Safara

Hot List: Carry-On Musts from Those in the Know

We all strive to be the person that can travel for 6 weeks with just a carry-on suitcase and a cross-body. Some of us are (and most of us aren’t), and that’s okay.

What we do know is that many of us here at Safara have to jump on planes for that last minute work trip, or that wedding weekend across the country (we somehow forgot about), on the quick. So it’s nice to have some trusty go-to carry-on items that we can brainlessly pack, every time. 

Packing a carry-on for any occasion is an art form. What people bring is somewhat personal and also sensibly practical (sometimes). Take a look at what a few of our pro-traveler Insiders take with them – and maybe think about adding a few items to your packing list.  

Silk Eye Mask by Slip – Negar Mohammadi, Director of Brand Marketing at Vogue

B&O Headphones Andrew Barker, Chief Brand Officer at C Magazine

A New Yorker and an AFAR Magazine – Bryan Kinkade, Publisher at AFAR Media

My Nikes and a Carhartt Beanie – Anna Douglas, Yoga Teacher and Marketing at Alo Moves 

Jao hand sanitizerNicole Heim, Founder of Cienne 

 Tea Tree toothpicks Grace Lee, Creative Director & DJ

Sabrina Meier, Membership Director at 1880 Singapore

Sabrina Meier is the Director of Membership and a founding employee at 1880 Singapore (one of the pioneering luxe co-working spaces out there, and widely considered the “Soho House of Singapore”). She met our founder, Maya, in Shanghai in 2006 while on a university exchange year abroad – so we can attest that this woman is one to follow, and keep tabs on. Fun fact: Sabrina was a professional dancer during that time, most notably for the Black Eyed Peas during their Shanghai and Beijing tour. After getting her Masters in Business in Switzerland, she moved back to Singapore and spent time building her career in events & marketing within the LVMH Group- including helping launch Sephora in Singapore.

Sabrina travels extensively as part of her DNA, and has even met the Dalai Lama this past year (holy bucket list!)…have we said enough to hook you in, yet? Read on for her colorful tips on work and play travel- from Asia to Italia, and beyond.

Follower her on IG @sabsytyles

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Opera 2, Modena, Italy

Overlooking its own vineyards and the beautiful rolling countryside of the Emilia Romagna, Agriturismo Opera 02 is set in a new build property located alongside a winery. This boutique farm resort was a beautiful romantic getaway for me, and one of the best meals and sleeps during my entire trip to Italy. They were ageing balsamic vinegar in barrels right outside our bedroom door, just across the corridor- the fragrance lingered, and filled the entire Dining Room space in the Farmhouse. Such a unique juxtaposition between old world wine-making traditions in a renovated modern farmhouse, and then an infinity pool beside the vineyard. Breath-taking views and a short drive into Modena, a small quaint cobblestone town with speakeasy cocktail bars and Italian cafes. Just go!

Photo via Opera 02

Bambu Indah, Ubud, Bali

Bali is a magical place and often coined the Island of the Gods. And it truly is, especially when you step onto this property at Bambu Indah- an absolutely stunning Bamboo resort and sanctuary tucked away in Ubud. Immersed in this natural environment, you transcend into total relaxation and tranquility. It almost feels like an enchanted bamboo palace by the riverside. They have natural swimming pools and offer Yoga and Spa sessions which are just blissful because you are enveloped in this stunning place.

Topas ECO lodge, Sapa, Vietnam

Topas Ecolodge is a small lodge situated on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park- only 45 min outside Sapa town in North Vietnam. They do not have any TV in the rooms, so for relaxation they offer an infinity pool, spa in ‘Red Dao’ herbal baths, plus excursions, bike rides, cooking classes, and visits to Sapa tribes. I loved the vibe of Sapa, perched up in the misty hills- we rose at 5am to cycle down an ever winding road until we hit a remote village, and were invited in for Vietnamese coffee whilst this local villager smoked his opium pipe. 

What is the most unique hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

Linen bed sheets, a beach bag (avoid sand in your suitcase!), and personalized pajamas.

If you work in hospitality, what do you love most about it?

I’m so proud and happy to be part of such an amazing team that helped build a members club with 1700 members to date. As with any hospitality business, we had our challenges that we needed to troubleshoot on the daily… but seeing all the smiling faces and happy members truly is a testament to the work we put in and vision we believed in. That has made all the difference. Being able to interact with so many people every day keeps me motivated and driven. 1880 is truly special as we have built this community by inspiring conversations and creating connections that may go on to impact the world. What I love about it most are the genuine friendships and deeper connections that we have curated from a whole spectrum of internal programming.  

What hotel room design element can you not live without? 

Bath tub with a beautiful view, bedside universal adapter & Japanese toto toilet. 

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Burning Man or Phuket Cleanse. Burning Man is an absolute cleanse from the world and your life as you know it. Most people that have not been think it’s an awesome party, but after you’ve been, you understand that it is a journey into yourself. The emotional landscape you navigate during that week is intense and rich. Phuket Cleanse is a retreat that includes a full day intensive program tailored to your need in fitness, nutrition, and meditation.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? How do you make your work travel as relaxing and fun as possible?

I bring my yoga practice and essential oils with me wherever I go. As long as I can fit in some meditation morning or nights, I’m set. It helps to find your tribe in every city, whom you can work out with.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Shawl, gum, lip gloss, sunnies, portable charger.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Lady Gaga.

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

I research the hottest hood, best coffee, yoga studio, best nightlife, authentic cultural activity, best brunch spot- as much as possible, via friends of friends first.

 Best travel advice you’ve ever received, and from whom?

“Always back up your phone before you travel. Keep a passport copy with you & $50 bill hidden in a random pocket. Roll clothes when packing for more space. Use ziplocs for everything and reuse them again and again!”    – Love, (my) Mum.

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

YOGA and Meditation have helped me through my darker days. Essential oils and the blends I make myself keep me calm and comfortable wherever I go.

