Sequoia Spa at The Grove

The lowdown

The Grove’s a stylish Grade II listed hotel in gorgeous grounds with a swanky spa that’s recently been expanded and upgraded, plus a pristine championship golf course. And all just a stone’s-throw (18 miles to be precise) from central London.

The hotel describes itself as ‘London’s country estate’ which isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound for somewhere so close to the Big Smoke. When you’re at the hotel you really do feel like you could be in rural Devon, with the expansive landscaped gardens, woodlands,and emerald golf course surrounding the hotel.

The Grove even boasts its own urban beach, ‘Ralph’s’, housed in a pretty walled garden, along with a heated outdoor swimming pool, bar, kitchen garden and, during the summer months, an al fresco Everyman cinema.

With four delicious dining options, you’re well covered on the food front too,making it easy to see why The Grove’s a honeypot for smart London types looking to escape to the country for the weekend, with or without families. And, following the recent refurb of the manor house suites, it makes for an even more luxurious country retreat.

Activities

You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel that offers more activities and outdoor pursuits. The estate is huge, at around 300 acres (over 200 football pitches) and guests can enjoy everything from laser clay pigeon shooting to golf.

The golf’s the real deal, a championship course which has hosted the likes of Tiger Woods and many other golfing greats over the years. It’s a 72 par-3 course, located over 60 acres, for anyone who’s interested. And there’s a football pitch too, used by the England team for training when the need arises, and to stage residential football camps for aspiring little Messis or Meads.

Guests can also enjoy exploring the surrounding woodlands on bikes, provided by the Activities Centre, or just wandering along pretty woodland trails. You can also try your hand at croquet, have a game of tennis, or indulge your inner barbarian with a spot of axe throwing. There really is something for everyone.

Peace-seekers are well catered for too with beautifully kept gardens, tranquil seats, water features and quirky sculptural installations (skeleton emerging from the lily pads, I’m looking at you).

Back inside the main mansion building, the lounges have also had a glow-up, having been recently refurbished by designer Martin Hulbert who’s also worked his magic on other top-end spa hotels, including Coworth Park and Chewton Glen. With vibrant colours, eclectic art and flamboyant floral displays, the lounges are light and comfortable spaces overlooking the gardens and are the perfect setting for coffee, afternoon tea or cocktails.

Spavellous for

Families, golfers, teens, active types, solo spa goers, couples, groups, country-hankering Londoners looking to escape the city, staycationers, honeymooners, babymooners, multi-generational groups and anyone celebrating a special occasion.

For parents or carers looking for a bit of me time, you can book your little ones into Anouska’s, The Grove’s excellent OFSTED registered kids club for children aged two to nine. So, you can enjoy a spa treatment, romantic lunch or round of golf while younger ones are capably cared for and entertained by the enthusiastic staff.

There’s a separate children’s pool in The Potting Shed, near the walled garden, and under 16s can use the main outdoor pool too, when open during the summer months.

Families are well catered for on the room front to with a variety of flexible combinations, including Family Rooms and other interconnecting bedrooms.

Spa info

Sequoia Spa has also benefited from a recent glow-up, and a new treatment partner in naturally nurturing Bamford, an upmarket skincare brand with an eco ethos.

The reimagined spa space has a fresh feel, and several new areas have been added since our last visit. This includes a new women’s heat experience area within the spa, and several fresh spaces for relaxing, drinking and dining – both within the spa, and outside on the terrace.

Sequoia’s star is still the unique and moody, black-tiled swimming pool which sparkles under its barn-like timber roof. At 22m it’s perfect for length swimmers and there’s a large jacuzzi at one end, plus a stylish marbled steam room and shower. The pool is adult-only (over 16s) to retain a tranquil feel.

The new women’s heat experience area features a raised, bubbly wellness pool, spacious sauna and skin-softening salt crystal steam room. There’s also a rainfall shower, and plenty of towels.

Men now have their own sauna too, within their changing rooms.

Completing the spa and wellness facilities is the large, well-equipped gym with a separate fitness studio that offers a programme of classes including yoga and Pilates.

The spa’s open from 6am until 10 pm daily and access is free if you’re staying at the hotel.

New Spa Days are available, starting at £240 including treatment, use of the spa facilities and lunch.

Treatment highlights

Sequoia’s celebrating its new look with a brand-new selection of facials and massages.The spa also offers bespoke signature rituals, created especially for Sequoia by Bamford, and a range of Spa Days which include treatments and use of the spa facilities.

I tried Sequoia’s new Bamford De-Stress Massage which, happily, lived up to its name. It combines several massage techniques, plus ritual elements and Bamford’s luxurious aromatic oils to target tense muscles and reduce stress. The treatment focuses mainly on the back and sounded like just what my tight muscles needed after being hunched over a computer all week.

