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Dining pods from Valentina Occasions from Chartham launch at The Abergavenny Arms in Tunbridge Wells as celebrities, including Jess Wright, Cara Delahoyde-Massey and Tess Daly heap praise on Instagram


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A Kent firm, whose private dining pods are being enjoyed by reality stars and presenters, is expanding to offer the unique experiences at a pub in Tunbridge Wells.

The Abergavenny Arms is the latest venue working with Valentina Occasions, based in Chartham, near Canterbury to set up the themed capsules in the garden.

Valentina Occasions, a firm based near Canterbury, has created several themed dining pods
Valentina Occasions, a firm based near Canterbury, has created several themed dining pods

Finishing touches are being made at the 15th century inn, in Frant Road, with the launch night set for Thursday.

The three eating spots have different themes, including a vineyard and tropical paradise scene, plus a parisian set-up. Inside, there is a private bar, and bluetooth speakers, so visitors can relax to their own soundtrack. Each 'bubble' comes with dedicated waiting staff.

Heating levels can be controlled, a cover makes the area waterproof, and there is a buzzer should diners need to attract attention.

Justine Lake, part of the team running The Abergavenny Arms, said the idea came to life after she saw a similar concept of cabin pods in John Lewis.

"I mentioned it to my other half," she said. "So I looked online and on Instagram and Valentina was offering the pods in peoples' gardens and there had been celebrity backing so I thought 'this is just what we need.'

Hollie Kane Wright shares her thanks to Valentina for making her mother's 60th birthday bash special Picture Hollie Kane Wright/Instagram
Hollie Kane Wright shares her thanks to Valentina for making her mother's 60th birthday bash special Picture Hollie Kane Wright/Instagram
Cara Delahoyde-Massey called it the best date night ever when she took to Instagram
Cara Delahoyde-Massey called it the best date night ever when she took to Instagram
A romantic set up for Jess Wright, former TOWIE regular Picture: Valentina/Instagram
A romantic set up for Jess Wright, former TOWIE regular Picture: Valentina/Instagram

"They are very different from anything else. They have allowed us to take tables out of the main restaurant giving extra space to people there."

Valentina Occasions is fast becoming a celeb go-to.

Former TOWIE regular Jess Wright made two bookings - a Christmas date night in a northern lights pod and and a bespoke Apres Ski re-creation of her engagement to William Lee-Kemp to celebrate their anniversary.

Love Island's 2016 winner Cara Delahoyde-Massey had the Parisian-themed pod, presenters Tess Daly and Vernon Kay booked The Venetian for Valentines day and Hollie Kane Wright who's married to Mark and Jess Wright's brother Joshua, hired a blush pod with LED bar for her mum's birthday.

A trial run of the new attractions took place at The Abergavenny Arms during Christmas. The pub's location on the very edge of Sussex, near Tunbridge Wells, meant it was able to open at a time Kent was shut down as part of the localised Tier 4 restrictions.

Part of the team at The Abergavenny Arms where launch night will take place on Thursday
Part of the team at The Abergavenny Arms where launch night will take place on Thursday

Justine added: "The feedback we've had is that the pods bring the holiday feeling home. They are just so much fun and are completely weatherproof.

"There has been a waiting list for bookings since we announced the launch. People are starting to book for July now, but we have taken to updating social media if we have any gaps that open up."

Valentina's pods were unveiled in the county in October at The Plough in Ivy Hatch, near Sevenoaks, with landlord Alfie Johnson saying staff were shocked at the surge in interest from the public.

Charlotte and Jimmy Humphris, owners and founders of Valentina, said the pods are now provided in five venues across Kent and Essex. Others to have signed up include The Bullshead in Pratts Bottom, Orpington plus The Plough.

The couple turned to their current business around a year ago, after working for 12 years in global marketing and losing big corporate clients overnight when the first lockdown struck.

A view inside a Tropical Tiki pod
A view inside a Tropical Tiki pod
Tess Daly posted she was going 'out for dinner in the garden' Picture: Tess Daly/Instagram
Tess Daly posted she was going 'out for dinner in the garden' Picture: Tess Daly/Instagram
The Plough pub near Sevenoaks and The Abergavenny Arms in Tunbridge Wells offer the pods for lunch and dinner bookings
The Plough pub near Sevenoaks and The Abergavenny Arms in Tunbridge Wells offer the pods for lunch and dinner bookings
Valentina Occasions' Parisian experience
Valentina Occasions' Parisian experience

Charlotte said: "It's been a humbling experience of more than 200 home bookings in the snow, wind, rain and heatwaves. We've experienced three lockdowns and more than 2,000 venue Christmas bookings that got cancelled due to lockdown.

"So we're absolutely thrilled our pods are here to stay for Summer and Winter 2021. We're now launching exclusive summer pods, which include Vineyards, Safari, Flower Garden and Tropical Tiki.

"We've absolutely loved working with all of our venues.

"We've worked tirelessly seven days a week, 16 hours a day to develop all of these themes, source the right props, decor and taken on construction in house to make our own custom bars and table and couldn't be more excited for the summer ahead.

"All of our venues are hand picked for their amazing, high quality food and drinks, and are locations with buckets of character. We feel there is a little bit of magic for everyone, whatever the occasion."

In line with regulations, each pod currently takes up to six people. The booking charge starts at £35, rising to £65, with food and drink costs on top.

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