Only 28 miles by road from London (and 20 minutes by train!), Hertfordshire is known for its historic estates, countryside and of course, the glorious St Albans cathedral – which over the course of 1700 years has gone from a small church to the great cathedral it is today.

Known as one of the ‘Home Counties’ in southern England, Hertfordshire is home to Formula One champion, Lewis Hamilton, award-winning movie director Guy Ritchie, the Beckhams, Simon Le Bon, Martin Kemp and champion golfer Nick Faldo.

Bordered by Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire to the north, Greater London to the south, Buckinghamshire to the west and Essex to the east, Hertfordshire has also known its fair share of royalty.

In the 16th century Queen Elizabeth resided in the county as did Robert Mortain, - the half-brother of William the Conqueror in the 11th century.

But St Albans cathedral is arguably at the very heart of this county.

The Shrine of St Alban was the reason for the Abbey’s foundation and the town that grew up around it, indeed it is said that King Offa of Mercia founded a monastery in 793.

The only English pope, Adrian IV, was born locally and granted special privileges to the Abbey, enhancing its reputation and power.

And in 1213 St Albans Abbey was the meeting place for a group of churchmen and nobles. Their discussions led to Magna Carta which was reluctantly sealed by the king at Runnymede in 1215.

But Hertfordshire is more than a cathedral, however glorious. It is a county where one can also find the historic Hatfield House and Knebworth House. Where one can capture the magic of Harry Potter with a visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. Or find wild beasts, Roman ruins, sculpture gardens, year-round snow, and traditional English villages.

There is also the Watford Big Bandstand found in the heart of Cassiobury Park, which comes to life from May to September. As well as one of the largest reconstructed Iron Age settlements at the UK at Celtic Harmony Camp, in Brickendon.

And there is certainly no shortage of 5* luxury or boutique B&Bs across the county. From Sopwell House in St Albans and Birch in Cheshunt to the Grove in Watford and award winning, adult only, self-catering luxury retreats in Buntingford, Hertfordshire is utterly inspirational.

5 things to do in Hertfordshire in 2024

 

Retreat in style
Designed and created by Vicky and Chris Saynor, Bethnal&Bec Luxury Stays is a home-grown family business where city chic meets countryside cool. A stylish yet cosy home-from-home setting for grown-ups only (and maybe the dog!) you can expect private gardens, large outdoor baths, hot tubs… and plenty of R&R.
bethnalandbec.com

Just wizard
Walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter and explore the wonders of the Wizarding World at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden Park. Step onto iconic sets like the Great Hall and Diagon Alley, spot your favourite props from the films and discover how the special and visual effects teams made Harry and his friends fly.
wbstudiotour.co.uk

Hitchin Lavender
Situated on the gentle rolling slopes of Wilbury Hills, the farm has become synonymous with stunning countryside views and relaxing walks, making it a much-loved landmark of North Hertfordshire. It’s one of the best spots around to capture stunning natural photos or take some fabulous family pictures. Take a picnic or visit the tea room…
hitchinlavender.com

Go wild
Paradise Wildlife Park aims to be the most successful and best Wildlife Park for education, conservation and preservation of wildlife, in Britain. It is absolutely unrecognisable from the 1960s when it was Broxbourne Zoo, privately owned by Cyril Stamp. The Zoological Society of Hertfordshire (ZSH) is its registered charity and different animal experiences are run all year round.
pwpark.com

Fit for royalty
Once a royal residence to King Henry VIII and Princess Elizabeth I, today Ashridge House is an award winning meeting, events, and wedding venue. Set in 190 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens, you can grab a bite to eat in the Bakehouse and soak up the sun in the courtyard café, savour heritage classics in Acres restaurant, and unwind in old school glamour at the Vault bar.
ashridgehouse.org.uk

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This article appeared in the Great British Staycations magazine. 

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