A Short History of London’s Chinatown

A Short History of London’s Chinatown

With Chinese New Year just around the corner on the 25th January, some might be wondering why, every year, London puts on the biggest celebrations outside of Asia. A Chinatown has existed in London since the early 18th century, but it didn’t always brush elbows with the seedy glamour of Soho. What Is Chinatown’s History?…

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Romantic things to do in Lisbon for Valentine’s Day

Romantic things to do in Lisbon for Valentine’s Day

Planning to spend the most romantic day of the year in Lisbon? A city break can be a wonderful way to get some quality time as a couple: exploring a new place together, trying exotic new flavours and strolling hand in hand down a tree-lined avenue… 

Lisbon’s stunning architecture and favourable climate make it an ideal backdrop for any love story, even more so when you choose from one of our hand-picked ideas for the most romantic things to do in Lisbon this Valentine’s Day. 

Sunset Boat Trip

There is something very cinematic about drifting along the river, with a wide open sky stretching above you and a light wind rustling your hair. Delight your special someone with a boat ride down the river Tejo, best taken at sunset in order to behold Lisbon’s 7 hills bathed in a soft golden glow.

Most sunset sails provide local wines and appetisers, adding a touch of Portuguese gastronomy to this romantic journey. You can even relive the iconic Titanic scene with Rose and Jack at the prow of the ship…

Take in the View at a Miradouro 

Create a memorable moment at one of the city’s fantastic miradouros (viewpoints), small parks located on a steep hillside that each offer a unique and breathtaking vista. Among our favourites are: Miradouro de Santa Luzia, one of the prettiest viewpoints located above Alfama and decorated with a beguiling combination of typical blue and white tile mosaics and cascading blooms of purple bougainvillea trees.

The more intrepid explorers can head to Miradouro da Graça, located in front of the Graça Church where visitors can enjoy a cold glass of vinho verde at the viewpoint’s café. Finally, the Cristo Rei, an immense statue of the Christ located on the southern side of the Tejo, is the highest in the city and a remarkable spot for a breathless, Hollywood-style kiss with your significant other. 

Pick up Some Flowers in Pequeno Jardim

Looking for a romantic gift to take for your loved one? Head to Pequeno Jardim (“Little Garden”) in Chiado, one of the oldest shops in the neighbourhood and certainly one of the oldest florists in town. Established in 1922, this tiny place barely extends further than the doorway, yet its wonderful array of vibrant flowers spill out onto the pavement and cause many a passerby to stop and admire this minuscule botanical wonderland.

In fact, Pequeno Jardim is so charming, you won’t want to deprive the object of your affection the chance to revel in the heady perfume of lilies and roses and instead can pass a happy half an hour together picking out the most enchanting floral display. 

A Night at São Carlos

If you and your partner are music lovers, why not book tickets for one of the shows at the legendary São Carlos Theater in Chiado? The gorgeous Rococo building built in 1793 shows mostly classical music recitals, ballet and opera and is a fabulous setting for an elegant evening out à deux.

Slip into something classy, order a glass of champagne at the bar and glide into this iconic entertainment institution, arm in arm with your loved one. In summer, the theater hosts free outdoor concerts in the square out front for those looking for a less formal but equally special experience. 


Lovers in search of a true fairytale day out should jump on the train to Sintra, home to the summer palaces of Portugal’s former kings and queens. The bright colours and crumbling towers of the palaces tucked away among lush greenery or perched atop dizzyingly high hills, give this village a landscape of fantasy and majesty.

Sintra’s history is full of tales of love and passion among the royal family, so you can get lost in a world of wonder and intrigue, hand in hand with your own fairytale prince or princess. You can check out our list of other Lisbon day trips here.

Wine Tasting

One of history’s best-loved aphrodisiacs, sharing a bottle of wine, can have an almost celestial power of bringing people together. Give Cupid a nudge by participating in an evening tasting some of Portugal’s delicious wine, engaging your senses in a simple yet special experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

Let the wines’ velvety colours and potent aromas envelop you both as you share a romantic, indulgent evening. Impress your other half by taking some time to study our guide to wine tasting in Lisbon beforehand and blow them away with your extensive knowledge! One of our favourite places for a great wine experience is the Garrafeira Imperial located in the restaurant Tapas 47, which boasts an impressive selection of national wines and port. 

Chocolate Heaven at Landeau

Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like chocolate and luckily, Lisbon is home to three branches of the legendary Landeau, purveyors of what many agree to be the finest chocolate cake in the whole world. On this special day, allow yourself a moment of pure decadence by sharing a slice of delicate, moist layered chocolate cake with your loved one… and then order another slice because one between two simply isn’t enough! Striking just the right note between heavenly and sinful, this mouthwatering treat is the perfect accompaniment to a day of soulful kisses and gazing into each other’s eyes…

Stealing away to a new and exotic location has been a favourite habit of lovers since the beginning of time and if Lisbon is your chosen destination, there are plenty of opportunities for tender moments against the backdrop of one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals.

Whether it be holding hands in front of a sweeping vista, spooning up some divine chocolate cake or discovering love stories of the past, you can ensure a truly romantic Lisbon Valentine’s Day with your soulmate, or as they say in Portuguese “the other half of your orange” (media laranja)! 

