East London guide to lockdown Valentine’s Day

Illustration by Esmae Palmer

By Brooke Tremain and Esmae Palmer

Just with every other occasion in the past year, Covid-19 has prevented any proper celebration and Valentine’s Day is not going to be any different.

But whether you’re single or celebrating your relationship surviving an extremely testing year, everyone deserves to celebrate this weekend. 

If Valentine’s this year is about celebrating self-love for you or keeping warm in your support bubble surrounding yourself with love from your family and friends, there are surprisingly many ways to distract yourself from the seemingly grey future this weekend (while adorned with love heart paraphernalia). 

With restrictions very much still in place, even if you live apart from your partner there are many ways to celebrate this year, from at-home spa sets to meal kits created by local restaurants; the Zoom date doesn’t need to be tedious.


  • Being local to Croydon, your partner would appreciate a card from MadeByMrsM on Etsy- adorned with a hand-drawn image of famous Number One building. The £3 cards are available here
  • If you’re lucky enough to be living with your partner during lockdown- then why not have a special three-course meal at home? Brasserie Vacherin is providing a three-course meal (with a choice of lobster) with a bottle of prosecco for £45 each. The menu includes dishes such as Jersey Rock oysters, Shetland mussels, an antipasti sharing board with smoked duck, and a 28 day aged chateaubriand or whole grilled lobster for the main course. You can preorder the meal at www.lobsterandgrill.co.uk
  • But if your special half prefers flowers to food, or you’ve left it a bit last minute, Amadeus Florist in Croydon are promising same-day delivery (if ordered before 2pm) on their beautiful Valentine’s special bouquets, including a love heart made out of 100 fresh roses. 
Pic: Teagan Rodgers


  • For vegans out there who fancy taking up a new skill in lockdown, Bruna Oliveria (Vegan Cheese Producer, Raw Chef and Nutritional Therapist) is offering a 2 for 1 ‘Vegan Nut Cheese Masterclass’ online course and promises to take couples “on a culinary journey of cheese, ‘re-imagined'”. You’ll discover the amazing textures, flavours and health benefits of raw, fermented nut cheese and how to make it at home.” Couples can book the course (different dates available) here
Pic: Lindsay Moe
  • For those just wanting to send a thoughtful gift to their other half this year, small Hackney businesses have teamed together for the special day- creating a delightfully romantic bundle. It includes a naked lady candle from Eve Candles Hackney, two pizzas and a tote bag courtesy of the Flat Earth Pizza company, two Cake or Death London vegan brownies, and a bottle of Renegade Urban Winery natural wine; perfect for those eager to help local businesses.  You can find the limited edition bundle on Eve Candles Hackney’s Instagram page. But if you’d prefer to handpick your partner’s gifts, all items included can be purchased via the businesses’ websites – www.cakeordeath.net www.flatearthpizzas.com and www.renegadelondonwine.com
  • If your significant other has a particularly sweet tooth, Miss Suri bakery is offering a ‘Valentine’s Day Treat Box’. Each box has two hazelnut gianduja cream heart-shaped doughnuts, two whipped white chocolate ganache and raspberry macaroons, two raspberry and chocolate coloured croissants, two love heart brownie bites and chocolate-covered strawberries; it’s perfect to share.
  • Despite lockdown, Netil Market in Hackney remains open with many food stalls providing takeaway foods, from pasta to halloumi burgers. Treats Club Dessert Bar, situated in the market, is making pink hot chocolates topped with love heart doughnuts- perfect for the end of your one daily exercise walk with your significant other or friend. 


  • The Tapas Room is offering Valentine’s Tapas & Wine at home! The delicious hamper serves two and contains wine and food ready for your live Zoom call at 6pm with chef Paul Belcher. Follow Paul, the owner and creator behind the award-winning The Tapas Room and enjoy cooking your Valentine’s meal together from home. 
  • Excite your imagination with stories of love written by LGBT+ authors this Valentine’s Day and delve into all experiences of love. If a burning opinion on one of the tales comes to mind after reading, Lewisham’s LGBT+ forum is the perfect online book club during lockdown, surround yourself with fellow bookworms and celebrate pride and love! The stories are available here.
By Jiroe
  • For something particularly different this Valentine’s, take part in a fun virtual balloon race for a loving cause. Buy your virtual balloon and decorate it for £3, then join the race guided by real-time weather conditions for a chance to win prizes while raising money to support migrants and refugees across South London. The balloons “launch” from the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day at 12pm, and can be followed live via Google maps. You could be in for the chance of winning: 1st Place- £500 Cash, 2nd place- An Apple iPad, and 3rd place will be 10 lucky winners of £10 book tokens. You can enter the balloon race here.
  • Order a sweet treat from local business Patisserie Olive, who have a selection of delicious cakes and cookies decorated with pink and red hearts to celebrate love. Our personal favourite is their Valentine’s box, certain to make your loved one smile. Inside you’ll find Valentine’s themed shortbreads, chocolate smash hearts, cupcakes and brownies; perfect to snack on through a cosy movie night this Valentine’s. Find them on Instagram: @patisserieolive 

Tower Hamlets

  • Wrap up warm and take a stroll through Victoria Park, renowned for being one of London’s most important historic parks, stretching for 213 acres. Stop off at the Pavilion Cafe beside the river to warm up and watch the ducks and swans glide through the waters. To delve into the history, follow the park’s very own podcast while you stroll – (https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/leisure_and_culture/parks_and_open_spaces/victoria_park/memoryscape.aspx); you can listen to memories and highlights of the parks 170-year history whilst walking. Fascinating stories include how it was used as a Second World War prisoner of war camp.  
The Chinese pagoda at Victoria Park. Pic: Aleksandr Chalikov
  • If you want to support local businesses this Valentine’s Day, micro-bakery Zakiyah’s is offering special treats on the occasion. The owner of the local bakery graduated at the famous Le Cordon Bleu London with a Diplome de Patisserie and his shop is open for collection this Valentine’s Day. Their special Valentine’s menu includes fine delicacies such as a chocolate ganache tart, macarons and pistachio white chocolate truffles. Or for a more exciting treat ‘The Grand Box’ which features three chocolate truffles, two of everything on the special menu, and two of each macaron flavour for £30. So make sure to save room for dessert! 
  • Or spoil your significant other with an Italian themed Valentine’s with the make your own pasta and pizza kit from PickyWops; their vegan pizza was recently placed in the top 10 pizzas internationally! Take on their ingredients and see if you can top the chefs! Choose from kits to make three of their delicious pasta sauces, or get creative with their at-home pizza kit.  
  • Bring the spa to your home with a luxury hamper from Tower Hamlets’s Premier Luxury Hamper Store. They offer a wide range of luxury hampers which can be delivered to your door if you live in Tower Hamlets. The handmade hampers can make your home feel like a sanctuary; they include award-winning foods, drinks and are beautifully presented.  
Pic: Melissa DuPont

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