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

Sant Eustachio in Rome

What is your favourite travel book – for at home, or abroad- and why? 

The LUXE Guides for City trips. They’re well curated and cater to travelers like me, who want to hit up all the newest & coolest (slightly off the beaten path) hot spots. Also, my journal.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

Bamboo cotton top, Hoodie, yoga pants and Superga sneakers. Big comfy shawl…I never leave the house without one.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Siargao, Philippines. It’s Bali 15 years ago. Still unexplored. A hidden gem and amongst the top surf spots in the world.

Beach or City or Mountain?

Mountain.

Alone or with someone else?

With someone.

 Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage. More reason to hit the shops.

In flight cocktail – Y/N?

 Tequila on the rocks or Bubbly (anytime).

Favorite travel app?

Calm



San Francisco

San Francisco has changed a lot over the last few years. We won’t saturate you with our opinions regarding the positive and negatives of the tech boom or rising rents – but it’s impossible not to acknowledge that the city has seen a poignant shift. 

Even with all the cultural and tangible developments that have happened within the city, we are still flying to SF a few times a year for work and, yes, taking some time to play as well. We still love the NorCal energy, beautiful hikes, and impeccable food that will always make SF what it is: one of our favorite places in California.

Where to Stay

Phoenix Hotel

Name one of America’s coolest hotels some years ago – Phoenix Hotel has maintained it’s hip factor even in 2019. The courtyard pool is definitely a plus. Being that it sits between the Tenderloin and Civic Center – it plays on the artist factor and has a 1950’s rock n’ roll vibe to it.

St Regis Hotel

If you are looking for a more upscale experience – check-in to the St. Regis. Though we love the luxury of this particular outpost, we also love that it is directly next door to SFMOMA. The indoor lap pool is absolutely worth a dip and we would highly recommend visiting Remede Spa while you’re here.

Proper Hotel

Inside the Tenderloin flatiron building is Proper Hotel. Most guests come for the great contemporary design and attention to detail. We agree – and love the rooms – but we really come here for the rooftop lounge which has built in fireplaces and a great view of Market Street.

Photo via Proper

Where to eat

Flour + Water

In the Mission, you will find one of our favorite plates of pasta in the city. The waits are long, but are entirely worth it. They have inventive pastas (we’ve seen them combine ingredients like chocolate and lobster), and we’re hard pressed to find another spot like this in SF.

Taqueria Cancun

San Franciscans are going to try to claim that they have the best Mexican food in California. They’re wrong – because LA – but you’ll forgive them for that when you try Taqueria Cancun’s burritos. Get the Burrito Mojado and prepare yourself for a nap afterwards.

Yank Sing

If you haven’t been to SF before – this is your first stop. You should plan on coming with a group and you should make room for some seriously good dim sum. If you’ve already been to SF, chances are you’ve come to this famous establishment, but that is no reason not to go again.

State Bird Provisions

First things first: book a table early. State of Bird Provisions is consistently one of the city’s more popular restaurants. The dim sum style service makes it into more of an experience than a standard dinner – and you will find inventive plates that might not sound appetizing when the waiters tell you what they are, but you will eat them anyway and witness pure food bliss.

Photo via State Bird Provisions 

Where to drink

The Alembic

Fantastic cocktails in an upscale space with old-school banquets and a wood bar. The music is great and so is the food. One of our favorite spots to grab a drink with that person you haven’t seen in 5 years but still want to impress.

KAIYŌ

We love a pisco sour – which is why we are putting Kaiyo on our list. The menu boasts creative cocktails featuring pisco as well as sake – which makes it a touch more interesting than your standard drink list.

Bon Voyage!

You may think you’re in Palm Springs when you walk into this place – but that is kind of why we love it. For those foggy days that SF is famous for, head to Bon Voyage for their bright interior and tropical cocktails.

Where to dance

Bissap Baobab

The crowd at Bissap Baobab has changed quite a bit (which can be said for the entirety of San Francisco), but it’s still just as great of a place to get down. Come early to get Senegalese food and stay for the sweaty dancing. They’ll be blasting West African music, hip-hop, reggae, and everything in between.

The Make-Out Room

We love this Mission establishment because it has something for everyone. Latin music, 80s, pop – doesn’t matter, there is a night for that.

Monarch

In SoMa, this weekday bar turns into an underground dance fest come the weekend. You’ll find acrobats and sweaty dancing – and we bet you’ll have the time of your life.

Where to work

Verve Coffee Roasters

You might have seen Verve on our LA list too (we love their coffee), but their SF location is just as great for a full day of work. You’ll find large tables, WiFi, and couches, plus their coffee is some of the best around. They have solid pastries and some healthy California menu items to keep you going.

Photo via Verve Coffee

Axiom Hotel Lobby

We love this bright lobby for getting some necessary quiet and a bit of work done. The space is decked out in modern furnishings and it isn’t usually too busy.

Saint Frank

This is a laid-back coffee shop in Russian Hill that makes their own almond milk (you’re in San Francisco, remember?) and has great WiFi. A good option for some caffeine and some power when you are in the neighborhood.

Where to get your hit of culture

de Young Museum

If you’ve been to SF, you’ve most likely been to the de Young. That is no reason not to go back and enjoy their fine art collection and the visiting exhibits. We also love that it is located in Golden Gate Park.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

YBCA serves a mix of exhibits ranging from film to performance to fine art. It is largely community based and is a great way to find out what is up and coming in SF.

Coastal Trail Presidio Park

This trail goes from Baker Beach to the Golden Gate. It’s actually part of the California Coastal trail – which spans across the state. In the event you aren’t looking for an experience out of a Cheryl Strayed book – take this 2-3 mile walk along the coastline to get a view of the bridge.

Where to shop

Mill Mercantile

If you love Unionmade, but wish they sold women’s clothing – then come to Mill Mercantile. It’s a perfectly curated shop in SF and one we hit every time we are in town.

