The Grove’s Anna Darnell explains how the luxury Hertfordshire hotel has revamped its look
The last year must have been an incredibly difficult time for The Grove. Have there been any positives?
Looking back on the past year it still seems a little surreal, but there have certainly been some positives. We’ve invested in our hotel, grounds and team, and have been fortunate enough to have some time to help our local community in more ways than one. Right from the get-go, a team of dedicated colleagues volunteered their newfound free time, making meals for local hospital staff at Watford General.
Over on the golf course, we were incredibly lucky to remain open for the majority of the year, which kept team morale high. And when the course did have to close, plenty of our local community made use of the estate by taking their daily walk through The Grove’s beautiful grounds.
Perhaps most importantly, we had the time to invest in the entire estate. Just days before the first lockdown, Martin Hulbert Design had finished rejuvenating the Lounges and the refurbishment of the first 50 bedrooms had also come to an end. Fast forward to now and The Grove as you knew it before has been completely re-invented.
What can we expect from the newly refurbished bedrooms?
Undoubtedly the largest part of the refurbishment, all 189 bedrooms in the West Wing have been completely reimagined with luxurious modern touches and a scheme to reflect the rolling English countryside on our doorstep.
There are two different colour schemes: one is a fresh green and the other a warm sepia, inspired by the British seasons. Bespoke, handwoven wall hangings sourced from Italy sit above king size beds, while soft velvet furnishings offer luxurious comfort and the ideal setting in which to unwind after a day spent exploring the grounds.
Whilst the refreshed interiors are a very important part of the bedroom refurbishment, so too are the technology enhancements. As well as a dedicated lighting panel to set the mood, each bedroom comes with access to Netflix and Disney+.
From the feedback we’ve had about the new rooms so far, it seems our guests are thoroughly enjoying the relaxed look and we couldn’t be more pleased.
Have any other areas of the hotel been remastered?
Masterminded by Martin Hulbert Design, the refurbishments began with the reimagining of The Glasshouse restaurant in 2019 and have continued ever since, injecting a new lease of life into the whole hotel.
With breath-taking contemporary interiors featuring kinetic sculptures overhead and a new crital-style orangery, The Glasshouse promises an international theatrical feast. In summer, guests dine with beautiful views of the formal gardens, and in winter the outdoor fire pit makes the perfect spot to cosy up under a blanket, cocktail in hand.
The Lounges were ready for guests just before the first lockdown, so sadly, it’s remained relatively unused throughout the past year. That being said, since re-opening, it has been full with afternoon tea bookings by day and residents enjoying the all-new cocktail bar in the evening. As you step through from room to room, the interiors move from rich blue to comforting neutrals, ending with the wonderfully bold library. Each space boasts bespoke artwork and even some re-upholstered furniture, as a nod to the previous chapter in the hotel’s history.
At the other end of the property, the warm and welcoming The Stables restaurant and bar has also had a design refresh, along with a new dining ethos. Taking a step beyond organic, regenerative agriculture is placed firmly at the centre of The Stables narrative – it’s all about small-scale farming as nature intended, resulting in nutrient-rich dishes that are as delicious as they are sustainable.
Finally, the hotel lobby now has a new look with rich, earthy tones and warm, layered upholstery – the perfect welcome!
The Glasshouse and The Stables are both firm favourites amongst many Hertfordshire residents. What’s the plan for these restaurants over the coming months?
In April, we welcomed a new Executive Chef to The Grove, Maarten Geschwindt. Having previously worked at The Savoy, The Wolseley and Odette’s, Maarten brings masses of experience, along with a passion for the provenance of food, sourcing ingredients from small, sustainable artisan producers. We’re very excited to see how Maarten takes our dining experiences to new heights.
Elsewhere in the hotel, we’ve seen that the suites have been brought to life with four distinct names – Hyde, Villiers, Clarendon and The Grove. Do you have a personal favourite?
For me, The Grove Suite is the best of the best. The bed lies in a bay window with panoramic views over the formal gardens. What could beat that?!
But it’s not just the interiors you’ve transformed during the various UK lockdowns. Could you tell us a little more about the five enhanced activity areas?
Our brand new Anouska’s Kids Club is based in a lovely little lodge, beside the day nursery. Managed by OFSTED-registered Old Macdonald’s, it offers solace for our residents who want to escape for a child-free spa treatment, round of golf or romantic dinner for two.
Set in the Walled Garden, Jemima’s Kitchen Garden is a true haven of biodiversity, providing a beautiful space for guests to explore and plentiful produce for our chefs. We’re even making our very own honey (well, the bees are doing the hard work for us).
This summer, over at Ralph’s beach, we’re being joined by Jude’s ice cream. Our guests will be able to lounge by the beach, take a dip in our heated outdoor pool and enjoy the tastiest ice-cream to top it off.
Asher’s Woodland Trails have had a huge transformation, from new musical instruments to our new archery activity area and masses of wildflowers planted by our very talented team of gardeners.
And last but by no means least, Gabriel’s Football Pitch has mostly been used by Football Escapes, one of our brand partners who provide football camps and coaching, courtesy of ex-premier league football players and famous faces alike!
This feature will be in the June issue, so what plans do you have for the summer?
We have a dedicated activities team who have planned a jam-packed activity schedule, including everything from hawking displays to sandcastle competitions and forest camps. In May half term and August, Football Escapes are returning once again, following the success of the camps in 2020.
We also have two new restaurants for our guests to dine in. Madhu’s will be returning after their last pop up was cut short by lockdown restrictions – guests can expect South Asian dishes fit for royalty. We will also be joined by Jimmy Garcia again this summer, as he brings a taste of his Southbank BBQ Club to the Hertfordshire countryside. Set in the Walled Garden, guests will have the choice of two dining experiences – the relaxed a la carte BBQ Club and immersive dining experience, Jimmy’s Garden Table.