50 neighbourhoods to visit in 2018
Madrid might be the world’s most exciting capital right now, and Embajadores (in the Lavapiés barrio) is its most colourful neighbourhood. This is a place where people from near and far live side by side, cooking up a bustling cultural life. To the north, Plaza Tirso de Molina is the territory of florists by day, and at night fills with young revellers queuing to get into Medias Puri, the city’s club of the moment. To the south are Tabacalera and La Casa Encendida, two huge cultural centres standing like transatlantic vessels run ahore in the middle of the city. You can dine on Indian specialities served atop a flowery oilcloth, or get a divine Moroccan lamb tagine for an absurdly low price. Nightlife and street life, street art and high culture, food and people from across the world: in Embajadores, you’ll find it all.
EAT On Sundays when the Rastro market is on, you’ll find Santurce packed in with punters clambering for their share of the bar’s famous sardines.
DRINK Relax with a gin and tonic in the legendary Sala Equis, a former adult cinema that’s now a drinking hole.
DO Go see a play at the Art Deco theatre El Pavón-Kamikaze, leaving time to have a couple of cold beers in the theatre bar: a buzzing local hangout in its own right.
STAY A couple of minutes to the north, Hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria dominates the local skyline with its illuminated 1920s tower. The view from the rooftop bar is spectacular. —Josep Lambies
The Euljiro neighbourhood of Seoul still smells like fresh ink when you walk through its industrial streets. Made up mostly of printing presses, warehouses and old-school fried chicken eateries, Euljiro has become the latest hotbed of hidden bars and cool cafés. The contrast is most noticeable at night as printers pore over tomorrow’s paper and trendy kids crawl into seemingly abandoned warehouses. Dine with ajeosshis (middle-aged Korean men) at one of Euljiro’s acclaimed eateries and head towards the neon lights for a drink afterwards to experience the best of both worlds.
EAT One of the most famous fried chicken eateries in Korea, Manseon Hof specializes in garlic fried chicken and dried pollack paired with cheap beer.
DRINK Bedazzled with neon signs and indie-music posters, local favourite Seendosi is located on the fifth floor of an apparently derelict warehouse. The prelude to getting here includes walking up four flights of pitch-dark stairs.
DO The grittiness of the neighbourhood makes it an excellent place for photographers to capture a different side of Seoul. Take your camera and get artsy with those shadowy alleyways and neon lights.
Pedro Alvarez Espinosa © Google 2018
Far west of Medellín’s best known hotspots, the city’s rockers, punks and metalheads thrive in Nueva Villa de Aburrá. It’s home to La Villa, a horseshoe-shaped plaza that transforms daily from a stately promenade to a throng of music-loving youth. With a history of peaceful political protest, Nueva Villa de Aburrá has established itself as a neighbourhood of free love and sociopolitical engagement as well as a place that celebrates new traditions, like its now annual hot sauce and electronic music festivals, challenging outsider expectations of Colombian life.
EAT Wander out from La Villa, across a hilly green full of picnic-perfect trees, statues and sword-training youth, to enjoy Vegarden’s vegan and vegetarian spins on local fare.
DRINK If you’re not queuing at La Villa’s Seven and Eleven tiendas for on-the-spot consumption of German craft beers, guaro and rum, pop into Bar Valhalla to enjoy thunderously intimate live music with oversized steins of local brew.
DO Escape the rain in Los Molinos shopping centre, where monthly staged spectacles (dinosaur amusement parks; superhero-themed gladiatorial contests; fairy-tale swan rides) add a touch of whimsy to community living.
STAY Hotel Belén Plaza, along the MetroPlus line, puts you minutes from the action without cutting you off from the rest of the city’s delights. —Maggie Clark
Stelios Kazazis, flickr.com/kazste17
The once-grand neighbourhood of Metaxourgeio in Athens was almost abandoned for years, but now a patchwork of artists, activists and NGO volunteers are breathing fresh life into it. Its crumbling neoclassical buildings are emblazoned with emotionally-charged murals by local graffiti writers. Shabby-looking brothels and squatter spots – tragic reminders of the decade-long economic downturn – have slowly given way to bars and tavernas that hum with activity until the early hours. The Communitism Project, a huge mansion being restored by local and refugee artists, houses exhibitions, film screenings, workshops and parties; it encapsulates young Athenians’ creative energy and ability to make something from nothing. Metaxourgeio is a neighbourhood in that magical, transitional phase where it truly feels as if anything could happen next.
EAT Grab an outside table at Seychelles and enjoy tasty Greek food in a gorgeous nineteenth-century building.
DRINK Sip a cocktail while sitting under one of the huge trees outside the vintage-themed Blue Parrot bar.
DO Head to LaTraac, an adults-only skate bowl that transforms into one of the city’s coolest hangouts come nightfall thanks to an outdoor bar and regular DJs.
STAY The neighbourhood isn’t developed enough yet to house any hip hotels – try the pretty Quinta guest house in nearby Exarchia. —Jessica Frances
The name of this Lisbon neighbourhood literally means ‘Royal Prince’, and with restaurants, bars, stores, and art galleries everywhere, Princípe Real is clearly attempting a rise to the throne. Hang in the coolest bars, shop at the dopest stores (one of them, Vintage Department, has a stuffed polar bear to greet you), hit up its colourful club nights (Príncipe Real is Lisbon’s gayest neighbourhood) and refuel at the hottest restaurants, from tapas to ceviche. There’s even a slice of country life every Saturday, when the organic fair fills one side of the garden with little stalls and sellers serve loyal regulars.
EAT It’s hard to plan a meal in the area without thinking about ZeroZero pizzeria and its smoking wood oven.
DRINK A loyal clientele comes to Cinco Lounge to relax on low sofas and savour some of the 100 drinks on offer. Ask for a Madagascar bourbon with vanilla vodka and fresh pineapple.
DO Go shopping at Embaixada, a department store that sells designer items and Portuguese artwork. It’s located in a nineeteenth-century palace – no biggie.
STAY The Memmo Principe Real hotel sits perched on a hill, and it offers jaw-dropping views of the orange-speckled cityscape from the terrace bar and room balconies. —Ágata Xavier
LOCALS SAY ‘It’s a traditional Portuguese neighbourhood which reflects Lisbon’s cosmopolitan feel, with green spaces, markets, shops and new restaurants as well as daycare centres and schools.’
The historic cradle of Paris’s Kurdish and Indian communities, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis has a unique style: a brilliantly surreal mess. Greasy spoons cafés rub shoulders with the trendiest gourmet restaurants and some of the city’s oldest establishments, like Brasserie Julien, classified as a historical monument. At La Mano club, DJs and live artists swing sounds from slsa to nu-disco, and the crowd is just as eclectic: a melting pot of guys in Supreme, girls in Céline and dressed-down thirty-somethings. Only in SSD can you tour the bars for €4 and rub shoulders with either hip hop royalty or old-school bohemians.
EAT Pizza lovers, Da Graziella is your Holy of Holies: a wood-fired oven, art nouveau walls, and that great speciality of Naples: the pizza fritta!
DRINK Behind a decrepit facade and an inch-thick layer of posters hides one of the best and trendiest cocktail bars in Paris: Le Syndicat. Their creative cocktails are made with 100 percent French alcohol!
DO Browse the ready-to-wear accessories, books and fashion labels (Homecore, Laurence Airline, Stussy and local brand Saint-Denis) at Saint-Denis Store.