Woodshop

You have to make an appointment to visit this showroom in Outer Sunset. Owned by a few artists, you will find gorgeous, reclaimed furniture and high-design surfboards.

Le Point

With its minimal design and carefully curated collection of women’s wear – you will definitely find something work purchasing at Le Point. Started by a stylist, she stocks labels like Staud, Mr. Larkin, and Tibi.

Where to work out

International Orange

In the event you are in SF for a little vacation – come to International Orange for a Vinyasa flow class. The space is inspired by Japenese minimalism (it’s gorgeous) and absolutely feels like an escape. The real reason we come here to unwind is because International Orange is a spa first and foremost – so you can really unwind after your flow.

MNTStudio

White walls, clean lines, and great reformer classes. This is a pilates studio in SoMa that is the classic California wellness space you might crave. Their reformer classes are great but they also have barre options if that is more your thing.

Hike

There are tones of hikes in and around SF. Of course, heading to Point Reyes for a day or two is ideal – but if you can’t get a car or the time to escape there are plenty of trails close by. Head to  Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, or Angel Island State Park for an outdoor sweat.

Where to break

Mercury Cafe

We love this coffee shop because it has somehow remained humble amid the cavalier SF coffee scene. They make their scones every morning (and they are amazing) and have homemade pie at the ready. Basically, it’s a perfect place to break if you are around Hayes Valley.

Trouble Coffee Company

We love this little coffee shop in Outer Sunset. If you want a small cup of fresh brew before heading to hike – stop here. If caffeine isn’t your thing, totally fine – you can also get fresh coconut juice.

Sightglass Coffee

Are you a coffee snob? Do you know a coffee snob? Do you not understand what the term “coffee snob” actually means because it is just coffee and what the hell is there to be snobby about? Turns out, Sightglass can answer all of those questions – because it is the place for true coffee aficionados.

 

Triin Linamagi, Founders Factory

Born and raised in Estonia, Triin moved to London 6 years ago. A bonafide UK resident, she now looks after travel and media portfolios at Founders Factory, an early stage investor and accelerator. Clearly a business-minded woman, she is responsible for identifying the most promising founders and analyzing their business models. We’re impressed. 

Before taking names and making deals at Founders Factory, Triin helped establish a handful of tech companies by heading up product development and marketing. Since being in London, she has not only taken advantage of new jobs – but has seized every opportunity to travel throughout Europe – even if it’s just for a short weekend. Read on for some great tips on where to go, both near and far, and how she combats anxiety and burn out via travel.

Follow her adventures @triinli

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Hotel les deux tours Marrakech was magnificent. Surrounded by lily ponds, fountains and Andalusian gardens. The whole place makes you feel like you are living in a fairytale.

Busuanga bay Lodge in Philippines, in Busuanga. Breathtaking views, very personal service and super relaxing experience

Royal Island Resort & Spa in Maldives – not many words needed to describe this – getaway to Paradise.

Photo via Les Deux Tours

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Asia.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Mobile charger, facial cleanser, comfy shoes.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Julie Sarinana (sincerelyjules in Instagram).

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

Yes I have! Travelling alone allows you to explore much more about yourself and push you out of your comfort zone, and also pay more attention to surroundings. Surely makes you a hell of a good map reader!

What was your favorite room service experience ever?

Breakfast in bed after missing my flight when my own flat was rented out as an Airbnb for the weekend, and I had to take hotel for a night. Luxurious!

Who is your dream “co-pilot” (travel partner- dead or alive), and why?

Anyone who can appreciate time to relax, but also time to be adventurous and find the balance.

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

Travel is the only thing that helps me to “get away” from my own work thoughts. It helps me fully switch off, but also reminds you that there are much bigger problems in the world than the ones we are stressing about in our daily lives. You tend to see the world from a different perspective.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

T-shirt and jumper (in winter) and comfy black leggings or trousers.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Amalfi coast (Capri) or French Riviera if in Europe. Looking further… the Maldives.

In flight wifi? Y/N?

No

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Bubbles & cheese

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check-out

Window or Aisle?

Window (I like my views).

Ashley Ellis, Writer + Filmmaker

Ashley Ellis is a writer, filmmaker, creative, and PhD candidate. If that doesn’t say “modern day Renaissance woman,” we don’t know what does. Having written for publications such as Gopher Illustrated, Pyragraph, Bitch Flicks, Afrobougee and more, we are pretty sure she could write this intro way better than we can – but hey. 

Though she spent years in Los Angeles, Ashley now calls Cape Town home and is currently teaching and working towards her PhD in film studies at the University of Cape Town. She has co-created films for some of the world’s most progressive institutions such as TED, XPrize, The American Heart Association and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (just to name a few).

Constantly seeking new inspiration and subject matter for her next film, Ashley is a globe-trotter extraordinaire- and therefore we had to pick her brain. Follow her adventures @ashley.d.ellis

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Also, why are they your favorites?

I have had so many wonderful international experiences with travel lodging, from backpackers to 5-star hotels, that it’s nearly impossible to answer this question.  In Los Angeles, where I lived throughout my twenties, boutique hotels are a part of the social space. The three where I’ve spent the most time hanging out are The Line Hotel, The Standard DTLA, and Chateau Marmont.  I’ve had daily work meet-ups, partied, planned a film production, and watched Trump get elected at these hotels. These places signal that I’m home.

Dream places to visit as an artist, musician, filmmaker, and why?

