And that’s a wrap on 2021. We started with Delta, ended with Omicron, and managed to have a bit of (new) normality in the middle. 2020 may have been the strangest year on record but 2021 wasn’t far behind, so read on to see what Team LOTI made of the past twelve months.

Ben Smith | Co-Founder

2021 has on the whole been a little ‘meh’. I think all of us can say we are so over Covid and hope it all comes to an end very soon. While I don’t want to harp on about it, it’s the one conversation which unites us all, making it a tough one to escape.

But let’s think positive. 2021 saw Team LOTI grow, madness right? Off the back of a global pandemic we decided to explore the idea of starting a social media agency, and before you could say ‘how do you do that?’ we were already doing it. So we welcomed Connie into the fold who has hit the ground running managing four of our hospitality clients. If you are looking for social media management and creation, drop me a line ;)

Faye also joined us managing the LOTI social media channels, which has been amazing. Starting and ending the year working from home must have been a weird intro into a new company, but she has had such a strong year with what she has brought to LOTI, taking us to over 160k followers on Instagram and smashing multiple records.

I obviously can’t leave out Christina, who is now in her sixth year at LOTI, I couldn’t imagine LOTI without her, all the content and the planning and the managing. One of the best things about this year is having our team come together and really be a team…we’ve come a long way from me working out of coffee shops writing about things Jules and I found interesting. Can’t wait to have a non-Christmas Christmas party to celebrate properly.

This year we launched our first AMC campaign, where people were able to be part of our Armchair Managers’ Club and make their predictions on big cultural events, which was the Euros. 2022 will see us create more fun AMC campaigns with the Six Nations, Eurovision, Wimbledon and the World Cup. So stay tuned for that. Our LOTI heroes 2021 even got a little bigger with the help of Second Home helping us out with event space for workshops with a few of our LOTI Hero partners. Next year we plan to grow the event side even more.

Looking ahead to 2022, Jules and I have some crazy ideas that we are super excited about. Like stupidly excited about. None more so than introducing INSIDERS, a free members area that will help readers discover more of the things they love to experience with us. On a personal front, I got to travel to the Bahamas with Virgin, and I visited Evora Farm in Portugal, both of which were amazing and I’m super grateful to be able to experience this through what I do for a living. More trips for 2022 please. 

Connie Morphet | Social Media Guru

Well 2021, you certainly made it an extremely tough one for all of us. Having literally just moved to Brixton from West London in December 2020, I spent much of the continuous winter lockdown (that honestly felt like it was never going to end) exploring my new neighbourhood via walks and of course the *odd* Deliveroo, including my newfound fave Pizza Brixton. A lockdown birthday spent with a Pasta Evangelists at-home kit, getting back into reading and many, many bottles of wine later, lockdown finally ended and things started looking a little brighter.

Come April, being able to sit outside at a pub in the freezing cold with a pint in hand sat around five of my friends never felt better. I drew the line, however, sitting in the pouring rain. Holding an umbrella while trying to enjoy a bev and being absolutely soaked…it’s a no from me.

One of my particular highlights was that I finally managed to leave the country (first time since 2018 might I add!). A lovely week in Mallorca was just what I needed to reset and recharge my batteries (and of course a top up the tan). All jokes aside, I think we all took travelling abroad for granted; something that I want to be much more mindful of and grateful for moving forwards.

Starting a new role at LOTI (another grateful moment) and being immersed into the culture here has shown me how incredibly fortunate we are to support hospitality and shout about all the wonderful things that London has going on. It has been extremely pleasing to see life thriving again over the last few months, things almost seemed back to ‘normal’! My London list still has many places unticked, so I can’t wait to crack on and check these out in 2022 (Mangal 2Manteca and Brunswick House I’m looking at you).

Things are looking a little uncertain at the moment and I’m potentially about to have another birthday in lockdown again (a semi-big one too), so now is more important than ever to keep supporting your local businesses through delivery, takeaway and any way you can! It’s safe to say I’m looking forward to seeing what 2022 has on offer – I’m hoping for a little less lateral flow and many more 2019 vibes. 

Faye Hardy | Social Media Queen

2021…where do I begin? Well with joining LOTI, I guess that’s a good place to start and defo one of this year’s highlights. I started the year wfh and here I am twelve months later wfh again, but thankfully there’s been a lot of fun in between. And when I finally made it into our Second Home office, I got to eat and explore my way around the gems of London Fields. And oh what gems they are. Some of my personal faves include Bake Street (always for the creme brûlée cookie), Koya, Violet and E5 Bakehouse. Pockets, I promise to tick you off the list next year. 

