Whether you are tired of the same, old, travel agency-like destinations, or if you’re looking for those places where everything is happening just right now and you need perfectly updated on all the new trends…Here’s a guide for you: the 10 coolest neighborhoods in the world.
GINZA, TOKYO (JAPAN)
Defined by many as the “Japanese via Montenapoleone”, Ginza spares no expense when it comes to hosting great names of fashion and luxury world. Forget single shop windows or noble palaces: here Armani, Dior, Hermes and many others own breathless skyscrapers with hi-tech structures. And if you are among the photography lovers, don’t miss Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm’s showrooms, with spectacular exhibitions all year round. What if you are tired of all this shopping? Take a rest at the Kabuki-za Theatre, which hosts dancing shows with a secular tradition.
Where to eat: Tapas Molecular Bar. Interactive molecular cuisine, futuristic sensorial experiences. For those who never watch out for money when it comes to amazing food. 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. +81 (3) 3270 8800
Where to sleep: The Tokyo Station Hotel. European allure and a pharaonic palace built in 1915. For those who desire an oasis of peace in the middle of a metropolis. 9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo. +81-3-5220-1111
MOSAIC DISTRICT, FAIRFAX (USA)
A neighborhood built to combine the sense of community with modern urban design. Independent brands such as Sophie Blake and Scout&Molly’s compete for visibility, while organic food and fresh products’ mania invades restaurants and green shopping centers like Whole Foods. Public spaces wants to facilitate everyday life and everyday interactions: from super comfy stalls to hill-friendly paving, from free parking lots indicated by electronic signs to entertaining initiatives, between olive oil degustations and indie movies premieres.
Where to eat: True Food Kitchen. Seasonal menus and bamboo as a decoration. For green life lovers. 2910 District Ave #170 Mosaic District, Fairfax. 571.326.1616
Where to sleep: Hyatt House Falls Church. An eco-friendly building with extra fast wifi connection. For those who seek nature without giving up technology. 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax. +1 571 327 2277
BELLEVILLE, PARIGI (FRANCE)
Creativity is in the air in Belleville: is it because Èdith Piaf was born here? Or because this is the neighborhood where the Malaussène family held its shenanigans in the novels by Daniel Pennac? Surely, going up and down the small alleys (here is the narrowest street in all Paris, the passage de la Duèe) we feel like we are in a characteristic village of the province more than in a part of the French capital. Coffee shops and artisanal beer shops overlook the steep staircases, while unbranded tiny windows encourage to come inside and rummage through the goods, looking for that very item that only a true parisienne can transform from anonymous to à la mode.
Where to eat: Le Jourdain. Lots and lots of fish bites to taste between champagne’s bubbles. For a tapas craving that needs to speak French. 101, rue des Couronnes, Parigi. +33 1 43 66 29 10
Where to sleep: Hotel de la Mare. Close to the iconic Cimetière du Père Lachaise, with a landlady who will leave fresh croissant aut of your door every morning. For those who want to savor la vie en rose. 20 Rue de la Mare, Paris. +33 1 43 66 08 59
CONDESA, MEXICO CITY (MEXICO)
Hipsters sipping coffee from kaleidoscopic mugs, jogging students, salsa parlors beside clubs that pump electronic music until dawn. Condesa is the vitaminic and multiethnic neighborhood of Mexico City that doesn’t let you regret London or Berlin. Architecture from the ’20s and the ’30s is the setting for a lot of green spaces, where yoga fans and animal lovers go crazy, the latter also helped by numerous pet shops and grooming services. Condesa is also the throbbing heart of the city’s nightlife, between mezcalerias and art galleries’ openings, everything rigorously owned by under 40.
