On the edge of London, but worlds away once you get out into the open countryside, Hertfordshire is the ultimate escape from the city. Expect movie set-worthy manor houses (see if you can match some of these gorgeous backdrops to the scenes they appeared in on the big screen) and glorious gardens on this three-day staycation in Hertfordshire, not to mention delectable dining that’s fit for royalty.
Mornings at Hatfield House
Day one and you’ll be transported to the splendour of Hatfield House, which has stood in the heart of acres of parkland and gardens for more than 400 years. Explore the 40 acres of parkland, including the iconic deer park, before strolling the picture-perfect gardens which date back to the early 17th century! Here you’ll find plants collected from all over Europe, a woodland garden, and even a mini maze bordering the impressive Old Palace. Believe us when we say, plenty of famous faces have strolled these walkways, including the cast of The Crown and Bridgerton, and even Queen Elizabeth I! In fact, it was in these very grounds that the young princess first learned of her ascension to the throne. For lunch the Coach House Kitchen within the Stable Yard has a tempting menu, featuring seasonal produce, treats for the little ones, light bites and, should you time your trip perfectly, a delectable three-course Sunday lunch.
A royally good afternoon at St Paul's Walden Bury
After lunch, head just 25 minutes from Hatfield House to St Paul’s Walden Bury, the birthplace of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and another royal treasure in the Hertfordshire countryside. Grade I listed and covering about 50 acres, there are hidden gems throughout the gardens, with beech-edged avenues leading to temples, a lake, statues and even an open-air theatre. Both the impressive house and gardens date back to 1720 and have been carefully cultivated by the Bowes Lyon family who have lived here for nearly 300 years! In spring, keep an eye out for rhododendrons and magnolias, along with great glades of primroses and cowslips.
St Paul's Walden Bury
Camp under the stars
After a day out in the countryside, it seems only right to pitch up and relax in the great outdoors at Hertford Camping and Caravanning Club Site. Surrounded by wide open spaces, it’s a great family base, with plenty of walking and cycling paths to follow. Choose from one of the 245 pitches and relax for a night under the stars. But if you’re not too handy with the tent pegs, we recommend opting for Ready Camp, which comes complete with comfy beds, a fitted kitchen and a deck made for stargazing.
Hertford Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Explore Knebworth House
Just a short drive away, Knebworth is famous world-wide for its outdoor concerts and incredible gothic exterior that hides a red brick manor dating back to Tudor times. This romantic fairy-tale country house is the perfect backdrop to the formal gardens with their beautiful borders bursting into bloom, wilderness area and avenues of lime trees. For little explorers the maze, adventure playground and dinosaur trail through the woods make for an all-out adventure, while a visit to the kitchen garden is an absolute must for foodies looking for a little green-fingered inspiration.
Knebworth House, Park & Gardens
Lunch in Letchworth Garden City
Once you’ve finished exploring the 28 acres of gardens at Knebworth, take a short drive to Letchworth Garden City for a bite. As the first garden city, it’s no surprise this town has plenty of green space, with Broadway Gardens and Howard Park offering the perfect spot for pre-lunch stroll. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop off at one of the many independent cafes in the heart of the town, or enjoy classic tapas at local favourite La Concha, or relaxed alfresco dining at Cultivo Lounge, which puts community at the very heart of everything they do.
Letchworth Garden City
Enjoy afternoon tea
After lunch, head to your final stop of the day, Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club, which offers a real taste of luxury with a Jacobean-style manor at its heart, surrounded by 200 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds. While here, afternoon tea is an absolute must! With wood-panelled walls, open fireplaces and armchairs to cosy up in, this traditional English afternoon tea is served up with a touch of class, and plenty of clotted cream!
Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club
Stay in luxury at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel
In the evening, you can follow afternoon tea with one of the tried-and-true classics on the menu of the Cast Iron Grill Restaurant, or settle in for the night in one of the luxurious Manor House rooms, but be sure to set your alarm for an early morning visit to the heated swimming pool and gym for the ultimate way to start your day.
Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club
Arts in Herts at Henry Moore Studio & Gardens
The final day of your tour takes you to Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, the very place where artist Henry Moore created some of his greatest work. With 70 acres of rolling countryside to explore, you’ll soon see why this beautiful rural area was his inspiration, with some of his most iconic bronze sculptures to be seen set here within the landscape he worked in. After exploring the house and gardens that were designed and created by Moore’s wife, Irina, be sure to visit the studio that saw the creation of some of his work for a behind-the-scenes peek into how his incredible drawings became the magnificent sculptures seen today.
Henry Moore Studios and Gardens
A final garden stroll at Benington Lordship
End your visit just half an hour’s drive away at Benington Lordship Gardens. Famous for its snowdrops in February, and another film location the eager-eyed will recognise, this beautiful historic house and its sprawling gardens are a local favourite. Whatever season you visit, you’re promised beautiful views of snowdrops in the castle ruin in February, lupins, clematis and geraniums in May, and a walled kitchen garden that’s ripe for the picking in summer and autumn. Children will love spotting carp in the three spring-fed pools, and with wildflowers, apple trees and orchards to run through, there’s a whole host of wildlife to be on the lookout for.