Once I’d checked in at the spa reception and completed a health questionnaire, I was shown to the pristine and spacious changing room and given a locker, spa robe and flip flops. I then made my way to the new blossomed Tranquillity Room. No sooner had I made myself comfortable on the floral rattan throne, than I was whisked away to a nearby treatment room.

My therapist talked me through the treatment while I enjoyed a welcome foot bathing ritual with magnesium-rich Epsom salts. She then presented me with three heart-shaped bowls, each containing a different scented oil, and asked me to choose the one I felt most drawn to. I picked Geranium, an uplifting oil scent that’s blended relaxing lavender and eucalyptus. The therapist left the room while I stripped down and wriggled under the huge towel on the warm, super-sized massage table.

The treatment kicked off with a Shiatsu pressure point massage through the towel, a nurturing start to the treatment. Next, working with the oil directly on my skin, the therapist systematically carried out a thorough and soothing back massage before working her way down the back of my legs and treating my feet to some soothing reflexology.

Next it was time for my front. I turned over and the therapist gently placed a pillow under my head and a rose quartz mask over my eyes, which felt cool as the beads moulded themselves across my closed eyes. I’ll admit, the next bit’s a little hazy as it’s hard to concentrate when you’re being gently massaged to the edge of sleep, testament to the relaxing effect of the treatment. What I do recall is my feet being enveloped in hot towels while my arms and hands were deeply smoothed and fingers gently pulled, followed by tension-relieving strokes to the sides and back of my neck and across my décolleté. The treatment finished with a deeply-relaxing scalp massage with gentle hair tugging – optional but much appreciated in my case.

Once I’d had time to reacclimatise and get back in my robe, the therapist led me to the Relaxation Room, where I reclined on one of the comfy day beds, sipping herbal tea while being mesmerised by the tropical fish tank the centre of the room. I felt truly relaxed, my skin felt fabulous, and the scent of the geranium oil floated around with me.

The treatment definitely lived up to the ‘de-stress’ bit of its name, but the word ‘massage’ really doesn’t do it justice as it’s way more interesting than your average massage, with its bonus mini rituals and elements like the foot bath, quartz eye mask and reflexology. The treatment left me feeling loose, floaty, and fabulous and with baby-soft, fragrant skin.

For facial fans Sequoia also offers a variety of treatments targeting specific skin concerns and needs, both by Bamford and Natura Bissé.

If you like a tech-forward facial, Natura Bissé’s popular Diamond Experience Infusion of Life uses LED light technology to help address signs of premature aging. Or, for an extra dose of relaxation, Bamford’s Wellness Facial uses Gua Sha to ease muscle tension while cleansing, refining, treating and nourishing the skin with its award-winning products.

Sequoia also offers a menu of pregnancy treatments and has specialist Cancer Care trained therapists who can create bespoke experiences for guests who’ve been undergoing cancer treatment.

rooms

The Grove’s evolved over the past few years and, although it now has over 200 bedrooms, has managed to retain a personalised feel. All rooms are smart, but the real gems are the nine signature suites and sixteen bedrooms in the 18th century mansion house. If you’re looking for something special, and have a budget to match, these newly reimagined suites are for you.

We stayed in The Villiers Suite and it blew us away. On the second floor of the original mansion house, its pièce de resistance is a triple aspect living space with Georgian curved bay windows and views over the formal gardens to the Hertfordshire countryside. This luxe lounge has been expertly furnished with curved velvet sofas around a large bespoke glass coffee table, under a sea urchinesque feature light. Effortlessly stylish, the room oozes class, from the parquet flooring that runs throughout the suite, to the handpicked antique writing desk and marble fireplace. It’s the perfect place to relax, work or enjoy the contents of the premium brand-filled complimentary mini bar and fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries that welcome you to your new abode.

The bedroom’s equally impressive with a contemporary four poster, high thread count sheets and a flat screen TV that rises out of a panel at the foot of the bed when summonsed by a bedside remote control. There’s a charming bathroom too, perfectly proportioned just to house the stand-alone bath. And a further marble clad bathroom, across the hallway, with double basins and the biggest rain shower you’ve ever seen, complete with Bamford products. The whole area’s fabulously fragranced with one of Bamford’s decadent diffusers which adds to the luxury.

Great lighting is a feature throughout. Both imaginative and practical, it includes whisk-like diffused down-lights in the hallway and subtle floor-level lighting that comes on automatically if you get up at night.

Décor is natural-feeling and subtle – in fact the whole aesthetic has been simultaneously dialled-down and spruced-up since my last visit, with a more neutral palette reflecting the natural surroundings. I was in interior design heaven and felt like I’d just slipped into the pages of Elle Deco, open on a spread of the most enviable house in the issue.