Where to eat: La Guapachosa. A taqueria where you can eat rocking on a swing. For the who are not afraid of grasshoppers tacos. Avenida Oaxaca 31, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México. + 52 55 5531 7216
Where to sleep: The Red Tree House. A b&b with colorful paintings and a garden that looks like a (well trimmed) jungle. For those who know that design comes even with a low budget. Culiacan 6, Colonia Condesa, Mexico City. +52 55 5584-3829
WARWICK TRIANGLE, DURBAN (SOUTH AFRICA)
Better call it “the markets’ triangle”. At this crossroad, a dozen of different markets are held daily: the market for music and vintage vinyl’s lovers, the market of herbs against every disease (mother-in-law included), the market of beads and Zulu arts&crafts. Taking a walk after all the shopping you can reach the Golden Mile, Durban’s Miami-like seafront, or venture inside uShaka Marine World. Just watch out for sharks.
Where to eat: Cargo Hold. International cuisine, face to face with the deepest abysses. For those who have always dreamt of dining inside a ghost ship. 1 King Shaka Ave, Point, Durban. + 27 31 328 8000
Where to sleep: The Concierge Boutique Bungalows. A design-boosted place submerged by nature. For those who could live inside a design fair. 36 – 42 St Mary’s Avenue, Greyville, Durban. +27 31 309 4453 | 4434
KENSINGTON MARKET, TORONTO (CANADA)
A Burlesque school, a promotional center for Filippino culture, dozens of vintage shops with items directly from the 40’s. In Kensington Market the keyword is freedom of expression: Tribal Eye’s african art may be sided by the Crows Nest’s hipster barber shop, coffee shops become work open spaces, and even who fixes bikes as Red Arrow Bikes can create art. All in a city, Toronto, considered to be one of the world’s top 5 for quality of life.
Where to eat: Vegetarian Heaven. Exclusively vegetarian dishes, prepared with high cuisine standards. For those who think that tofu and seitan are not snob but sophisticated. 17 Baldwin Street, Toronto. +416.621.3636
Where to sleep: Hotel Ocho. Red brick, gigantic windows, minimal decorations. For rose who can’t say non to a slice of New York even when in Canada. Per chi non sa rinunciare ad un angolo di New York anche in Canada. 195 Spadina Avenue, Toronto. +416 593-0885
ISOLA, MILAN (ITALY)
Once surrounded by water (therefore, the name “island”), this neighborhood holds the energy of an ever buzzing Milan. Hidden gardens, shared plantations for km 0 products, top clubs (one above all: the Blue Note jazz bar) and the Porta Nuova skyline as a background, with the Unicredit Tower and the Vertical Wood byStefano Boeri balancing with technology the radical chic allure of the neighborhood. Don’t miss the Rainbow Tower of Porta Garibaldi, an ex water silos covered with 100 thousands colored ceramic tiles, freshly cleaned in honor of Expo2015.
Where to eat: Les Pommes Bistro. From a traditionally plentiful brunch to a selection of spirits for the evening’s drinks. For those who seek cuddles on Sunday morning. via Pastrengo, 7, Milano. +39 02 87074765
Where to sleep: Residence Zara. Apartments with plenty of comforts and antiquities. For those who look for the final Italian house experience. Viale Zara 1, Milano. +39 02 668191
CUBA STREET, WELLINGTON (NEW ZEALAND)
Even if the name comes from a colonial ship here arrived in 1840, the Caribbean island of the same name still has a great influence over this neighborhood in Wellington’s. Fidel’s Cafè promises a genuine cuban coffee, while Havana makes you sip savory rum cocktails. The bigger picture includes Te Papa National Museum, graffiti walls that look like art, bohémien galleries, powerful buskers. Without counting the vintage clothing shops: Cuba street thoroughly gives a second chance to everybody.
Where to eat: Matterhorn. A starred chef, Sean Marshall, who considers “attitude more than attire”. For those who want even dive bar food to be gourmet. 106 Cuba Street, Wellington. +64 04 384 3359
Where to sleep: At Home Wellington. Very few rooms, gigantic wooden terraces, fresh flowers bouquets everyday. For those who want to watch the movida from above. 181 Wakefield St, Te Aro, Wellington. +64 (4) 802 0858
JUMEIRAH BEACH RESIDENCE, DUBAI (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
A promenade, The Walk, that makes the perfect location for open air catwalks. The project for an artificial island chain, the Bluewaters Island, in full realization, such as the one for the highest ferris wheel in the world. And then, art festivals like Dubai Canvas, more than 70 great names between designers and restaurant owners, a nightlife made of rooftops right above the Persico Gulf. The Jumeirah Beach residence if the perfect synthesis of that over the top luxury lifestyle that only Arab Emirates can ooze.