As a filmmaker, I’m inspired by locations that can themselves become characters. I dream about visiting and shooting in places like Timbuktu, Mali; Chefchaouen, Morocco; Lake Retba, Senegal; or the Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

The Okavango Delta in Botswana.  It’s my analog home.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

Yes, it was something that I was seeking and it took me years to set up in a way that made sense for my overall growth.  I believe that we manifest the things we set our minds on. Once I decided that travel is an important aspect of my life, I started actively looking for jobs and developing projects that would allow me the opportunity to experience new places.  Eventually, a project idea became worthy of PhD research, and that’s what brought me to Cape Town (but only because I dared to look far and wide for the right institutional home). The more I travel, the more I build relationships with people in my industry all over the world, and these connections naturally bring me more travel/work opportunities.   

How do I make traveling relaxing and fun?  I think it’s all about just embracing the place I’m in without expecting that I’ll always be comfortable in a new place or on the go.  I just breathe in the air and observe my surroundings, and soon enough I settle in or find some place or thing worth exploring. And a good book helps me to unwind in pretty much any circumstance.  

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Lavish Lullaby – Masego

Count Your Blessings – Mizz & Rabs Vhafuwi

Ultimatum – Disclousure feat. Fatoumata Diawara

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Pretty Standard: Passport. Wallet. House keys. Laptop. Cell phone. Chargers. Adapters. A book or 2. My Belkin mini book light. Glasses. Tooth Brush. Disposable face wipes. Clean underwear! And anything & everything else that will fit, because I’m kind of crazy about having access to my stuff.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Anna Wintour.  Her clothes and shoes wouldn’t fit, but that seems like a gamble no matter who one picks. However, she probably has some designer travel accessories that I really need in my life.  

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

Yes and yes.  It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time in your own head and reorganize everything that’s in there.  I’m also much more likely to write, which I never seem to find time for during my life with the people I love.   

Best travel advice you’ve ever received, and from whom?

“Always travel with cash, and store small amounts in different places in your belongings.”  – My Mom

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage! Everything can be sorted with a phone.

In flight cocktail – Y/N? What kind?

Yes. Red wine.  I’ll either write or sleep.

Window or Aisle?

Aisle! I hate crawling over people to pee.


Cape Town by Ashley Ellis

We’ve caught wind of more and more friends heading to the Southern Hemisphere to visit South Africa’s most popular city. Apparently seasons don’t matter all too much in Cape Town, because just as many people are flocking there during South Africa’s winter.

Between the surfing, hiking, food scene, and countless activities just outside the city – it’s no wonder this is a popular destination year round. We tapped Ashley Ellis, local Cape Town resident and a writer, teacher, PhD candidate,  and filmmaker, for her expert tips on where to go in and around Cape Town.

We know you live or have lived in Cape Town, but let’s say you were to take your dream staycation. Where would you stay?

The Silo Hotel – The building is an architectural gem; the decor, ambience and views are unparalleled; and it’s adjacent to Zeitz MOCAA and The V&A Waterfront, so the location couldn’t be better.

The Belmond Mount Nelson – The epitome of luxury and relaxation on gorgeous, manicured grounds.  Belmond is one of my favorite brands, and this property of theirs doesn’t disappoint.

MannaBay – The perfect hideaway for a screenwriting retreat.

Photo via MannaBay

Favorite places to eat on the daily? What do we order?

Cape Town is such a diverse food city, so we’re spoiled with options. My routine is often something like:

Weekdays:  

Eastern Food Bazaar – Shawarma! (but do try Bunny Chow while visiting South Africa!)

Pahari – Beef Stew, Pap and Veggies

Obz Cafe – Prego Chicken Wings with chips or veggies  

Weekends:

Neighborgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill – Bunga Bunga with Kudu

Mojo Market – Take your pick from the internationally inspired food stalls!

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? What are they known for?

Grand Africa Cafe & Beach – all things seafood are nice at this restaurant .

Want more? I’ve got more!

We’ve lost our luggage. Where would you suggest we get a new wardrobe?

This is one time when you won’t be sorry. Today, Cape Town is considered one of the design capitals of the world, and there are tons of local talents creating contemporary and African inspired fashion. I have two suggestions for shopping centers where you can buy local: The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront features all styles of clothing but also has tons of gift options.  Inside the mall, there are global brands if you need some staples. Then in Woodstock, a very short drive outside of the city centre, is The Old Biscuit Mill, which has a variety of clothing stores and some great art.  On Saturday mornings and afternoons, Biscuit Mill hosts a pop up market with live music, and just outside of the building, Albert Road is lined with factory shops from the leading local designers. If you like walking and shopping, there are many boutiques in town to check out. My favorites for African inspired wear are WAG Fashion and Merchants on Long. Otherwise, Shop. Collective on Kloof Street; If it isn’t your style, you’ll find anything you’re looking for within a few blocks on Kloof. Last but not least is a concept store for the fashion forward that I love, Maison Mara, but let me not forget the men… nearby, Bastille is a great shop specifically for menswear!

What are your favorite bars around town? What should we be ordering?

Yours Truly on Kloof Street is an intimate spot that’s perfect for a warm night.  There’s usually a diverse crowd and good music, and because it’s attached to an upmarket backpackers, the bar attracts both locals and international travelers.  Try some of their homegrown Truly White and make some new friends here.

The Gin Bar is a speakeasy behind a small chocolate cafe.  I love gin, and my absolute favorite in the world is the amber gin by Inverroche, made from fynbos botanicals, which are only found here in the Western Cape. For that reason alone, I highly suggest The Heart, one of the cocktails made with this particular liquor on The Gin Bar’s menu.

Beerhouse – If beer is your thing, you’ll get a huge selection of craft beers here in an unassuming atmosphere that overlooks all of the action on Long Street.  At night it’s pretty poppin, but I’ve been there plenty of times during a lazy afternoon just to chill with friends and a cold brew.

Kloof Street House – for gorgeous, delicious, high-end cocktails with prices that aren’t so ridiculous. Try to the Strawberry, Mint, and Rooibos Daiquiri.  Since it’s made with rooibos tea, you’ll likely only find this cocktail in South Africa.

Photo via Kloof Street House

Best place for an AM pick me up? Either coffee, green juice, or tea?

