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At a glance

  • You'll love

    The Sequoia spa

    Challenging golf course

    Excellent childcare

  • Kids will love

    The garden and 'beach'

    Fun holiday activities

    Swimming pools

  • Don’t expect

    Heirlooms and antiques


    Mansion family rooms


Calling itself 'London's country estate', The Grove hotel is pampering and parent-friendly in equal measure, with an outstanding crèche and impressive spa. A championship golf course and sculpture-dotted gardens form a tidily bucolic backdrop to the converted mansion and its sprawl of modern-day extras – our favourite of which is a beach volleyball court.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Grove with us:

A characterful 'Earl Grey' donkey soft toy for each child, and cookies and milk. A free bottle of wine when you stay for two nights or more

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at The Grove

Weekend break offer


‘A walled garden containing croquet lawns and a sandy 'beach'; bike rides around the grounds; a championship golf course, a pair of pools and a sprawling spa… the perfect family playground’

Smith & Family


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The Grove – Hertfordshire – United Kingdom

Need To Know


217, including 191 family-friendly rooms in the West Wing, and 12 suites.


12 noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but this is sometimes flexible, subject to availability.


Double rooms from £340.00, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates usually include a full buffet-style breakfast. Under-12s can sleep on extra beds in parents' rooms for £35 a night, including breakfast (cots for under-3s and extra beds can be provided).


The Walled Garden hosts a croquet lawn and outdoor tennis court, and in season there's even a man-made 'beach' beside the pool, complete with beach huts, sandpit and a volleyball court.

At the hotel

Spa with fitness suite, swimming pools, restaurants, bar, crèche, kids club, 300-acre grounds including golf course and kitchen gardens, bikes to borrow, helipad, games room, on-demand film library, free WiFi throughout.

In your room

3D-enabled flatscreen TV with on-demand films, radio, iPod dock, minibar, tea tray, black-out curtains, toiletries from the White Company, slippers, bathrobes, hairdryers. Kids will find small-sized robes and a toy box waiting for them, too.

Our favourite rooms

The interconnecting Deluxe Rooms in the modern West Wing are best for family stays, offering the opportunity to create two-bedroom, two-bathroom 'suites'; cots, extra beds and even bunk beds can be provided. Contemporary in style, with simple, soothing decor, these rooms overlook the formal gardens; each has both a bath and a freestanding shower, and some have balconies. West Wing Superior Rooms are similar, but smaller. We also love the Mansion rooms: if you only need one cot for a baby, go for a Deluxe Room in this original part of the building, where rooms are uniquely decorated with contemporary art (but less suited to children). Executive Suites and above win the space war hands down, but have no interconnecting options.


The moody-looking ozone-filtered swimming pool at the spa is adults-only, but next to Anouska's there's a small heated indoor pool where parents can take babies and young children; it's open 9am–7pm. The 22-metre outdoor heated family pool in the Walled Garden is manned by lifeguards and surrounded by sunloungers – in summer, a gazebo bar serves cold drinks, slush puppies and Chilly Billies, and sometimes there are barbecues on the 'beach'.


The Sequoia health club and spa is a tip-top pampering centre with sauna, steam room, Espa therapies, couples' massages and every kind of beautification treatment possible (including eyelash extensions); an army of trainers is on hand to teach you tennis, yoga or Zumba, and there's a formidable fitness suite packed with TechnoGym and other hi-tech kit.


Don't forget your swimwear (especially if the weather looks promising).

Book ahead

Colette's is particularly popular: book a table (and a babysitter) well in advance, especially for weekend evenings. You'll also need to book the crèche, spa and anything else you've got your heart set on, including lunch at the Stables.

Food and drink

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The Grove – Hertfordshire – United Kingdom


In a handsomely restored set of rooms in the mansion, Colette's is an adults-only fine-dining restaurant focusing on simple, seasonal ingredients given a sophisticated spin; chef Russell Bateman's menus are largely dictated by what's growing in the Grove's kitchen garden. The Glasshouse overlooks the terrace and features an open kitchen where chefs carve, cook and serve international favourites; deli-style counters offer plate-loads of choice. A short walk away, the Stables has a rustic gastropubby menu and bar that doubles as the 19th hole.

Family fare

Children are welcome to dine anywhere except Colette's; highchairs and activity packs are available and staff will happily heat milk or baby food for you. The Glasshouse is great for fusspots and finger-feeders since it's essentially a buffet (under-3s eat free; under-13s are half-price); the Stables will do half-price portions of most dishes, and also has a nice menu of child-friendly staples such as houmous and pitta bread, mini fish 'n' chips and knickerbocker glories. Chefs are happy to whip up home-made purées for your baby, too – there's a complimentary baby menu of finger food, fruit purées and soups, as well as Hipp Organic baby food.

Hotel Bar

Take your aperitifs (or afternoon tea) in the adults-only Mansion Lounges or Library, an attractive suite of spaces in the oldest part of the building (which once hosted Queen Victoria and Captain Cook). There are lovely views, an all-day menu of sandwiches and snacks, and it's a peaceful spot to read the papers or sip post-prandial cocktails.

