Insiders

Annabel Herrick, Travel Journalist + Copywriter

Annabel is a freelance travel journalist and copywriter with a background in PR for tourism boards, like Visit California and the Brecon Beacons National Park.

All in the name of a story, her articles have included glamping in New York for Stylist, seeking out yoga shalas in Sri Lanka for VICE, snowshoeing in Quebec for The Week, trying ‘vinotherapy’ in Bordeaux for Suitcase and writing UK travel guides for Conde Nast Traveller.

She balances adventures with commercial copywriting projects for big lifestyle brands like Casio, Google and Coca-Cola, whilst practicing yoga whenever possible, she often consults for wellness brands on the side.

Follow her on Instagram @annabelherrick

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

One that always sticks in my head is Source de Caudalie near Bordeaux, run by a sister and a mother, surrounded by vineyards and a stunning ‘vinotherapy’ spa. Burgenstock Resort in Switzerland was huge but the views were phenomenal (so much so I cried when they showed me my room). I also stayed in The Parker in Palm Springs once which was a dream and I’m still getting through the amazing freebies, like Aqua Di Parma products. I slept with Lady Liberty at my feet when glamping on an island off Manhattan for Stylist. I’ll never forget that.

As a creative, what places do you find most inspiration for your work?

I find I work really well in airports because there’s a time limit! I like the bustle. Hotel rooms work well too, especially if there’s a time difference as it means the UK is asleep and emails calm down.

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

California has to be up there – working for Visit California changed my attitude to ambition. I stopped hiding it like a classic Brit. I think we could all do with a dose of their positivity. If you have a creative idea, they’re all for it.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

I had a day pass at Fora the other day (a hospitality/coworking hybrid) which was beautiful. The founder Katrina launched the Big Chill festival and there’s lots of musical influences in the design, like vinyl players. Montreal does cafe culture beautifully (especially in the winter when people hide from the cold).

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

Home to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. There’s no signal in my mum’s house, which is a beautiful little listed building sloping up a hill in Crickhowell. It’s the only place I can really switch off.

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?

I worked as a waitress in a luxury hotel for the whole of my teens and through that got a job at a PR/marketing startup. Coming from a national park and doing a French degree, I think it’s built in me. But it also means I have incredibly high expectations – nowhere has been as beautiful as my mountains at home (yet). When I went freelance two years ago, the biggest draw was freedom. Not being restricted to a 9-5 is so liberating and I realise it suits me so well. Being jolted out of my comfort zone through travel (seeing other cultures, meeting various nationalities, hearing languages) is really good for inspiration. I always come home buzzing with ideas. The line between work trips and holidays is blurred, but I’m working on it…

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

Culture Trip is incredible for city break roundups, they seem to have everywhere covered. My favourite travel magazine Suitcase is great for long form. I also do shout outs on all social media channels and that works well.

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

I always put an OOO on explaining the time difference. If I’m working remotely, I try to balance that with exploring by getting all my work done first thing in the morning, so doing half and half if I can. It normally means I don’t get much sleep but I just power through.

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

I interviewed the ‘sleep scientist’ Matthew Walker for VICE once and he gave some really good tips, such as having least 12 hours of wakefulness from the moment you wake up on the plane to when you go to sleep in the new time zone. As well as getting as much natural daylight as possible once landed.  

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

I lived in Paris for a year and I miss the coffee there so much. And the bread.

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?

At home. I plan to open a yoga retreat at some point. Having lived in Wales, Manchester and Bristol, I really try to push UK travel as I think we have so much to offer outside of London, which I love, but the city does soak up too much of the attention in my opinion.

Beach or City or Mountain?

Mountain! I’m from Wales after all. The higher up, the better.

Favourite subscription service you’ll never delete?

NY Times probably now I have it, I’m addicted. I could give or take Netflix and Spotify.

Favourite travel app?

I’d love to mention my walking app client Go Jauntly, which is free. They offer user-led trails guided by photos. They’ve just launched in the US!