STAY Hôtel Grand Amour is a trendy anti-palace designed by French graffiti artist André, with unique touches of the Parisian counterculture and Hermès products in the bathroom… plus reasonable prices! —Houssine Bouchama
LOCALS SAY ‘There are bars and restaurants for everyone and every budget. The mood changes depending on whether it’s a week or weekend, and by the time of day. Popular, relaxed and trendy – it’s the ideal place to meet up with friends.’
Neukölln is the constantly-evolving anti-establishment melting pot at the heart of Berlin cool. Look past the graffiti and grime and you’ll find a neighbourhood constantly reinventing itself. What was once abandoned is made new, turned from wasteland into the latest smoke-filled bar, vegan café or unmarked gallery – all independently run. On Wesserstrasse, bars like TiER and Ä serve art, performance and booze to a cross-section of Berlin society. On Maybachufer, locals laze by the canals and wander the Turkish market. It’s a neighbourhood that revels in its originality.
EAT Under-the-radar Paulinski Palme is cooking up great things in villagey enclave Rixdorf, with simple but sublime traditional Thüringen dishes and a sophisticated but fuss-free wine list.
DRINK Do as the locals do and spend Sunday drinking and dancing to underground electronic beats at Griessmuehle, a former grain mill boasting dancefloors, makeshift furniture and an amazing garden overlooking the canal.
DO When the urban landscape wears you down, head to Tempelhofer Feld, a vast airport reclaimed by Berlin’s citizens as a free-for-all park.
STAY Step through the doors of an old factory on Hobrechtstrasse and enter Hüttenpalast, 600 square meters of open urban insanity dotted with lovingly restored vintage caravans to sleep in from just €70 a night. —Duncan Madden
LOCALS SAY ‘There is so much choice on every corner.’
Tokyo's Yanaka is cool, but in an unassuming way. Visitors are often captivated by its antique atmosphere, but in recent years, a new creative energy has been breathing new life into its streets and buildings without altering its old-world architectural make-up. Artisan workshops and modern art galleries co-exist with elegant temples and shrines, and you’ll also find some of the best food in town here. Even though it’s right next to the frenetic tourist hub of Ueno, Yanaka remains tranquil. It’s an area comfortable with its introspective nature, reserving its charms only to those in the know.
EAT Himitsudo is a shaved ice institution and a must-visit on your Tokyo kakigori crawl. The menu changes daily, with seasonal toppings.
DRINK Sip on local craft beers in the atmospheric wooden Yanaka Beer Hall. It’s part of a larger complex which is also home to a bakery-café, bistro and event space.
DO Modern art gallery Scai The Bathhouse shows cutting-edge exhibitions by local and international artists in a well-kept former bathhouse that’s over 200 years old.
STAY The unique Hanare hotel encourages you to embrace the local way of life, starting with its traditional-style bedrooms fitted with tatami mat floors and cushy futons. —Time Out Tokyo Editors
North-east LA’s leafy, low-key neighbourhood has shed its former dive-bar vibe. Now it’s a hub of handsome cocktail spots that have tipped Highland Park toward the distinction of being LA’s most exciting, rapidly evolving nightlife scene. While York Boulevard has been buzzing with gastropubs for a while now, the recent arrival of vegan cafés, limited-batch dumplings and a pedigreed order-by-the-ounce pizza shop have turned Figueroa Boulevard into a budding dining destination.
EAT Otoño ranks among LA’s essentials thanks to chef Teresa Montaño’s fresh take on Spanish tapas, with dishes like tuna and anchovy goat butter and farmers’ market vegetable paella.
DRINK Highland Park Bowl, a cultivated saloon inside LA’s oldest bowling alley, has character to spare with its sweet classic cocktails and its steampunk-esque lanes.
DO Eastside buzz bands, cult-favourite singer-songwriters and surprise stand-up sets from Dave Chappelle mix at the Lodge Room, an intimate concert hall housed inside a former Masonic lodge.
STAY Though Highland Park lacks traditional hotels (for now), you’ll find Airbnbs to rent in handsome Craftsman homes and cosy cottages in the hills. —Michael Juliano
LOCALS SAY ‘The amazing restaurants and things to do are accessible on foot and it’s more mixed and not as stuck up as other parts of LA.’
Formerly a working-class suburb north of Melbourne’s Central Business District, Fitzroy has become the city’s artistic haven. Hip Melburnians shop for designer brands, athletic wear, vintage clothes, records and weird and quirky finds; new and interesting street art magically appears on walls throughout the suburb; and Australia’s top chefs and bartenders (plus newbies with a dream to share) open up new restaurants, cafés and bars seemingly every week, from vegan destinations Smith & Daughters and Red Sparrow Pizza to the George Costanza-themed George’s Bar.
EAT Fitzroy is home to the world-famous Lune Croissanterie, which makes some of the best croissants outside France.
DRINK This is the neighbourhood to hit up some of the best bars in Melbourne, including Bar Liberty: Melbourne’s Bar of the Year in the Time Out Bar Awards 2018.
DO At the weekend Rose Street Artists’ Market you can browse clothing, jewellery, paintings, sculpture and designs, and meet the people who made them.
STAY The achingly hip Brooklyn Arts Hotel is a rambling bohemian mansion with the kind of eclectic charm you’d expect from a share-house of local vintage enthusiasts. —Cass Knowlton
LOCALS SAY ‘I love the bohemian feel of the place, the eclectic architecture, the street art and the cafés and restaurants, plus the mix of old and new. It’s great for a cheeky beer, a glass of wine, cocktails or a night of dancing.’
Over the last few years, Peckham has cemented itself as London’s preeminent cultural hotspot. Streets once associated with the sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’ are now lined with video arcade bars, cult nightclubs and street food pop-ups. With some of the British capital’s most reputable arts colleges just a 436 bus ride away, the area has become a breeding ground for south-east London’s burgeoning creative scene while staying true to its multicultural roots. At the cavernous Khan’s Bargains, art kids and African families shop for homewares and nick-nacks shoulder to shoulder.
EAT There’s no need for pho-mo at Banh Banh, a hip-but-authentic, family-run Vietnamese street food joint located just over the road from Peckham Rye Park.
DRINK Surely Peckham’s worst-kept secret, Frank’s Cafe is a concrete-tastic rooftop art bar popped above a multi-storey car park that lends itself perfectly to cocktails at sunset.
DO Peckhamplex is stuck in the ’90s in a good way: as well as the retro decor, tickets at this much-loved multi-screen cinema are a ludicrously cheap £4.99 all day long.
STAY Nowhere does pubs like London, and The Victoria Inn – a country-style gastropub near Peckham Rye – has a set of boutique guest rooms upstairs. —Grace Goslin
LOCALS SAY ‘It’s vibrant, creative, alternative, bohemian, original, independent and fiercely proud of its roots. It’s amazing to see the way the culture brings the community together – you can meet a variety of people whenever you walk down the street and the cinema is still only a fiver!’
Koen Smilde Photography
With a grittier landscape, industrial roots and room to move, Noord is decidedly removed from the Amsterdam 17.8 million tourists visit each year. Locals are drawn to the area because the rent is cheaper and there’s no overcrowding; instead, there’s a sense of experimentalism that draws adventurous visitors as well. Take the free ferry service across the River IJ and be greeted by head-turning landmarks like the futuristic EYE Filmmuseum and A’DAM Tower (where, on the rooftop deck, Europe’s highest swing offers the city’s best views).
EAT Hangar restaurant serves up Mediterranean-influenced dishes in a stylish, tropically-tinged warehouse space. Amsterdam isn’t known for its weather, but when the sun is out, you’ll want a spot on this waterfront terrace.
