Guides

L.A. – Westside

A “city guide” to LA is a bit of an oxymoron. The city of angels is a compilation of towns and areas all classified as “Los Angeles,” but living in their own identity. In reality, it’s more like a bunch of small cities met, dated for a while, broke up, and are as cordial as possible when they run into each other at yoga class. That being the case, we have kindly split up our guide to Lala Land into three parts so you’re not stuck in traffic on the 405 for 100 hours.

A lot of guides are coming out are saying that LA has outgrown the entertainment industry and is shedding it’s Hollywood cliche. We are here to tell you…that’s BS. In the last five to ten years, more startups, artists, designers, and the like are relocating to the sunny side of the country, which has certainly diversified the landscape. After all, let us not forget the emergence of “Silicon Beach.” Even still, the entertainment industry will always reign supreme and we are here for it.

Speaking of Los Angeles dominating certain industries, we can all agree that LA is at the top of it’s food game. Between the ethnic haven of San Gabriel, the taco stands in Culver City, and the new big name restaurants in DTLA- there is no shortage of grub. The art and fashion scene in LA offer visitors tons to do, with new boutiques, galleries, and designers popping up daily.

The thing is, this is not a “new” LA, and locals will tell you that. The rest of the country is just now starting to appreciate what the city has to offer. Which is a lot. Minus the traffic.

Check our guide to the westside of LA (and before you roll your eyes and say how Venice has sold out, and that the only good food resides east of the 10, have yourself a read).

Where to stay

Palihouse Santa Monica

With locations in Santa Monica & West Hollywood, Palihouse defines itself as “not a boutique hotel and not a luxury residence.” All of it’s locations capture a little bit of both worlds – and that’s what we love about their properties. The Santa Monica location is three blocks from the beach, boasts gorgeous courtyards, and has a bar that is classic enough to make you feel like you’re not in 2018 – or even in Los Angeles altogether. But you are. And that’s awesome.

Surfrider Malibu

The interior of Surfrider is what we all picture when we think of a lazy Sunday at a beach house. If that beach house was a decorated to perfection by someone like Gwenyth Paltrow. In actuality, Surfrider is housed in a re-done 1950s era motel and has everything from surfboard storage, to a heated outdoor shower, to complimentary Grown Alchemist skincare products. You can also book surf safaris, picnics, and hiking adventures via there front desk. Which you should obviously do.

The Native Malibu

The Native sustained some serious damage due to the Woolsey fire this past fall. At the moment, it is closed for repairs, but they will reopen some Spring 2019. We could not think of a better way to support a small businesses in re-building than booking a night (or four) at this place.

This is another beautiful Malibu hotel on the PCH. It has 13 individually designed rooms complete with the dreamiest mid-century modern furniture your instagram feed can imagine. It’s about a 6 minute drive to Point Dume – but if you don’t feel like hitting the surf quite yet, feel free to lounge on your private patio or on your Casper mattress.

Where to Eat

Gjusta Venice

We probably don’t need to tell you about Gjusta. Brought to you by the people behind Venice mainstay Gjelina, and their take-away shop GTA (and new Japanese fusion spot, MTN), it’s one of our (and most likely your) Venice favorites. Everything is great aside from the seating, which is usually taken at all hours of the day. Go anyway- and buy some peach jam to take home as a souvenir.

Rustic Canyon Santa Monica

Jeremy Fox is a legend in the vegetable world- and Rustic Canyon is his staple. A veggie-forward restaurant in Santa Monica, this is everything you want in healthy, inventive California cooking. The menu changes daily based on what is in season (very sustainable!), and their wines are equally as good as the food.

Loqui Culver City

We understand that saying “westside” and “taco” is against certain LA rules. But trust us – this place is amazing. There will be a line and there will also be a lot of people taking photos of their food. If you can move past that situation (figuratively and literally), then make sure to order the homemade flour tortillas. The other great thing is that Loqui is located in The Platform, so you can peruse stores afterwards.

Father’s Office Culver City

You’ve been to the Montana location of this place, and if you haven’t you are doing everything wrong. Head to the Culver City location because it’s bigger, but it’s still our favorite burger in LA.

Bay Cities Santa Monica

This is a great Italian sandwich. If you are headed to the beach for the day and decide that you need something on the go – this is your spot. And if you aren’t headed to the beach for the day, we are pretty sure this will still be your spot.

Gjelina Venice

You’ve already heard of Gjelina and you’ve most likely already eaten there. Even though this spot is a Venice veteran and isn’t “under the radar,” you should still go (or go back) because the pizza is as good as ever, and their vegetable dishes are second to none. We spring for the mushroom toast and the squash blossom and burrata, but you really can’t go wrong with their endless options.

Where to Drink

The Lincoln Venice

The Lincoln does a lot for us. It’s large enough for bigger groups. It’s loud enough where things aren’t awkward, but not so loud where you can’t have an intimate conversation. The music is good, and the drinks are too. Oh, and it’s arguably the coolest bar in Venice.

Neighbor Venice

Neighbor is technically a restaurant, but we have never come here for dinner. This is a perfect spot to meet someone at 4pm on a Wednesday when you want to chat over a glass of wine and maybe a small plate for good measure. The entire space looks like it was decorated by Domino Magazine and we highly recommend sitting on the patio.

