Checking in to the Mansion Suites at The Grove, Hertfordshire

Editor Hamish Kilburn makes a hat-trick return to The Grove, Hertfordshire, to explore the newly unveiled Mansion Suites, and speak to the designers, Martin Hulbert and Jay Gierson of Martin Hulbert Design…

Junior Suite at The Grove in Hertfordshire

There is arguably no person who is more familiar to the charm and character of The Grove, Hertfordshire than the man who designed, and then re-designed it several times over. For Martin Hulbert, Founder of Martin Hulbert Design, checking in to the hotel is like coming home – assuming, of course, Hulbert’s home is also set within 300 acres.

From the stately arrival experience to the interiors that so effortlessly reflect its location surrounded by English countryside, The Grove, Hertfordshire is a quintessentially British luxury hotel that has evolved over the years to amplify new strands of its, at times, quirky character.

A luxury quintessentially British living room in hotel

Image credit: The Grove, Hertfordshire

One way to effortless tune in the right characteristics in such a design project is through the power of art. At The Grove, art has truly been taken outside the frame, with installations scattered all over the interiors and the grounds outside. “The intention behind our curation at The Grove was to provide guests with a visually stimulating experience that not only captivates but also harmonises with the charming views offered by the estate,” Hulbert told Hotel Designs. “This is achieved through a blend of old and new pieces, and art from The Grove’s existing collection, curated over two decades.

“This ensures we have a connection to the hotel’s history, bridging the gap between the past and present, in a way that also introduces some renowned contemporary British artists. Amongst those who created exclusive artworks specifically for The Grove are Poppy Ellis, hailing from Kent and Andrew Viner, who resides and works in East Sussex. These artists bring a fresh perspective and innovative techniques that contribute to the overall artistic landscape.”

The Grove in Hertfordshire bathroom - black bath with 70s art on wall

Image credit: The Grove, Hertfordshire

The hotel’s most recent renovation saw Hulbert and Jay Grierson elevate the luxury hospitality experience by redesigning its signature rooms, the Mansion Suites, which are sheltered in the 16th century mansion house – AKA, the heart of the hotel. For the team at MHD, this project was about striking a balance between charming antique elements and stylish modern touches. Each suite is individually designed with everything, I’m told, made and sourced in the UK.

Accessed via a separate lift to the rest of the hotel that feels exclusively tucked away, the Mansion Suites immediately feel plush yet unpretentious. Flooded with natural light – and splendid views over the grounds that are reflected in a considered and paired-back colour scheme of terracotta, blue and green – the bedrooms feel tranquil. “Entering one of the signature suites inside the mansion is a truly captivating experience,” added Hulbert. “The rooms exude magnificence, offering a generous sense of space and an abundance of natural light. The latest design scheme is a thoughtful blend of old and new, creating a calm, deeply comfortable, and understated space. It’s a place where you can retreat and feel undisturbed by the world outside.”

Villiers Suite bedroom with soft accents of green

Image credit: The Grove, Hertfordshire

To capture this atmosphere, the team at MHD focused on thoughtfully pairing contemporary touches into a traditional hotel suite – subtle touches that had lasting impact without sacrificing the volume of each suite. “We wanted to ensure that shone through whilst nodding to the contemporary,” said Gierson. “The original Georgian features, such as intricate mouldings, ornate fireplaces and curved bay windows, offering breathtaking views of the Hertfordshire countryside, were meticulously preserved and enhanced. These architectural gems contribute to the timeless allure of the suites.”

Junior Suite angle of half the bed and wooden side-table

Image credit: The Grove, Hertfordshire

The most obvious challenge, on the outside looking in on this project, was making design decisions that created a subtle juxtaposition of contemporary touches with antique elements, without losing a cohesive hospitality experience that is set when checking in at the hotel. “Linen fabrics and ceramic tiles were carefully incorporated to introduce modern elements,” added Hulbert. “Linen fabrics create a crisp and contemporary look, while ceramic tiles provide sleekness and durability. To further enhance the blend of antique and contemporary styles, the suites feature individually sourced antique furniture, including chandeliers. These carefully selected pieces add character, sophistication, and a sense of history to the overall design.”

While establishing a synergy between elements, preserving original features was a necessary mindset. “Balancing modern comfort with the preservation of historical design presented a constant challenge, as practical considerations for guest usability had to be met without compromising the building’s integrity,” explained Gierson. “Compliance with strict historic building regulations and sourcing suitable antique pieces added to the complexity of the project. However, by overcoming these challenges, we successfully transformed the suites, achieving a harmonious blend of old and new while providing a memorable guest experience.”

Villiers Suite with antique charm, over looking Hertfordshire countryside

Image credit: The Grove, Hertfordshire

In the competitive hotel design arena, The Grove, Hertfordshire has risen to the challenge, several times over, in fact, to level up its hospitality experience with new spaces that cohesively speak the same language of the rest of the hotel. The Signature Suites in the Mansion certainly do speak the same dialect, but I would argue that they have a slightly stronger accent – as all premium suites should.

> Since you’re here, why not read about another recent MHD project?

Main image credit: The Grove, Hertfordshire