I’m a coffee addict who can easily find a good fix in Cape Town, but I think a much rarer find is a great tea house.  My friends at KA PA Tée have curated a selection of teas from all over the world, have state of the art equipment to make the perfect brew and have cultivated a cozy, intimate environment in which to enjoy a cup or two.  I wouldn’t seem to be “in the know” if I failed to mention Truth Coffee because this steampunk inspired locale for serious coffee lovers boasts the title of the “world’s best coffee shop”.  However, my personal favorite is Ou Meul Bakkery, because they’ve got Bootlegger Coffee, another great local brand and freshly baked everything.  You can also get fresh juices there if that’s your jam.

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to do some damage to our credit card. Where should we go?  

Definitely swipe for African housewares, art, and curios.  At these places, you’ll find beautiful, quality and authentic pieces that are actually made in Africa, which isn’t always the case at the big tourist markets:

Tribal Trends  

Africa Nova

Everard Read Gallery

Zeitz MOCAA Museum Shop

Where can we get our dose of culture where we won’t be swarmed with other tourists?

There are lots of museums in Cape Town, but District Six Museum is in an area of the city that is rich in culture and history but doesn’t get too much tourist traffic.  It’s a great place to turn inward and learn about how and why Cape Town came to be the way it is today. You’ll also be supporting those who are working against the erasure of certain people and places in post-apartheid South Africa. Similarly is the heritage neighborhood of the Bo Kaap, through which you can take a walking tour or explore on your own. And if you get hungry, stop at The Kombuis which claims to have the some of the best traditional Cape Malay food you can find.

Photo via District Six Museum 

We’re looking to party….like a local. Where should we go?

Check out the slew of bars and restaurants on and around Lower Main Road in the Observatory neighborhood. Here you’ll find a dedicated local crowd in unpretentious settings. Otherwise, you can travel a bit farther out of the city into Khayelitsha and head to Rands which has great food and dance music. Khayelitsha is one of the largest and fastest growing townships in South Africa and is vibrant and full of energy. Visiting will give you a fuller understanding of Cape Town than just hanging out in the CBD. With that said, townships are not tourist spectacles; Go because you want to have a good time, but be respectful and aware of this. Visit both of these neighborhoods with a local who’s familiar with the area if possible. It’ll be a better experience overall.

We’d love to see some live music. Where to?

You know how it is… different spots for different nights!

In no particular order:

The Waiting Room – DJ’s, hip hop, eclectic, acoustic… a multilevel bar with inside and outside hang out spots.

Aces n Spades – Where bands perform just before they become famous.

The Piano Bar – Jazz vibes (SA is known for jazz!)

Alexander Bar – An intimate performance venue for all kinds of shows, even for the literary types.

Dizzy’s Camp’s Bay – Beachside dive bar vibes with a karaoke night and live shows.

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The Company’s Garden is just a one minute walk from my flat, so I go there often to clear my head or read a book.

Photo via Company’s Garden

Tips and tricks for getting around town? 

Most of the Cape Town CBD is walkable, which is one thing that I love about the city.  The MyCiTi Bus is cheap, convenient and safe. Otherwise Uber is easy, because most things aren’t very far in distance.

Let’s just say we are single – where are the babes hanging out?

I have no idea, but I’d suggest you put on your best beachwear and head to Camp’s Bay.

And if we are coupled up – what is the best date spot that will actually have a table?

Asoka 😉

Where should we go for some “forest bathing,” or a nature walk (if not a full-on hike)?

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is one of the richest and most comprehensive in the world and has plenty of walking trails.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

I’d go to Rhodes Memorial, because it’s so quiet. It has a dazzling view of the city for the sketch artists and a tea garden for those who bring their journal.  

You need to work, but the wifi is down at work/home. Where do you go?

I take a long walk or a short drive (from “town” Cape Town’s CBD) to Woodstock and head to Superette in Woodstock Exchange. It’s a bright, comfortable environment to work with coffee, treats, and delicious light meals. The wifi is powerful enough, and I can stay and work for hours without being rushed. It’s bustling but not noisy nor packed, and there are so many creative offices and retailers in Woodstock Exchange, that I always feel surrounded by the good vibes of creative entrepreneurs hard at work.

Photo via Superette

Where do we go to work out like a local? What are the trends that everyone’s into these days?

The hike life is definitely a thing here, and it’s understandable, because the landscapes in Cape Town are treasures.  If you’re looking for a traditional gym experience, then I’d recommend Virgin Active which has plenty of locations.  For me personally, I really enjoy going to Spring Pilates Shmilates with other locals.  It’s intimate, and they take great care of my body there!

We’re jetlagged AF. Where do we go to treat ourselves, spa or massage-wise?

Definitely the spa at 12 Apostles Hotel.  The views alone will get you feeling right.

Anything else you want to add in terms of interesting activities or must-see/do’s?

Yes definitely. I have three very important suggestions!

1. Do pay your respects to the freedom fighters who were willing to serve time in abhorrent conditions to see South Africa become a more just society.  I think anyone who comes to Cape Town should visit Robben Island Today, the tours there are led by former inmates and guards, but these people will not be around forever to tell their stories first hand, so this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.   

2. If you have time on your trip, take a day trip to down the coast to Cape Point and experience the southern most tip of the continent, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.  It’s considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, which I cosign. There are several ways to approach the trip, but do stop in Llandudno Beach, Muizenberg, Simon’s Town, and Hout Bay along the way and just give yourself time to explore.

3.  Most people who come to the Western Cape want to visit the wine country at some point.  I highly recommend visiting the French influenced town of Franschhoek and the Solms Delta Wine Farm specifically.  Solms Delta sits on land where artefacts from some of the Earth’s first humans were left.  In addition to this, it has a social business model which is completely unique to the region and empowers its farmworkers.  It has two small museums that pay homage to the history of the people who have worked the land for hundreds of years. Here, you can picnic, taste wine, and soak in the landscapes that will leave an imprint on your hear.  And the wine is superb. They have a Shiraz (a personal favorite) in the 1,001 wines you must try before dying. Oh, and there’s a hidden gem of an Ou Meul Bakkery on the road to Solms Delta that has a farmstall with the most delectable items for your pantry.