DRINK Grab a table at the colourfully kitted out Oedipus Brewing Taproom and get acquainted with some local favourites – and the locals themselves.
DO It’s a short cycle to NDSM Wharf, a former shipyard turned art and culture hub which is home to culinary hotspot PLLEK and hosts Europe’s biggest monthly flea market, IJ-Hallen.
STAY For a boutique stay with serious cool cred, it’s Sir Adam all the way. Otherwise, there’s the rather unique, deconstructed Sweets Hotel, where individual bridge houses are transformed into one-of-a-kind hotel rooms. —Laura Collins
Formerly infamous for gang violence and seedy street scenes, Ancoats has emerged from the ashes of its industrial past to become the hangout of choice for Manchester’s many, many cool kids. Abandoned cotton mills are being transformed into affordable co-working spaces and river-facing apartments, while craft beers, artisanal bakeries and gin joints crop up in less time than it takes to say ‘beetroot latte’. Colourful street murals add an extra shot of hipster hotness to the cultural brew.
EAT Head to Ancoats Coffee Co, housed in a massive former cotton warehouse, for painstakingly prepared caffeine fixes made from freshly roasted beans and served alongside just-baked cakes and sandwiches.
DRINK Sit at the long bar of reclaimed mill-turned-watering hole, Elnecot, to sip an aptly named ‘Industrial Revolution’ cocktail and eat an old-school Manchester egg with homemade piccalilli (picked veggie relish).
DO Check out Hope Mill Theatre, where local performers and writers come under the spotlight at this funky, low-key theatre housed in – you guessed it – a former mill.
STAY Ancoats still has limited lodgings options, but there are some stylish canalside Airbnbs available – or check out the slick, serviced apartment-hotel offerings at the City Warehouse. —Lucy Bryson
The friendly suburb of Enmore has the same laidback vibes as its incredibly popular bohemian neighbours Newtown and Stanmore, but a little more room to spread out. It’s packed with excellent places to eat, and because it’s outside Sydney’s restrictive lockout zone, the party goes on all night after crowds fall out of gigs at Enmore Theatre and into the bars next door. During the day, there are crystal shops and record stores to wander through and new street art to gawp at. It’s where the city’s hospo workers come to live, work and play, so you’ll find the best natural wines in the bottle shops and everyone’s creative and weird – just the way we like it.
EAT Head behind the pink façade of the Marie-Louise Salon to find Stanbuli, with Turkish mezze cooked by the lauded Ibrahim Kasif.
DRINK Jacoby’s is an Inner West Tiki bar run by diehard ‘Twin Peaks’ fans. Once you’re inside this tropical cabana, you won’t want to leave.
DO See live music at the Enmore Theatre, a 1,600-seat art deco landmark that hosts sweaty live music, talks and stand-up comedy.
STAY The laidback Urban Newtown hotel has graffiti-inspired art and a mini-bar stocked with beer from local craft brewery Young Henrys. —Emma Joyce
LOCALS SAY ‘Enmore has a proper range of excellent food from cheap to fancy, the transport is solid, the people are like-minded and down-to-earth and it’s safe.’
Bandra West, technically a suburb of mega-metropolis Mumbai, is quickly becoming the city’s vibrant, liberal centre. Between the studios of Bollywood to the north, the financial capital of India to the south and the Arabian Sea to the west, Bandra West – with its small, leafy lanes, sea-facing vistas and crumbling bungalows jostling for space with high rises and rooftop pools – is currently the place to be. Everyone’s moving here: Bollywood’s biggest stars, struggling actors, travellers, writers, musicians, street artists and, okay, also the occasional banker (what can you do?). Join the throng and get yourself to beautiful Bandra West immediately.
EAT Built into an old bungalow on a bustling corner, Pali Bhavan serves unusual cocktails and delicious Indian food.
DRINK Head to Monkey Bar to see young creatives letting loose and chugging Kingfisher beer and martinis after work.
DO Walk around Chimbai Village, a narrow strip by the water where coffins are made. Duck into local designer Payal Khandwala’s showroom if you have some cash to spare and want to buy yourself a fantastic new outfit.
STAY The seafront Taj Lands End is the perfect place to recuperate after a hectic day in the city. —Diksha Basu
Set off of Tel Aviv’s grid to the south, its ancient sister city Jaffa has been on the up for years. Its rowdy bars and alleyways filled to capacity at night, Jaffa is a gobsmacking juxtaposition of old and new. An influx of new luxury hotels has ushered in various renovations and the sky’s-the-limit residential projects, yet Jaffa’s diverse, authentic, and hospitable locals are what keep the area level-headed – from ageing sabras (born-and-bred Israelis) to Arab merchants hawking wares in the vibrant chaos of the flea market.
EAT Bursting at the seams with an effervescent and energetic crowd, Onza is the place to be for a hip evening with its new, creative twists on local comfort food favourites.
DRINK By day, Shafa Bar is a chic hangout; by night, it transforms with creative cocktails and live music.
DO Shop Jaffa’s flea market – Shuk HaPishpeshim in Hebrew. The maze of traditional stalls is punctuated by burgeoning indie Israeli designers and eclectic design shops.
STAY The freshly-minted, astoundingly beautiful Jaffa Hotel is the latest incarnation of a nineteenth-century building that once housed Jaffa’s French hospital. —Elianna Bar-El
LOCALS SAY ‘It’s near all the good bars (and my friends!)’
Brooklyn gets all the attention these days, but if you’re looking for the real spirit of New York, it’s alive and well and living in the West Village. Whether you’re sifting through the area’s record and vintage shops, grabbing cocktails at a Japanese-style drinking den, listening to fresh jazz at nightclubs like Village Vanguard (where legends like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Bill Evans used to jam) or attending a showstopping drag performance, the Village is jam-packed with gems both historic and brand new.
EAT Brunch like you’re in Paris at Buvette, a brick-walled spot serving French classics like croque monsieur and mouthwatering pastries.
DRINK Izakayas are trending in New York right now, and Katana Kitten is one of the best, blending Japanese and American flavours together in signature cocktails like the Hinoki Martini.
DO New York’s oldest cabaret club, The Duplex, still hosts an indispensable roster of drag performers, comedians, singers and pianists.
STAY Penny pinchers who don’t mind resting in confined quarters should book one of the train-style bunks at luxe, 14-storey landmark The Jane, where the entrance lobby hosts late-night dance parties. —Jennifer Picht
LOCALS SAY ‘The West Village, to me, is everything wonderful about New York. It’s the heart of the city, it’s LGBTQ-friendly and has some of the best restaurants and a youthful and diverse nightlife scene. It is the ideal neighborhood.’
Over the last 50 years, the West Loop has transformed from Chicago’s Skid Row to a glimmering beacon for the food-obsessed, offering a range of impeccable restaurants and bars from the city’s top chefs. The neighbourhood shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to collect shiny new apartment complexes, upscale boutiques and big names like Google (which opened an HQ here in 2015). By day, young families and their dogs stroll the sidewalks, and by night, revellers crowd the area’s many excellent cocktail bars in search of a stiff drink.
EAT Roister is one of Chicago’s top-tier fine-dining establishments, but there are no white tablecloths, the music is loud and you can totally get away with wearing jeans.
DRINK Sip sidecars, cosmopolitans, mojitos and martinis at Moneygun, where old-school hip-hop bumps through the speakers until 2 or 3am.
