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The approach to The Grove – the former home of the Earls of Clarendon, now a championship golf resort – is nothing short of breathtaking. A winding driveway leads you away from the main road, through the golf course and over a small humpback bridge, up to a classic English stately home – just 18 miles from central London.
The award-winning spa is set in the 18th-century mansion and walled garden. I arrived with just my girlfriend, but couples with children can take advantage of the Grove’s Anouska's Kids' Club which was graded ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED – plus The Grove even offers dog-sitting for those unable to leave any family member out of the luxury treatment!
The spa and pool areas themselves are pet-free, and there are specific adult-only hours too so you won’t have your calm disturbed. It’s a mobile phone-free zone too, including the gym, so there’s no work or distraction from relaxation.
Room for it all
Once a favourite weekend spot of Queen Victoria, The Grove is now a popular destination for the world’s sporting elite, with visits from NFL teams and England football to mention a few. You can easily see why, with fine dining, golf, spa breaks and even tours of the Warner Bros studio amongst it’s offerings. There are 26 Mansion House rooms or suites in the Grade II Listed mansion, each displaying period style mixed with original modern art and furniture. Our room was in the more contemporary West Wing, where a further 191 spacious, luxury rooms are situated with beautiful views of the grounds and even a small balcony to really soak up the atmosphere. With a 50in flatscreen TV, king-size bed, roll-top bath and shower big enough for two, the room really did have everything a couple (or family) could wish for.
You definitely need at least two days to experience all The Grove has to offer – with our overnight stay we didn’t have time to even see the tennis courts, croquet lawn, 300 acres of parkland and woodland (with bikes available for free), 22m outdoor heated pool, urban beach (with volleyball), table tennis tables or a pool table. ‘Pets are part of the family’ is the policy, so your dog can experience (almost) all this too, although the pet-sitting service takes over when you’re dining at the Glasshouse or relaxing at the Sequoia spa.
Burning off the calories
The Grove fitness and exercise set-up is great, and it’s also available as a separate membership that includes the use of the studios and an ozone swimming pool. The gym itself has natural daylight (something not all London hotel gyms can boast) and is well equipped with the latest Technogym Visioweb equipment, Kinesis, ARKE and MyWellness Key System software for interactive exercise management. This is a great system, but unless you are a member or your usual gym uses the same kit, not that useful. Still, the gym has adequate weights and cardio equipment and is clean and well maintained.
For those who prefer group exercise, there are also complimentary classes in the Exercise Studio including meditative yoga, Pilates, circuits and aerobics. You may need to book in advance, especially at weekends. The swimming pool area was one of my favourites – with black mosaic-tiles beneath the water and oak beams above it, plus sun-lounger and free newspapers, the space feels luxurious and open – another great spot to unwind and forget about life. My only gripe was that the Jacuzzi was perhaps a shade on the cold side. The pool is open to accompanied children from 9-11am and 3-5pm daily.
Spa for a Spartan
The Sequoia spa itself has just been renovated and is clean, sleek and well designed. The staff are courteous, thoughtful and genuinely seem to love their jobs and where they work (this goes for the entire Grove experience). Sequoia offers highly skilled therapists and products/treatments from Natura Bissé and ESPA. There’s a selection of signature treatments, mostly suitable for men and women (although there is a separate list of men’s treatments). Both my girlfriend and I chose a signature treatment and were both equally impressed – they lasted almost two hours and the time flew by.
I opted for a full-body exfoliation followed by a full-body massage. The therapist was superb: very attentive, considerate and professional, while making the whole process feel very personal. She asked if I had any particular areas of pain or discomfort - like most stressed people, my shoulders and back were at the top of the list. Both my girlfriend and I agreed that the entire treatment, from the restful Garden room where guests wait before treatment and enjoy a variety of fresh leaf herbal teas, to the completely un-pressured request for written feedback after treatment. My girlfriend said after the treatment that it was the most relaxed she’d ever seen me… and I’d have to agree.
Eating for England
The Grove has three restaurants, but we took both our evening meal and breakfast in the Glasshouse – a buffet-style open kitchen with chefs at multiple stations to attend to your every need. I must admit to overeating at both meals! For our dinner we could choose anything from tapas to a full roast - and everything in between from ribs to sushi to freshly made Thai curries to smoked salmon. Everything was freshly produced and plentiful and the same went for the desserts, while the wine, cocktail and spirit lists were extensive and the atmosphere relaxed.
At breakfast, the choice was equally impressive, with every type of cereal possible and at least six types of sausages! Omelettes were cooked to order and there was a huge selection of pastries. I cannot fault the food at all – in fact, the Glasshouse alone would make me want to go back.
The 18th Hole
Overall our experience of The Grove was that everything was first-rate. The time just flew by and we simply didn’t get the chance to do everything we wanted – a sure sign that a good break was had. Most notable were the amazing food, great treatments and general relaxed atmosphere. We took the time to speak to quite a few members of staff, most of whom had worked at The Grove for some years - surely a sign that someone likes and enjoys their work and this is passed onto the experience of the guests. A big thank you to The Grove – this is certainly highly recommended by MF.
For bookings and more info: http://www.thegrove.co.uk/spa/