BEST SPA NEAR LONDON FOR: GREEN SURROUNDS
Distance from London: 18 miles
Known by some as ‘the city’s country hotel’ – it’s just a quick dash from North London – The Grove is favoured by visiting stars and politicians (especially those hoping to squeeze golf onto their itineraries), as well as actors shooting in nearby Pinewood Studios and England’s football team, who often take over part of the west wing to make the most of its privacy and lush pitches. However, the majority of regulars at the hotel’s Sequoia Spa are locals who love to make the most of their membership, using it as a sleek home from home.
The spa itself is a cool and quiet subterranean space, a short distance from the main building within the property’s 300-acre grounds. There’s a peaceful Asian design influence – you’ll spot walled gardens with rockeries and swaying bamboo as you breeze along the light-filled corridors to a comfortably sized treatment room, via changing rooms large enough to socially distance in without even thinking about it. Service is warm but respectful and, to avoid masses of form-filling, guests are asked a number of not-too-personal questions in a more conversational way to ensure the experience is as bespoke as possible. The carefully combined potions and oils – principally ESPA, with citrusy or lavendar-infused Natura Bissé as a gentler option – are sweet-smelling with some unique twists available, such as the diamond-infused facial peel that fizzes on the skin as though you’ve just been doused in Champagne.
Exercise classes are held indoors and outside, and the gym is airy – but the black-mosaic-tiled, extremely Zen pool and jacuzzi is recommended by repeat visitors as the go-to above all other hotel attractions, beating off even the cute man-made beach next to the al-fresco pool, pretty ‘outdoor kitchen’ redesigned during lockdown, and the woodland cycle and walking track. And one silver lining of 2020 government recommendations is that you can reserve to have a swim, or a thoughtful soak, almost entirely by yourself. Becky Lucas
Read our full review of The Grove, Hertfordshire
The Grove hotel: the perfect countryside escape for North Londoners
Address: The Grove Hotel & Spa, Chandler’s Cross, Watford WD3 4TG
Telephone: +44 1923 807807
Prices: Doubles from £295 (room only); spa prices from £50
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