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Martin Hulbert at The Grove

Were you given a blank canvas or a tight brief for redesigning The Glasshouse?
It was a blank canvas for the look but not for the style of dining, which was led by Stephen Wheeler, the Executive Head Chef. The look had to be just right for a dining room experience that opens at breakfast and changes throughout the day, for lunch and then dinner. Part of my brief was to extend the restaurant, so it’s going to be a bit like a contemporary orangery space with lots of open views to the garden.

Tell us more about the style of dining and the atmosphere you’re creating.
When we were researching ideas, we all went to various places around the world, particularly Singapore, exploring alternative ways to dine and more flexible and freer environments where people enjoy the maximum choice and all the food is cooked right in front of you. This inspired the big, buzzy foodhall style for The Glasshouse – and it’s going to be really different for the UK. There’s going to be a medley of different styles of food. Every time you go you can have something completely different. Start with whatever you want – cheese or seafood or even dessert! I think the tandoori section is going to be especially interesting…

How would you sum up the new look and feel?
Very rich, lots of clean lines – it is really a sophisticated form of a market stall! There’s going to be a great sense of freedom with light and space coming in from the garden.

We can’t wait for the re-opening! Are there any images you can share in a sneak preview?
It’s still all coming together but here are some colours and textures we’re using. There’s lots of yellow bursting in as we wanted to evoke the feeling of sunlight, even on a grey day.

The Glasshouse flat lay by Martin Hulbert

Have any elements for the interior been made uniquely for The Glasshouse?
Almost everything. It’s a real labour of love. We’ve worked with lots of creative people to make many wonderful, unique things. We look beyond the norm and try new things. 

Slightly cheeky question, but what’s been the hardest challenge to solve?
Honestly? I suppose it has been time – the hotel needs the restaurant to be closed for as short a period as possible. So it’s taken a lot of careful planning. Our studio worked on it for a year and a half before actually starting on site, designing it in such a way that it could be built in stages with minimum disruption for the hotel. There’s a huge team of people involved in converting an existing space, using infrastructure like the air conditioning… all these things that one doesn’t see behind the design.  

So how many suppliers are involved? And how many people from your Studio?
Three or 4 people and myself at my studio, then every meeting at The Grove has about 25 people around the table – and that’s just the construction team! Then there’s all the staff involved at The Grove and all the people making stuff. Must be a couple of hundred in total. 

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever designed in the world?
I once designed a cobra-proof chicken house for a VSO project in east Africa. I also designed a lepidopterist’s hut – that’s a butterfly collector – for a private collection in a country estate in Hampshire.

You and your Studio have been involved with The Grove for a long time – just how long?
Yes we created the interiors for The Grove when it first opened 15 years ago, but I started work on it six years before that, so almost 20 years! 

Your favourite thing about The Grove?
I like the way it has evolved but it’s not dated, it still feels fresh and current. I like the atmosphere at The Grove – it’s genuinely friendly and never stuffy, never pretentious.

What will be your favourite time of day for dining in The Glasshouse? We’re thinking about the atmosphere and light…
I never usually have breakfast so a quiet, long breakfast will be a real treat.

And what dish are you most looking forward to eating when it reopens?
I don’t get to eat much meat at home because I live with a vegetarian! So I’m looking forward to The Grove’s fabulous roast beef or roast lamb – it’s something they’ve always done so well.

To experience the newly refurbished Glasshouse for yourself, click here to book.

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