At the beginning of this year Stylist launched our campaign to Reclaim Your Lunch Break. Now, 105 companies are on board and making real changes to their teams’ lives.
Push PR are one firm embracing the new work/life balance with lunch break sessions featured hair braiding, a company-wide lunch complete with colouring books, and on 23 September the team even played dress up with companies Twinks Burnett and Dream Girls who visited the team to turn their workspace into a glittery festival.
Meanwhile, the Action PR team reclaimed their lunch hour by taking part in a 25-minute GIGO Power Plate work out. (If you fancy it and are based in west London, the team recommends the Power Plate lunchtime workout at Power Vibe.)
Gold Key Media went even further and reclaimed their entire August Bank Holiday weekend. Twelve members of the office cycled 202 miles from London to Paris. Not only that, but they managed to raise £14,000 for their chosen charities, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer.
Now, while we aren’t suggesting that you too have to reclaim three days’ worth of cycling, why not be our next company to join in the trend? If there is one thing all these companies have in common it's that they’ve shown us just how much you can achieve by re-thinking that one hour of your working day.
See below to discover 20 incredible ways to enjoy your lunch break:
Languages at lunch
Gone are the days of educational CDs and evening classes, Languages at Lunch now offer a much more time-effective service: language lessons during your lunch hour, bringing the teacher to your workplace. Just choose a language and a level et voila.
London, £100 for 10 weeks; languagesatlunch.com
Go ice skating
Embrace the winter months and get some fresh air with a lunchtime ice skate. London boasts a great selection of rinks to choose from but purely for the festive factor, the Canary Wharf Ice rink gets our vote, with fairy light-laden trees, a beautiful backdrop and a pop-up bar selling cheese fondue and hot chocolate.
Montgomery St, London. £14.95; icerinkcanarywharf.co.uk
Take in a planetarium screening
If you’re near Greenwich and you have 45 minutes to spare, spend your lunch hour in the peaceful auditorium at the Royal Observatory Planetarium and watch one of its stunning shows. ‘The Sky Tonight’ runs daily, projecting the night’s sky onto the domed ceiling and explaining what to look out for that night. It is the perfect escape from work. Royal Observatory Planetarium, Greenwich, London, £7.50; rmg.co.uk/whats-on/planetarium-shows
Enjoy a cookery class
L’Atelier Des Chefs cookery school offers a notorious 30-minute cookery class ‘Cook, Eat, Run’ where its chefs impart their culinary knowledge in a hands-on session. By the end of the class you will have gained new skills and have a delicious dish to prove it that you can either eat there or take back to work.
Oxford Circus/St Pauls, London, £15; atelierdeschefs.co.uk
Library book cafés
If you want to unwind with a good book and some grub in an informal setting, head for the London Review Bookshop. Providing a ‘haven for reading and reflection’, the adjoining cake shop is a great place for a good old relaxing read. londonreviewbookshop.co.uk/cake-shop
Lunchtime lectures are available across the UK, offering informal and informative presentations. University College London’s Lunch hour lectures and Bristol Watershed’s Lunchtime Talks are both regular, free and open to all. Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol. free; watershed.co.uk
University College London, free; events.ucl.ac.uk/calendar/tab:lunch_hour_lectures/
With the festivities looming, what better way to make the most out of your lunch break than by buying your gifts early? The Glasgow Christmas Continental Market opens on 13th November and offers stalls of potential presents, festive street food and mulled wine.
St. Enoch Square, Glasgow City Centre, free; whatsonglasgow.co.uk/event/003279-glasgow-christmas-market-2015/
Don’t have time to date in the evenings? Only Lunch offers a London-based lunchtime dating service that is proving popular, describing itself as ‘personal matchmaking for professionals’. London, sign-up fees; onlylunch.com
London bike rides
If you feel like spending your lunch break outside, why not go for a bike ride through London in the fresh air? London’s Santander bikes are free to hire for 30 minutes and cost just £2 to top up, giving you exercise, fresh air and beautiful views for next to nothing.