DO Every month, Randolph Street Market attracts more than 100 vendors who hawk antique housewares and furniture, vintage clothing and one-of-a-kind jewellery.
STAY Achieve peak cosiness at the Publishing House Bed & Breakfast, where 11 unique rooms are fitted out with cow-hide rugs, claw-foot tubs and funky furniture. —Morgan Olsen
LOCALS SAY ‘West Loop has the best restaurants in the city, by a long shot. There are tons of amazing, creative options and it’s constantly changing and expanding.’
Five years ago, Tangba Jie was a quiet residential street. But as the neighbouring Taikoo Li area exploded with popularity, its fringes developed to accommodate the hungry and curious looking for a less commercial vibe. Straddling old neighbourhoods and new development, Tangba Jie and it surrounding side-streets are a perfect representation of Chengdu’s modern/traditional juxtaposition and the food-focused culture of leisure that has recently propelled the city into the spotlight.
EAT Nothing says Chengdu like the bustle and buzz of a spicy Chuan Chuan joint, with meat cooked on long skewers in a broth. Mao Jiao Huo La on nearby Dongsheng Jie captures both the classic flavours of this dish and the frenetic, celebratory atmosphere in which to eat it.
DRINK Tucked in a quiet corner on Qing Lian Shang Jie, Lotus is a small whisky bar serving great cocktails in a refined setting – and a popular spot in Chengdu’s vibrant creative scene.
DO The best activities in Chengdu are always eating and drinking. Wander into Tangba Jie’s older small alleys for classic street eats and late-night, post-booze snacks.
STAY The twelve-room Old Congde Hotel, hidden in a preserved stone alleyway from the ’50s, is one of the city’s few tasteful boutique hotels. —Jordan Porter
Accra has a vibrancy and energy that never sleeps, and in Osu the pulse of the city is visceral. It’s a little seedy, but very fun – especially at night, with its renowned bars, clubs and chop houses. The main thoroughfare, colloquially known as ‘Oxford Street’, backs itself onto the coastline, where bars line Labadi beach, horses and quad bikes make for ultimate selfie backdrops and the ocean gleams (even if plastic pollution renders it less than charming to swim in).
EAT Ivorian eatery Chez Clarisse is noisy, hot and the best place to pack as many friends into a table as possible. Share the marinated chicken and tilapia and mop up the sauces with spicy fried plantains and shredded cassava.
DRINK Watch the colourful wooden fishing boats of the Ga people roll in to shore at Osekan, where you can down Club beers while looking out onto the Gulf of Guinea.
DO The best place to start (and end) the night is Front/Back. Find the hidden entrance and discover the best that Africa has to offer in terms of contemporary art, locally-made furnishings and the freshest cocktails in the city. You may have to make friends with a local to get in, as the club is technically members-only.
STAY Check out the stylish Villa Boutique or its newer sister guest houses, Olma Colonial Suites. —Anna Robertson
Blessed with natural wonders such as Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, Cape Town’s City Bowl District is also home to some of the country’s finest restaurants. But before you sate your appetite, you’ll want to check out a couple of the many new bars that line Bree, Loop and Long Streets. Everything in the CBD is within a twenty-minute walking distance, so you’ll barely need to taxi, and it’s the perfect base to visit Cape Town’s better known attractions or hit up beaches, farmers’ markets or the V&A Waterfront.
EAT The Dog’s Bollocks at YARD used to be an actual auto garage, and now serves some of the best burgers in town.
DRINK Outrage of Modesty is a true hidden gem, so don’t let the unassuming facade of the building that houses this upmarket cocktail bar fool you; step inside and enter a neon wonderland that will overload your senses.
DO Housed inside an old grain silo, the recently launched Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art is the largest such museum in the world.
STAY The Cape Heritage Hotel is within walking distance of a treasure trove of the cities finest bars, bistros, restaurants and nightclubs. —Willem Grobler and Jenny Pack
Sant Antoni is a rarity worth cherishing: a fragile balance between old and new. Here you’ll find a Barcelona that’s unfortunately disappearing: one cultivated by past generations, where so much of life was lived in the city’s streets and squares and all the neighbours knew each other. But this is also the place to find the very latest trends in fashion and gastronomy. Sitting beneath Barcelona’s symbolic Montjüic hill, this gem of a barrio is full of life in all its many glorious forms.
EAT Bar Calders is a spot where people meet up with their nearest and dearest and talk for hours over scrummy dishes – all of which are made for sharing.
DRINK For cocktails that will have your eyes rolling back in delight, head to Bitter Cocktail Bar and give yourself over to their delicate and sensual concoctions mixed with expertise and respect.
DO Wander to the recently reopened, wrought-iron Mercat de Sant Antoni on a Sunday morning, when the neighbourhood organises its used-book market. It’s an oasis of yellowed pages.
STAY SOHO delivers on its promise to give you ‘design, comfort, art and modernity’, plus even its exterior rooms are quiet, despite being smack on the central Gran Vía. —Jan Fleischer
Despite sitting just a short walk from the Colosseum, the former red-light district of ancient Rome is spared the heavy foot traffic of the centro storico and retains a refreshing, small-town charm with its artsy, bohemian crowd. Quaint cafés, wine bars and trendy eateries satisfy every palate; from an avocado bar and raw chocolate shop to gourmet panini and classic Roman fare, you’ll find a little bit of everything here, and it’s also a great place to shop. Each evening, the neighbourhood comes alive when locals gather at the steps of the fountain in the piazzetta to catch up with friends over a beer before heading off to an arthouse cinema or vegan eatery.
EAT Grab a bite to eat at Ai Tre Scalini, a mainstay since 1895 and one of the buzziest bistros and wine bars in the Eternal City.
DRINK Enjoy a craft cocktail and live music at Black Market Hall, a shabby-chic enclave with an underground vibe and a seriously cool crowd.
DO Find one-of-a-kind clothes, accessories and gadgets at Mercato Monti, an urban market held each weekend.
STAY The Fifteen Keys is a boutique hotel with cosy, contemporary guest rooms and a leafy courtyard where guests dig into organic breakfasts. —Livia Hengel
Propelled into a dubious spotlight as the setting of Irvine Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’, Leith has undergone a big transformation in the intervening 25 years. It’s still a little rough around the edges – certain pubs can present an intimidating prospect – but that’s balanced against a cultural scene that boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants, loads of incredible bars and a fierce sense of local identity.
EAT Sure, there are two renowned, award-winning fine dining establishments just around the corner – but Harmonium, Leith’s semi-new vegan joint, gets a shout-out for serving amazing non-meat chorizo and springing from the uber-cool Mono/Stereo family in Glasgow.
DRINK Named after the spot where highland visitors (pejoratively, ‘teuchters’) would get the ferry back to Aberdeen, Teuchter’s Landing offers great beer, Scottish stovies (a traditional meat-and-potatoes dish) served by the mug and an extensive garden.
DO Refurbished in 2018 after a long, dormant stretch, the Leith Theatre is one of the area’s great success stories; it’s already been home to two pop-up festivals, a ‘Trainspotting’ anniversary celebration and gigs from Scotland’s hippest bands.
STAY Located right on the Shore, Leith’s night-time hub, Malmaison Edinburgh offers harbour views, luxurious rooms and a theatrical cocktail bar. —Niki Boyle
LOCALS SAY ‘Leith has a wide array of great restaurants (from the chippy to the Michelin-starred) and is far enough off the beaten track to be free of gimmicky tourist places. Its pub scene is rightfully legendary, featuring old Scottish classics, trendier establishments and a continuing tradition of working-class pubs with real warmth.’