Stephanie Muhs, Events Manager at 1stdibs

An expert in finely tuned event planning, Stephanie has worked with many covetable brands from major media to charities, such as Town & Country MagazineWWD, and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Based in New York, she’s now on the events team at 1stdibs; the leading marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth, bringing together the world’s most sophisticated designers and curators. As she navigates a career in luxury experience and design, here we speak to her about the travel memories she holds close.

Follow her adventures @sjmuhs

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

  1. Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza: You’re made to feel like family as soon as you arrive. The property is small and they go out of their way to get to know all of their guests, plus their wine cellar is legendary.
  2. Four Seasons Lanai: One of the only Four Seasons Properties I’ve visited and definitely the nicest! The poolside service offers everything from frozen fruit to a sunglasses cleaner, as well as organising authentic and engaging activities. It works – you never want to leave the property (except to go to the golf course, which has the most spectacular views in all of Hawaii!)
  3. Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond: Visiting Scotland in the fall is really hard to beat and this hotel makes you want to make it an annual trip. Plenty of amazing and authentic dining options on site, plus so many nearby local spots that are always happy to have you.
Photo via Cavas Wine Lodge

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

Places that genuinely represent and support the local culture. Whether they are a large resort or a small boutique property, it’s important the staff appear genuine in showing their enthusiasm about their local customs. That could mean food, activities or a concierge whose energy is contagious. These interactions drive a large part of my experience.

What hotel room design element can you not live without? (ex: master switch by the bed)

Access to fresh air! Even if it’s a window that I have to pry open, I need to be able to get a breeze in the space.

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

I head to my family’s cabin on the coast of Maine, Mount Desert Island. I went there for 8 weeks after my son was born and barely turned on the TV. The nature changes so quickly and dramatically – it’s wildly entertaining.

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?

Definitely not something I planned on. However, travelling for the final event is the last step after months of planning. I try not to get out of a routine too much so I bring my own tea, try to exercise at local referred fitness spots and always have my travel sized amenities packed and ready to go. My skin can’t take switching products so I am always stocked with minis of my favorites and throw in samples collected from my online shopping habit…

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

For reservations, if I can’t get our party (4 or 6) into the reservation time, I almost always request a smaller party and call on the day to say we forgot someone!

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

Avène Thermal Spring Water religiously and compression socks shamelessly.

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

In Punta del Este, Carlos Melia (who helped us plan our honeymoon) made sure we never had a dinner reservation earlier than 11pm. We thought that sounded crazy but he could not have been more right! We tried one of the ‘early’ seatings at 9pm and were surrounded by a crowd a lot younger or way older.

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?

Mallorca De Palma.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

Yes.

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage.

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late checkout.

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



Triin Linamagi, Founders Factory

Born and raised in Estonia, Triin moved to London six years ago. A bonafide UK resident, she now looks after travel and media portfolios at Founders Factory as 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 several tech companies by heading up product development and marketing. Since being in London, she has seized every opportunity to travel through Europe, even if that means short weekends. 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 – 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, Busuanga – Breathtaking views, very personal service and super relaxing experience.

Royal Island Resort & Spa in Maldives – not many words needed to describe this. A 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 one 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 a hotel for the 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 ‘get away’ from my own work thoughts. I can fully switch off and it reminds me 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?

In Europe, The Amalfi Coast (Capri) or The French Riviera. Looking further… the Maldives.

In flight wifi? Y/N?

No.

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Bubbles and 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.


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!

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.


Sophia Li, Journalist + Film Director

Sophia Li is one of those friends who everyone goes to for advice – a nucleus, if you will. We witnessed this firsthand when Miranda Kerr texted her via Snapchat to ask what to wear to an event (see, “angels” need help too). From fashion (girl did work at Vogue) to travel (she’s on the road as a speaker and journalist) to food and wellness- Sophia’s got the low down on lots of lovely things.