Hinano Cafe Venice

If you’ve never been to Venice before and for some strange reason still believe that it’s the seaside town we all saw in Lords of Dogtown – you’re going to be bummed out. But we have a solution for you and it’s called Hinano Cafe. It’s an old school Venice bar and not one where you are ordering craft cocktails. That said, it’s a good place for a beer after surfing and you can’t go wrong with their burger.

Mon Li Malibu

We wouldn’t really classify this as a “bar” but it certainly needs mentioning, especially if you love cocktails. For $150, you are taken on a tour of the gardens around Calamigos where most of the cocktail ingredients come from. You then embark on a cocktail tasting experience that is unlike anything we’ve done before. Don’t worry, they give you (very good) sustenance during the course of the tasting so you don’t, you know, pass out or anything. Make sure to take an Uber home.

Where to get Coffee

Bar Nine Culver City

Bar Nine is a beautifully minimal, industrial looking cafe in Culver City. They roast their own beans in house and pride themselves on sustainability. We ordered a latte with hazlenut milk and would be just fine starting our morning with that beverage everyday because it was that good. If you’re hungry, they have great pastries to-go and a small food menu as well.

Primo Passo Coffee Co Santa Monica

Right on Montana Avenue is one of our favorite coffee shops. Primo isn’t necessarily the place that you would go to work all day, but their coffee is amazing and the branding of the place makes it that much better. We usually get and almond milk latte and a bag of beans to take home with us.

Rose Cafe Venice

This Venice staple is always a good choice for an afternoon snack. Though you could go for a full blown lunch and be just as happy, we prefer to sit in the cafe area with our laptop and munch on one of their homemade pastries.

Moon Juice Venice

This isn’t coffee, but that is why you are here. Moon Juice is our favorite juicery in LA and has locations in both Venice and Silverlake. We can’t get enough of their mylks but if a solid healthy pick me up is what you need – anything from their menu will do.

Shop

General Store Venice

This beautiful boutique in Venice carries a handful of our favorite designers and perfect CA inspired home goods. Pick up cedar roped incense or the perfect ceramic bowl or a beautiful woven basket to hold all the blankets you’ll need when you are sadly no longer in California.

The Platform Culver City

The Platform is an outdoor “mall” of sorts in Culver City. They have rotating pop-up shops that keep things interesting (previously hosting LA art gallery Tappan Collective) and mainstays like Reformation and Frida Salvador.

Christy Dawn Venice

LA based designer Christy Dawn opened her first brick and mortar a few years ago. If your planning on taking a day in Topanga Canyon or Malibu to roam around the mountains and need the perfect boho dress that fits just right – this is your place.

MedMen Venice

As we all know, you can now legally buy marijuana in California. If you didn’t know that already…we can’t help you. If you did, and you’re looking for a place to do so on the westside of LA, we are going to send you to MedMen. It’s the opposite of walking into a “weed” store and feels like more of an upscale “cannabis” experience, if you will. They curate their collection carefully and though things are very focused on branding – they do put an emphasis on selling product they stand by.

Flowerboy Project Venice

One part cafe, one part flower shop, and one part boutique, there are very few things you can’t get here. 

Where to buy gifts

Burro Venice

Burro is a perfect place to snag a gift for the folks back home. They have affordable home goods, jewelry, and books to take back to those who didn’t get to bask in the LA glory.

Tortoise General Store Venice

This place specializes in Japanese homeware and we wish we could buy everything. Since you probably need something of reasonable size to fit in your carry on – this is a perfect spot to pick up but will probably keep.

To Do

Will Rogers State Beach Pacific Palisades

This is a great go-to when you don’t have time to drive all the way into Malibu, but still want to get away from the Venice crowds (and maybe something a little cleaner). Keep in mind parking is tricky here but they do have a lot that you can pay for.

Lechuza Beach Malibu

If you’re heading into Malibu but Zuma is packed, go for Lechuza beach. At the intersection of Broad Beach and Bunnie Lane, you’ll see an access point. You’ll ditch the crowds but you won’t have to drive hours north or south of LA. Make sure to bring a snack because this is not the type of place you’ll want to leave. In the event you forgot to take our advice, just stop at the Reel Inn for a beer and some seafood on your way back.

Mercado Sagrado Topanga Canyon

As far as craft fairs go – Mercado Sagrado wins them all. It’s an annual fair but if you happen to be in LA while this is going on – definitely grab tickets. This outdoor market features local artists selling whatever it is they make. Don’t expect to find dream catchers and poorly woven hats – this is a very well curated design flea with a wellness and music component to boot.

Santa Monica Farmers Market Santa Monica

There are tons of farmers markets to choose from in LA, but the Santa Monica farmers is one of our favorite. It has all the organic produce you can dream of and if you’re already hungry when you get there, great food stands to grab a breakfast taco or something sweet.

Hits of culture

Eames Foundation Pacific Palisades

Head to the Pacific Palisades to check out this landmark of mid-20th century modern architecture. Eames is a household name and The Eames House, or Case Study House #8 as it’s called, is some of his best work. Make sure to make a reservation before hand.  