Toronto

Turns out, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America (we had to double check that fact too). That being the case, you can only imagine the breadth of things to do in Canada’s business capital. Though most of us pass through here for work – there is plenty to do in terms of food, drinks, and a good time.

The most exciting thing about Toronto is the diversity that makes the city so special. It celebrates those who call the town home – no matter their background – and you can easily see this in the cuisine you eat, art you see, and people you meet.

Our recommendation? If you find yourself on a two day stay for some meetings, extend your trip a while and see what this town is all about.

Where to stay

The Drake Hotel

Hands down, this is the coolest hotel in Toronto. Their eclectic design is a visual representation of how they foster the local creative community and bring Toronto’s best to their visiting guests. With great programming (they have DJs and performers every week), vibrant mid-century modern design, and the Sky Yard rooftop bar – we are pretty much ready to move in. 

Photo via The Drake

The Gladstone Hotel

Boasting artist-designed hotel rooms, this certified B-Corp hotel feels good to stay in know you’re doing good. They support local vendors and use locally made products within their space, and pride themselves on “socially conscious hospitality.” Housed in an old Victorian, they have preserved the floor plan and converted the building in 37 unique rooms and 3 dedicated art galleries.

The Templar Hotel

If you are heading to Toronto for business, but still want a dose of chic – head to the Templar Hotel. Located in the Entertainment District, you can book anything from a single room to a two-story loft. The design is minimal (which we love) and you are walking distance from the CN Tower, Queen Street, and tons of restaurants. 

Where to eat

Pukka

If you like Indian food – you’ve found your spot. This is a refined, British take on the cuisine but the vibe is entirely low-key. Definitely get the slow braised beef short-rib. 

DaiLo

This is a French-Cantonese restaurant with a generous $65 tasting menu. Think braised lamb with sweetbreads and pumpkin dumplings. We love how exciting the menu is here – and definitely recommend dipping into the cocktail list pre-dinner.

Gusto 101

Housed in an old auto-body shop, this Italian restaurant is famous for its wood-fired grill, and the dishes that come out of it. The space is cozy and we definitely don’t hate their $1 house wine deal.

Photo via Gusto 101

Where to drink

Paradise Grapevine

Offering a very well-curated selection of great beer and innovative wine, Paradise Grapevine holds a special place in our heart. As much as we love the drink menus, we also come here for their charming patio.

Barchef

Known for exceptionally artful cocktails and the wonderful mixologists who make them – this is the cocktail bar you come to when you want to impress the co-workers that hated on the Toronto trip.

Seoul Shakers Club

If you’re looking for ambiance – look no further than Seoul Shaker Club. It’s in theme (neon signs, plants hanging from the ceiling, and Korean inspired cocktails) and also offers soju. If you’re boring, they also serve beer, wine, and have a hit list of classic cocktails. 

Photo via Seoul Shakers

Where to workout 

Kula Yoga

With hot, restorative, and beginner classes plus meditation and various workshops – Kula Yoga does a lot for us. We love the general vibe and think that they have some of the best teachers in the city.

Spokehaüs

Similar to a SoulCycle or FlyWheel, Spokehaüs is an uber chic spin studio that makes you want to work it. Get ready to sweat it out to heart pumping music, and then wash it all away with Malin + Goetz products that they stock in their dressing rooms.

Core Pilates Studio

If you need to get your body aligned and back on track, head to Core Pilates studio for a reformer class. We love their Reformer Sculpt class, but you can choose from 6 equally challenging classes that they provide. 

Where to break

St Lawrence Market

Once named the worlds best food market by National Geographic, this major public hall features everything from produce to food stands. If you are in need of a break (and maybe a snack), definitely head here. We recommend hitting up Carousel Bakery but there are tons of options. They also offer cooking classes and frequently have events – so make sure to check their schedule!

Odin

If you are into the Scandinavian design thing, we have found your spot. Odin is a Corktown coffee shop designed by a local architecture studio that prides itself on beautiful modernism and minimalism. Though we definitely come here for the space, we also think they make great coffee. If caffeine isn’t what you’re craving, grab a baked good or a microbrew. 

Tokyo Smoke

This industrial-chic space is basically created to be Instagrammed. Though it’s a bit uber-trendy, we love their espresso and Vietnamese drinks made with custom beans from North Toronto’s De Mello Palheta.

Where to work

Boxcar Social

With great coffee, and a patio for the warmer months, Boxcar Social is popular with Toronto-based freelancers. If you stay longer than the A.M hours, they have snacks and even beer to keep you motivated.

Fix Coffee + Bikes

In West Queen West, this is our pick for a low-key coffee shop with outlets, good lighting, great coffee, and bike repair if you need it. They have bleacher style seating as well incase the table and chair vibe isn’t your thing.

Photo via Fix Coffee + Bikes

The Gallery at Gladstone Hotel

Take in local art as you set up shop in The Gallery at Gladstone Hotel. It has comfy couches and WiFi, and will get you out of the typical coffee shop environment. 

Where to get your hit of culture

The Royal Ontario Museum

ROM combines art, culture, and natural history all under one roof. It’s the most visited museum in Canada and though there is a ton to see – we definitely nerd out on their Art Deco interior collection. 

CN Tower

We know, we know. This isn’t anything new and even if you’ve never set foot in Toronto before, you probably know what CN Tower is. That said, it used to be the world’s tallest tower and you can still go up to the look-out level (which is casually over 1k feet). 

