Why The Grove in Hertfordshire is every young footballer’s dream this summer

Last updated 8th July 2024

With its sandy beach, chocolate fountain and Premier League babysitters, Siobhan Grogan thinks The Grove in Hertfordshire might be the UK’s most child-friendly hotel.


The Grove, Hertfordshire

Just 20 minutes by train from London, The Grove is a sprawling five-star resort with an award-winning spa, championship golf course and several chic dining options. Yet kids won’t be bored if you visit during the school holidays, thanks to three swimming pools, a vast range of children’s activities and even training camps hosted by Britain’s top sports stars.


Summer cinema, The Grove

The Grove is a smart countryside retreat loved by celebrities

A 16th century manor house set in 300 acres of leafy green countryside, The Grove was once Queen Victoria’s favourite weekend getaway.

Still a glamorous A-list favourite, it’s since hosted everyone from Tom Cruise to the entire England football team; my son was thrilled to spot the Real Madrid team arriving in their coaches when we were there. The cast of the Harry Potter movies also stayed at the hotel when the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter first opened just five minutes’ away.


Bath with a view, The Grove, Hertfordshire

Rooms at The Grove are big enough for a family

Rooms in the Grade II-listed Mansion House are ideal for a romantic break away, with opulent touches including four-poster beds, antique furniture and roll-top baths.

However, book a room in The West Wing if you’re travelling with kids in tow. These are spacious and contemporary and many can sleep four, with interconnecting rooms and cots also available.


English countryside beach, The Grove, Hertfordshire

There’s plenty to keep everyone entertained

Kids should make a beeline for the hotel’s fairy lit walled garden, with its seasonal heated outdoor pool and beach area, tennis courts, croquet lawn, giant chess board and alfresco movie screenings. There’s even a potting shed stocked with arcade games, table football and air hockey if the weather’s miserable.

On a particularly rainy day during my visit, the hotel also filled two additional conference rooms with family-friendly activities including table tennis tables, soft archery sets and a limitless supply of juice and chocolate chip cookies.

Elsewhere, there’s a kids club, tree-climbing sessions, bushcraft camps, bikes to borrow and even mini Land Rovers for children between the ages of 3 and 8 to go off-roading through the woods.


Football Escapes, The Grove

Children who love sport are in for a special treat at The Grove

There’s no better place for keen sports’ fans. Throughout the year, the hotel hosts dedicated, pre-bookable camps to give children the chance to train with top sports professionals, including PGA golfers and coaches from Saracens’ rugby team.

My son spent three days on an excellent Football Escapes camp during our stay which included two-hours intensive football training each day, a personalised kit, a medal and a games night.

Open to children between the ages of 5 and 15, the training sessions are hard work but great fun. Each one mixes skills-based training with matches, and is run with startling efficiency by UEFA coaches and former Premier League players. And coaches and players aren’t just on the side-line shouting instructions, but on the pitch actually playing alongside the kids, fist bumping for every goal and stirring up good-natured banter between teams.


Never mind the weather, it’s Rio Ferdinand

During our stay at The Grove, my son was trained by Tottenham Hotspur legends Michael Dawson and Ledley King, former West Ham player Marlon Harewood and YouTube and Soccer AM star Big G. However, the real highlight was a surprise appearance from Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand, who patiently answered questions from the children in a Q&A session then signed everyone’s shirts and posed for photos with each of them.


Feast on the Clouds, summer at The Grove

There’s food to suit even the fussiest of young eaters

You’ll find plenty of dining options at The Grove, whether you’re craving a champagne afternoon tea or need a speedy meal for a junior footballer after training.

Also, the lounge serves food all day including sandwiches, fresh sushi rolls and a kids’ menu of homemade soup and cheese toasties. As well as the spa café for poke bowls and wraps, there’s an upmarket Indian restaurant too, and temporary options throughout the year include a Spanish-themed BBQ in the woods. The pop-up from award-winning Turkish restaurant, Skewd, was a nice surprise when we visited.


Dream desserts at The Stables

For dinner, choose The Stables for British gastropub classics like fish and chips, burgers and a Sunday roast, or The Grove’s renowned buffet restaurant The Glasshouse. Lavish enough to have featured in the Netflix documentary ‘Million Dollar Buffet’, it includes stations dedicated to hand-stretched pizzas, salads, charcuterie, carvery, freshly made pasta with a choice of sauces and toppings, Asian food and seafood.

Just be sure to leave room for a visit (or three) to the eye-popping dessert stand where mini-desserts, bitesize cakes, ice creams and a glossy chocolate fountain will wow any sweet-toothed child.

How to plan this family break

How to get there

The Grove is 10 minutes drive from Watford Junction Station

By train from London Euston to Watford Junction from 20 minutes

Where to stay

The Grove, Hertfordshire West Wing Classic Rooms from £420 per B&B and including spa access.

The Grove Special Offers

2-night stay, West Wing Deluxe Room (2 adults, 2 children), B&B,  including 1 place with Football Escapes, from £1,650

Football Escapes at The Grove from 27 to 29 August 2024

School holiday packages from £289 per room per night for a three-night stay in a classic room, B&B, with spa access and use of Asher’s Woodland Trails from £289 per room, per night.

Find out more and book