The Getty Villa Pacific Palisades

If we are being honest, we go to the Getty Villa mostly for the Villa itself rather than the collection. If it’s the collection you’re interested in – we are going to send you to the Getty Center in Brentwood. The Villa is basically what happens when a very rich oil tycoon loves art so much that he builds a “gallery” modeled after the most luxurious house known to the Roman World. It’s stunning as are the gardens, and the history isn’t too bad either.

Museum of Latin American Art Long Beach

Okay so technically Long Beach is on the westside of LA county and we’ll take it. Going to Long Beach can be a tall order, but we promise this will be worth it. The Museum of Latin American art was built in 1996 and is the only museum of it’s kind in the country. Yes, you heard us correctly – in a country where tacos are a way of life, there is only one museum exclusively dedicated to the artwork of people from Latin America.

Where to Workout

Go hiking

Los Liones trail will take you all the way to Topanga for a beautiful hike. If you’re looking for something quick to get done before a morning meeting, take Temescal Canyon trail’s basic loop which is about 2.6 miles. If hills aren’t up your alley, take a walk or a jog along Palisades Park in Santa Monica.

Love Yoga Venice

This yoga studio offers flow, prenatal, restorative and more. The bright and airy studio is unmistakably Californian with bright blue floors and plants hanging. If you find yourself hungry after class, you’re in luck because it’s down the street from Superba Food & Bread.

Sweat Pilates Culver City

These classes going to kick your ass. Sweat offers a few different class options – we recommend starting with their “Classic” in order to make sure you understand the basic of what they are serving. Most of the classes are on a reformer and some have cardio involved as well. Good luck.

Secret Rendezvous

Old Lightning Marina Del Rey

Behind Scopa Italian Roots you’ll find Old Lightning. There is only room for about 30 people at a given time which helps to keep this place hush hush. The mid-century tiki bar favors rum and tequila cocktails, but has an extensive spirits menu in case that’s not your thing.

Blind Barber Culver City

You’ve probably heard of Blind Barber which doesn’t make it much of a secret, but the team behind the “bars behind the barber shops” consistently make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon something no one else knows about. Even when they do.

Point Dume Malibu

So Point Dume might be one of the more popular places on the PCH – but the staircase down to the cove is not. If you’re looking for a secret rendezvous mixed with romance, head down the staircase (it’s a bit of a trek, but totally worth it), around sunset with a bottle of California Pinot.

Remote Office

Little Beach House Malibu

So we realize this is a very exclusive “office,” but if you are a SoHo house member with access or a day pass – this should absolutely be where you head to knock out emails. With a prime location right on the beach and an open air interior, you won’t even feel like you’re missing out on the 75 degree day passing you by. Little Beach House have valet parking and a buffet at lunch, and even music that comes in during the evening – so you can truly stay there all day.

Groundwork Coffee Venice

If you can’t get into Little Beach House, head over to Groundwork Coffee. Groundwork is an LA staple with multiple locations across the city, and the Venice location is great. With long communal tables, healthy food for lunch, and (drum roll please) outlets – this can be your office any day of the week.

Superba Food & Bread Venice

Superba is a lot of things. It’s the kind of place you show up at 9am to get some work done and find yourself staying at all day. They have an open air dining area and food that is too pretty not to photograph. You can use your laptop for most of the day in certain areas, but it’s a nice enough place to take a lunch meeting if you need to. We love their “In Purgatory” eggs and their kale toast (because we are in LA) – but you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu.

Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia and is located in the Spanish midland, surrounded by stunning mountains. The best possible advice we can give you is not to go here in July or August. The heat can be oppressive, and the city turns into a ghost town. That is, aside from the unfortunate tourists that didn’t get the memo. During the remaining 10 months of the year, this place will absolutely win your heart over.  With cozy streets, delicious tapas, and vibrant culture, it’s hard for us to find things not to love about Seville.

Seville is the birthplace of Flamenco and yes, that fact alone makes everyone here just a bit sexier. It’s home to the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and regardless of your religious preference, we promise you will be floored by the architecture. Roaming the cobblestone alleyways, you’ll hear Spanish guitar and smell Boquerones or Pringa from the nearby restaurants.

In fact, we would be fine skipping the site-seeing all together and drowning ourselves in sangria and tapas as the sun goes down. Unfortunately for us, there is so much to see that our plan won’t really hold up. 

Where to stay

Hotel Alfonso XIII is the crown jewel of Seville hotels. The style is classic and old, and it’s in pristine condition. You can’t find a better hotel breakfast – with three different restaurants, we expected that to be the case. If you prefer something more personal, Hotel Monte Triana is everything you need. This stylish boutique hotel has each room named after a city the owners have visited. To make it even more adorable, each one is decorated with art the couple has collected from their trip.

Where to eat & drink

The name of the game for breakfast in Seville is “Pan Con Tomate” with “Cafe con Leche.” You can’t go wrong with that order and it’s as simple as it is delicious. Head to Bar Alfalfa and grab yourself a seat by the window to watch beautiful Andalusians stroll by while sipping your coffee.

