Although minutes from the M25, The Grove is set in 300 acres of Hertfordshire leafiness. The driveway winds through golf courses and gardens taking you to the hotel entrance and valet parking. The lobby is cool and modern with enormous windows allowing the sunshine in. Rooms are stylish; our beautiful suite overlooked the ornamental gardens. Four restaurants take care of dining.
The Sequoia Spa occupies two storeys, with reception, changing rooms, spa café, treatment rooms, Tranquillity Lounge and relaxation rooms on the ground floor, and the indoor pool, spa garden, studio, gym and members’ lounge on the second. Cream walls and floors give the spa a cool, grown-up vibe (long corridors and frequent stairs make it easy to get lost).
Shall we spa?
We shall, for there is a lot to experience... Reception is a large, bright space with an attractive check-in desk, tempting displays of Bamford and Natura Bissé products and – behind a metal sculpture – a sofa area. We were welcomed, invited to sit down, offered spa flip flops and asked to complete a consultation form before being taken on a tour.
If you're visiting for the day, you will head down a mirrored corridor to the exclusive women's or men's ‘treatment’ changing rooms. (Health-club members and hotel guests use a different changing room; just as stylish, but larger.) The décor is chic neutral, with square-panelled wooden lockers containing waffle robes and two towels, and a glamorous cream leather daybed by which to change. Vanity areas have straighteners and hairdryers. Bamford shampoo, conditioner and body wash is frequently replenished in green-glass shower cubicles.
You’ll find the female only thermal suite through a door from here - a striking space with black mosaic-tiled steam room; central, square wellness pool – accessed by four steep metal steps – a petite sauna and an experience shower for instant cooling.
The striking 22-metre black-bottomed swimming pool is located up a set of steps beneath a wooden beamed ceiling. A warm, bubbly rectangular Jacuzzi isat thefar end; a door from here leads to a shared steam room for six. There are loos here and staff on hand to distribute towels. Open the door to the large spa terrace which has artificial grass and plenty of seating: perfect for sunny-day selfies.
There is also a gym, a studio for classes and a private members’ lounge with sofas, drinks and snacks. The pre-treatment Tranquillity Room is a calm space with cream walls, large rattan chairs, drinks, snacks and magazine to flick through. The relaxation room has a central fish tank.
If this wasn't enough, there's a walled garden – across the car park from hotel – with its own 22-metre outdoor pool, faux sandy beach, croquet lawn, Grove Grill BBQ and a bar in the summer. There’s also an Everyman Secret Garden cinema with beanbags and bar for alfresco movies. You won't be bored.
We tried the Bamford B Vibrant Ritual (80 minutes, £185).
My therapist, Alexandra, met me in the Tranquillity Lounge and led me to a well-designed treatment room in creams and greens. She invited me to sit on a chair and talked me through the treatment whilst washing my feet in warm water laced with geranium bath salts. She then left the room so that I could get comfortable on the treatment bed, lying face down.
The treatment began with a sound bath which left my ears ringing – and my body relaxed. Alexandra then applied an exfoliating sugar scrub blended with rosemary oil to my back which I washed off in the shower.
Dry and back on the bed, Alexandra performed a back and shoulder massage using Bamford’s B Vibrant cream containing peppermint and eucalyptus. She then reached for some marble cold stones and massaged my calves, pushing down on various Marma points as she went. After repeating this on my second leg, Alexandra asked me to turn over so that she could do the same on the front of my legs, my arms and – rather surprisingly – my face. Being a woman of a certain age, I’ll take these over hot stones any day.
The treatment ended with another sound bath and some sound advice – drink water; spend the day relaxing (not hard at a spa of this calibre).
Sequoia at The Grove is the first spa in the UK to offer Bamford treatments outside of a dedicated Bamford spa. The comprehensive menu offers targeted facials, rituals, mindfulness therapies, and men's treatments using Bamford and Natura Bissé products.
Spot of lunch?
Spa goers can lunch in the robe in the Sequoia Kitchen – with its central open-air area with retractable roof (look up at the sky on a sunny day). On the menu: wraps, Poke bowls and Asian broths. We tucked into a larger-than-average chicken Ceasar wrap; our spa partner opted for the Maguro poke bowl with yellow-fin tuna and guacamole.
Dinner was in The Stables, a large space with open kitchen and outdoor seating. A plague of wasps kept us inside as we tucked into British classics cooked on a fire grill. My Spatchcock chicken with fries was just what the doctor ordered; our spa partner was enamoured with her succulent beef check with corn. The English white we chose to accompany our meals gave others a run for its money.
Short on time?
Swimmers should make a beeline for the stylish blackened pool before doubling up at the outdoor pool; treatment-lovers can’t go far wrong with a Bamford Ritual.
Got all day?
Want to feel like you’re on holiday? Head to the walled garden and swim in/relax beside the outdoor pool before padding over to the bar to order an Aperol Spritz. Later, return to watch a movie in the open air.