Valentine’s Day in Lockdown

Nicola Sheppey

Valentine’s, Gal-entine’s, Pal-entine’s … whether you’re coupled up or single and loving it, it’s definitely a good time to treat yourself and your loved ones to an extra special Sunday. Here are some of the ways our favourite City businesses are helping you celebrate.

Bouquets from Windsor Flowers

Support a small business and get a beautiful bouquet in one by ordering from Windsor Flowers‘ Valentine’s Day collection. There are a range of romantic options named after some of the best locations in the City – with chocolate and champagne options thrown in. Click here to explore the collection.

The Searcy’s Guide

With 174 years of catering for memorable occasions in their belt, Searcys has put together an expert guide to help you plan V Day at home. Check out their three-course recipe guide and of course, order in a bottle of their custom rosé champagne to enjoy on the night. Click here to learn more and order.

SUSHISAMBA Valentine’s Day Feast

If high-end sushi is more your cuisine of choice on the night, dine on a feast for two from SUSHISAMBA. Their world-class chefs have curated a menu of Kanpachi Tiradito, Crispy Taquitos, Anticuchos, and more – plus a bottle of Taittinger champagne. Click here to pre-order.

Romantic Singalongs with Lucky Voice

Whether it’s Whitney’s I Will Always Love You or Ariana’s thank u next – there’s a Valentine’s song to suit your vibe in Lucky Voice Karaoke‘s 9000+ selection. Team up with your pals or that special someone and start warming up those vocal chords for a unique way to celebrate from home. Click here to learn more and sign up for a free trial.

Vinoteca’s Valentine’s Day Box

Keep things simple and classic with Vinoteca‘s Valentine’s Day box – offering up a delicious meal for two. Dine on burrata, Hampshire Duroc Porchetta and more – alongside the very best wine pairings, naturally. Click here to order.

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Veganuary at Home (with Help from the City)

Nicola Sheppey

Bored of cooking the same plant-based dishes at home this Veganuary? Let the City take the pressure off and have delicious meals delivered straight to your door. Below are four of our favourites sending you innovative and classic vegan dishes – you might just find you’ll stay a vegan for February (and beyond).

Alter

Ex Som-Saa chef Andy Hogben looks at international cuisine to get inspiration for the fantastic variety of flavours he includes in his small but beautifully curated vegan menu at Alter. In January you can order the Izakaya Feast off Dishpatch – delivered on a Friday with a variety of dishes to enjoy throughout the weekend. Click here to order.

Homeslice

You might not think of pizza being the most vegan-friendly food option this month, but you’d be wrong – cult favourite Homeslice have got some fantastic vegan selections on the menu. We recommend the vegan ‘Ndontja’ (pictured) – a delicious combo of vegan ‘nduja flavouring, tenderstem broccoli, vegan mozzarella and chilli oil. Click here to order.

Clean Hearts Cafe

Clean Hearts Cafe specialises in healthy and delicious foods that, well, keep your heart clean – so you already know that they have a fantastic vegan selection on the menu. Treat yourself to breakfasts, sandwiches, quiches and even vegan milkshakes – you might find yourself ordering two meals a day. Click here to order.

Emilia’s Pasta

The Aldgate venue for our favourite pasta eatery has closed its doors, but the St Katharine’s Docks branch is still delivering to anyone in the area. Enjoy a variety of vegan variations on their classic, perfected menu of traditional Italian pasta. Veganuary just got that little bit more indulgent. Click here to order.

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A day in the Eastern City with a City Gift Card

Nicola Sheppey

After our Aldgate itinerary, we’re now sharing some of our favourite spots to spend your City Gift Card in the Eastern City – valid for long after we’re allowed back on the streets. Ready for another fab day out?

1 . Get in an early morning workout at Boom Cycle

Start your day right at spinning studio Boom Cycle – the ultimate party on a bike. Set your pace, work hard and more importantly have fun at Boom, with a studio just around the corner from Monument Station.

