Manhattan, Montmartre and Le Barceloneta are overrated. These days, visitors to the world’s most exciting cities are honing in on the lesser-known, up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Here are 7 not to miss.
Banner image credit: iStock.com/Auseklis
Bangkok Riverside, Bangkok, Thailand
Image credit: iStock.com/stockinasia
The riverside has always been a great source of Bangkok’s top attractions like the Grand Palace and the Asiatique night market. Now, though, the area is a sought-after destination in its own right. Its winding network of riverside cycle paths makes it easier to explore the city by bike, and foodies are flocking en masse to the Charoen Krung Road to sample the mouth-watering eateries (get down to Little Market for some legendary burgers). Fantastic galleries, like the Soy Sauce Factory, continue to pop up alongside boutique places to stay. The recently-opened Avani Riverside Hotel Bangkok, with its spectacular rooftop pool, makes the perfect base.
Williamsburg, New York, US
Williamsburg residents have been drinking craft beer and wearing skinny jeans since before either became fashionable. Over the past ten years, this riverside Brooklyn neighbourhood has transformed from a gritty, industrial district into New York City’s coolest hangout. Skateboards and bikes are the transport methods for most commuters, while the main neighbourhood artery – Bedford Avenue – is filled with indie boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Visit sooner rather than later as locals have clocked the continued gentrification and the uncool that comes with it.
Robertson Quay, Singapore
Image credit: iStock.com/Joesboy
There’s plenty to get excited about in Singapore’s hippest ‘hood this year. January saw the opening of The Warehouse Hotel, a cavernous crash pad and poster hotel for industrial chic. Although recently restored, it dates back to 1895 when the area was a hive of indiscretion. Continuing the regeneration, a shiny new InterContinental hotel (Singapore’s second) will soon open nearby. Robertson Quay, with its vibrancy and attractive establishments, makes the ideal foundation for your Singapore trip. The Orchard Road shopping district is within walking distance and its riverside position makes exploring the city a unique experience: hop on a boat tour for a local’s perspective.
Flagler, Fort Lauderdale, US
Image credit: Tamara Hinson
Fort Lauderdale is as up-and-coming as it gets, soon to overtake Miami in the cool stakes. This is thanks partly to new flight routes operated by Norwegian and British Airways – making it globally more accessible. On the ground, though, Flagler, a once-neglected neighbourhood a short walk from the city centre, is the place creating the hype. Its cultural ascension is largely down to Fat Village, a fantastic arts district created by art collector Doug McCraw. This four-block, street art-adorned district is filled with studios, galleries and cafés. Start with a caffeine fix at the cosy Brew Urban Café, where the shelves heave with books and the gift shop is tucked inside a vintage air stream caravan. If possible, take part in one of the monthly art walks on the last Saturday of every month.
Brunkebergstorg, Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm holds the mantle as Sweden’s trendiest destination and this stylish neighbourhood continues to help the city hold onto that title. In the 19th century, this neighbourhood was filled with Stockholm’s most fashionable houses, but businesses took over and slowly sapped its charm. Those office blocks have since been torn down and replaced with trend-setting architecture such as Hotel at Six, with its hi-tech listening room, restaurant and bar. Tak, with its rooftop restaurant, offers fantastic views across the city.
Downtown, Orlando, US
Image credit: iStock.com/Manakin
The International Drive bubble claims too many visitors to Orlando leaving the underrated Downtown area to locals and those in the know. Head to the buzzing Church Street district for fantastic restaurants (I love The Rusty Spoon for its farm-to-table ethos and cosy décor) and don’t miss Joysticks, where you can play vintage arcade games while you sip a craft cocktail. Downtown’s vibe is infectious: within walking distance are two neighbouring areas of equally intense charm. Start off with the Milk District, famous for its weekly food truck feasts and indie boutiques. Finish off with Audubon Park, an up-and-coming foodie heaven. Essential stop-offs here are the P is for Pie bakery and The Smiling Bison restaurant.
Northbridge, Perth, Australia
For Perth’s coolest bars and a real laidback vibe, head straight to Northbridge. There are a few must-sees here including Northbridge Brewing Company (famous for its mango wheat beer), the Perth Cultural Centre (which houses several galleries) and the Alex Hotel. This super-cool crash pad has a gorgeous roof terrace and a book-filled lobby. Northbridge’s revamp is the result of the New Northbridge project, which is breathing new life into once-rundown areas of Perth with new public art installations, pedestrian-friendly landscapes and investment for independent businesses.