Sophia grew up between four U.S. states and two countries as a child, and moved to NYC post college. There she was able to create the dream job for herself- as the former Entertainment Media Editor at Vogue.com, she worked on creating and launching VOGUE‘s social and digital voice. She credits timing was on her side, we credit her passion for storytelling.

After going freelance over a year ago, she now works with clients including CNN, Vogue, Refinery29, Theory, and Maybelline as a Film Director and Journalist. And travels even more than ever before. In her free time, she is also the Creative Director of HER USA: a female community empowering women and celebrating the authentic, vulnerable self through Jeffersonian-style dinners and more.

Read on for travel tips such as how to make the most of work trips (as potential mini vacations!) and where to bathe in the Kenyan bush – this Insider’s tips are not to be missed.

Follow her @sophfei on instagram.

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Cottar’s 1920 Safari Camp in Kenya: Well besides being located in one of the most magical places in the world (hello birthplace to all humanity), the Maasai Mara, this place is dedicated to preserving and conserving wildlife. It’s also one of the most sustainable certified places in the world.

Marina Bay Sands in Singapore: The sheer engineering behind this place is just mind-blowing. Spent the holidays here with my family as we watched the sunrise overlooking the skyscrapers whilst swimming in the largest and tallest infinity pool in the world. Pretty memorable, I must say.

The Dutchess in upstate NY: I go to this place at least once every year with chosen family. Every detail here is accommodated for – it’s a former equestrian training center and barn renovated into a boutique hotel meets idyllic B & B. Also two words: biodynamic farming.

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

“Bush baths” with champagne outside of your tent at Cottar’s while wild apes roam about

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Ideally, each hotel room would have a key card as a master key for electricity so you’re minimizing how much energy you spend when you’re not in the room.

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

Somewhere to surf… north shore of Oahu, Tamarindo, Puerto Escondido.

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?

I moved every 3-4 years while growing up and started going to China with my sister by ourselves when we were 11 and 14 respectively, so travel is very much in our veins. I usually tack 2 days on to a work trip to personally explore the place so I feel more integrated and present/less jet-lagged in the location.

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

A journal, a book (currently reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way), a silk Lunya sleep-maskDottera On Guard essential oil to boost immunity, Kora Organics facial sculptorTata Harper face mist, beats headphones.

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

Yes, I travel alone all the time for work. I have also incorporated more solo personal travel in recent years to get myself out of my comfort zone/be open to talking to others who I might not have if I were with friends. Most recently, I went on a solo surf camp retreat and also spent a few days in Porto, Portugal on my own after a road trip with friends.

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

Intermittent fasting…. food makes you feel drowsy so try and get on the local schedule while flying.

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

This season, I’ve been recently wearing Summersalt’s travelwear sets with compression socks, these Flattered snakeskin boots that you slip on and off, and this oversized camel coat that doubles as a blanket.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

Usually no unless I’m on a work deadline. It’s the best time to disconnect and everyone understands why you’re offline!

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check-out

Favorite travel app?

Tap to find local water fountains/at the airport so you don’t buy a plastic bottle every time while traveling!

Kimiko Ninomiya, Marketing at Soho House

Originally from California, Kimiko made the move from the west coast to Brooklyn after being swooned by the NYC magic. An Uber alum, she worked for the tech company for 6 years doing marketing and content strategy. Recently, she has made the jump to running CRM marketing for Soho House.

Long before she committed to a career in hospitality at the famed membership club, Kimiko has been traveling the world from Tokyo to Armenia. A lover of art (major fan of Kusama), food, and exploring culture – it’s no wonder Kimiko found herself in the hospitality world. 

Follow her adventures on Instagram at @kimik.

What are 3 of your favorite hotels

Aman Tokyo – The lobby is breathtaking, with amazing views (the same you’ll get from the beautifully-designed guest rooms, full gym, and world-class spa and pool). The staff and service are beyond welcoming, anticipating your needs and recognizing you by name every time you come and go. The bar serves delicious cocktails and a full menu, but feels relaxed and unstuffy compared to other hotel bars with view. Staying here almost makes you question whether you ever need to leave your hotel.