If you’re looking to book a room, it’s worth noting that some have more character and luxe add-ons than others as the hotel caters to both corporate and leisure guests. Mansion rooms have a more classic, luxurious, and individual feel, while the rooms in the newer West Wing focus more on contemporary comfort.

Two of the Classic Rooms are accessible to wheelchair users, with wet rooms and alarms.

Pets are welcome in selected, dog friendly rooms.

wining & dining

The Grove has four permanent dining options, offering everything from sushi to a vast blow-out buffet. Choose from: The Glasshouse, The Stables, Madhu’s, and new Sequoia Kitchen at the spa. Seasonal pop-ups also make an appearance throughout the year.

The Glasshouse is the hotel’s orangery-style restaurant with a wall of windows overlooking the terrace and gardens. A vibrant space with an illuminated mirrored bar, the roomy restaurant offers a range of imaginative food from around the world.

A huge, upmarket buffet affair, with several live food stations, the restaurant caters to every imaginable taste and eating requirement. It offers a plentiful feast of fresh-cooked food from many cuisines, and includes stations with carved meats, sushi, and a particularly popular dessert station – in the event that anyone still has room. A special mention goes to the ice cream, which can be mixed with the diner’s choice of sweet topping, delighting guests of all ages.

Breakfast is also served in the Glasshouse and is a buffet-style feast. Again, the choice is pretty much infinite, from the fullest English, with a choice of sausage variety and bacon cuts, to a smorgasbord of pastries and freshly prepared exotic fruit.

The Stables is the hotel’s more traditional, gourmet dining option housed, as you might have guessed, in a former stable block. Offering a modern British classic menu, it has a good atmosphere and is popular with hotel guests and locals alike.

With a tiger prawn meets Tiger Woods vibe, it’s located on the edge of the golf course and focuses on sustainably sourced dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients. The vibe is smart casual, both in terms of décor and dress code, and the food quality is excellent. The Stables is also enjoying a new look, with a semi-open kitchen and large bar area. Food is taken seriously here, and the waiting staff are knowledgeable about everything from ingredient provenance to the wine.

We enjoyed perfectly seared hand-dived scallops served with teeny squares of pork and dots of apple sauce, and a delicate lemon sole in a caper-laden herb butter. The rhubarb crumble dessert was also a taste sensation, elevated by the accompanying citrus custard.

The Stables also has a large, separate bar area which is perfect for groups and is sprinkled with flat screen TVs for anyone who needs to keep up with important sporting events. During the day it’s a favourite with hungry and thirsty golfers, but come evening fills up with hotel guests and locals looking for a quality dining experience.

Other dining options include Madhu’s, which serves ‘authentic Punjabi cuisine with a Kenyan twist’.

Sequoia Kitchen delivers smoothies, fizz, and nutritious light bites, including fresh poke bowls, to spa-goers.

There’s also a summer pop-up dining option in the Walled Garden, Verde Kitchen, which offers an Italian-inspired menu with pizza, pasta, and salads bursting with leaves from Jemima’s Kitchen Garden. Open from mid-July.

You can also enjoy fresh sushi platters and decadent afternoon teas in the lovely designer lounges and library.

For summer 2023 the Grove’s also offering an immersive dining experience where you can enjoy afternoon tea or tasting menu in a (stationary) Hot Air Balloon in the hotel grounds.

why so spavellous?

The Grove’s a stylish, fun, one-stop-shop with something for everyone. It feels exclusive without being at all stuffy or snobby, and staff are friendly and helpful.

The Grounds are huge, the formal gardens beautiful, and there are several good drinking and dining options, with the Glasshouse’s global feast a definite crowd pleaser. The recent refurbishments have taken a stay to the next level, with the reimagined suites making a perfect choice for a special occasion celebration.

It’s a great choice for a relaxing retreat too and is ideal for a golf and spa break, combining tee time with ‘me time’. Golfers are spoiled as much as spa-goers with immaculate greens, intuitive service (course flow is managed, shoes and clubs are cleaned…) and a course that’s among the UK’s best.

spavellous tips

If you’re visiting in summer, make sure you pack your sunnies and sun cream for Ralph’s Beach and Sequoia’s spa terrace.

If you want to have a spa treatment, you’ll almost definitely need to book ahead, and make sure you factor in time to enjoy the pool and other spa facilities.

spa-goers say

‘The staff were exceptional and definitely made our stay more enjoyable.’

‘We come every year with my parents – it’s expensive but it’s like a mini holiday’.

‘My husband’s a golfer so he has a round of golf and I head to the spa with my friend. What’s not to like?’

‘My massage was probably the best I’ve ever had.’

WEBSITE

aDDRESS

The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG

sAT NAV

WD17 3NL
Photo: The Grove Hotel
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