It was another year of mainly staycays, not that I’m complaining because Blighty really is quite beaut, but last month I finally escaped the country and it felt GOOD. So next year, I’m gonna take every opportunity possible to travel (four-day bank holiday weekend I’m looking at you). 

I feel so grateful for all the places I have visited whilst being a part of LOTI, although I’m happy to pass on the immersive experiences next time they come around ’cause If I’m honest, Money Heist has slightly scared me. Goals for 2022? Try an oyster (open to recommendations). Watch Pulp Fiction (should probs watch Lion King too). Make more of the time I spend commuting, or just move into London. And live like it’s 2015 because those days were fun. 

Christina Dean | Deputy Editor

Starting the year in lockdown, having to isolate on my birthday (a lucky escape from Delta) and ending the year with Covid (Omicron got me just before Christmas along with 87% of London), not exactly the 2021 I’d hoped for but we move.

Lockdown 3.0 meant even more deliveries – shout out to The Proof, Joanna’s and Lima – before graduating to eating and drinking outside in the fresh London spring weather, pretending it wasn’t cold, wet or uncomfortable. There was also a lot of chasing the Dusty Knuckle milk float around East London; it took three tries but I got my hands on that chicken caesar sarnie and it was worth every second of effort.

Once I was let back inside there was more fantastic food, including delayed birthday chicken at Royale, unagi handrolls at Temaki, Peking duck at Mimi Mei Fair, a fry-up with extra bubble at E.Pellici, curried cheese curds at The Cheese Barge,sesame noodles at Lucky & Joy, chicharones at Rondo La Cave, the best tiramisu in town (don’t @ me) at Campania, duck leg rolls at Paradise, mushroom parfait at Fallow, celeriac kare kare at Sarap, venison scotch eggs at The Harwood Arms, and a Kent double header at the Sportsman and the Fordwich Arms.

We may not have had the glorious summer weather of last year but we did have the return of the football (it didn’t come home in the end but what a ride it was) and the return of festivals – standing in a field, cans in hand at All Points East, Field Day and Mighty Hoopla, it felt like the world was back to normal. And I made it out of the country for an actual abroad holiday, involving lots of sun, lots of sea and lots of souvlaki. As for 2022, I’d like to never see another lateral flow again (unlikely), make to Sri Lanka in Feb (hopefully) and continue to stuff my face with food (definitely). 

Jules | Co-Founder & Editor At Large

2021, what a year, and one that we’ll all be glad to see the back of. There’s been a whole lot of highs, a whole lot of lows and then there’s been our clown of a PM Boris. Without making this too political, there was us thinking Trump was bad. This year’s been a dragger alright – someone on Twitter tweeted that the Bernie Sanders photo, the one that went viral with a million memes, was only 11 months old. Crazy. On the social media note, it’s definitely helped spread some cheer this year, especially Twitter, which has come back to life and there’s some pretty funny stuff out there….

It’s been a tough year for the hospitality industry yet again and whilst I’m here I’d like to tell you all to do what you can to support restaurants and bars, it’s the only way they will survive. I’ve enjoyed eating and drinking non-stop in 2021 since places re-opened and after been deprived of it last year. Some of my best meals have been at Dim Sum & Duck, Mangal 2, The Bridge Arms, Royale, Mr Ji, Norman’s and Tacos Padre – most of whom I’ve visited a fair few times because the food is always on point.

It’s also been a hell of a year for the travel industry, just trying to understand the rules is enough to put anyone off travelling. I’ve been super lucky to have been able to get away, starting the year in Costa Rica and finishing in Thailand. I also got to visit some new places, spending a very chilled couple of weeks in Menorca, eating BBQ in Texas and exploring the restaurants of San Fran. Nothing wakes up the soul like a trip to the unknown.

Our LOTI Heroes, a celebration of all the people making the world a better place, returned for its third edition – be sure to have a peek if you haven’t already. We established our Local Heroes feature, a regular spot light on people and businesses doing great things with good hearts and we launched the Armchair Managers’ Club for the Euros, which along with the tennis, was one of the highlights of 2021.

Whatever you did this year, if you made it through the last 12 months and survived then you did enough. It’s been a tough one. Remember to be kind to people because it’s gonna be another bumpy one. Wishing you all a happy new year.