Photo via Aman

El Rey Court, Santa Fe, NM – The El Rey is a quirky, cozy, and stylish roadside motel–turned–hip boutique hotel. The property is full of southwestern charm with adobe walls, terra cotta tiles, featuring local artwork throughout. The hotel bar, La Reina, is popular with local creatives, making for a fun vibe and quality people-watching. The drinks are delicious, too!

11 Howard, New York, NY – The 11 Howard is my favorite crash pad for a long weekend in NYC. It’s beautifully designed interiors are full of thoughtful details, including a signature scent when you walk into the lobby. The rooms themselves are lovely and inviting, with with custom-designed pieces that really elevate the experience. And the Grown Alchemist products in room are definitely worth snagging. 

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

I recently moved into hospitality from tech and the focus on the customer experience is so refreshing. When you’re at a product-focused company, everyone talks about customer centricity but it feels like people in actuality are creating for their own egos. In hospitality, everyone truly lives and breathes an ethos of putting customers first and taking every opportunity to make them feel important and appreciated. I love that—it’s so important in building a brand and loyalty.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

Soho House, obviously!

What is your favorite travel book, and why?

Walter de Maria’s The Lightning Field: The story itself is situated near a small cabin that was built for the purpose of experiencing The Lightning Field over a period of a day (or more) as the sky and landscape change throughout the day. You can visit alone or in a small group, and with no cell service for miles you’d better make sure it’s people you like. More importantly, it’s a magical place for introspection and appreciation of the artwork and the beautiful high desert of New Mexico.

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

Bose noise-canceling headphones, toiletries bag (so I can wash my face and brush my teeth), a sheet face mask, CEP compression socks (swear by them), whatever book I’m reading (currently Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou), and this cute but ridiculous pink bear eye mask that I found on a trip to Singapore that has cooling gel in it.

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

I traveled alone for a few weeks in Japan last year and, to be honest, it made going back to traveling with others feel less appealing. I loved being on my own schedule, exploring and doing everything that was important to me. Because the language is so different, I spent a ton of time in my own brain while still being out and about, which, as an introvert, was a very special experience.

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

Everyone has their own stressors and responsibilities to manage, and I’ve done so in all sorts of ways. What I’ve found is most effective for me is that when I’m taking time off to travel, I’m 100% off. I was only able to feel truly comfortable with this after taking a 4-month sabbatical, and the reality of it is that the world does not begin and end with me and my contributions. There’s always more work to be done, and as long as I’ve done a good job preparing everyone for my absence, that means I can truly immerse myself in my travels. This makes the experience all the more rewarding, leaving me feeling refreshed and ready to return to my responsibilities (although tbh I’d be totally happy to never work another day in my life).

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

Get up and move! I love to book fitness classes for the morning or day that I arrive in a new city. If I’m not able to make it to the gym, doing a couple 7 min workouts and getting out and walking are key. I also make a point to stay up until the time I’d normally sleep (with no naps in between), and wake up bright and early the next day (7am at the latest!).

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

On long haul flights you can request a meal preference. I have a dairy allergy so I always opt for the vegan option (there are a ton of others, many for specific dietary restrictions). When you request a meal preference, these “special” meals are always brought out first before they bring out the carts meaning you get your food anywhere from 15–30 minutes faster than everyone else!

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

The best cup of coffee I’ve had wasn’t the most amazing coffee but the experience was memorable because of where I was and the people I was with. I was in Yerevan, Armenia, with a big group of friends for a wedding and on this particular afternoon we sat at an outdoor patio of one of the many cafes near the Armenian Opera Theatre. It was after we’d walked down the stairs of the Cascade and we just sat for hours enjoying Armenian coffee and keeping cool in the shade through late afternoon.

