads it was magic and would only open with the words 'Open Sesame.'
The secret garden was beautiful, with a vegetable patch, a gorgeous outdoor pool and a man made beach. These daffodils made me feel very Spring like.
Playing on the beach. I can only imagine how gorgeous The Grove is in the summer when you can sit outside in your own bit of Miami style heaven in the English countryside. Although that said I bet it is stunning in every season. I want to visit at Christmas too!
We played sandcastles in woolly hats while the sun began to set.
Before heading home to freshen up for dinner.
We had a meal booked at The Stables, which was supposed to be the most family friendly of the restaurants, although we were promised all would be happy for our little people to dine. Over three restaurants, The Grove employs 70 chefs who are passionate about creating the most delicious food. There is also Colettes, a more fine dining experience and The Glasshouse, where chef's prepare the food in the background while you watch on.
We were really impressed with the childrens menu, there was lots of choice for our little people, plus as soon we sat down they bought crayons and pictures for them.
I had the wild rocket and parmesan salad with balsamic-basil dressing to start- it was simple yet delicious.
While Mr E had the Stilton fritters, green apple, celery, watercress and sour honey. I may have had a few nibbles of his- just to report back of course!
My main was the sugar baked ham hock, served with pickled red cabbage, creamed potatoes and charcuterie sauce- it was soft, tender, practically melted in your mouth and was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in ages.
While Mr E had his usual staple- a good old burger. (So predictable!) The girls were busy devouring their pizzas too quite happily- they didn't pause for long enough for me to be able to get a photo of them.
Even though I was so full I had to sample a pudding, I had the dark and stormy creme brulee with ginger snap biscuits, I could have eaten it twice. Mr E had the hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel sauce, but it was gone before I could manage to take photographic evidence. Our meal was perfect and it was made even better by the fact that our girls were so well behaved throughout the whole meal (as any parent knows eating out can go one of two ways!) I asked for our waitresses name at the end because she was incredible and so friendly and lovely with the girls, but I have forgotten it. She really went the extra mile and I even made sure I wrote that in the feedback form provided.
Feeling full and fat we wandered back to our rooms to find a sweet surprise for LL- there were some friends joining her in her cot.
And the turn down service had been. Our two ladies fell fast asleep and we relaxed next door- no sitting in the bathroom all evening, it was a luxury having a room to ourselves.
We woke the next day feeling refreshed after a long sleep, although with slightly fuzzy heads. I was also a year older. We headed off to The Glasshouse for a birthday breakfast. Of course it being my birthday I had to have a cooked breakfast.
And a sweet treat. Oops. I can never resist the waffles or pancakes. Breakfast was great, and as a family it's our favourite meal to out for, so we chatted about our plans for the day while people watching as well. We spotted a few famous faces over the pastry table.
There is a kids club at the hotel called Anoushka's and we decided to put the girls in there for an hour, just so we could have a chance to check out some of the other parts of the hotel. The check in process was great and they put our girls at ease. It cost us £8 per child per hour, which is pretty reasonable if you wanted to go and check out the spa for a few hours or go for a peaceful lunch. As we only wanted to put them in for an hour, we decided to just go for a little wander around. There are loads of little nooks and crannies where you can have afternoon tea or a quiet drink. I loved this little library area.
We walked hand in hand around the grounds, relishing just being the two of us for a few minutes. The grounds are so beautiful and if we had time we would have hired bikes (free of charge) and gone on a family bike ride.
We headed to the Sequoia spa to have a look- it looked absolutely amazing and we only wish we had time to visit. The black mosaic tile pool looked blissful as did the quiet relaxation rooms.
We did have time to chill out and have a quick juice and smoothie from the spa's juice bar though, which were both delicious.
Before it was time to pick up two excited little girls who came running to greet us with some balloons. We headed back to The Stables for a spot of lunch. While we were there Mads burst her balloon and one of the members of staff headed all the way back to the Kids Club (a 20 minute walk there and back) to get her another balloon- the staff were so great with our girls.
After lunch we went for a quick dip in the kiddies pool- it's completely separate from the spa pool, and we practically had it to ourselves which was lovely. Young children aren't allowed in the spa pool understandably.
Before it was time for one last walk around the grounds and a quick ride on a golf buggy from a kind member of staff (the girls so badly wanted to go on one!) Then it was time to head home, feeling happy, relaxed and full of fond memories of our stay at The Grove.
Overall we couldn't fault our stay. As a family who loves to travel, we don't want to leave the children at home, of course that's nice every now and again, but we want to make memories and enjoy these adventures with our girls. We were so impressed with The Grove's family friendly policies- even though the hotel is definitely high end and luxury, we never once felt uncomfortable having Mads and LL there. The staff really do go the extra mile to accomodate children and all the little touches for them definitely made our stay.
We loved our stay at The Grove and will definitely need to go back to try it in all the seasons- I bet it is beautiful in Summer and at Christmas time. Oh and in Autumn too!
NB: Thanks to The Grove for inviting us to stay at their wonderful property- we are so grateful and had such a lovely time. All words and opinions are completely my own.