A Play, a pie and a pint
Glasgow’s ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ is the UK’s most successful lunchtime theatre programme, running new plays every week from Mondays to Saturdays. The 55 minute productions start at 1pm fitting perfectly into a lunchbreak and the ticket price includes a drink and a pie.
Glasgow Lunchtime Theatre, Oran Mor. Average price: £12.50; playpiepint.com
The speedy spa has opened at Mayfair’s Elemis, offering 15 and 30 minute lunchtime beauty treatments. Designed to squeeze into your lunch break it offers everything from facials and power massages to waxing and brow services so you can return to work relaxed and refreshed.
London, prices from £18; elemis.com/house-of-elemis-treatment-menu-speed-spa-essentials
Stretch it out
The House of Yoga offers Lunch Time Flow Fix sessions to calm, re-energise and uplift workers. The 45 minute class takes place in a heated 32 degrees studio, aiming to give a quick and restorative exercise fix to stressed-out professionals.
Putney, London; thehouseofyoga.co.uk/our-yoga-classes/lunch-time-flow-fix/
Giving blood can help save lives and is something that many wish to perform yet less than 3% actively do. If it is something that you are interested in, sign up as a donor and go down to the nearest venue in your lunch break. Saving a life is a great way to reclaim your lunch hour and you’ll return to work a hero with your blood donor sticker.
Venues in every city; blood.co.uk/giving-blood/
Haircuts at a snip
If you don’t have the time or money to spend on luxurious hair treatments, head to a hairdressing academy that offers lunchtime cutting and colouring by trainee hairdressers at a snip. Toni and Guy Academies charge £5 a haircut and are open Monday – Friday across the UK.
£5 haircut, £20 hair coloured; London, Edinburgh, Manchester; toniandguy.com/pages/category/education/academies
If you have sacrificed weeknight clubbing due to the early starts or if you just like a boogie, lunchtime discos could be the perfect way for you to spend your lunch hour. Regularly thrown at different locations around London, the lunchtime raves start at 12 noon and have strict rules that if you attend, you must dance.
Pop up locations, London; jessindeedy.com/lunchtime-disco
BBC Monday Lunchtime Concerts are a weekly lunch hour event, showcasing a variety of musical genres and for just £15 a ticket. The concerts start routinely at 1pm and last approximately one hour, providing a perfect mix of relaxation and culture to break up your day.
Wigmore Hall, London, W1U 2BP, £15; wigmore-hall.org.uk
Gardening in the fresh air is good for the mind and therapeutic for the soul. Apply for an allotment or volunteer to help on someone else’s and spend a peaceful lunch break de-stressing in the outdoors. There are allotment plots available across the UK and whether you find yours on a rooftop garden in Soho or in the countryside in Leeds, there will be one out there for you. gov.uk/apply-allotment
Galleries and museums are a great place to spend your lunch break, where else can you absorb culture, people watch and spend some alone time – and all for free. The Victoria and Albert Museum have a wide range of free-admission galleries that are worth a see, but if you have £12 spare, their temporary exhibition ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ is not to be missed. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. SW7 2RL, free; vam.ac.uk/whatson/event/5150/shoes-pleasure-and-pain-696789408/
If you want to develop your camera skills or have a group of friends who want to get into photography, lunchtime courses are available across the UK. Frui offers a variety of packages with their professionals holding lunch time courses at your office for one-to-one or group sessions. If there are enough people interested they even throw an exhibition of your work at the end.
Zetland House, London. EC2A 4HJ; frui.co.uk
Volunteering is incredibly rewarding and organisations are always in need of help. Dedicating your lunch break to a charity is a learning opportunity and a great way to take your mind off work. Lunch Positive is a community organisation in Bristol running a weekly lunch club for people with HIV, looking for lunch time volunteers. Whether you volunteer once or weekly, it is a great way to re-claim your lunch break.
Lunch Positive, Brighton, BN1 3XG; lunchpositive.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/11-Volunteers-Ops.pdf