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

I find NY Times 36 Hours books to be perfect for anywhere in the US. They’re full of inspiration for any type of trip, including long weekends to cross-country road trips. When traveling abroad, I love Wallpaper* city guides. They curate the essentials like delicious food, shops, and hidden gems, while also focusing on architecture and design so I know I’ll find interesting cultural sites that aren’t your typical tourist traps.

Beach or City or Mountain?

City

Alone or with someone else?

Alone

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost luggage

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Dry vermouth and cocktail olives

Stephanie Sprayregen, Founder of Spray Marketing

Though we are thoroughly impressed by Stephanie’s resume, that isn’t the first thing about this lady boss that captured our attention. Born in Kuching, Malaysia in Borneo, Stephanie moved to Vermont at 4, and then to Boston at 14 to pursue a career in competitive figure skating. Yes – that’s a fact. After she decided she didn’t want to stay on the Michelle Kwan path (though she could have…), she went into a career that has centred around hospitality.

Drawn to the type of community hotels can create and foster, Stephanie knew she wanted to be in the hospitality industry. She has spent more than half her career in hotels and tech travel at companies like Gansevoort Hotels, The William Vale, and Skipper. Most recently, she founded spray.marketing which is a lean performance marketing company without the fluff, focusing on lifestyle and hospitality.

With 16 countries in her passport (more planned for 2019!) and many, many hotel stays on her books – Stephanie is a chick we know we can count on when it comes to travel advice. Follow her adventures on IG @ssprayregen.

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Habitas Tulum, Tulum, MX – The ultimate glamping experience, but with 5-star service. Love the morning yoga sessions, outdoor rain shower and healthy, clean eats.

The William Vale, Brooklyn, USA (of course) — Only hotel in NYC with a private terrace in every guest room, which is important to me as a guest.

Ocean View Club Dunmore Town, Bahamas — Loved this hotel so much, that I got hitched there! Every room or cottage is unique with its own character. It’s a family-owned business and you can feel that in their level of service. They really make you feel welcomed and at home.

If you work in hospitality, what do you love best about your job and the industry?

I love that hotels aren’t just a ‘heads-in-bed’ establishment anymore. Hotels have become a cultural hub where art, music, food and entertainment collide into an immersive experience. It makes going to work every day fun and exciting.

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

Despite being in digital marketing, I love digital detoxes! An easy place for me to detox is upstate New York at Scribner’s Catskill Lodge. The lobby has a beautiful furnace fireplace and the walls are lined with books for you to read at your leisure. It’s a very peaceful and tranquil hotel in the middle of nature!

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

It’s a splurge, but I always carry an SK-II Facial Treatment Mask. I have no shame putting that mask on in the middle of a flight because I know my skin will thank me later.

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

I buy everything with my credit card so I can build my points up!  As long as you stay diligent with paying your credit card, this is the fastest way to get upgraded seats and ‘free’ flights!

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

Traveling is the best way to detox from stress and anxiety. Even if it’s a weekend staycation, going someplace once a month reminds me that there is a bigger world out there and I need to live in it.

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

Cartagena has a small hole in the wall coffee shop called Abacus Books and Coffee, where the red-brick walls are lined with a curated selection of books for you to browse for hours. It’s a great place to escape the heat and relax with a refreshing cold brew coffee, while reading a good book or taking advantage of their free WiFi.

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

The best travel advice I’ve received is to try to “live like a local” any place new I visit. If this means trying a new dish that I wouldn’t necessarily eat, then that’s what I’ll do.

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

I think workout clothes can be chic and most importantly comfortable! You’ll usually find me in an all black workout attire with white sneakers going through security. I have Global Entry, but I still don’t want to take any chances with having to take off my shoes or a layer because something went off in the detector.

Rank the following, from most to least important to you, re: what you seek in a hotel experience: 

Architecturally intriguing, has a pool, close to things, comfortable, unique, locals hang out there, doesn’t break the bank, dope minibar

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost phone!

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Early check-in!

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