If there is any downside to a weekend break, it can be the long shlep back which has a tendency to undo all the chilling you might have achieved during your sojourn in some gorgeous country house hotel.
If you live almost anywhere in north London, however, that is definitely not a problem with a weekend at The Grove. Located on the outskirts of Watford and just minutes away from the A1, it is 20 minutes from the heartlands of Jewish north-west London. And whether you want a spa break, a round of golf (a pay and play 18-hole championship course, which hosted the American Express Open in 2007), great food or long country walks (including a canal towpath), it has it all — even a beach.
For me, wrung out from a particularly tough week at the office, the Sequoia Spa was the perfect way to unwind. I opted for a hot stone massage, arguably one of the most soothing treatments I’ve ever had, before taking a leisurely dip in the black-tiled swimming pool. It’s an odd sensory experience — you feel like you’re swimming in liquorice, but fabulous nonetheless.
There are three restaurants all using seasonal — and where feasible, local —produce; fine dining in Colette’s which is superb but pricey, an all-you-can-eat buffet in The Glasshouse (and I promise you will want to eat all you can) and the Stables, located in the original stable block of the Grove Mansion, and perfect for a snack or light meal.
All guest rooms have an extraordinarily comfortable bed, lots of soft fluffy white pillows, a wide screen TV and a huge, very powerful shower. Rooms in the original mansion block also have roll-top baths, positioned to allow you to take in views of the surrounding countryside whilst having a soak.
And if all this isn’t enough, there is the beach: 17,000 sq feet of golden sand alongside the outdoor heated pool, pavilion bar, tennis courts and beach volleyball court.
And best of all, when it is time to go home, you can be there in 20 minutes.
The Grove Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG (01923 807807; www.thegrove.co.uk) offers 00357 26 888 000)offer summer weekend breaks from £280 per night for two sharing a west wing superior
rooms with breakfast. There are also spa sleepovers, and golf breaks from £385 per night for two.