Hattie Lloyd 12/07/23
Unusual dining experiences have really ballooned recently.
First, there were the dining igloos. Then, there were the BBQ boats. And now, you can enjoy an entire meal from the comfort of your very own hot air balloon.
Of course, you won’t actually be going into the air at any point – that would make the waiters’ job particularly taxing, for one thing – but that’s by the by when you’re sat in the stunning grounds of a 5* hotel, overlooking a tranquil pond, and surrounded by a dozen other gently glowing balloons…
New slots have just been released for the rest of July and August, and you can book in for either afternoon tea or a nine course tasting menu. And while they could probably just serve up beans on toast and it would still feel special, they’re really pushing the, er, gondola out. First, you’ll be brought a welcome drink and a couple of snacks as you settle into your wicker basket, complete with sandbags and speed dials. Then a parade of dishes will follow, from a heritage tomato salad with an ‘edible cloud’ to Cornish crab & caviar tart; lobster en croute (carved at the table); and fillet of beef with truffle mash and chicken liver parfait. Finally, there’s not one but two puddings heading your way, one of which involves strawberry soup.
And as for that 5* hotel? It’s called The Grove, and while it’s only a 15 minute cab from Watford Junction, it feels like you’re miles away from anywhere else, set in 300 acres of shimmering long grass. The balloons are anchored on the fringes of the hotel’s formal gardens, which are a particularly pleasant spot for a post-meal stroll. And if you plump for the afternoon tea here, you could time it really well and stroll right along to The Grove’s walled garden, where an Everyman outdoor cinema has popped up for the summer. They’ve got a load of classic flicks lined up on the slate, which you’ll be able to enjoy on comfy beanbags with woolly blankets, popcorn, pick ‘n’ mix, and cocktails from the pop-up bar.
So don’t be surprised if you feel a little Foggy the next day…
NOTE: Cloud 9 at The Grove runs until 3rd September 2023. Balloons are available for groups of 4-6, and are priced at £55pp for the afternoon tea, and £125pp for dinner. You can find out more, and book, HERE. You can also see what’s on the slate at the Everyman cinema, and book tickets, HERE.
Feast on Cloud 9 | The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire WD3 4TG
Enjoy unusual dining experiences? Check out the best pop-up restaurants in London this month
The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG
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