The best restaurant in town for lunch is La Brunilda Tapas. This place opens at 1 pm and takes no reservations so get there early. If you can’t get a table don’t go crazy, walk over to Triana market instead. Buy something on the go from one of the many food stalls there is to choose from.

For dinner, restaurants open at 8 pm at the earliest (we are in Spain after all). However, Cañabota, one of our favorite restaurants in Seville, is also one of the few that stay open all day without being a tourist trap. Perfect if you’re still on another time zone and want to have early dinner. Cañabota is famous for its extensive fish menu and is a must for couples.

For a group of friends, we would rather go for a late dinner at Lobo López. Great atmosphere, solid food, and your chances of meeting eyes with that cute Spanish guy are actually pretty high.

For a traditional Seville experience, go to Plaza Alameda de Hercules. This plaza is filled with young, hip locals who live nearby or come to hang out as the evening passes by. There are restaurants back to back, so pick whatever restaurant you’re feeling at the moment. Our favorite is Arte y Sabor but really, you can’t go wrong.

Where to get a coffee

Don’t be thrown off by the hectic street traffic surrounding Torch Coffee Roasters. The coffee in this place is great- and will absolutely satisfy you coffee-snobs out there.

Ofelia Bakery is a modern looking coffee place offering the tastiest treats you can find. All homemade, and (thanks to American influence) a lot of vegan and gluten-free options, in case you’re in need of that type of thing. The vegan chocolate brownie will changes lives. Their menu changes daily but if you see it on there – please, for us, order it.

Where to shop

There are tons of cute shops in the heart of Seville. Go to Calle Rioja and start with a mandatory visit to BIMBA Y LOLA and then work yourself down the street from there.

Where to see some hits of culture

Real Alcazar de Seville is the royal palace in Seville. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and if that’s not enough to convince you to go here, you should also know that this place was used as a backdrop for Game of Thrones. Knew we would get you with that one. When you go, make sure you tour the entire palace. The botanical gardens inside are truly not to be missed.

If you can’t get enough of the greenery, go to Parque de María Luisa. Rent a bicycle, buy an ice cream, and enjoy the surroundings. Plaza de Espana, that pays homages of Spain’s 48 provinces, is part of the park and you can rent a boat to take out into in the canal that surrounds it.

If you’re more the history type, head to Torre del Oro. An amazing old military watchtower, Torre del Oro has a tour focusing on the city and how it came to be.

Where to work out

Go to Parque de María Luisa where there are yoga classes held several days a week. Enjoy the fresh air with those deep inhales.  

Where to party

DadáBar. There is nothing fancy about this place. We love that! Come here, let go, and dance a little bit. We don’t feel the need to say much more. Just know you should go.

If you’re looking for something more upscale, check out Lobby Room. It’s a great time, and open late (this should be a given with almost anywhere in Spain). Be sure to get churros with chocolate sauce on your way home. There are Churroterias all over in Seville, and they are always a good idea for a late night snack after drinking one too many glasses of cava.

What to do

There are great rooftop bars around Seville, and seeing the city from above is truly breathtaking. The one closest to the main cathedral is part of the EME Catedral Hotel. Warning: there will be a few tourists here but it’s worth it.

A Flamenco show is an absolute must see while you’re in Seville. This city is the birthplace of this traditional dance. Museo del Baile Flamenco (C/Manuel Rojas Marcos 3), which hosts several one-hour courtyard shows each evening is a great option. Or, if you’re planning in advance, buy a ticket for one of the shows at Tablao Flamenco Los Gallos.

Best place for IG stories

Metropol Parasol, also known as Las Setas (The mushrooms). This is an amazing architectural site that you wouldn’t necessarily expect in an old Spanish town like Seville (it feels extremely modern, in contrast to the surroundings). The wooden construction is made up of six platforms in the shape of large mushrooms. It is the best 360-degree view of the city and is the perfect backdrop for your ‘gram letting everyone know you’re in Seville. And they’re not. Come here just before the sunset, when the light is the most beautiful to see the city. Just make sure to put your iPhone down for a moment and take in the view for what it is: stunning. 

Where to get some R&R

AIRE Ancient Baths Sevilla. As you may glean from the name, AIRE is a bathhouse. To be specific, it is a palace they turned into a bathhouse. And I guess we should really just call it a spa. You can book services and enjoy the gorgeous facilities. They even have a large jacuzzi on the roof where you can enjoy the view of the main cathedral next door.

The treatments are fantastic but not quite the standard spa experience. Instead of getting your massage in a private room, you will be guided into a main area where others are also getting treatments done. The room is beautiful and has dimmed lighting, candles, and soothing music. We love it but it’s obviously not for someone who needs four walls between them and their spa neighbor.

Where to work- ie creative remote “offices”

We love getting a start on the work day at Hotel Alfonso. With three restaurants, there is plenty of room and lots of choices when it comes to food and drink.

The place that will really spark your creativity is Un Gato en Bicicleta. Originally a bookshop, it has now incorporated a cafe where you can come and work for the day – and maybe even enjoy it. There are magazines and books everywhere, and in the back, they even have a ceramic studio.




