The First Highrise Digital Retreat

For the last 2 nights and 3 days I have spent the time in London, in a delightful AirBnB flat overlooking the river Thames, spending time with work colleagues for our very first Highrise Digital retreat. We spent time together working on various planning for projects and ideas moving forwards for 2018. We had a great time and this post is all about what we did and where we stayed.

Being a remote company, although we chat and see each other everyday we rarely get the chance to actually meet in person and spend time with each other. As we have grown as a company we have grown to realise that this time together is very important.

To rectify this we rented an AirBnB flat near St. Katherine’s dock in London, not too far away from Tower Bridge. The flat/apartment was amazing with some stunning views over the river Thames. It was two bedroom with a third bed located on a mezzanine floor above the main living space – that was designated my bed and it was pretty comfy. I slept with the stars out of the window to my side which was really nice.

The Journey Down

The journey down was a little different for me as it was the first time that had had the chance to travel First Class on Virgin Trains. The price was amazing and actually cheaper than the normal fare down to London on the train.

When everyone has mentioned First Class to me in the past they talk about the complimentary food and drink you can get. However having now travelled first class, for the me to best part is the extra space. Instead of the carriages being 2 x 2 seats with an aisle in the middle they are 2 x 1 and therefore there is far more space.

First class carriage aisle image.
Much more space in the Aisle and in the carriage in general on Virgin Trains first class.

The Accommodation

I arrived just after 2 and immediately met up with my colleagues and we headed over the to the accommodation and was met by our AirBnB host. He showed us around and how a few things worked. We were immediately really impressed with the apartment which was going to be our home for the next 3 days. We wanted to get something really nice as we knew we would be spending a lot of time in their..

There was one glaring omission from the apartment though and that was that there was no TV (it was my fault as it was clearly highlighted in the listing). This would not really be a problem, but we wanted to play on the mini Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) which Jonathan brought along for some quality downtime. Therefore we quickly got onto Amazon Prime and looked for a projector (cheap and cheerful) in order to hook up the SNES and project onto the plain white wall in the apartment. It was delivered the day after!

Business Development – Day 1

After spending 3 or 4 hours planning out some marketing ideas etc. we headed for dinner at a local Italian, highly recommended to us. I love Italian food, in fact it is always my goto choice of restaurant and Il Bordello did not let us down. I had a delicious and gigantic Mushroom pizza, which I couldn’t finish. After dinner we headed to the oldest pub in London (The Prospect of Whitby) for a pint and met some very lively locals!

Highrise Digital team working image.
A great place to work with superb views from the main room.

Day 2

The next morning we had intended a morning run, however as the weather was very gloomy and mizzly, we decided to postpone to the following morning and a little later, to also not hit the rush hour of people. Instead we continued our business development work we had started the previous day, after breakfasting of course.

When it came to about 11am we all started getting a little nervous as we started to prep for our very first Facebook Live video. We were running a WordPress Q & A roundtable idea. It actually went really well and it was such fun. You can watch the video below if you fancy it!

We had a client call in the afternoon but managed to get some more planning done after that.

We decided to eat in that night ordering in some curries from Deliveroo. It is amazing that you just order on the App and then within 45 minutes some guy on a bike delivers everything to you and you can even follow the journey of the rider on the app!

The evening was spent playing on the SNES using the projector. It turned out to be a bargain really. For only £70 we had a pretty portable LED projector on the wall which we can now use for other things such as events or even in future retreats. If you are wondering it is a GooDee Home Cinema Efficiency LED Projector.

Sensible soccer screenshot image.
A simple game of football which is so much fun.

We played 2 games to took me right back to my youth. The first was Sensible Soccer which is a game with perhaps the most basic of graphics etc. but the playability is brilliant. We had a couple of mini tournaments – I managed to win one somehow.

The second game, another I played when I was a teen was Micro Machines. The game consists of races with different Micro Machine vehicles across various places such as tables and roof tops. The idea it to force you opponent ‘off’ the screen. Again so simple but so much fun.

The Chard and Tower Bridge at night image.
The Chard and Tower Bridge at night.

Day 3

The Highrise Digital team.

Another good night sleep meant I woke at around 0830. I wanted to get a run in around the sites of London and therefore myself and Keith headed out. We managed a 4.6 mile run along the one side of the Thames, under Tower Bridge and then alongside the Tower of London. We then turned to go over London Bridge, back along the other side and back over Tower Bridge before twisting around the canal in Wapping then returning back to the AirBnB. It was fun twisting through all the people!

After breakfast and getting packed up, we headed back to Kings Cross where Jonathan left us first for his train back up north. Keith and I called into Costa for a coffee before I headed to Euston and he to St. Pancreas.

Another First Class train journey was made amusing as everyone was trying to spot the celebrity on the train about two sets of seats behind ours. There was a film crew involved and it turns out it was Helena Bonham Carter doing some sort of documentary/film etc.

I really enjoyed the few days meeting up with the team and we are sure to do this again some time.


Keith Devon January 10, 2018 Reply

Great write up of the trip!

Ben Wilkinson January 11, 2018 Reply

You can’t beat first class, just not when it’s full price!!

John Blackbourn January 11, 2018 Reply

You were five minutes walk from where I live! St Katherine’s Dock area is nice. Glad you had a good first retreat.

Mark Wilkinson January 11, 2018 Reply

You could have popped round and been part of the Facebook Live video! The apartment and location was delightful.

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