Where is your perfect place?
"Sight is a faculty; seeing is an art." George Perkins Marsh
There's something delicious about unwrapping the personality of an unfamiliar place. Unraveling its tapestry is like being able to breath underwater—the mystery and submersion is tantalising and alien, yet truly being in that brave new world seems like a kind of magic. By breathing in the air and the scents on the breeze, drinking in the sights wide-eyed and alive; the architecture, atmosphere, colours and textures; discovering the people and culture who feel, work and live there, and tasting the delights the neighbourhood streets have to offer, you start to understand the threads which knit the whole picture together. It is a secret treasure waiting to be discovered, just below the surface of the smoke and mirrors of glitzy, inauthentic tourism. The unique personality of a place lives in plain sight, but it is only visible if you really see the world around you.
The character of a place is intrinsically linked to the way we experience it. As every relationship between people is different, so too is the relationship between person and place. Have you ever arrived somewhere new only to realise it didn't fit into the mould your imagination built? Or have you arrived in a strange place only to find yourself somehow at home? Finding that #perfectplace in a destination you've never visited can be hard, but it's worth every effort in seeking it out, because perfect moments can steal into our blood and change our very souls.
Is your #perfectplace on our list?
For the romantic with a discerning eye
Le Marais, the vital and bustling Medieval heart of Paris, is one of the most heavily visited arrondissement in the city, yet retains its air of authentic Parisian life: warm, joyful, approachable and effortlessly fashionable.
The labyrinthine, cobblestone-clad streets wear their pre-revolutionary history with pride, and proclaim their modernity with seemingly endless stores, design boutiques, local artisans and avant-garde galleries.
This is a neighbourhood of timeless possibility, where one can't help but be swept up in its carefree charm. It's enduring history of art and literature has infused itself into the bones of each ageing building, making its long avenues and quiet back alleys of tall stone tenements feel lighter than they are. There is an elegance and grit wrought over an eclectic history here, that is completely unique not just to Paris, but to the rest of the world.
Does Le Marais sound like your #perfectplace? View our Paris—Le Marais travel guide on our online shop.
For the history lover seeking antique treasure
Formerly home to upper middle class darlings, boho writers and artists, the pristine white and candy coloured Victorian townhomes of Notting Hill are a romantic backdrop to the most famous markets in the city, the Portobello Road Market.
Giving the neighbourhood an allure unlike any other place in the world, the cobblestone-paved streets are dotted with hidden mews and private gardens, stylish shops, cafes, and vintage delights.
A quirky, vibrant neighbourhood of London, Notting Hill greets you with a detached grandeur that is still somehow accessible. It is a cheering, joyful place where elegance and romance walk hand in hand through every crowded and colourful street, sleepy vine-covered back alley and cultivated green space.
Does Notting Hill sound like your #perfectplace? View our London—Notting Hill travel guide on our online shop.
For the star-gazer looking for creative kin
As the most famous neighbourhood in the Netherlands, the once working-class bastion of Jordaan showcases some the most picturesque outdoor markets in the city, and a spirit of ordered chaos particular to the Dutch.
The higgledly-piggledy, picture-book streets of Jordaan, defined by the area in which the bells of Westerkerk can be heard, are home to a wealth of hidden courtyards, pretty canals, trendy cafes, contemporary art galleries, cute boutiques and fashionable bars.
There is an interplay between Dutch traditions and modern trends in this neighbourhood, set against an atmosphere of cheerful serenity and ever-evolving taste. It is a place warmly tantalising, humbly refined and wholly unique.
For the design enthusiast contemplating an ordered ideal
Historically the red district of Copenhagen, Vesterbro is the perfect balance between a cultivated natural world and the man-made genius of the Danes.
A lively neighbourhood huddled around two vital arterial veins, Istegade and Vesterbrogade, Vesterbro hums with the excitement of ultra-modernism, and is dotted with sophisticated design and specialty stores, sparse galleries and uber cool bars, cafés and restaurants.
Vesterbro is a colourful tapestry of old and new coexisting in a symbiosis that only increases the beauty of each aesthetic. It is a wondrously avant-garde neighbourhood filled with mesmerising colour, light and noise at all hours, giving its streets a youthful, offbeat buzz unique to this pocket of Copenhagen.
