Just like many men, I like my romantic gestures like I like my action movies; Completely over the top and, ideally, with a certain amount of unnecessary expense.
It was with this in mind that, on the first anniversary of my long suffering missus saying “I Do”, I did the only thing I could. That is, I hired a helicopter to take me to a luxurious 5 Star hotel and restaurant, The Luton Hoo. I used a pilot by the name of Mark Young, who was absolutely amazing in giving us the best possible experience – while flying over London (with full permission of air traffic control, I should add), he flew us over all the major landmarks and even did a lap of honour around The Shard (Top Gun quotes aplenty), before taking us onward to The Hoo and landing us on their lawn, in perfect British summer splendour. There wasn’t a second where we weren’t both spell bound by the amazing low altitude views of what I consider to be The Best City in the World.
After a perfectly choreographed flight, we made it to the Hoo Hotel where we were met by their perfectly turned out and professional staff who picked us up and drove us up to the main house, which is simply breathtaking. A building steeped in history (always reassuring when Winston Churchill liked to hang out there and, y’know, run the war), it was in hushed silence we were seated at our table in their Wernher restaurant, which is named after Sir Julius Wernher who bought The Hoo in 1903. The room itself is resplendent with painting and murals alike, as well a huge windows, which on an English summers day, afforded us perfectly picturesque views the grounds. The flawless service there meant we had a glass of crisp and chilled champagne in hand mere nanoseconds after sitting down and then it was onto the matter at hand. The food.
With all of the chandeliers and finery, it was a refreshing surprise to have a menu that was filled with modern imaginings of classical dishes and none of them disappointed.
Presentation was exacting and precise, with all the little things done well. For example, I hate homeopathic smears on plates. Yet here, each dash and dollop served a purpose, to compliment the main protein on the plate, like the wonderfully cooked scallops, rich and meaty, but held aloft with earthy beetroot and delicate fruit notes.
Main courses were the same – that is, the meat was meltingly tender, cooked with loving attention to detail and accompanied by just the right combination of strong flavours and delicate saucing. I personally, absolutely loved the crisp sweetbreads that came with my blushing pink lamb. It took all my will power not to ask for a side plate of more of the crisp little morsels.
The dessert was a thing of beauty. I was “that guy” and asked if they actually made their fondants fresh, (my wife is very understanding!) and the maître d’, without even the slightest twitch of an eyebrow, assured me that not only were they fresh, but that I would love it. Fact. Guaranteed. The end.
He was also right. Perfectly cooked, melting and gooey in the centre, with the acidity of the sorbet to cut through the rich dark chocolate. The desserts were so good that after we had both finished ours, we ordered a third, on principle.
It was with no small effort that we hefted ourselves out of the comfy dining chairs and went for a wander around the hotel and spa, before a quick dip in the pool, a post meal sauna and steam, then home.
I can say, without any doubt, that I have entirely screwed myself. I’m buggered. Because there is no way I can ever outdo that day for its sheer level of perfection. The perfect romantic day. Done.
Next year might have to be a pizza and a movie.
Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa is located at The Mansion House, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3TQ
Tel +44 (0)1582 698888