Trinity Bellwoods Park

If you are visiting Toronto during the warmer months and want to take in the local scene of people fully enjoying the warm weather – head to Trinity Bellwoods Park. Pack a picnic and watch how happy Canadians are to see the sun.

Where to shop

The Wanderly

This exceptionally curated boutique is a perfect mixture of vintage finds and consciously sourced accessories and clothing. Think California chic, with products suited for city life. 

KOTN

A unisex basics line we love. Their brick-and-mortar location on Queen Street sells hoodies, t-shirts, and more – all made with high-quality Egyptian cotton. 

Oak + Fort

You may have heard of Oak + Fort because of their digital presence and subscription model, but their store location in Toronto is where it’s at. These simple but classically chic cuts are everything we need. 

Victoria Ainsworth, Marketing Director for Christy Dawn

Tori is a multidisciplinary marketer and e-commerce director. She’s spent the last 7 years working with startups, helping them develop unique brand identities and build meaningful communities. Her past clients include Negative Underwear and hot-spot hotel Maderas Village

A Toronto native, Tori found her way to LA via NYC and is now the marketing guru for cool-girl brand Christy Dawn. Though she is a bad-ass lady running all things CRM, SEO, content, and planning for some of our favorite companies – this low key babe finds herself at home on a surfboard with salt water in her hair and sun on her face. 

After a long stint at GMR Marketing in Toronto, Tori picked up and made her way to Nicaragua for what was supposed to be a break-away vacation, and turned into a long term stay. She traveled around central America in search of calm and waves until making the decision to move to the states. 

Now a Venice beach resident, Tori is making LA home and getting used to the west coast life. Follow her adventures on Instagram @auntowey.

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Also, why are they your favorites?

The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica; The Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, California; The Urban Cowboy in Nashville, Tennessee. I stayed at each of those hotels at a pivotal time in my life. They remind me of embarking on a new chapter, and of unearthing new and interesting parts of myself. (And I got into the best kind of trouble at The Chateau Marmont, because that’s just what you do there!)

Photo via Urban Cowboy

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Music. The rooms at The Chateau Marmont have vintage record players. When concierge brings you to your room, all the windows are open and there’s a jazz record on. It changes everything.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Crazy Love by Irene Diaz; Season by Elder Island; Pour Another by Nick Hakim. I like the moody stuff.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Oodles of chapstick and a journal.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

I’d probably go back to Costa Rica. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet – the energy is intoxicating, and you feel so connected to the Earth. (I’d also really like to go on an Alaskan cruise!)

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Someone with excellent taste in books.

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

I travel alone most of the time. Being alone has its perks – you don’t have to consult with anyone about anything, ever. You can just kind of … go. I’d really like to start a little family someday, and I imagine (and hope!) that we’ll travel together often. I try my best to take advantage of this time in my life where I can just be … all by myself.

Best travel advice you’ve ever received, and from whom?

“Don’t be such a wussy.” – an older gentleman watching me reluctantly get on a school bus in Guatemala.

Who is your dream “co-pilot” (travel partner- dead or alive), and why?

My Nana. Because she was the best woman I’ve ever met.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Panarea!

Alone or with someone else?

Alone!

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost luggage – we always need less than what we packed.

Window or aisle?

Window!

London by Annabel Herrick

Trying to boil down London to just one city guide isn’t possible. There is way too much going on in the UK capital to try and choose between a few restaurants, shops, or hotels- London makes even NYC seem tiny in terms of potential travel time between areas and hot spots. Yes, commute time can suck- but it also makes London an amazing place to explore for as long as possible, as there’s no end to diversity and culture here.

Instead of giving you one top list, we’ve decided to show you a variety of perspectives of our home base (we call London home here at Safara- mostly). First up, check out Annabel Herrick’s guide to her London – focusing around the North East areas (Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Islington, and more!). This freelance journalist has written for CN Traveler, Vice, and Stylist. She is definitely a woman you want to be taking tips from – and her London spots are second to none. 

We know you live in London, but let’s say you were to take your dream staycation. Where would you stay?

42 Acres yoga retreat in Somerset – I’ve heard good things…or the Pembrokeshire Coast – it’s so wild there.

Image via 42 Acres

Favorite places to eat on the daily? What do we order?

I loved the Friday food market on Southbank when I worked in Covent Garden. You can’t go wrong with Dishoom (if you’re happy to queue). I’m pescatarian so I find Indian and Thai food is great as you really don’t need meat for flavor with all the spices. There are various Natural Kitchens all over London and they do great salads, good for meetings too. I just discovered a lovely organic market at the end of my road, Manse Road, in Stoke Newington that’s on every Saturday morning. They have whatever the farmers have grown that week as well as honey, homemade bread, cheeses, milk etc.

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? What are they known for?

The Modern Pantry is beautiful, a Georgian Townhouse in Clerkenwell. It’s ‘fusion’ European.

Image via The Modern Pantry

What are your favorite bars around town? What should we be ordering?

I’m more about pubs than bars. A few that come to mind: Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park, The Water Poet near Moorgate and the Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak have a live jazz duo who are wonderful. They only take cash, very old fashioned, proper ‘old man pub’ with great local ales.

Best place for an AM pick me up? Either coffee, green juice, or tea?

London Grind (various all over London) is an easy choice and always good (short and strong with oat milk) and my favourite new local is Cafe Z in Stoke Newington. Any Hoxton is reliable for a quiet spot when organising a meeting.

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to do some damage to our credit card. Where should we go?

Has to be Rivington Street in Shoreditch for mid/high end brands like Acne or Church Street in Stoke Newington – lots of lovely interior/furniture boutiques and antique shops.

We’ve lost our luggage. Where would you suggest we get a new wardrobe?

In and around Shoreditch; Brick Lane for vintage, BoxPark for local designers and Spitalfields for bigger brands.

Where can we get our dose of culture where we won’t be swarmed with other tourists?