Tel Aviv

Though New York City may own the motto “The City that Never Sleeps,” Tel Aviv may be its long lost sister. Teeming with energy day and night, this condense urban metropolis also boasts 9 miles of Mediterranean beaches that are right there for you to enjoy. Traveling to Tel Aviv, you will probably find that you need less hours of sleep a night to happily function – the omnipresent energy of the city and its inhabitants is like a constant espresso shot to the head. It’s no coincidence that Tel Aviv is Israel’s technology center- startups here are thriving off the local energy. Work hard, play hard is definitely a mantra here- people are bustling about day and night, and you will, too.

Music and food are shared between friends everywhere from the beaches to the many outdoor patios, and even as a fish out of water (or off a long-haul economy flight), you’ll find Tel Aviv to be super welcoming- you’ll instantly feel right at home here. It’s like your favorite Instagram account has curated goodies just for you: the food will never stop to amaze, the markets are a treat to all 5 senses, amazing architecture and art galleries are everywhere, the many boutique hotels are super vibe-y, and the city is constantly buzzing.

Where to stay

There are plenty of great boutique hotels in this city. Hotel Montefiore is our favorite. If you’re not able to book one of the 12 rooms, make sure to at least stop by for an afternoon drink. Newly opened boutique The Vera Hotel is another option that we like.

Where to eat & drink

The beauty of this city is that the best food is usually served in the most understated settings (aka: street food is amazing here). Port Said is an iconic restaurant behind the Great Synagogue that serves hip locals seated at tables spilling out onto the sidewalk and courtyard. Even though it doesn’t sound very impressive, the eggplant and sweet potato were our favorite dishes. Sometimes simplicity is bliss- and when the ingredients are so good, you don’t need a lot of extras (in fact, the whole “farm to table” trend has been here for centuries- because of all of the amazing markets, access to super fresh produce is a way of life). Bicicletta is a great spot for a romantic evening- tucked away under the treetops and hanging lamps, this place is a must for dinner.

The best hummus is found in the Jaffa area at Abu Hassan. Judging by looks alone, this is a very casual place- but we can assure you that they are very serious about their hummus. Hummus is made here in the morning, and then put in the bin by 2 pm when it’s not fresh anymore. Though in the west we eat hummus whenever, here it’s a dish best served for breakfast or lunch (at breakfast, they put an egg on it). For the best of all worlds in this area, we recommend that you go around noon for a hummus-laden lunch, and for breakfast, you should try the Shakshouka at Benedict instead.

Where to get a coffee

Cafelix

This place is widely touted as the best coffee place in Tel Aviv by locals, and even though we haven’t been to them all of them and cannot, therefore, confirm that…we can definitely say that this one is worth a visit when in need of that kick.

Where to shop

Neve Tzedek

This area, close to Rothschild Street, is filled with cute shops. The best shopping is done on Shabazi Street, especially at the end towards the seaside, where our favorite store Boutique 77 is. Finish off your retail therapy with the best ice cream in Tel Aviv at Anita.

Where to see some hits of culture

Bauhaus center

The best way to enjoy some culture in this city is by walking. Not only do you get some free cardio, but you get to enjoy the Bauhaus-architecture that Tel Aviv is known for. In this area you’ll find several stores with coffee table books to bring home with you, and also guided tours if you don’t feel like doing the research on your own.

What to do

Go to Jerusalem for a day and visit the wailing wall (maybe even continue to the Dead Sea, if you get moving early in the morning). Dress for the occasion (read: cover yourself! This is not a place for “jorts” or bare arms). Make sure to book a table in advance at Machneyuda for either lunch or dinner.

Where to party

You won’t be disappointed with the party scene here. There is something for everyone. We would start with a drink at Denim Drinks First, and then head over to Kuli Alma. Come here and listen to the music (sometimes there are live performances), and sip on their famous Mojito slushie (Tel Aviv’s “Froze”), and do some drunken shopping at the vintage store that’s tucked away in the back of the venue. If the night goes according to plan, you should end it by dancing at 4am to loud electronic music at either Bootleg or The Breakfast Club.

Best place to buy gifts

There are so many markets in Tel Aviv where you can find great gifts. Walk to Jaffa by the coast in around 30 min from the city center (& if you’re feeling lazy, just grab a taxi via the Gett App), and visit the market in the old area of the city. The area is really run down and feels like the 3rd world compared to other neighborhoods, but that’s the whole charm- you feel transported to another time when looking over the fort.

Where to work out

Go for a walk or a run on the beach, its 13 km long so you won’t need to do more than that! In case you need some extras, you can always take one of the yoga classes on the roof of The Vera Hotel, or rent kayaks or other sporty equipment on the beach from one of the many vendors. You can even join in on a volleyball sesh, if you’re feeling bold and sociable.

Best bar for a secret rendezvous

They happen to love Speakeasy bars in this city, and are experts at hiding great rooftop bars behind secret entrances, so this really is the city for a secret rendezvous, if there ever was one! One of our favorites is the Speakeasy Rooftop Bar on Rothschild. Perfect before or after dinner!

