As you’ll know from our recent book club, we’re all about looking for the unexpected this Valentine’s Day. Nothing says you truly care about — and genuinely know — your partner like a unique, unusual, thoughtfully chosen surprise. Be it a physical gift or the joy of a carefully curated experience, prepare to woo your paramour with the items below.
A RARE VINTAGE
A fine spirit or wine is perfect for one who is hard to shop for (or the one who has everything); you know they’ll use it, and you know they’ll enjoy it. There’s also something beautiful about gifts you can indulge in together. This Johnny Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen Edition, available at Harrods (for an impressive $481.94 CAD — hey, splurge!), combines eight specially hand-picked whiskies, carefully chosen by Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his tiny team. This blend contains three irreplaceable ‘ghost whiskies’ — that is, spirits from distilleries that have closed down — and five rare malt expressions, each of which boasts an age of at least twenty years. The star of the bottle? Whisky from the famous island distillery of Port Ellen, which has been out of operation since 1983.
A DECADENT DINING EXPERIENCE
Sure, you could take your significant other to a favourite spot that holds sentimental value for you both — first date, place you got engaged, etc. But why not make this Valentine’s Day all about finding a new favourite? One of the restaurants on our radar these days is Cococo in St. Petersburg. Since its inception in 2012, this foodie hotspot, under the direction of experimentalist Chef Igor Grishechkin, has become something of a tourist attraction, offering up a fusion of traditional Russian cuisine with modern technologies. A menu highlight? The Piggy Bank, a sweet dessert in which chocolate coins can be inserted — then, once you break it open, you’ll be delighted by a raspberry ganache and berry gel.
A NIGHT AT THE THEATRE
A dinner-and-a-show date doesn’t necessarily have to mean taking in the same big-name musical that’s been playing downtown for the last few years. For our readers in Perth, A Midnight Visit, playing until March at Perth Fringe World, is an interactive and immersive theatre experience conceived as a “choose your own adventure” narrative. In this otherworldly dreamscape, audience members will follow Lizzie, a troubled young ghost who harbours a peculiar obsession with Edgar Allen Poe. The stuff of typical romance? Not exactly — but we can guarantee you’ll be reaching for each other’s hands in the dark.
A CUSTOM ART PIECE
Readers, is there anything more romantic than receiving a piece of art that has been commissioned especially for you? If your partner is artistically-minded, the gift of a custom piece is one that becomes a staple of your interior space — in other words, it’s a gift that keeps giving on the daily. If you’re looking for something original and personal, look no further than Erin McGean. This digital collage artist caught our attention back in 2017 for her nature-inspired, layered portraits. Read the exclusive interview here.
A LUXURIOUS SPA TREATMENT
If you want to do Valentine’s right, make a day of it — and a relaxing day at that! Chiva-Som Hua Hin is a holistic spa located on seven verdant acres on the Gulf of Thailand. Treatments here include everything from high-tech facials (think Bioplasma™ and Hi Frequency Focused Ultrasound) to Chakra balancing, Reiki gemstones therapy, and Crystal and Quantum massage. After a day of relaxation and rejuvenation, cap it off with a glass of champagne at the spa’s adjacent resort; opt for the Leelawadee Suite, which boasts a private terrace with a jacuzzi and tranquil garden.
AN EXTRAVAGANT EXCURSION
If the thought of adventure piques your interest but you’re in search of something a little more adrenaline-inducing than a quiet spa retreat, check out Wild Frontiers. Founded in 1996 by travel writer Jonny Bealby, who began working with locals to craft experiences in some of the world’s most remote regions, this organization promotes a different kind of holiday. Focusing on parts of the world that have largely been untouched by tourism, Wild Frontiers offers guided exploration into places like Antartica and Sub Saharan Africa. Prepare to immerse yourself in the history, culture, and landscape of some of the most fascinating parts of our planet — preferably, of course, with your lover by your side!
A SILKY SOMETHING
Shopping for her? Give the gift of silky, sexy, sensual comfort. We’re in love with Carine Gilson’s line of romantic boudoir attire, which is so quintessentially European (the label’s first brick and mortar, naturally, was located in Paris in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres) that she’ll feel like she’s slipping into something “a little more comfortable” at any of the finest hotels on the continent. Having trouble choosing from the wide array of beautiful options? We love this long V-line gown, made from blue nattier mercure satin silk with patine “florilege” lace inserts.
A FLORAL FIXATION
Still thinking you’d like to go the classic, tried-and-true route of a lavish bouquet? Great — but make it fashion. Family owned, Paris-based Lachaume is extremely proud of its shop at the Faubourg Saint Honoré 103, which is positively overflowing with roses, orchids, violets, and baskets of wildflowers. It’s even prouder of its company history. “Maître fleuriste since 1845,” says the company, “Lachaume has little changed since the time Marcel Proust came daily to decorate his buttonhole with a fresh cattleya.” How’s that for a bouquet with a story behind it?
A QUIRKY BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Sure, we love a classic luxurious hotel, but we also love a boutique spot with a flair for setting itself apart from the pack. Hotel Panache, located in Paris (we know, we know, another Paris offering — but hey, it is the city of love!), is situated at the bustling corner of rue du Faubourg Montmartre and rue Geoffroy Marie, near theatres and the Grand Boulevards. Drawing inspiration from the Flatiron Building in New York, designer Dorothee Meilichzon has created stunning interiors filled with walls and carpeting that are printed with bold geometric shapes. Cuttingly contemporary with just the right amount of retro fusion, the Panache is one seriously photogenic place to stay.
A LITTLE BLING
Finally, it isn’t a Valentine’s Day gift guide without a little sparkle. The House of Harry Winston has been crafting extraordinary diamond jewelry since 1932, and today the company operates retail salons all around the world in our most fashion-forward cities (New York, London, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai). We’re particularly enthralled by the company’s long, lustrous necklaces, which make for the perfect addition to her little black dress. Looking for a gift for him? Harry Winston also makes some extraordinary timepieces.