This once-shabby western corner of Södermalm island is now abuzz with a growing gathering of hip cafés, LGBT+ bars and indie clubs. The south side is lined by Tantolunden beach, where young, tattooed Stockholmers barbeque and blast music, decorate one of the city centre’s few designated graffiti walls and dive into the lake’s cooling waters. In winter, locals find warmth with coffee and locally-printed literature in some of the Swedish capital’s most laid-back fika spots: the word is Swedish for a coffee break, but the tradition is more about socializing than sipping.
EAT Grab a cardamom bun and people-watch at beloved Stockholm establishment ilcaffe, which opened its fourth location near Hornstull station just last year.
DRINK On Hornstull’s promenade is Debaser Strand, a venue for live indie acts and DJ nights like Friday’s Klub Common People: a nostalgic mix of Britpop and ‘80s music.
DO Check the schedule at Bio Rio, Hornstull’s 1940s-era arthouse theatre, which showcases Swedish indie films (often with English subtitles), live international theatre and Stockholm’s feminist and Pride film festivals.
STAY Just across the bridge from Hornstull on Långholmen island, you can spend the night in the Långholmen Hotel, a former prison now boasting a museum, restaurant and theatre. —Madeleine Hyde
Though Sololaki is home to many famous landmarks and tourist attractions, its cobblestone streets maintain an air of mystery. Bars, restaurants and even clubs pop up in the neighbourhood’s countless courtyards, letting the locals (often artists and musicians) add their personal touch. Locals and travellers alike frequent the many whimsical apartments-turned-cafés, which often double as live music venues. Experience Georgian polyphonic singing (it’s unlike anything else in the world) or a performance on Sololaki’s vibrant jazz scene.
EAT Ezo (meaning ‘courtyard’ in Georgian) serves delicious, traditional Georgian dishes in one of Sololaki’s characteristic Italian yards.
DRINK Owned by a French musician who has lived in Georgia for over a decade, Zoestan is a comfortable, no-nonsense bar famous for live music, reasonable prices and quirky decor.
DO Slip into the famous sulphur baths on Meidani Square, some of which are open almost 24 hours for late-night soaking.
STAY Located on top of a hill in next to the ancient Betlemi church, Envoy Hostel boasts a lively decor, very friendly staff and a variety of clean shared and private rooms that are sure to fit almost any budget. Bonus: free breakfast, which you can enjoy on the terrace overlooking the city. —Marina Kaganova
Since a new tram line arrived last December, the outlying village of Phibsboro (also spelled Phibsborough) has become more bustling than ever. Dilapidated Victorian buildings are suddenly filling with modern cafés and charming shops. Like nearby hipster hub Stoneybatter before it, the additional infrastructure signals that a revival is on the horizon, with former residents like the writer James Joyce adding to the neighbourhood’s allure, and arts and community organisation Phizzfest hosting regular theatre, literature, comedy, music and film events and discussions throughout the year.
EAT No trip to Phibsboro would be complete without brunch at Two Boys Brew, a minimalist Australian outpost that draws big crowds. Don’t miss the mushrooms on sourdough toast.
DRINK With delicious pizza, Friday quizzes and a range of bar games, Back Page is the ideal watering hole for locals and visitors alike.
DO Stroll along the Royal Canal and wander to Blessington Basin park for some peace, quiet and neighbourly bonding.
STAY The cosy Charleville Lodge Hotel has simple rooms and an elegant lounge, all set in a row of restored Victorian townhouses. —Liz Smith
With an innovative nightlife scene and a hip, young vibe, no region in Rio de Janeiro is setting trends at the same pace as Botafogo. Drawn to the neighbourhood’s affordable rent and prime location, young entrepreneurs are setting up new barsand restaurants centred around international cuisine, flawless cocktails, local craft beers and collaborative spaces for community and cultural events.
EAT The Void/House of Food is a multifunctional venue that invites guest chefs to cook experimental street food and food-truck specials on a daily basis.
DRINK The rustic decor at Cru Natural sets an intimate environment to try Rio’s latest craze: organic Brazilian wine accompanied by locally-made cheese.
DO Enjoy live music, DJ sets, art exhibitions and theatre productions – all while sipping a potent caipirinha – at collaborative space Olho da Rua.
STAY Yoo2 Rio’s compact rooftop, used as an outdoor lounge and bar area, affords the popular hotel a dazzling view of Botafogo beach and the iconic Sugarloaf mountain. —Sarah Brown
The Former French Concession has been Shanghai’s hottest neighbourhood for as long as most people can remember, and it shows no sign of being displaced any time soon. This place has it all: charming cafés, forward-thinking restaurants, hidden cocktails dens making world-class drinks, boutiques carrying local designers and underground clubs where you can dance into the early hours. A distinctive blend of foreign and local influences creates a vibe that’s uniquely Shanghai.
EAT Tucked behind a small takeaway coffee window, the intimate Oha Eatery serves up creative, modern regional Chinese cuisine and a strong roster of natural wines.
DRINK Consistently ranked among Shanghai’s best cocktail bars, multi-level speakeasy Speak Low is a world unto itself. Each floor offers a different bar, vibe and menu, but the drinks are all next-level.
DO Wind your way to the basement level of a nondescript apartment block and you’ll find the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre, an impressive collection of Cultural Revolution-era artworks.
STAY Capella Shanghai sits in 55 renovated traditional Shanghai shikumen villas right in the heart of the FFC. It’s not cheap, but luxury with a sense of place is rare. —Cat Nelson
LOCALS SAY ‘It’s smaller, cosier and greener than the more built-up areas. It has a European feel and there are endless food choices too.’
La Roma is a neighbourhood stuck between eras: its elegant art nouveau and art deco mansions are an authentic slice of vintage Mexico City, but its restaurants dabble with innovative cuisine and there’s an extraordinary concentration of galleries showing future art stars. By day you’ll find more renowned chefs and baristas than any other part of the city, and when the night comes, mixologists take their place to prepare the cocktails that have made the Distrito Federal famous around the world.
EAT Chef Eduardo García is in charge of a bistro menu at Maximo Bistrot Local, a tiny restaurant that’s one of the best tables in town.
DRINK Licorería Limantour has been named among the best bars in the world, and you’ll find perfection here in a drink as simple as a margarita or as complex as a Florero Atlántico served in a ceramic vase.
DO Browse the used, new and rare vinyl records at La Roma Records, which also runs an electronic music label and supports Mexican visual artists.
STAY La Valise Mexico City oozes classic townhouse style. Even the room service is classy: it’s overseen by Elena Reygadas, head chef at nearby gem Rosetta. —Bernardo Robredo
LOCALS SAY ‘You can always find good places and people are very friendly. It’s very safe and calm enough to ride a bike in peace. The architecture of the place makes you fall in love with it.’
It may be one of the busiest neighbourhoods in Porto, but Cedofeita is the place to find the best of Portugal’s vibrant second city. Its restaurants evoke cuisines from all over of the world, its museums have unmissable collections and there’s a whole block dedicated to contemporary art galleries and murals. Meanwhile shoppers trawl boutiques stocking vintage clothing and accessories, homewares, antiques and jewellery, and enough gourmet Portuguese products to fill your pantry for a year.
EAT The Zenith Brunch & Cocktails Bar is one of Porto’s most Instagrammed places, and there’s always a line at the door. Brave the queue for toasts, pancakes, smoothie bowls and signature cocktails.
