The Grove, Hertfordshire
For anybody who can’t face travelling abroad due to the complex rules and tests – or the many people who don’t want to leave their lockdown dogs behind – there’s a five-star retreat just outside London that can meet all your needs. The Grove in Hertfordshire is a restored Grade II country house dating back to the 1500s, set in 300 acres of countryside, including several several rooms where your (house-trained) dogs can spend a break with you.
Your approach takes you through large grounds across a river towards the main house, where you are greeted by delightful staff focused on meeting your every need. The refurbished rooms with comfortable beds and muted, stylish decor may be tempting but there’s much to explore. You and pooch have the run of extensive grounds, from woodland walks to wildflower meadows. Bikes and Segways are available for hire if you want to take a load off while exploring.
Children will be as entertained as your dog at The Grove with archery, clay pigeon shooting, bush craft, tennis, woodland hawking and football camps among other activities. There’s also a championship golf course open to hotel guests, with a dedicated team of golf instructors if you want to improve your game. If you’re missing sea and sand, the open-air heated swimming pool in the walled garden has a sandy beach, restaurant and bar, and an ice cream hut from Jude’s, a family company specialising in delicious small-batch ice cream, including ice cream for dogs. If the British weather lets you down, there’s always the indoor pool as back up, with sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.
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You can relax after all that activity in the award-winning Sequoia Spa with a variety of facials and massages including the Inner Calm Massage, an hour and 15 minutes of relaxation to help you forget the previous 18 months. Of course you could enjoy a drink on the terrace outside the Glasshouse bar, whose range of cocktails uses aromatics and fresh herbs from the kitchen garden. There are a variety of restaurants throughout the estate, making use of the produce grown on site. If the weather is fair, choose instead to sit outside, with red kites and little owls flying overhead to keep you company as you relax in the peace of the lovely surroundings.
Natasha was a guest of The Grove (thegrove.co.uk). Rooms start from £475 (Superior West Wing) and £550 (Deluxe West Wing). Dog friendly rooms have a £50 surcharge.
Set in the north of Dartmoor, Gidleigh Park is “one of the West Country’s finest luxury hotels” says Felicity Cloake in The Times. There are four heated kennels with cosy beds but most dog lovers opt to sleep with their dogs, in a choice of two dog-friendly rooms or the self-contained cottage within the grounds. Your dog will have his very own hamper with bed, towel, bowls, bags and ball, topped off with “Gidleigh Park branded bone-shaped peanut butter biscuits”. With terraces overlooking the river and the “glorious gardens” there’s plenty of space for your pooch to run free. The staff are “all dog people” and will welcome you both throughout the hotel.
Overnight stays including breakfast start from £285 per room. The dog-friendly rooms start from £402 per night with a £20 supplement per dog including the dog hamper. The cottage is from £790 per night. More details on gidleigh.co.uk
The Yan, Grasmere
The Yan is ideally placed for exploring The Lake District, just a 20-minute walk away from Windermere with “boutique-neat rooms, surrounded by fields and enviable fell views”, says The Telegraph. It offers dog-friendly rooms, although unlike at Gidleigh Park you’ll have to bring your own dog bed. But the real reason to stay at The Yan is the “hearty eating without the mountainous prices” says Grace Dent in The Guardian.
This family-run restaurant with rooms “serves rustic stuff with finesse, but not too much finesse”. From Cumberland sausage platters complete with buttery mash and excellent vegetarian options, this is hearty food “made from scratch” served by “jolly staff”, perfect after a day walking on the fells with your dog.
A dog friendly room at The Yan is £130 per night on a room-only basis with a £10 charge for your dog. See theyan.co.uk
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