Where to eat: Samad Al Iraqi. Iraqi cuisine with dishes from the ancient Sumeric tradition. For those who want to dream like they’re in the Tale of a Thousand and One Nights. Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai. +971 4 342 7887
Where to sleep: Dubai Marine Beach Resort & SPA. A private beach and a restaurant you can only enter barefoot. For those who want to escape from kitsch skyscrapers. Jumierah Beach Road, Dubai. +971 4 3461111
OLD HARBOR, REYKJAVIK (ICELAND)
The contrast between the consumed wood of sailing boats and the vertiginous Harpa Opera House’s wall of glass will leave you breathless. This very mix of contemporary and traditional style makes old harbor the new place to be for both tourists and citizens. Jumping from whales’ sightseeing to a tour of the red-blooded Viking Maritime Museum, it’s mandatory to stop for a black coffee, maybe while a bartender tells you the story of his warrior ancestors. In true Icelandic spirit.
Where to eat: Islenski Barinn. Whale with black pepper cream, seasoned shark, but also really simple hamburgers. For those who feel like true vikings. Ingólfsstræti 1a 101, Reykjavík. +354 5176767
Where to sleep: Reykjavik 4 you Apartments Hotel. A full equipped kitchen with yin yang coffee tables. For those who can’t stop their cooking craving. Bergstaðastræti 12 101, Reykjavik. +354 661 6700
POHO, HONG KONG
‘Po’ in Cantonese means ‘treasure’ and this neighbourhood hosts the most buildings with this name. In fact, the area between Po Hing Fong and Tai Ping Shan Street in Sheung Wan, is known as Poho. And it is one of the liveliest and most stylish hangout for all the youngsters in Hong Kong. Try the edgy cafés, MANA! and 3rd Space, and the indie bakery Po’s Atelier. Or just roam around the interesting boutiques and the great street art.
Where to eat: Uppern Modern Bistro. High end French Cuisine (oysters, meet and fois gras). The restaurant is run by young and talented chef Julien Cadiou. 6-14 Elegance Court G/F Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan; (+852) 2517 0977.
Where to sleep: Ovolo Noho Hotel. New design boutique hotel with a few rooms. Located in the very center of the neighborhood and very stylish. The bar serves a good breakfast and complimentary happy hours. 286 Queens Road Central; +852 3423 3286.
LA CABRERA, BOGOTÁ (COLOMBIA)
La Cabrera, a lovely area in Bogotà, known for luxury boutiques and small gardens. This neighbourhoos boasts the B.O.G. Hotel, first ever boutique hotel in the city. Richly decorated with Colombian inspired colours like gold and emerald.
Where to sleep: B.O.G. Hotel. The very first boutique hotel in Bogota. The hotel is inspired to the finest raw materials in Colombia: gold and emeralds. There’s a luxury spa, and a good colombian cuisine restaurant. Carrera 11 no 86 – 74; +57 (1) 639 99 99.
Where to eat: La Brasserie. You feel you’re in the middle of a tropical garden. But actually you’re in the middle of the city. La Brasserie is a french cuisine restaurant with a very special grilled meat. Cra. 13 #85-35; +57 1 2576402
STATION DRIVE PRECINCT, DURBAN (SOUTH AFRICA)
The place to be right now in Durban is Station Drive Precint. Once an area no one would set his foot in, it has been transformed into the hottest neighbourhood in town. Restaurants, designers, craft bars, everything walking distance from the beach and the city centre. Don’t miss every Sunday morning the very edgy Morning Trade Market.