DRINK The Catraio Craft Beer Shop was the first craft beer bar to appear in the city, and there’s still no better warm-up to start a night out with friends.
DO The Soares dos Reis National Museum is one of the most important museums in the country, with a vast collection of paintings from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.
STAY The Mercador Guesthouse has seven rooms inspired by former Portuguese seaports from the colonial times plus a small garden, ideal for relaxing in the late afternoon. —Patrícia Santos
LOCALS SAY ‘This central neighbourhood champions the arts and is modern, but maintains its roots, with everything in comfortable walking distance.’
Rachid El Qomri, instagram.com/m.r.e.q
There are many areas worth visiting in Indonesia’s cultural capital, but it’s Prawirotaman that’s Yogyakarta’s trendsetting neighbourhood. Originally famous for batik, the traditional textile of Indonesia, Prawirotaman is now nicknamed kampung bule or ‘foreigners’ village.’ With an ever-growing list of boutique hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, plus the street art and murals that line the streets and its popular handicraft and batik shops, Prawirotaman’s buzz attracts both tourists and locals.
EAT Small, low-key Dapur El offers traditional Indonesian cuisine at an affordable price, specializing in grilled fish and chicken dishes – don’t miss out on the Taliwang-style grilled chicken.
DRINK The relaxing outdoor space at Play On, equipped with swings and hammocks, is the best atmosphere to enjoy a cold Bintang beer.
DO Shop for traditional, hand-waxed dyed goods at Batik Winotosastro, a fifth-generation batik maker’s store which also offers workshops for those who are interested in learning the craft.
STAY Eco-friendly Greenhost Hotel offers a verdant oasis in a busy city, with an interior balcony covered in vines overlooking the swimming pool at the centre of the hotel. The rooftop garden supplies herbs and produce to the on-site restaurant and the Genetika Concept Store in the lobby carries hip goods from local artisans. —Fiona Chandra
WynwoodBID/Mary Beth Koeth
Wynwood’s evolution from a shabby warehouse district to a vibrant artists’ community spans a decade, but you wouldn’t know it by seeing its spate of colourful murals that seemingly came up overnight. It’s an electric few blocks marked by sidewalk poetry, street performers and endless graffiti. And what goes on behind those painted walls is nothing short of magic either, with the city’s brightest chefs, designers, mixologists and the like all showcasing their talents in the flourishing ’hood.
DRINK Gramps was one of the first nightlife venues in Wynwood and six years later it’s still among the neighbourhood’s top bars, with a lazy tropical vibe and a packed events schedule.
DO See art! The Wynwood Walls are packed with tourists for a reason: this outdoor museum boasts dozens of murals painted by artists from around the world, which change each year during Art Basel.
STAY Without any hotels of its own, the best option for lodging is the nearby ME Miami, which is well-situated and upscale. —Virginia Gil
LOCALS SAY ‘There’s nowhere else like it! It’s filled with art and culture and there are lots of casual places to meet, talk and listen to music.’
Barry J Holmes
Hayes Valley has undergone an epic glow-up in the last few years. On any given day, you’ll find tech workers, creatives and families (with cute dogs!) eating lunch and enjoying the sun at Patricia’s Green, the unofficial town square. Hayes Street is dotted with clothing and jewellery stores where you can shop hip global brands and local artists alike, and the ’hood is home to the city’s hottest dining scene: at night, patrons spill from dozens of chic new eateries and outdoor beer gardens before ending the night with a scoop of Smitten’s ice cream.
EAT Dining at A Mano feels like joining a high-energy indoor-outdoor party. Nosh on handmade pasta as you people watch from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
DRINK Sip tropical cocktails at Anina, a colourful and airy bar with an inviting, light-strung patio and chic palm decor.
DO Get tickets to SF Jazz, the first standalone venue in America created specifically for jazz. All the best contemporary artists pass through here, and no one is ever more than 45 feet from the performers.
STAY A buzzy, 131-room new hotel on Market Street, Proper Hotel is stylish but laidback. Don’t miss the rooftop bar, Charmaine’s, with its ’Gram-worthy views and city-inspired cocktail menu. —Sarah Medina
LOCALS SAY ‘There is always lots to do and eat, it’s dog-friendly, walkable and right in the middle of the city.’
Once the seedy heart of Hong Kong, Wan Chai has shed much of its red-light baggage in recent years, reimagining itself as a buzzing and grittier alternative to neighbourhoods like Tsim Sha Tsui or Sheung Wan. Michelin-starred restaurants stand opposite cheap noodle shops and immaculate Japanese cocktail bars sit hidden above a street of rowdy British pubs. If the noise and excitement of Lockhart Road doesn’t appeal, you can escape to the relaxed surrounds of the Star Street precinct, a cluster of pedestrian streets rapidly filling up with boutique shops, chic cafés and some of Hong Kong’s most exciting new eateries.
EAT Bo Innovation has won three Michelin stars with its masterful marriage of traditional and new-world Chinese cuisine.
DRINK Hidden Japanese cocktail and whisky bar Mizunara serves the exquisite creations of award-winning bartender-in-chief Masahiko Endo.
DO Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and hike the Wan Chai Green Trail up to Bowen Road, a favourite spot for joggers and dog walkers.
STAY Hong Kong’s newest boutique hotel, The Fleming, was inspired in its design by the city’s iconic and much loved cross-harbour ferries. —Douglas Parkes
LOCALS SAY ‘It’s the perfect blend of local charm and gentrification, with amazing transportation options and plenty of great restaurants, bars and cafés. From skanky to upscale, it has something to match any mood.’
Ari became Bangkok’s most happening hood a few years back. What was once a peaceful, upmarket residential area turned neighbourhood du jour nearly overnight, with the sudden appearance of all types of hip businesses: restaurants and cafés, co-working spaces, bars, galleries and shops. Soon the focus moved to other areas, leaving Ari in peace once again. But now things seem to have come full circle: the entrepreneurs have returned and new cafés, restaurants, bars and shops have, once again, turned the area into the place to be.
EAT One of Bangkok’s best Thai restaurants, Baan Puengchom has long been favoured by Ari residents. Try pad sam men, a salad which mixes in smelly yet weirdly irresistible vegetables.
DRINK Probably the coolest beer bar in the ’hood, Taproom serves a vast selection of beers on tap and in bottles.
DO Down in the basement of the Siamese Asset building you’ll find Future Factory, a creative space and art gallery hosting unique music events and exhibitions by Thai and international artists. It’s tricky to find but well worth the hunt.
STAY Josh Hotel has it all: an Insta-worthy outdoor swimming pool, two restaurants serving Samui and Japanese cuisine, a multi-label fashion store and even a 16-seat cinema. —Suthima Thongmark
LOCALS SAY ‘There is a vibrant mix of things to do without the huge malls and crowds.’
Vibes (and Napoletana pizzas) are consistently warm in Petite Italie, Montreal’s most laidback neighbourhood. The hum of Vespas fills the air; sidewalk patios affectionately known as ‘terrasses’ are full of life from morning espresso to late-night gelato; and generations of families, young couples and creative types enjoy la dolce vita. Parc Dante features classic Italian cinema all summer and Marché Jean Talon (one of the city’s two historical farmers markets) sits at the heart of the neighbourhood, alongside watering holes boasting bowling alleys, secret pizza kitchens and locally crafted brews.
EAT Fancy a picnic? Dinette Triple Crown is a classic soul food joint where dinner can be ordered to go and eat in the park – picnic basket, red-chequered blanket and all.