Clissold Park in Stoke Newington for a stroll (the goats…!) or smaller Shoreditch galleries like Jealous or Protein. Now I’m freelance I tend to go to galleries midweek (a luxury I know) as I can’t handle weekend crowds!

We’re looking to party….like a local. Where should we go?

Rowans Tenpin Bowl in Finsbury Park. It’s very weird but very fun. Old Queen’s Head in Angel or Concrete in Shoreditch are crowd pleasers.

We’d love to see some live music. Where to?

Union Chapel in Angel is a beautiful venue.

Image via Union Chapel

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The northern edge of Hampstead Heath away from the crowds, ideally not on a weekend. Super early when it’s misty if you can handle it!

And if we are coupled up – what is the best date spot that will actually have a table?

You have to book in advance wherever you go really. I’m so not the right person to ask for this! I just like a big beer garden with good ales (easily pleased) so further out in North London like The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead is lovely.

Where should we go for some “forest bathing,” or a nature walk (if not a full-on hike)?

Hampstead, Clissold Park, Lea Valley, there’s an old railway line above Archway that not many people know about. Download Go Jauntly for more ideas, they have loads. 

Tips and tricks for getting around town?

Cycle! That’s my number one tip if you’re brave enough. It’s really not as bad as it looks.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

The best galleries but midweek if possible: RA, Tate, Courthauld, Barbican

You need to work, but the wifi is down at work/home. Where do you go?

One of the many beautiful Stoke Newington cafes. 

Where do we go to work out like a local? What are the trends that everyone’s into these days?

Chroma in Shoreditch do colour therapy yoga sessions, gimmicky but really cool and I swear it works. I love spinning at Digme or 1 Rebel (they do hip-hop themed classes). There’s a tiny community focussed yoga studio called YogaHome near me that’s a registered charity, their classes are amazing considering their low prices. Other amazing studios with a cult following (more expensive) include: Yotopia (Covent Garden), Indaba (Marylebone) or Tri Yoga (Camden, Shoreditch, Soho).

Image via Chroma Yoga

We’re jetlagged AF. Where do we go to treat ourselves, spa or massage-wise?

I’ve heard treatments at Tri Yoga are amazing.

Anything else you want to add in terms of interesting activities or must-see/do’s?

Columbia Road flower market on a Sunday. Get there early.

 

Louis A. W. Sheridan, Founder of Discover & Escape

Louis A. W. Sheridan is a London-based creative consultant and photographer, as well as the Creative Editor at Mr & Mrs Smith (he’s the magic behind @smithhotels – one of our favorite instagram inspirations!). His work has taken him across the globe, where he has photographed mountains, models and movie stars; interviewed shepherds, singers and psychics, and hijacked the decks at every opportunity. In and amongst all this he launched Discover & Escape – a shapeshifting creative agency hellbent on viewing everything through a travel lens.

D&E has worked with amazing brands like Matches Fashion as well as profiled artists like Theophilus London and Giles Deacon. Alongside content creation and editorial (for stunning hotels like Aman Venice and El Fenn), Louis also works with hotels on recognising, reacting to, and shaping travel trends. He is always looking for an excuse to take photos, tell stories, and hang out with horses.

We caught up with Louis on where to spot leopards in India, where to stay in Patagonia, and his tips on self discovery through travel as both a career and a (semi-accidental) lifestyle. Read on for some wisdom…

Follow Louis on instagram @louisaws

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

1. Sujan Jawai, Rajasthan, India – A tented camp in the wilds of Rajasthan where leopards roam freely.

2. Le Bristol, Paris, France – If/when I’m made King, I imagine this is how I’d live 24/7.

3. Awasi, Torres del Paine, Chile – Horses, solitude, horses, world-beating food, horses, mountains. Patagonia is hard to beat.

What hotel room design element can you not live without? 

Enough sockets to charge a battalion of camera equipment, and windows that can actually be opened.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

Anywhere with 4G – often far more reliable than wifi. I also love working out of hotel libraries/lounges – they’re criminally underused by guests and are often as well designed as the rooms/restaurants/lobby etc.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Yorkshire is my reset button. Though Harbour Island has marginally better weather.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

Travel was never the aim though my work has always been about storytelling and I’ve found that the best stories present themselves if you keep moving. I can roll out cliches all day on the subject, but I genuinely believe that spending time with new people and places is one of the best ways to understand yourself and your place in the world. As for making it fun/relaxing – I’m lucky enough to travel with my partner (a travel editor herself) which makes a huge difference. It’s a constant to and fro of ensuring we’re both present while also recording anything and everything.

Do you have any favorite travel hacks (ways to score an upgrade, methods of getting your meal first on a flight, etc)?

If you’re travelling long-haul as a couple and the flight’s quiet, book the window and aisle seat and leave the middle free. Only a psychopath would choose the middle seat so you’ll either get the extra space or at the very least, a close-up anthropological study.

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

I have a first-world problem in that this can happen in reverse for me if we’re on the road too much. Spending a good amount of time in one place can feel like a luxury and if things get really intense then the antidote is always screen-free downtime. That being said, living in London – anywhere with sun helps.

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?

Adapt to the mealtimes of wherever you are, even if you’re struggling with a sleep pattern, eating at set times helps tell your body what time it is. And drink obscene amounts of water.

What is your favorite travel book – for at home, or abroad- and why?

A.A. Gill is Away – Gill’s acerbic writing style speaks to me more than most. He travelled far and wide, writing about some notoriously dull and difficult places and yet always found a story, because, there always is one. Even where I don’t agree with his opinions I find his absolute conviction compelling.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

I have a penchant for M65 field jackets, equally perfect for photographing on location and getting through airport security. Strategically fill each pocket (phone, passport, jewelery etc) then put the whole jacket in the scanner and you’re through in seconds.

Beach, city, or mountain?

Is Cape Town all three? All three.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

No. The last sacred space.

Airplane food- Y/N?

Unequivocal no.


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