Find it: 8 Lombard Court | click here to book

2 . Have breakfast at the Lampery

You’ve earned it. Make a morning meeting more exciting over a light and fresh continental selection at the Lampery – or some good old American pancakes, obvs. There’s plenty of delicious brekkie options to indulge in at the Apex Hotel’s in-house restaurant.

Find it: Apex City of London Hotel, 1 Seething Lane | click here to book

3 . Treat yourself at Chequers Hair and Beauty

Take a break from the office and get party ready* at Chequers Hair and Beauty (*yep, it counts if it’s on Zoom). Book into the salon situated in the scenic Leadenhall Market and choose from a wide range of treatments and offers – for those days when bodmin is just as important as admin.

Find it: 53-54 Leadenhall Market | click here to book

4 . Grab an afternoon drink (and a Scotch egg) at the Lamb Tavern

We don’t know about you but we’ve been really craving Scotch eggs lately … good thing the best snacks (/substantial meals) of the City are right in the Market. Grab a drink and a bite to eat from the Lamb Tavern and spend more time in the beautiful setting of Leadenhall Market – win win.

Find it: 10-12 Leadenhall Market | click here to book

5 . Have dinner at Blacklock City

The basement steakhouse is waiting for you. The team behind Blacklock are committed to sourcing the best homegrown meat and, most importantly, serving it up at great value – think delicious cuts for under £20 and cocktails for a fiver. Surely the best way to finish a hardworking day.

Find it: 13 Philpot Lane | click here to book

Support City businesses by purchasing a City Gift Card here – launched by the City Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) & Partnerships with the City of London Corporation. You can also find out where you can spend it on the website, with more businesses being added by the day.

Follow the Eastern City (EC) Partnership on Instagram here.

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A day in Aldgate with a City Gift Card

Nicola Sheppey

Ready to sign up for a City Gift Card? You’ll be amazed at what you can spend it on around a working day in the City. In a series of blog posts, we’ll be looking at how and where you can spend your pre-loaded points in the different areas of the City – kicking off with Aldgate. Explore the area, treat yourself and support local businesses at the same time, all in one day. What’s not to like?

1 . Grab breakfast and check your emails at Benk + Bo

Trendy co-working space Benk + Bo has sustainability at the heart of what it provides: a relaxed space to spend time in with a vegetarian cafe in-house. Book in for a day or half-day, bring your laptop and enjoy a naturally-lit area with plenty of leafy plants, creating a mindful space you won’t want to leave (aided by plenty of fresh coffee, obvs). Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events, workshops and brunch clubs, too.

Note: Benk + Bo is currently closed and will reopen in January 2021; in the meantime, explore Benk + Bodega, their online shop with gift bundles, vintage homeware and more up for grabs.

Find it: 4 Gravel Lane | click here to learn more

2 . Go for a treatment at Body Essential

If 2020 has earned you anything, it’s a little self care. Treat yourself to hair treatments, Hot Stone massages, nails and much more at Body Essential, right around the corner. The haircare and beauty experts will have you spruced up and relaxed for the festive season – and beyond.

Find it: 8 Harrow Place | click here to book

3 . Grab a coffee at Shaman

Time to head back to work? You’ll need an excellent coffee for that. Skip the chains and head to Shaman for some of the best hot drinks in the City, plus artisanal pastries, sandwiches and salads, bringing ethically sourced and expertly brewed coffee into your afternoon.

Find it: 15 Leman Street (within Leman Locke Hotel) | click here to learn more

4 . Have dinner at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

Catch up with your loved ones over a plate of the best pasta this side of Italy. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta serves up recognisable, traditional recipes really, really well. From a 4 hour slow-cooked béchamel bolognese to a basil and pistachio pesto, this is cooking that an Italian grandmother would be proud of.