DRINK Wine bar hotspot Vin Mon Lapin features a 100 percent natural wine list with rustic dishes reminiscent of farm-life fantasies.
DO Le Cagibi is an LGBT+ institution; the community meet-up space/event venue/vegan and vegetarian eatery features Montreal’s only storytelling event dedicated to erotica.
STAY Your best bet is to find something on Airbnb and fully live the local spirit of the neighbourhood. —Sarah Di Domenico
Karlín is different from the fairytale settings and tourist crowds of Prague’s centre or the gritty, industrial scene of many surrounding neighbourhoods. Revitalization efforts from flooding in 2002 have lined its streets with restaurants, wine bars and young families. And the current wave of experimental spaces – from Manifesto Market’s open-air food stalls in shipping containers to Kasarna Karlin’s summer cinemas and artsy events – are taking the area from residential paradise to destination-worthy neighbourhood.
EAT Grab an open-faced sandwich (chlebíek) downstairs or a modern, multi-course meal of Czech cuisine upstairs at Eska.
DRINK Veltin wine bar pours a rotating nightly selection of independent winemakers from the across the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
DO Join the local crowd sprawled across the lawn at Karlínské Námstí in front of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Or, if the weather is poor, enjoy some speciality coffee in the company of kitties at cat café Kavárna Koií.
STAY Neon lights and a well-dressed crowd in the lobby bar set a modern vibe at Pentahotel. —Auburn Scallon
Dufferin Grove is one of Toronto’s last affordable and centrally located neighbourhoods, hence the eclectic new restaurants and cafés regularly cropping up. Both locals and visitors appreciate the area’s unique, small-town charm while enjoying the proximity to the city’s downtown core. With inhabitants spanning avant-garde artists to young professional families, Dufferin Grove is a neighbourhood that embraces its chill, tight-knit community – and is reminiscent of Toronto before the city’s condo-crazed expansion.
EAT SoSo Food Club, a culinary newcomer to Dufferin Grove, has perfectly captured the essence of why this area is so cool. The bold-coloured, Chinese-inspired restaurant is trendy without being intimidating and exciting without being too extra.
DRINK Burdock Brewery is the ideal place to hang after a busy work week or a long day exploring the city. Chat with locals, enjoy live music and try the seasonal brews on tap.
DO Dufferin Grove has plenty of green spaces, making it a unique destination within the concrete jungle of Toronto. Picnic and people-watch in Dufferin Grove Park or hip hangout Trinity Bellwoods Park.
STAY A short walk from Dufferin Grove’s boundaries, the boutique Gladstone Hotel combines artsy vibes with first-rate hospitality, making it the perfect place to crash after a day exploring. —Sandra Osojnik
Jose Luis Stephens/Shutterstock.com
Despite new restaurants opening up weekly, the Central District (childhood home of Jimi Hendrix) has retained its original Seattle charm. The high levels of development (and cost) of Capitol Hill have caused many artistically inclined natives to relocate to the Central District, where diversity, activism and community are still present. Here there are more houses than high-rises, and plenty of walkable establishments that are still family-run. It’s a much-loved oasis from some of the more dense and tech-centric corridors of the city.
EAT Ezell’s, a nationally famous fried chicken restaurant that opened in 1984, is one of the oldest and most necessary stops during a visit to Seattle.
DRINK If beer is your preference, Chuck’s Hop Shop is your place, with seemingly infinite options on tap as well as bottles for purchase.
DO A community favourite, Central Cinemas is known for showing older flicks and hosting trivia nights, all washed down with quality cocktails.
STAY Airbnb is the easiest way to stay in this neighbourhood, but the nearby boutique Hotel Sorrento in First Hill will make you feel like royalty. —Bianca Yvonne
At the centre of Palermo, probably the most extensive and well-known area in Buenos Aires, is Palermo Soho: a vibrant, bohemian enclave that’s a favourite haunt of young people and local artists and designers. Palermo Soho oozes innovation and international vibes, with new businesses and fashion boutiques continuing to spring up in the old Spanish-style houses and converted warehouses along the tree-lined cobblestone streets. Post up at a café or bar – most have pavement tables – to catch some rays and watch the constant flow of colourful locals and in-the-know visitors walking along Palermo’s streets.
EAT For classic steaks, traditional empanadas and an extensive wine list in an intimate ambience, try Parrilla Don Julio.
DRINK Blest is the oldest beer house in the country and is famous for importing its own unique brew from Bariloche, Patagonia.
DO On weekends, Porteños (locals) and visitors alike don their coolest attire and head to the open-air market on Plaza Serrano, where the bars surrounding the square open their doors for independent vendors to showcase their goods.
STAY Book a room at stylish boutique hotel Own Grand Palermo Soho for good restaurants and great transport links right in the heart of the neighbourhood. —Mariel Volpe
Located right between Kuala Lumpur and its neighbour city Petaling Jaya is the hip neighbourhood of Damansara Heights. Recent years have seen new hotels and shopping areas plus plenty of interesting restaurants and bars (from cheap local Chinese hawker fare to gorgeously Instagrammable brunch spots) popping up. Friendly neighbourhood watering holes and swanky bars, hosting live music and poetry-slam nights, draw students and creatives from the nearby university campus and coworking space.
EAT Jalan Batai is the street to head to if you’re in the mood for food. While most of the eateries located here are worth checking out, Sitka stands out with its modern Asian menu that insists on using as many local ingredients as possible.
DRINK Head to the hidden bar Skullduggery – and don’t let the decor (row upon row of skulls) spook you from trying their creative cocktail concoctions.
DO If open mic sessions with musicians, poets and writers are up your alley, make your way to Gaslight Café to find creative gems every night of the week.
STAY Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, which opened in mid-2017, offers spacious rooms, a great gym and pool and a luxury hammam spa. —Michele C
Located on the Marmara Sea coast on the Asian side of Istanbul, the Kadköy district has soared in popularity over the past few years. Hundreds of new bars, cafés, restaurants, design studios and shops have opened here, making the area a must-see for those really wanting to get a feel of how the city hangs out these days, with a more relaxed vibe than the bustling European side.
EAT Nestled inside Haydarpaa Railway Station, one of Istanbul’s most treasured historical landmarks, Mythos serves up delicious meze, expertly grilled fish and free-flowing rak in a nostalgic setting.
DRINK Our favourite watering hole on Kadife Sokak, Kadköy’s main bar street, Arkaoda has a calendar peppered with a diverse selection of underground DJs and musicians from Istanbul and abroad, with live shows on the upper floor.
DO With a view of the Marmara Sea and the historical peninsula, the sweeping Moda coastal park is an unbeatable hangout spot for a picnic on the grass.
STAY Occupying a renovated Greek-style house dating back to Ottoman times, Sarnç Boutique Hotel is a charmingly quaint spot that’s both affordable and located in the very heart of the neighbourhood. —Yusuf Huysal
LOCALS SAY ‘It has its own style, spirit and people. The nightlife, from concerts to nightclubs, is ace too.’
The district of Tanjong Pagar prides itself in mixing the old with the new – think traditional nineteenth-century shophouses against a backdrop of skyscrapers (including the city’s tallest building), walls decked in street art, and hawker centres thriving alongside swish bars and restaurants like Michelin-starred Nouri and luxe supper-club Ottomani. Take your nightlife alternatives further with underground clubs such as the urban Kilo Lounge, which regularly welcomes international guest DJs and musicians.
EAT Amoy Street Food Centre and Maxwell Food Centre bustle every lunchtime, with hawkers selling a whole world of dishes from spicy Thai specialities and hearty congee to delicious pasta and traditional nasi padang.