Best spot for your new Bumble profile photo

Floating in the dead sea (if you go, that is- you have to get up super early for that!). If not, then perhaps at the old fort at Jaffa, or at the rooftop bar listed above!

Berlin

Berlin feeds a lust for life, just look at how the city has always pioneered trends in music, design, fashion, art, and architecture. Time to embrace getting out of your comfort zone – try something new, and go a bit wild.

Yes, there are ‘dark rooms’ and 24-hour dance clubs- but they are paired with amazing parks and galleries, as well. It’s very grey, but the rainbow graffiti and street art make up for the downer weather in spades.

As you can probably expect (unless you’re really into currywurst)- the food isn’t that great. However, that’s changing – vegan restaurants now exist alongside the more traditional “meat and potatoes” spots that dominated Berlin for centuries. For traditional food, the one must for your list is Borchardt (it’s been open for 150 years, after all), where they concoct steak tartare in front of your table on a brass trolly. The waiters are in white tie and hand you a Kir Royale as you walk in. Not to be missed.

Where to stay

SO/ Berlin Das Stue

One of our favorite hotels in this city, Das Stue means “living room” in Danish. Fun fact: it was the Danish Embassy prior to being a boutique hotel. This reasonably priced five-star ‘design hotel’ is the perfect mix of sophisticated, new-age interiors and old-school historic bones. The contrast works well and Das Stue naturally attracts a fashionable crowd.

The Michelberger Hotel is a more hipster option, typical of Berlin style. Young, edgy and relaxed, the Michelberger is fun and happens to have one of the best restaurants in the area. People come just for the fantastic music.

Michelberger

The 4-star Hotel Zoo Berlin is in the central area of Mitte. Book a room facing the Tiergarten Park’s Zoo, and you’ll likely spot some real monkeys from your bed. Definitely spend an evening on the rooftop in the Monkey bar (yes, there’s a theme).

Soho House Berlin is the fancier option. The Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) architecture forms the Grade II classified building. You’re basically sleeping in a time capsule from pre WWII, through the fall of the wall in 1989. This beauty was passed between political parties and then left dormant for 10 years before the international members club scooped it up. We’re surprised that Wes Anderson hasn’t made a film here yet- there’s lots of delicious symmetry. One of the slickest rooftops in the city, the terrace is only open to hotel guests and members. Many rooms have DJ turntables, too.

Where to eat & drink

Paris Bar
Your only mandatory visit is to the famous restaurant located in West Berlin. Enjoy people watching or peruse the great art hanging on the walls whilst having dinner and drinks. As for another German essential, try a döner kebab. You can find them everywhere in the city, but Mustafas is the most famous.

Other than that, Katz Orange is a safe bet for a great dinner in Berlin. Borchardt is another one, especially worth a visit on a Friday night when they host parties upstairs. If you choose a different day of the week, you can always go to the Neue Odessa Bar instead for a drink afterwards. Don’t miss their Moscow Mule.

Katz Orange

Where to get a coffee

The perfect place to stop for coffee and something sweet is the Distrikt Coffee (the bread pudding is legendary).

If you’re more serious about your coffee, The Barn will be right up your alley. This coffee shop and roastery in the Mitte district roasts all its own beans on-site, this is a rarity in Berlin. They don’t offer any WIFI, so don’t come here with your laptop. They do however offer free coffee tasting sessions every Saturday and will love for you to stay all day and chat about coffee if that’s your thing.

Where to shop

Voo store
For a fairly large store, Voo manages to feel very exclusive, as if every single piece is handpicked.

The Store is another great one, part of Soho House. The coffee bar and sofas make it the perfect place to just chill.

Where to see some hits of culture

Berlin is a place that lives and breathes art. Even the buildings are often full of graffiti and locals don’t see it as a nuisance, but rather an art form. Download the Street Art Cities app and take yourself on a tour with your headphones.

If you are here during the Gallery Weekend or Berlin Art Week, there’s art all around. All this street art contrasts the sights and monuments that remind you of a very different time, such as the Holocaust Memorial and Berlin Wall Memorial, or Checkpoint Charlie. We think it’s best to take it all in – the modern, and the historic, the saddening and the beautiful.

If you prefer to stay indoors, go to the Helmut Newton Foundation. Not only is Berlin-born Helmut Newton’s own work featured here, but there are also exhibitions of some of the most influential photographers of our time. The gift shop has the best postcards ever.

Where to work out

Badeschiff
Go swimming in this outdoor swimming pool in the river. The water is chlorinated, but it still feels like you’re out in the wild.

Sun Yoga
Boasting two locations in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, this is one for the hot yoga lovers – the heat is cranked up super high. An amazing detox and you’ll leave with a glow.

Ride.bln
It seems the spin trend has hit Berlin too (not surprising really given their love of dance music). This studio is the best and the 50 minute classes will get you pumped and ready for your night of clubbing.

Where to work

Go to Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin for the world’s best cheesecake! The lobby is a great place to sit with your computer, but it’s pricey to stay.

Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin

Where to party

Berghain is a club people have heard of, and is often referred to as “The Best Club in the World.” There is this small issue of actually getting in (pro tip: NEVER wear nice shoes –no dress shoes, no stilettos). That said, it’s worth a try.