Does Vesterbro sound like your #perfectplace? View our Copenhagen—Vesterbro travel guide on our online shop.
For the fearless adventurer hunting for the edge of the Earth
Reykjavík retains the air of a colourful frontier town, wreathed in the mist of permanently brisk weather and mythologies still wholeheartedly embraced by the locals. It is a quaint town with distinctly Scandi touches, offering an intimate perspective on the Icelandic experience.
On Reykjavík ’s doorstep, the countries’ rugged wilderness is raw nature in its purest form—a remote paradise brimming with epic, uncultivated wonders, seemingly untouched by the ceaseless pace of the modern world.
This is a place of age-old magic and breathtaking beauty, where style and substance meet beneath the sky of a mythic history. Reykjavík's striking modern architecture, traditional Icelandic structures, sweeping views of the sea and surrounding hills and overwhelmingly present Viking heritage stamp their flavour on a place that is shockingly unique, and almost completely isolated from influence by the rest of the world.
For the nature seeker hungry for the perfect cup of coffee
Home to some of Stockholm’s more arresting views, Södermalm is the most exciting neighbourhood in the city, yet boasts a relaxed atmosphere that is utterly unique and uber cool.
The terracotta hued, stunningly ordered streets keep their cutting-edge appeal by attracting a sea of vintage stores, eclectic boutiques, Swedish fashion designers, hip cafes and bars and chic galleries.
A spirit of daring dominates in this quaintly pristine neighbourhood, giving it a modern, breezy edge founded on its own originality. Multi-coloured buildings of predominantly warm colours, arresting river views and a wealth of immaculately designed indoor and outdoor spaces give this neighbourhood a flavour that is both stylish and serene.
For the curious collector intrigued by the lost arts
Offering a beguiling interplay between the traditional and the new, Nakagyo-ku leads you from the world of ultra-modern Japan to the gentler hallmarks of the ancient past.
Dreamy downtown Kyoto is host to an eclectic collection of shops and attractions; dusty old bookstores and printmakers, boutiques in ageing townhouses, historic temples, tea stores, and crooked back alleys sandwiched between art galleries and department stores.
There is a strong connection to Japan-of-old in this gloriously diverse neighbourhood, colliding head-on with the unceasing march of bustling modernity. Yet a distinct cast of charismatic elegance, pared back by the traditionally simple Japanese approach to design and living dominates here, gifting Nakagyo-ku with its own deliciously unique flavour.
Does Nakagyo-ku sound like your #perfectplace? View our Kyoto—Nakagyo-ku travel guide on our online shop.
For the impeccably styled with an adventurous spirit
One of Tokyo’s hippest neighbourhoods, Nakameguro hosts a picturesque sakura (cherry tree) lined stretch of the Meguro river, famous for its high stone walls covered in vines and cherry blossom festivals.
The attractive, uber-chic streets of Nakameguro wear their modernity with refined panache, and are home to art-plastered urban cafes, hipster boutiques, fine dining establishments, ultra-cool night spots, and the odd uncostly gem.
An air of nonchalant sophistication gives Nakameguro its achingly modern appeal, set against a picturesque backdrop of stunning sakura and flowing water. It is a neighbourhood of clean, whimsical charm, where even the tiniest store is well designed in a style uniquely Japanese and avant-garde; every tiny detail planned to effect an edgy, elegant simplicity.
Does Nakameguro sound like your #perfectplace? View our Tokyo—Nakameguro travel guide on our online shop.
For the explorer dreaming of a stylish escape
Known by the locals as the FFC or Former French Concession, the tree-lined avenues, winding lanes and splendid old mansions of Xuhui reveal a decidedly European influence, bringing welcome relief from the concrete and glass city jungle crowding the area on all sides.
The quaintly old-fashioned streets betray their 1920s beginnings, housing exquisite examples of art deco, interesting vintage stores, high-end fashion boutiques, local eateries, concept bars, breweries, pop-up galleries and charming pedestrian spaces.
Xuhui is a neighbourhood of frenetic delights, prettily blending Eastern and Western influences to create a fascinating hybrid character of mixed elegance and charm. It's unique origins, tree-lined avenues and busy back alleys create a motley allure not found anywhere else in Shangahi, and indeed the world.
Watch this page and the @etreguides Insta feed for additions to our #perfectplace list—we'll be adding more in the coming months.