run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Review: The Grove, one of London's most family-friendly hotels

For the Capital's parents, one of the great things about a getaway to The Grove is the journey: it might feel like it's in the depths of the English countryside - all rolling hills and Spring daffodils when we visited - but this resort-style hotel was only half an hour from our part of NW London. It means you arrive fresh and ready to explore the 300 verdant acres, and there's so much to do for everyone in the family. 

Our kids - six, four, and one - loved an early morning explore of the vast woodlands, where there's a giant musical trail, a cycling route and free bikes for under 12s, plus a free, app-based treasure hunt involving taking photos and looking for hidden signs. There are various bike routes (and adult bikes to be hired too) along the canal or inland, but you won't want to stray for too long because there's so much to do at The Grove. 

The extremely well-stocked trove of free arts and craft activities in the Potting Shed could have kept my kids happy for a week - in fact, half of the Potting Shed's creations seem to come back in our suitcase. There are china mugs to paint for tea sets, and wooden wind chimes to decorate, staff on hand to help set up craft obstacle courses and sort out pen dramas - for my kids, it was like being set free in Hobbycraft and told they could make whatever they wanted. 

Only one thing got them more excited: the food. The Grove has a gaggle of restaurants, as you'd expect for a hotel of this size; there's haute cuisine and a gastropub near the golf course, but the most fun you'll have as a family is at the Glasshouse restaurant. Parents and children alike were agog at our first post-pandemic buffet - there's a sushi station, pasta bar, gyoza, roasted meats, salads, cheese, an Asian station - there there was the dessert area, complete with an ice cream sundae stand.. I'll let the photos do the talking here...

The Grove thinks about children in every area of the hotel: there are activity packs waiting for children at the chairs at mealtimes, high chairs are quickly procured, spilt drinks cleared with a lot more cheer than such spills receive in our kitchen at home. In the summer, the hotel also has a sparkling beach and outdoor pool - the fact it was a chilly February weekend when we visited did not, I'm afraid, stop my kids from slipping through a gap in the hedge to have a play on the sands.. 
Rooms are spacious and they're happy to add cots, extra beds etc for kids, plus there are lovely children's toiletries in the bathroom.

There's an on-site creche (age two-plus, £45/three hours) allowing parents to totally chill out at the golf course or in the adults-only Sequoia Spa, if they'd like. I had an amazingly relaxing massage there, which almost took out two years of pandemic-parenting knots. Only over 12s are allowed to swim in the Sequoia's spa's peaceful pool (probably why it's so peaceful) although that was the single downside from our weekend: we did have a family swim in the warm children’s pool near to the kids' club, but this pool is small and gets pretty crowded and doesn't have such a luxury feel as most five-star hotel pools, so perhaps a family time hour in the spa pool would be a nice addition to all swim together.
The kids had no complaints, though: there's a playground, they received welcome cookies and, perhaps best of all, they just loved being able to run free in The Grove's huge land, in a way that isn't usually possible in London. The hotel is only three miles from Harry Potter World, but it would seem a huge waste to spend a whole day away from this gorgeous resort setting!

The Grove is definitely one of our favourite family hotels to enjoy some time together.

The Grove charges from £590 for a deluxe room for four including breakfast;

* Gifted review stay, but rest assured we're seriously gobby and only ever rave about things we really love. 


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