Travel + Leisure
May 06, 2009

Having taken six years and a small fortune to create, the 227-room Grove (Chandler's Cross, Rickmansworth, England; 44-1923/807-807, www.thegrove.co.uk; doubles from $400) is a one-of-a-kind extravaganza designed for a clientele that's just as comfortable playing croquet in a large walled garden as it is sleeping in a feather-trimmed Lucite four-poster bed. The décor—courtesy of Fox Linton Associates—is an arty mix of antiques (marble fireplaces, claw-foot tubs), 21st-century opulence (white silk walls, red leather tables), and provocative modern design (see-through closet doors). The former estate of the fourth earl of Clarendon, the Georgian mansion-turned-hotel practically invented the concept of the country-house weekend: in the 1800's, it was where England's elite flocked to party. Today, guests eat at one of three restaurants, enjoy Ayurvedic treatments in the spa, tee off on an 18-hole course, and scoot around the countryside in motorized carts.
—Lucie Young

The Grove, Watford

With history dating back to 3,000 B.C. (pottery found on the grounds), this hotel has played many roles: residence, boarding school, secret military headquarters, and gardening school are just a few. Restored in the 1990’s, this hotel hosts the England soccer team before every Wembley match; divided into the Mansion and the West Wing, more than 200 rooms from the Superior to the Presidential Suite are British elegance to the last detail (one Executive Suite has a baby grand piano). Amenities include three restaurants and the Sequoia Spa, and Tiger Woods won the World Golf Championship held on its championship course in 2006.

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