Last orders

The Glasshouse bar closes at midnight, but drinks are served until the last guest has gone to bed. Colette's is open 6.30pm–9.30pm; and the Mansion Lounge menu is served until 10pm. The Stables and the Glasshouse are open at overlapping times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Smith Insider

  • Top table

    The Glasshouse for brunch; the Stables terrace for family lunch; and the Mansion Lounges or Colette's for Mr & Mrs Smith.

  • Room service

    A 24-hour menu reflects the restaurants' offerings, with a selection of children's dishes, too.


    Treaty snacks in your minibar include Pringles and chocolate, but there are yoghurts and dried berries as well. A special kids' tea is served over the Easter weekend and on Christmas Day.


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The Grove – Hertfordshire – United Kingdom

Parent approved

‘A walled garden containing croquet lawns and a sandy 'beach'; bike rides around the grounds; a championship golf course, a pair of pools and a sprawling spa… the perfect family playground’

Smith & Family


Anouska's Kids Club has an excellent crèche (rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted) for children aged 3 months to 5 years, with facilities for older children, too. Bright, colourful indoor spaces open directly onto a playground with rubber safety flooring, ride-on toys, a climbing frame and a netted trampoline, and there are plenty of fun activities for the over-2s. You'll need to book in advance; it's open 9am–5pm and costs £10 an hour for under-2s; £8 for over-2s. Drinks and snacks are included, but if you'd like them to have lunch at Anouska's, it's an extra £6.

Kids Club

The kids club at Anouska's will ably entertain primary-schoolers; a special activity timetable during the holidays features hourly sessions for over-3s and over-5s, including tennis, hockey, rounders, arts and crafts, and treasure hunts (£6 an hour).


Babysitters are available for £22.50 an hour (minimum three hours); book at least 48 hours in advance. Rates increase to £35 an hour on 24, 25, 26, 31 December and 1 January.


No nannies, but there's no limit on the amount of time your children spend at Anouska's, providing you've booked a spot.


Audio monitors won't be in range of the restaurants from your rooms; you'll need to book a babysitter if you want to dine alone.

Other Services

Your little ones will get milk and cookies on arrival, as well as finding mini-robes and a small box of age-appropriate toys to use during their stay. Staff are happy to heat milk and baby food for you, too.

What's there already?

For babies

• Highchairs • Sterilising facilities • Travel cot • Cot bedlinen • Black-out blinds • Changing mat • Baby bath • Bike seats and trailers • Soft toys • Sandpit • Crayons • CBeebies

For toddlers

• Highchairs • Cot beds • Cot bedlinen • Changing mat • Swimming aids • Toddler-proof toys • Sandpit • Ride-on toys • Bikes with training wheels or trailers • Bike helmets • Crayons and paints • Craft materials • Picture books • U-rated films

For older children

• Bikes and helmets to borrow • Football pitch • Tennis courts • Board games • Painting and craft materials • Giant chess • Ping-pong table • Snooker table • Beach volleyball court • Croquet lawn • Games consoles • Arcade games


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The Grove – Hertfordshire – United Kingdom

Things to do

Book your children into Anouska's Kids Club: there's no way you'll have time to try all the facilities otherwise. As well as the championship golf course and spa, fitness classes and personal training, there's a sculpture trail, tennis courts, bikes to borrow, a full-size football pitch and even a beach volleyball court by the outdoor pool.

Sunny days

Borrow some wheels from the free stash of bicycles (as well as helmets, kids' bikes and trailers) and explore the Grove's 300-acre grounds; crash out by the pool in the Walled Garden while your children play in the sandpit, on the croquet lawn, have a kickabout on the five-aside pitch or try beach volleyball. The golf course has junior-size clubs and coaching, and there are two all-weather tennis courts.

Rainy days

Babies and toddlers love the extra-warm indoor pool; for older children, there's a room stocked with classic arcade games and consoles (a deposit is required for computer games), and the Potting Shed by the Walled Garden has snooker and ping-pong tables.

And there's more…

Picnics can be arranged; there are picturesque patches of shade by the ornamental canal, and plenty of trees and bushes in the formal gardens for games of Hide and Seek.

Local Guide

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The Grove – Hertfordshire – United Kingdom
Smith tip

Take your kids to Knebworth to meet T-Rex: no, not another rock legend, but one of the 72 life-size models lurking along this stately home's 'Dinosaur Trail'. There's also a maze, a miniature railway, and an adventure playground (

Don't miss…

… the UK's biggest zoo: Whipsnade (+44 (0)1582 872171) has a worthy conservation ethic and loads of interactive shows and displays. In the Children's Farm area, the new Hullabazoo indoor play area for under-12s is a rainy-day godsend.

With so much on offer at the Grove, we doubt you'll find time to stray beyond its grounds, but Hertfordshire has journey-worthy charms both natural and historic. Wildlife haven Cassiobury Park is 10 minutes away; and about half an hour in the car gets you to ride-packed theme park Thorpe Park. Browse Berkhamsted's shops and eateries. To your west, the Chilterns offer walking and valley-view villages; north lie heritage houses and Tudor treasures – including Hatfield, the childhood home of Elizabeth I.