If you’re not lucky enough to get in, there are plenty of other options. CDV is great, especially in the summer when you party outside. Birgit und Bier has several dance floors and is also for people who aren’t hardcore techno lovers.

What to do

Enjoy the outdoors with drinks! Bring a blanket, go to Weinerei and buy a good bottle of wine and sit in Weinbergspark. Or buy something bubbly and take your loved one to sit at Modersohnbrücke in Friedrichshain and watch the sunset on the skyline.

And, just because it’s so Berlin to turn something as harmless as mini golfing into an artsy ‘underground event,’ go to Blacklight Minigolf.

Best bar for a secret rendezvous

Go to one of the many hidden bar/speakeasy’ around the city. Buck & Breck is our top pick.

Buck & Bread

Best place for IG stories

Inside the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel (we know, but trust us) is the DomAquarée fishtank elevator. A ride in this elevator will make you feel like The Little Mermaid for a second and is definitely worthy of an Instagram “Highlight” reel.

Amsterdam

A huge mix of cultures and an inclusive attitude to newcomers makes Amsterdam what it is. The city is small and there’s a strong community vibe here, so look out for cool collectives within music, fashion, and art.

Don’t be thrown off by the local language, which has a harsh sound to it, as the Dutch are so friendly and easy-going. Side note: this may be because of the legal weed (just in case you hadn’t heard that was a thing…)

Where to stay

Hoxton Hotel
This is one of our favorite Hoxtons. This place is constantly buzzing with people coming to grab a bite in the restaurant, sit in the lounge on their laptops, or stand in the bar after work. All that aside, rooms are quiet and most of the hustle happens in the daytime.

Volkshotel
There’s a similar vibe at Volkshotel, but this place is younger and more lively. Located close to the Pijp (consider it Amsterdam’s Shoreditch), a lot of locals come here for drinks at the rooftop bar.

Pulitzer Hotel
If you prefer something more luxurious and sophisticated, the Pulitzer Hotel is the ideal place. This grande 5-star hotel is made up of 25 canal houses that are all interconnected. It also has the most soothing inner courtyard to have breakfast or sit with your computer.

Zoku Amsterdam
This place has plenty of people staying long-term – every room has a kitchen – which can only be a good sign. There’s even an app to interact with like-minded people in the building. If you’re not staying here, it’s a great place to work. 

Where to eat & drink

Lion Noir and Cafe Panache are both great examples of non-touristy, super local restaurants, yet they still somehow feels homely and familiar.

Definitely head to Gs brunch boat on a Sunday or Restaurant Rijsel in Amsterdam East for good and affordable food. Mana Mana is our favorite hidden gem in the Pijp, which has the most amazing Middle Eastern food. Head for drinks afterwards at the Cafe de Pijp or Kingfisher (they serve giant G&T’s in fishbowl glasses).

Lion Noir

Where to get a coffee

Café de Pels
What you see here is what you get. This cafe is a humble favorite. They also have newspapers from all over the world to go with your coffee.

Café George
This place serves you coffee in a fancy setting on marble tables, so definitely a more upscale option.

Where to shop

Second-hand shopping in Amsterdam is a must – try Episode or Laura Dols. The basement at Van Ravenstein also sells designer brands from previous seasons that are heavily discounted – only Saturdays! Amsterdam is a casual city, so no surprises that the coolest store in town is a small hole-in-the-wall sneaker shop called Patta, located on Zeedijk and across the road you’ll find SMIB (the brand store of a local music collective). Other local brands to visit include Daily Paper, The New Originals and Zoe Karssen.

Patta

Where to get a hit of culture

In the museum quarter, the main attraction is the Rijksmuseum, but another hot tip is the Van Gogh museum. For something off-the-beaten-track, try the small Moco Museum just across the park, which you can zip around in about 30 minutes.

Foam
In De 9 Straatjes (“the Nine Streets” neighborhood), a trendy shopping ‘hood in the Old Town, this photography museum is definitely worth a look.

Where to work out

Go running in Vondelpark, and finish at the Vondelgym with some strength exercises and a shower. For a small city, the number of lux gyms is surprisingly – one of our favorites is Rocycle (i.e. the Soul-Cycle of Amsterdam).

Where to party

De School
Dutch people take their partying seriously, and to really get a sense of how the locals do it, go to De School. This club has a 24-hour license (seriously!) and when you’re done dancing in the morning, you can even have breakfast in their restaurant. You’ll probably need it, after all that dancing.

Radion
An industrial haven in the Nieuw-West district. One for techno lovers and another all-nighter option.

NYX
A bastion for the LGBTQ community, this is the place to go if you want to check out Amsterdam’s drag scene. Go with an open mind – there’s DJ decks in the bathroom.

What to do

If you want the best music experience Amsterdam has to offer, be sure to come here during the Amsterdam Dance Event (usually in late October). This country is basically the birthplace of Gabber music (or ‘hardcore techno’ to most of us), so you can’t leave without giving it a go…

Where to get some R&R

Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre
The safest bet is this spa at the Conversatorium Hotel. With its 5-star rating and 1000 square m wellness centre, you can’t go wrong.