The post Romantic things to do in Lisbon for Valentine’s Day appeared first on Eating Europe.

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One Night at The Lowry in Manchester

One Night at The Lowry in Manchester

I was gifted a £500 BuyAGift Voucher and contractually obliged to post on Instagram. 

After a rather gruelling seven hour drive (that should have taken four hours) to Manchester on the 27th of December, we managed to miss nearly the whole of the party that we’d driven up for. Though there was a silver lining as we did catch the end of little George’s 2nd birthday and we were in for a treat, staying the night at The Lowry Hotel… next time we’re getting the train!

The Lowry Hotel is actually the first ever hotel that Mr S and I stayed in nine years ago, we’d been together few months and he’d invited me up to Manchester for a christening (a sure sign that he liked me ;). We stayed there again a few years later about two weeks before our wedding… now it ‘s all come full circle and we were back here with Oscar.

I’d actually tied this stay in with a collaboration with BuyaGift who had offered me the opportunity to choose a gift experience from their website. The company have over 4,500 diverse experience days to choose from and I love the idea of gifting someone with a memory rather than an object. There’s plenty of luxury experiences, nights away and restaurant offers and this package to The Lowry was the perfect treat for our family.

I have to say the rooms could use a spruce but our deluxe king room was still very spacious and modern with all the mod cons that you might need. They’d also placed a cot in the room for Oscar with a little Lowry bear in it which was a really sweet touch.

As our stay included dinner in the hotel’s River Restaurant, the three of us went there straight away as we’d already arrived fairly late.

(pic taken the next day in the light)
Going to the restaurant bought back fond memories of our dinner there nine years ago. A lot has changed since then and the restaurant bar area has a beautiful new design.
I really enjoyed my starter of wild mushrooms on toast and slow cooked duck egg, truffle butter and mushroom ketchup – it was perfectly done!

While Mr S had Cornish crab, horseradish sorbet, sweetcorn and sea herbs which was beautifully presented.

Main course for me was monkfish scampi pease pudding, warm tartare sauce and malt vinegar while Mr S had lamb.

It was up to bed after that as it had been such a long day! The next morning breakfast was back in the River Restaurant with a choice of a la carte menu or buffet. 

Again breakfast was included in the BuyaGift voucher so we were pretty much all set while we were there!

We didn’t have a huge amount of time to look around after breakfast but one of my favourite elements of the hotel is the huge sweeping lobby. The hotel is actually named after local Salford artist, L.S Lowry so there’s lots of original artwork around every corner.

From outside you can get a good view of the city as the hotel is located on  the River Irwell and you can spot the bridge and beyond.

The hotel has such fond memories for us and we love returning! A big thank you to BuyAGift for giving us the stay!

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K-pop band BTS have just launched a global art project at the Serpentine Gallery

K-pop band BTS have just launched a global art project at the Serpentine Gallery

Do you know your YBAs from your abstract expressionism? Can you wax lyrical about the deep meanings behind elegant brushstrokes? No? Well, it doesn’t really matter because this project is anything but a traditional exhibition.

BTS, the K-pop band that have millions of fans across the world, have just announced a global project that will appeal to art buffs and beginners alike. The band’s seven members have joined up with 22 of the world’s most talented artists to produce free, public installations. The aim of the project, titled ‘CONNECT, BTS’, is to link five cities – London, Berlin, New York, Buenos Aires and Seoul – across four continents. 


Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis, 2019-20 (Installation view, 14 January 2020 Serpentine Galleries) © 2019
Photograph: Hugo Glenndinning


London’s contribution is at the Serpentine Gallery and went on display yesterday. ‘Catharsis’ is a ‘virtual forest’ by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen. It’s designed to immerse audiences in a digital simulation of an ancient forest, featuring lush nature shots, like tree roots and an aerial view of the treetops. ‘Catharsis’, which will also be broadcast online, will be joined by a major outdoor installation from January 28. 

Elsewhere, British sculptor Sir Anthony Gormley has been commissioned to create a huge aluminium ‘scribble’ that will go on show in New York, Berlin will be treated to a show by 17 performance artists, and Argentinian contemporary artist Tomás Saraceno is set to float a human over Buenos Aires’ Salinas Gardens in a solar-powered balloon.


Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis (2019-20) © 2020
Photograph: courtesy of the artist


‘[The project is] about connecting everyone who is interested in BTS with everyone who is interested in contemporary art,’ said Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the Serpentine Gallery’s artistic director. 

So, why is the Korean boy band venturing into the world of art at all? Apparently they want the installations to be a ‘positive message for the world’ and to ‘give back some of the amazing love’ that they receive.

‘What was meaningful for us is how these artworks are completed through the experience of the people who see them,’ Jeon Jung-kook, one of the band’s seven members, told the BBC

We’d better go take a look then, IMO. 

‘Catharsis’ is at the Serpentine Gallery from today (Jan 15) until Mar 6. Find out more about ‘CONNECT, BTS’ here

Itching for more art? Check out the best exhibitions in London right now.

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