8 great staycation spots in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 21:33 02 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 03 September 2020

The pool in the walled garden at The Grove (photo: Chris Tubbs Photography)

The pool in the walled garden at The Grove (photo: Chris Tubbs Photography)

All rights Chris Tubbs Photography

Hertfordshire’s top staycation spots - from hotels and luxury spas to eco-glamping sites - for those looking to holiday closer to home

Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House (image courtesy of venue)Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House (image courtesy of venue)

After months of closure to help combat the spread of coronavirus, hotels and other destination venues have been given the green light to reopen. Extra cleaning, taking guest’s temperature, staff wearing PPE, social distancing, sanitiser stations and other solutions have been employed to help stop the spread of the virus while opening up the domestic tourism economy.

For those deprived of a holiday this year and concerned about air travel and potential quarantine, Hertfordshire’s hotels and glamping sites offer luxury, seclusion and pampering – the chance to take a break, relax and just feel, well, normal. We’ve picked our top selection in Herts, all with their own charms, so whatever kind of break you’d like, and with family, friends, as a couple or just on your own, this should give you inspiration.

1. Pendley Manor, Tring: Compete with peacocks in its landscaped grounds and woodlands, Grade II listed Pendley Manor is a secluded Tudor revival house in 35-acres that has just completed a four-year £15m refurbishment. It’s worth staying just for the sophisticated rooms, individually decorated to ‘reflect the bucolic ideal of life in Hertfordshire’. There are those with four-poster beds, original fireplaces (right) and what the hotel calls ‘indulgent family rooms’. But this is a spa destination too, with new facilities thanks to the refurbishment. Take a plunge in the pool, use the state-of-the-art gym or enjoy ESPA treatments. Dining is in the award-winning Oak Restaurant with a focus on locally-sourced British fare in its quintessential country house surroundings. See pendley-manor.co.uk

2. The Grove, Chandlers Cross: Former home of the Earls of Clarendon, The Grove is a five-star hotel, spa and golf resort in 300 acres of Herts countryside. With so much space and so many things to do, you can have a proper family holiday here. Aside from the stunning Sequoia Spa and world-class golf facilities (reinvented to meet safety standards), the grounds have a woodland trail created by the Wildlife Trust and a ‘musical meander’ with interactive instruments that youngsters will love. You can explore on foot or take out a bike or Segway and even take a prepared picnic hamper. Or perhaps have a kick-about on the pristine football pitch, or a game of tennis or volleyball? Alternatively just make it as far as the Walled Garden, a secluded outdoor space complete with pool and new ‘Ralph’s beach’ – a large sandy area complete with deck chairs and buckets and spades. There’s a barbecue here in the evenings. For more final dining, The Glasshouse restaurant – a beautiful light-filled space with terrace – has a new a la carte menu and children’s menu. There are family-friendly rooms or escape as a couple. See thegrove.co.uk

3. Aubrey Park, Redbourn: With a six-acre meadow in nine-acre grounds in the countryside, Aubrey Park is a secluded retreat ideal for walks – especially so if you have a dog, as they can stay for free. The independent 137-room hotel sits between the two historic centres of St Albans and Hemel Hempstead Old Town so a day trip to either is very easy too. While not a spa hotel, treatments are offered in-room for those staying in executive or suite rooms by Soul Service therapists. Dining is in the bright and relaxed Brasserie with south-facing terrace and balcony. See aubreypark.co.uk

4. High Trees Farm, Ware: Fourteen years ago Vanessa and Andrew Gibson converted a beautiful old barn into three holiday cottages at High Trees Farm, their 600-year-old farm with 200 acres in Ware. Operating under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme they offer luxury self-catering cottages for those looking for a retreat on a working farm (full length windows look out on a panorama of fields with cattle and sheep). Great for walkers and cyclists, there are fields, woods and winding lanes and village pubs to stop off at, while nearby Buntingford, Hertford and Ware offer waterways, history and great restaurants. Alternatively take advantage of the new butchery run by Vanessa and Andrew’s 21-year-old son and cook up a steak back at base. The cottages all have separate entrances and sleep up to four each. See hightreesfarm.com

5. Home Farm Glamping, Elstree: Now if Elstree isn’t a location that springs to mind when you think of a staycation, you probably don’t know about this secluded collection of high-end glamping pitches in a meadow among 150 acres of fields, woodland and a lake. With large beautifully appointed yurts and bell tents (think boutique hotel room rather than Glastonbury in a downpour), all with a barbecue and firepit, this is a little like going on safari, just no lions. The tents have proper double beds and can house another two singles while the yurts also have a double and can accommodate a further three singles. Communal facilities a short walk away include a kitchen area with cooker and fridge-freezer, indoor showers and loos and even hair dryer points. The site is run by Jess Allen-Back who created the facility on a former bean field on her family farm. She’s been joined by her brother Humphrey who has set up a range of events for guests such as a supper club, open air theatre, yoga brunch or a bushcraft sessions in the woods. Open until October 4. See homefarmglamping.com

6. The Manor Elstree: A Tudor-style mansion with beautiful woodland gardens, The Manor Elstree is nothing if not elegant. With its roots in the 16th century, it’s been a private home, a country club, and a hotel since the 60s. It has a choice of 49 individually-styled en-suite bedrooms – for a break we recommend a spacious junior or premier suite (right), all with stunning views across the London skyline. Choose from al fresco dining, the pop-up shisha bar Amirah Lounge, fine dining in the wood paneled The Cavendish, afternoon tea or private dining. See themanorelstree.co.uk

7. The Secret Garden & Coppice Woodland, Bassingbourn: This one’s a bit different. Two sites on Guilden Gate Smallholding, just over the border in Cambs north of Royston, offer eco-glamping. Remember the start of The Hobbit describing Bilbo’s home in a hill in the Shire? The Secret Garden is probably as close as you’ll get to staying there. This beautifully crafted self-contained meadow site has a semi-circular grass covered ‘Hobbit hole’ with kingsize bed, a cedar shingle covered camp kitchen and dining area with slab table and benches, a fire pit, ‘swing pod’ and hammock, and perhaps best of all, your own woodland spa area with wood-fired hot tub and solar shower. All lighting is solar but there are plugs in the potting shed if you can’t be parted from devices. It’s perfect for a couple or can be used as a sister site to the Coppice Woodland for a larger group or two families. The Coppice Woodland is in a glade of a two-acre native woodland. It has a wooden yurt with kingsize bed and a converted 1973 VW Camper with a double bed and beds for two little ‘uns. There’s a very funky orange hot tub, a rustic kitchen, fire pit and a lovely covered dining area. See guildengate.co.uk

8. Sopwell House, St Albans: Floating in an outdoor pool surrounded by tropical foliage, hot tubs, loungers and the sound of running water, you really do feel 10,000 miles from Hertfordshire. The only giveaway are the majestic oaks and beech trees rising in the gardens beyond the waterfall wall of Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House. Opened at the Georgian country house on the edge of St Albans last year, the spa is the latest in a series of investments by owner Abraham Bejerano since he purchased the one-time home of Prince Louis of Battenberg, grandfather of the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1986. The steam rooms and saunas have been ‘furloughed’, but there are still several experience showers, heated stone loungers and a hydrotherapy pool, as well as a swimming pool and hot tubs for those without spa access. The Orchid suite in The Mews has a glass fireplace, a beautiful wet room, a giant bed and its own outdoor space, from which you can take in the beautifully-kept gardens created by Chelsea gold winner Ann-Marie Powell. Dine either on The Brasserie terrace or in The Conservatory looking out over the terrace and gardens - the food is excellent. See sopwellhouse.co.uk



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