Koan Float
A more unusual choice is to float in saltwater at Koan Float, Amsterdam’s first “floating spa,” which has made a big impression on the locals.

Where to work

The Hoxton, Pulitzer, and Zoku make for great remote offices. If you’re not in ‘full working’ mode but just need to take care of some emails in the afternoon, go to Conservatorium Hotel and enjoy a glass wine whilst you’re at it. You’ll feel like a million dollars in this place.

Conservatorium Hotel

Best bar for a secret rendezvous

Brasserie Bar Occo
A perfect setting for a late night cocktail in the Nine Streets area. Occo is part of the 5-star hotel The Dylan, and you can sit outdoors in their inner courtyard in the summer.

Best place to buy gifts

Anna+Nina is the best place for gifts (for them, or for you). Quirky interior decorations, local handicrafts, and stunning jewelry will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Anna & Nina

Best spot for your new Bumble profile photo

There are two rooftop pools you should check out: the W Hotel or the newly opened Soho House.

Medellín

Colombia has it all, and Medellín is considered it’s emerald in the rough. Tucked away in the Aburrá Valley, a central part of the Andes Mountains, it has been dubbed ‘The City of Eternal Spring’ by locals for its mild weather. You can walk around and see cool stuff without profusely sweating, year round. After years of being the center of Pablo Escobar’s drug operation, today Medellín is a friendly and safe place (seriously) to explore amazing architecture, botanical gardens, fantastic food, contemporary art galleries, and, of course, a rowdy South American party scene.

Where to stay?

Hotel Charlee, in the heart of El Poblado

El Poblado is where you want to be: walkable to many things, a $5 UBER to others, and full of bustling eateries, shops, and places to go out, as well as lush parks to chill in. The hotel itself is design-forward and well appointed — each room has a private little atrium with sofas and a well-stocked ‘Mega Bar’ (beware the full-sized tequila). Breakfast is included, and served on an incredible rooftop with sprawling views of the city and mountains. The building is one of the highest in the area, which is great for rooftop cocktails, pool dips, and even work time – wifi is free!

Where to eat & drink?

Medellín’s avocados are reason alone to get excited for some quality noshing – they’re absolutely massive (the size of your face). There’s something for everyone here – from carnivores to vegetarians (the latter usually have slim pickings on this side of the world). From low to high-cost, here are our 3 top picks:

Restaurante Mondongos El Poblado

A traditional local cafeteria. The food and beer is really cheap ($3) but substantial and tasty. The local tripe soup is well-known as one of the best delicacies. For the more faint of heart, the arepas and various meat and fish platters are easier to take down on a hangover.

OCI.mde

Go here for contemporary or fusion dishes. Chef Laura trained for 8 years abroad in Europe, Australia, and Asia — and it shows. They specialize in slow (meaning 14 hour) cooking times, so items like the short ribs are prime. The falafel platter and salads are good alternatives for the more health-conscious.

El Cielo

This is the gold standard for the fancy foodie – book ahead, and go early. This is where you go for a 2-3 hour tasting menu that will change your life (and deplete your savings account). Chef Juanma is only 34 but is killing it. El Cielo now has outposts in Bogota and Miami, as well.

Alambique 

This restaurant and bar is tucked away above a storefront in El Poblado. If you don’t know where you’re going, you are sure to miss it. The open air space is decorated with mismatched lamps and charming farm tables. Make sure to order at least two cocktails and don’t shy away from the albondigas. 

Where to get a coffee?

Pergamino

One of the best coffee places in the world. Selling beans directly from their own farm, which is mere miles away, coffee has never tasted so damn fresh. They also have a beautiful, large space where the local hipster freelancers seem to flock (and a yummy red velvet cake). You can buy beans to take home (which is also a great ‘lazy gift’ idea).

Where to see some hits of culture?

MAMM

For us, the building itself was actually the most interesting part of the experience. It’s an incredible copper lattice-worked beast with many nooks and crannies, living walls, and sculptures throughout. Definitely check out the gift shop.

Crematorio Campos de Paz

Other guides will definitely tell you to go to Pablo Escobar’s final resting place, Cemetario Jardins Montesacro, Itagüí. But for a more “off the beaten path” place with incredible architecture and views of all of Medellin, go to Crematorio Campos de Paz at dusk. It reminded us of Richard Serra’s large copper sculptures at Dia Beacon, in the best way.

Plaza Botero

Come here to see artist Fernando Botero’s finest bulbous sculptures, 23 of them. Huge and fleshy, you might recognise them from 49th St. in NYC, by the Rockefeller Center.

Where to work out?

The gym at Hotel Charlee

Like a mini EQUINOX in the heart of the city, you’ll work out next to locals and foreigners alike. Two stories high, it has all the equipment you might need (even a cycle room) and you can cool down with a drink at the rooftop pool after.

Where to hang out?

Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden

If you come to Medellin for just 24 hours, this place is a must. Colombia is a hugely diverse country and second only to Brazil when it comes to plant life. The amazing restaurant on a pond is surrounded by bamboo forests and a small vintage train car that serves drinks. It’s straight out of a Wes Anderson film.

 

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