Relax in style or keep the family entertained with activities galore – The Grove in Hertfordshire offers it all 

We all seek out the countryside occasionally; fresh air, expansive bucolic scenery, afternoon tea, roaring fires – but few can offer it in such style, in such proximity to London, as The Grove.

Less than an hour’s drive from central London and you arrive amid rolling acres to the beautiful Georgian main house. Not for nothing is this where the England football team are known to stay when in town. It’s seriously plush – the lobby is done in tasteful, muted tones and decor throughout is contemporary: warm and comfortable, but not overly ornate.

There are a range of bedrooms, from dog-friendly to modern to grand. All are spacious with the right – but crucially, not impossible to use – mod cons, and our junior suite is perfect for families. It has a separate living room where a cot is set up for the baby – as is, for good measure, a grand piano, which should give you a sense of size, and there are stunning views onto the golf course and beautifully landscaped gardens. The grey marble bathroom has ESPA products and Le Petit Prince ones for baby, which is a sweet touch, and the minibar is thoughtfully stocked for an indulgent staycation: Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate and delicious crumbly fudge. 

There’s lots to keep you entertained here. Indoor and outdoor pools, a renowned 18 hole golf course, bikes for hire, wonderful walks, archery, a kids club and so much more. You could come for a week and do a different activity each day. Case in point: the Sequoia spa. A standalone building, it is a sunken, soothing space, perfect for wrapping up in a robe and getting cosy for an afternoon of indulgence. It has excellent therapists and works with good brands, primarily ESPA and Natura Bisse – my facial from the latter is blissfully relaxing, leaving my skin plumped and hydrated. Make time for a dip in the black-mosaic tiled pool, and do visit the jacuzzi, vitality pool and steam and sauna. 

You won’t get bored of the dining options either. Try dinner at the Glasshouse, for one of the most high-end buffets around. Well-presented and ample, start with breads, a salad bar, sushi and cured meats and fish, before sampling everything from roast beef and grilled sea bass to fresh pasta, gyoza and noodles. Extra points are awarded to the dessert buffet, a children’s (ok, adults) fantasy: chocolate fountain, ice cream with toppings like Liquorice Allsorts and cookies, and traditional puddings such as creme brûlée and Bakewell tart. You may roll up to bed, but breakfast will soon rouse; another excellent spread of eggs-to-order, pancakes, fruit, cereals, yoghurts, cheese and more. The Grove also often hosts restaurant pop-ups – next up is Cinder, where all food is cooked over a Josper grill.

The hotel is constantly innovating and has some excellent events lined up too. Hot on the heels of Bonfire Night, a literary salon takes palace on November 26 with renowned author, David Nicholls, of One Day fame. Come summer, the man-made beach next to the outdoor pool transports you straight to the south of France. 

If you’re looking for a luxurious countryside escape but are short on time, or simply don’t fancy a long drive, look no further. In true Arnie-style, we’ll be back.