Find it: 77 Alie Street | click here to book

5 . See off the night at novelty bingo hall Dabbers

Move over karaoke and pub quizzes: novelty bingo is THE new nighttime activity to try out. Good thing one of the best is right on your doorstep – Dabbers puts a modern twist on the classic game with music, comedians, original prizes and hilarious hosts. It’s open up for Covid-secure events, so book in with your bubble or household for a night to remember.

Find it: 18-22 Houndsditch | click here to book

Support City businesses by purchasing a City Gift Card here – launched by the City Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) & Partnerships with the City of London Corporation. You can also find out where you can spend it on the website, with more businesses being added by the day.

Follow the Aldgate Connect BID on Instagram here.

For more updates on what’s happening in the City, sign up for our newsletter here!

PLAY: Performances in the City

Nicola Sheppey

Today Brookfield Properties, Culture Mile and the London Symphony Orchestra have released PLAY, two spectacular short films celebrating the creative energy of the City. In a time when fewer of us are able to wander the streets, let alone come together and perform, these moving and experimental pieces of music and dance show the cultural energy that Londoners have against the stunning backdrops of the City.

Rising

Filmed at 100 Bishopsgate and Citypoint, Rising explores our longing for human connection alongside our relationship with space during a locked-down world. We find new ways to connect when the old ways are challenged. We adapt and reconsider our surroundings, forming new bonds with them. When the violinist picks up her instrument, she plays as if she were on a stage. The dancer responds to the music through the rhythm of her body. At the heart of it all lies the value of art. It connects people and communities and makes the seemingly impossible possible once again.

“I was interested in exploring our longing to connect with other human beings, even when that’s practically impossible because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic,” says Director Antonia Luxem. I’m fascinated by humans as a highly adaptable species that keeps finding new ways to connect when the old ways become obsolete.”

“The location, atop a skyscraper overlooking all of London, made me feel like I was reaching out to [artists],” says Composer Darren Bloom, “expressing both our shared feelings, as well as my personal hopefulness that there is light at the end of this tunnel and that soon we will once again find ourselves stirred by the great artists that currently lie dormant and muted in this great city.”

Creative Team: Maxine Kwok (Musician), Marie Astrid Mence (Dancer), Darren Bloom (Composer), Antonia Luxem (Director & Editor)

The Spell & the Promise

Filmed at London Wall Place, The Spell & the Promise plays like a contemporary fairytale, where the flute casts its spell and leads us on a journey. The title of the film reflects the music in two parts: the slow, mysterious hypnotic sounds of the bass flute before giving way to the more hopeful and evocative sounds of the classic concert flute. The dancers respond to the melodies and the cycles of the loop pedal as they flow outwards into the City.

“We get to dip in and out of the real world and something that is more beautiful and expressionistic, like a contemporary fairytale,” says Director & Producer Lexi Kiddo.

“The space and architecture of London Wall Place had a big impact on the music,” says Composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman. “Being emptier than usual, the space had a beautiful resonance to it, and we wanted to take advantage of that. The exposed, angular lines against the softness of water, light and Roman wall felt very powerful to me. I wanted the music to allow audiences to take stock, reflect and celebrate the lifeblood of the area.”

Creative Team: Gareth Davies (Musician), Faye Stoeser (Dancer), Salomé Pressac (Dancer), Jasmin Kent Rodgman (Composer), Lexi Kiddo (Director & Producer), Harry Price (Choreographer).

The PLAY films have been commissioned in anticipation of the PLAY Festival, which will take place in May 2021 in a specially designed pavilion at London Wall Place – bringing live music back to the City. “The creative talent of the musicians, dancers, composers and film artists involved illustrates the versatility and resilience of the arts in the City at this time,” says Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra.

You can also enjoy PLAY as part of Brookfield Properties’ light festival IlluminoCity; scan QR codes featured on the trail of light installations at Citypoint and London Wall Place and see the performances brought to life. Click here to learn more about PLAY.

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