A wizard time! Muggles can sip butterbeer on Diagon Alley at the 100m studios where Harry Potter was filmed
17:13 GMT, 20 November 2012
Arriving at the bleak and vast industrial estate in North London it is hard to believe that Harry Potter and his band of loyal wizard pals conjured up magical movies for millions of avid fans in this very spot for eight enchanting years.
Nor does it become much clearer when you take your seat at the first tour stop: a mini cinema which airs a teasing film about what awaits narrated by the stars themselves.
But as the mini movie draws to a close and the screen is raised to reveal the ‘entrance’ to the Great Hall, the muggle-tastic magic is truly unveiled.
As soon as you step foot inside the magical Great Hall it becomes clear where every single penny was spent in the blockbuster movies
The rustic and battered tables laid with goblets, plates and the legendary sorting hat almost teleport you to the enchanting scene in The Philosopher’s Stone when Harry is announced as a member of Gryffindor under the watchful eye of Dumbledore to raucous cheers.
As you work your way through the tour (armed with a most essential audio guide), it becomes clear where each and every penny of the 100m attraction was spent.
From the 350 hand painted portraits adorning the walls to each individual ‘vomit’ and ‘ear wax’ flavoured jelly bean- and not forgetting the 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts which took six months to build and demanded the labour of 86 workers- the world of Harry Potter is truly brought alive before your eyes.
The highlight of the tour is a quick pit stop at Privet Drive (and having your photograph taken outside the place the Dursley’s called home armed with a jug of sickly sweet Butterbeer) before ambling down Diagon Alley and taking in the fascinating sights you watched on your small screen as a child.
Before the tour draws to a close, visitors can admire Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor common room and even Hagrid's hut as well as an array of costumes and props.
And the best potion for post-studio tour blues Head straight to the hotel where the cast themselves stayed during filming.
Take a trip up Diagon Alley to discover Harry, Rom and Hermione's favourite pit stops
The Grove hotel, spa and golf resort is located a mere five minute drive from the studio and is all about 'no-stress' five-star living.
As well as the cast and production team of the blockbuster films, the England football team have stayed at this culturally rich hotel, which is set at the end of a rambling and picturesque drive.
Once upon a time, The Grove was the home of the Earls of Clarendon and a party spot for the likes of Queen Victoria.
It became a hotel 10 years ago and the 300 acre spot now houses a championship golf course, award-winning spa, three restaurants and vast woodland for keen ramblers to explore.
As one of the Leading Hotels of the World, the hotel is luxurious without the pretence.
The rooms (some of which boast a super view of the walled garden and endless fields) echo period living with a cosmopolitan twist and the Queen-sized beds and country-style bath tubs make this a welcome retreat for the stressed traveller in need of some down time.
That down time can be spent at the Sequoia spa, which is populated by ‘yummy mummies’ sipping on an afternoon bottle of bubbly.
It has won countless awards and after taking in the sights of the steam room, sauna and ozone-filtered pool it is clear to see why.
As for dining, The Stables is packed with men fresh off the golf course with top quality pub-style food and a laid back atmosphere.
The Grove is all about five-star luxury and Queen Victoria even used to party here
There are two options for dinner. The best on offer is Colette’s, a 3 AA Rosettes award-winning fine dining restaurant, which sadly we didn’t get to enjoy.
Instead we dined in The Glasshouse, an upmarket and imaginative buffet with a mix of Italian, British and Japanese food.
From smoked halibut and mini chorizo to celeriac remoulade and marinated Manchego for starters alone, you really are spoilt for choice.
The rooms are decorated to the highest standard and really make you feel at home
The open kitchen features a rotisserie, char-grill, wok and wood-fired oven as chefs conjure up fresh dishes before your eyes- just be sure not to fill up on sushi before you’ve tasted the signature rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and salt-baked onions and left room for the copious amounts of puddings on offer.
Dinner is 39 for three courses Sun-Thurs and 49 for three courses Fri-Sat- with my only qualm being that the drinks prices don’t quite match the quality of food so if you’re a foodie fanatic, Colette’s should probably be your dining port of call.
The Glasshouse has ever kind of food imaginable which is prepared before your eyes in an open kitchen
Suited to romantic stays or girly jaunts alike, The Grove is the perfect weekend break for those in need of a blast of fresh country air and a long walk in the hills.
Combined with a trip to the Warner Bros Studios, the weekend package is sure to cast a countrified spell on visitors of all ages.
The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG, 01923 807 807; www.thegrove.co.uk, A Magical Tour for Muggles starts from 350 per room per night and includes breakfast in The Glasshouse, two tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and overnight accommodation in a West Wing Superior.