DO For an unconventional take on your usual agenda, visit the Seng Wong Beo Temple, which sometimes hosts traditional ‘ghost weddings’ between two departed souls.
STAY Call it a day at the new Sofitel Singapore City Centre hotel which features high-end amenities and a rooftop pool with a stunning view of Tanjong Pagar. —Nicole-Marie Ng
LOCALS SAY ‘Tanjong Pagar has a good mix of Korean, Japanese and modern European restaurants and some great cocktail bars. There’s a buzz during a week, but the weekends are peaceful.’
Kitay-Gorod is Moscow’s most mashed-up neighbourhood: a place to enjoy all the contrasts of Russian life. Here Cold War bunkers are situated side-by-side with hip coffee shops and performance art sits next to fancy restaurants. It’s the historical and spiritual centre of the city but also the place to find club culture and craft beer. Where else can you revel in 500-year-old objets d’art and then go to a techno party?
EAT Feeling the chill of the Russian winter? Hit up the Surf coffee shop on Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, which summons thoughts of blue waves and sandy beaches with its tropical interior and vegan menu.
DRINK Ukuleleshnaya is the perfect place for those looking for a new experience alongside a stiff drink: as well as serving experimental cocktails, they will teach you how to play the Hawaiian guitar.
DO Art lovers should make a beeline for Solyanka VPA, a gallery showing films, video art, animation, performance and even kinetic sculpture and alternative multimedia – essentially, any art that moves.
STAY Pokrovka 6 is one of the neighbourhood’s main thoroughfares and attracts hip travellers with its stylish, slightly Wes Anderson-esque interior design. —Marina Likhacheva
LOCALS SAY ‘It’s interesting to walk around and take in the beautiful streets and architecture. As for the bars and restaurants, they’re inexpensive and friendly.’
No other area exemplifies Zurich’s latest wining, dining and cultural trends like Langstrasse. Despite affluence creeping in, much of the area still maintains its original gritty edge, legacy of its infamous past as Zurich’s red-light district. But it’s also a mecca for local designers, with ateliers, art galleries and independent boutiques appearing on an almost weekly basis, and there’s simply nowhere else in the city when it comes to nightlife.
EAT Josef is one of Zurich’s more avant-garde restaurants. Don’t come here looking for würst, cordon bleu and rosti: you’re more likely to find ceviche or grilled octopus on the menu of small plates.
DRINK Highball cocktails are the feature at Cinchona Bar, overseen by creative head Jörg Meyer (of Le Lion and Boilerman Hamburg fame).
DO As the name implies, Langstrasse is centred on one long street – so take a walk, enjoy the vast array of quirky shops, buzzing bars and underground club culture, and discover a rather more weird and wonderful side to Zurich.
STAY Although it’s part of an international chain, 25 Hours Hotel has become a lively meeting point for visitors and locals alike thanks to its regular after-work bar events and Middle Eastern-influenced restaurant. —Celeste Neill
Anirban Das, instagram.com/anirban17das
Surrounded by leafy green Deer Park on one side and a warren of atmospheric shops and eateries on the other, it’s no wonder that Safdarjung Enclave is Delhi’s most happening – but still under-the-radar – neighbourhood. Think of it as the grown-up version of Hauz Khas Village, its rowdier neighbour across the park, with one extra bonus: it’s also home to the Indian capital’s most finger-licking north-eastern cuisine.
EAT For tasty treats from Nagaland state, head to Hornbill, a laidback restaurant known for its hip clientele. Try the smoked pork and bamboo shoot.
DRINK Grab a house-made craft cocktail and a perch at the mezzanine bar at Piano Man Jazz Club, where you can catch an intimate music set in an old-school setting.
DO Safdarjung Enclave is one of the most walkable districts in car-crazy Delhi, so ditch the itinerary and explore the back streets on foot.
STAY Oyo Townhouse, a boutique hotel catered to millennials, has spotless rooms and an on-site gym (plus a basement co-working space if deadlines are calling). —Ariel Sofia Bardi
Years ago a neglected neighbourhood that locals avoided, today Boston’s South End has become the city’s artistic hub, with dozens of galleries and design shops that wouldn’t be out of place in any of the world’s culture capitals. Tap into the inclusive vibe just by strolling the idyllic streets, which are lined with historic brownstones, unique small businesses, and inviting cafés.
EAT It’s worth the wait for a table at Toro, Ken Oringer’s always-packed destination for upscale tapas and eclectic wines.
DRINK Subterranean pseudo-speakeasy Wink + Nod specializes in classic cocktails prepped with house-made cordials, juices and infusions.
DO As the city’s premier artistic hub, SoWa Artists Guild is a veritable hive of creative activity. Many artists open their doors a few times a month – most notably on First Fridays – for open-studio events where they greet locals and visitors.
STAY The modern AC by Marriott in the back of the buzzy Ink Block complex is pretty much the best option in the accommodations-starved South End. —Eric Grossman
LOCALS SAY ‘South End is beautiful, historic and filled with great shops and restaurants – although it isn’t overrun with tourists. It still has a true neighbourhood feel while being close to Downtown and Back Bay.’
In a city renowned for its ancient monuments, Sanlitun is perhaps a fitting monument to the new, modern China. In the four decades since the nation’s opening up to the world, a quiet residential area has grown to become the vibrant centre of Beijing’s shopping, nightlife and dining scenes and a playground for its young, rich and stylish. It’s bustling enough by day, but it really begins to buzz when the sun goes down.
EAT Queues are usually a mark of quality in the Chinese capital, and hip noodle joint Bei 27 Hao consistently draws a crowd with its modern takes on classic hand-pulled noodles.
DRINK High ceilings, palm trees and marble floors give well-hidden speakeasy Scandal a tropical sort of elegance, matched by some of the city’s most innovative cocktails.
DO Hit the clubs. Sanlitun is China’s hottest hub for after-hours revelry, and megaclubs One Third and Sir Teen are a study in EDM opulence worth witnessing, while the grimier Lantern is a mainstay on the alternative electronic scene.
STAY Design-driven hotel The Opposite House has been at the heart of the Sanlitun buzz for the past decade, and still stands proud as the sleek elder of Beijing boutique. —Patrick Moore
LOCALS SAY ‘The sheer array of both Western and Chinese restaurants and bars is overwhelming – it’s also where the party never ends!’
With a buzzing nightlife scene, a massive stretch of sandy beach and a stunning marina with cute cafés as well as a four-mile jogging track, there’s no better place in the UAE to have it all. JBR is home to casual seaside breakfast joints, cool bars, street murals and a beachside market. Then there’s the beach itself, where you can try flyboarding or just admire the view of Ain Dubai: the world’s largest ferris wheel.
EAT The Dubai outpost of Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, Marina Social is popular with foodies and brunching partygoers alike. Enjoy the Marina views and classic British grub.
DRINK Think fun, think Lock, Stock & Barrel. This cavernous, casual bar is the party hotspot of JBR and is packed any given night of the week with visitors looking for live music, affordable drinks and an all-round good time.
DO Who wouldn’t want to soar above the megayachts on XLine Dubai Marina: the world’s longest urban zipline?
STAY The colonial-style Ritz-Carlton Dubai is one of few low-rise rise buildings in the area and has access to a private beach and a bijou beach bar that’s ideal for sundowners. —Amy Mathieson
LOCALS SAY ‘There’s always something going on at JBR, and there are so many places to eat and drink out in the Marina.’