For wizard-mad little ones, there's only one place you'll want to go: Leavesden is home to the Warner Bros Studio Tour, where you can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the world of Harry Potter. Walk through sets including the Great Hall, Diagon Alley and the Griffindor common room, and spot props from Harry's Nimbus 2000 to Hagrid's motorbike. There are two cafés and a picnic area; there are baby-changing and bottle-warming facilities at the Studio Café. Under-5s go free (you'll still need to book a place for them); if you have two children aged 5–15, it's cheaper to get a family ticket. Tickets must be booked in advance.

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The Grove
Chandler's Cross, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire WD3 4TG, United Kingdom
Hotel setting

Well-heeled Hertfordshire

Getting There

This Hertfordshire hotel is less than 20 miles from central London, but set in green grounds east of the Chiltern Hills within easy reach of Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.


A 25-minute (18-mile) drive gets you to London Luton Airport (, which handles regular international flights to Europe and North Africa. London Heathrow airport is also pretty convenient (21 miles, approximately 30 minutes' drive) and has international flights to and from almost every destination around the world.


Served by various rail services from across and around London, Watford Junction rail station is less than a 10-minute taxi ride from the Grove. You can jump in a cab at the station rank (from £8).


Although it's in the countryside, it's still within the M25, making it a relatively hassle-free drive from London's 'burbs and boundary counties. Leave at Junction 19, and follow signs to Watford. At the first big roundabout take the A411 (third exit); half a mile later, you'll spot the entrance on your right-hand side. There are plenty of spaces in the car park, and valet parking.


The Grove has a helipad – you're welcome to land your chopper there, just make sure you ask first. The really adventurous (and time-rich) can arrive by boat: the Grand Union Canal cuts right through the surrounding parkland – it'll take you a full day's canal-boating to get here from Regent's Park.

Parent travel tip

It's best to drop off your bags at the hotel first; there's valet parking to make life easier. If you're based outside London and your family holiday starts with a long drive and an early flight from either Luton or Heathrow airport, consider breaking up your journey with a night at the Grove.


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The Grove – Hertfordshire – United Kingdom

Smith & Family  Parent Panel reviews

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including the Grove – has been selected and approved by parents.

It may be only just outside London, but the Grove's 300-acre setting helps it pull off a middle-of-nowhere mirage; it's a rurbanite retreat with polished facilities that attracts time-poor, relaxation-hungry parents like moths to the proverbial flame.

The former seat of the Earl of Clarendon, the mansion was famous for house parties so lavish that the phrase 'weekending' had to be coined specially; its elegant lounges and bright salons still enjoy bucolic views and host lively conversation over tea (and cocktails). So what's new? Today, the Grove tacks on a wealth of modern bells and whistles to provide as warm a welcome for families as it once did for Queen Victoria and Edward VII. Among these contemporary attractions are an outstanding crèche; a walled garden containing croquet lawns and a sandy 'beach'; bike rides around the grounds; a championship golf course and a sprawling spa facility. Add a trio of restaurants, a pair of pools and a scattering of sculpture, and you've got yourself the perfect family playground…

Smith & Family

A giant hedge-giraffe peering over the walled garden? Small leafy animals frozen into postures wielding sports equipment? The peculiar topiary visible as we arrived at this Hertfordshire hotel made me and Mrs Smith think this was going to be a pretty freaky place. Inside, though, it’s fairly classic modern-with-traditional-touches, part bistro, part ‘designer’. The Grove’s essential Smithiness comes from its top-range spa, pool and gym. With its 40 terrifying looking machines and talk of ‘Body Pump’ and ‘Core Blast’, I was more up for the former than the latter. The kids’ club includes plenty of creative as well as sporting activities and Lydia and Esme played tennis and football plus made greetings cards and artworks. On our early-January visit they also appreciated the giant Gingerbread House in the lobby left over from Christmas; they ate about 20 per cent of it.

Meanwhile, Mrs Smith and I indulged ourselves in the massive pool; although it’s worth noting that the children’s pool next to the kids club isn’t attended which had me lurching from my lounger to the deep end. With bikes free to borrow, going out cycling together was a stand-out family experience – our youngest being pulled behind in a cute little trolley. For somewhere so close to London, the Grove has extensive grounds, including a golf course. We took an hour-long cycle following the canal path: it was very muddy, and occasionally perilously close to the canal’s edge, but a lot of fun.

Anonymously reviewed by Tim Lott, Author

The Guestbook  Smith member reviews

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith & Family hotel, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life family guests had to say about The Grove in the Guestbook below.


Stayed on

We loved

The gardens are beautiful and having the golf buggies to ferry us around was a nice touch. Breakfast was brilliant with everything you could need. We travelled with our toddler and the hotel provided toys and were always attentive. The Vine Leaves restaurant in Harpenden - lovely middle eastern food and staff. 

Don’t expect

Comfortable beds. They were rock hard and left us both with back ache. We even asked for a mattress topper, which they quickly provided, but it made no difference. Also, the children's pool was a bit grubby, which was a surprise in a hotel of this calibre.

Rating: 3/10 stars