Month: March 2020

A Netflix writer’s guide to LA

Readers, we know COVID-19 has put a temporary kibosh on travel, but we’re going to keep publishing inspiration, guides, and insider interviews. We will travel again – and in the meantime, we’re here with your armchair inspo.

Marina is a writer living in Hollywood (in the heart of Thai Town), with an enviable job as a writer for Netflix. She also published her first book, “Welcome to Freedom Point,” an award-winning book of interconnected stories. She loves to travel, especially in and around California – catch her on the scenic coastal train heading down to San Diego as well as darting up to Silicon Valley multiple times a month.

Marina, what do you love most about living in LA?

Never running out of things to try. There is always a new restaurant, a new museum exhibit, a new hike I’ve never taken (with so many new trail dogs to pet). Los Angeles is the ultimate running list of a city.

In LA, what is your favorite…part of town? 

I am a Los Feliz/East Hollywood fan for life. I love the energy, the artistry, the history and the access to serene spaces like Barnsdall Art Park

Coffee shop?

Bolt EaHo gets my bid because they have the kindest staff, the coolest space and they make homemade Twix bars


Lala’s. I’ve eaten nearly everything on the menu, tried every location and it always delivers on quality food and quality company. If I could, I’d marry the milanesa.

Thing to do?

I’m a small business super fan and shopping for stationary (The Social Type) and unique accessories (Burro) is my kind of way to spend a day. I’ve also fallen in love with is satin jackets and Tuesday Bassen is an incredible local designer with an equally incredible store.  

Place to work?

Disneyland! For real. I might be the only person in history to measure productivity between corn dogs, but I have an Annual Pass and I feel inspired every time I am there. I’ve done more writing sitting on Disneyland benches than I have at any desk. 

Bar / nightclub? 

I am a non-drinker, so I give extra points to any bar that does a great mocktail. That said, Harvard & Stone and The Edison both deliver on inclusive, unique experiences.

And of course.. bookshop? 

My heart belongs to Vroman’s of Pasadena. It’s well worth the drive and they also champion a lot of local literary journals and short fiction collections (which are often hard to find on the shelves!)

OK, we’re here on a work + play trip and want a hotel where we can get work done that’s also fun to stay in..any shouts? 

For the tried-and-true experience, go Kimpton Everly. My out-of-town colleagues love it, and I love it, too, because it’s the perfect flavor of contemporary comfort. For more adventurous spirits, go with the boutique experience of Hotel Covell. It’s got great writerly energy and a bustling bar.

Kimpton Everly

Follow Marina on @midwestmarina for more!

An Art Consultant’s Mini-Guide to Toronto

Deanne is one of our favorite insiders (see her tips and hotel recs here). She’s also a kickass art consultant and knows her home city of Toronto like the back of her hand, so who better to author a guide to this hip AF city.

And while you might be diligently filing this guide under ‘Post Covid-19 Vacation Plans’, she also gives us the low down on Toronto artists to follow right now, so read on for armchair inspiration.

Deanne, what do you love most about living in Toronto?

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is proudly home to some of the most talented, beautiful and diverse people you will ever meet. We’ve got the NBA Champions, a brand new creative hub called Hxouse founded by The Weeknd’s Ahmed Ismali and La Mar Taylor, a huge international film festival, an all-night free public art exhibition that brings out over a million people, a crazy big and good vibe Caribbean festival, a guy named Drake, and so many talents that will change the game on an international level. There is so much momentum in this city and it feels like we are just getting started. 

Dundas West, Toronto

Part of town? 

I might be biased by my neighborhood West Queen West and Dundas West. It’s home to local cool boutiques like 100% Silk, VSP, and Saudade,  the iconic Drake Hotel, which essentially birthed the west-end vibe, everything from dive bars to outstanding diverse cuisine and we have the cool city park, Trinity Bellwoods which becomes a breeding zone in the summer. 

Coffee shop?

Tokyo Smoke, also a cannabis brand 


La Banane. The chef Brandon Olson is formally trained under Thomas Keller at French Laundry and makes the best fried chicken.  Unlike so many restaurants that try to incorporate art, co-owner Sarah Keenlyside is a genius and has beautiful pieces from real artists like Douglas Coupland in the collection. 

Thing to do?

Go to the AGO, even if it’s just to step inside the amazing Frank Gehry building, walk around Kensington Market, it’s a beautiful hippy-like area that feels like a blast from the 60’s, it also has the best summer Sunday’s bar called Cold Tea.

Fitness class?

6IX Cycle on Queen West. Pro-tip, book Julie or Calvin’s class.

Bar / nightclub? 

Bar Raval. It’s been around for a minute but the design and cocktails can’t be beaten. 

Bar Raval

And of course.. art gallery? 

OK, we’re here on a work + play trip and want a hotel where we can get work done that’s also fun to stay in..any shouts? 

Toronto is about to get a huge influx of well-named hotels like The Ace, The Hudson, The W, The Andaz, and The 1Hotel.  So if you want to stay local, rest your head at The Drake Hotel in the West or The Broadview in the East. Both have everything you need to make work very fun. 

You know a thing or two about art, what makes Toronto such an artistic hub? Any Toronto-based artists we should watch out for?

So many but here are a few of mine! Canadian artists are so much more than landscape painters. 

Alex McLeod, he is doing mad crazy digital works, concerned with simulation and the transition of matter

Maya Fuhr, a photographer that has a crazy editorial eye, she examines the relationship with textiles of dresses as meaning-making. 

Rajni Perera, uses her work to address gender submission as a way to reclaim personal power. 

Tau Lewis, a rising global star, uses reclaimed objects for sculpture to tell her diasporic story.

Kent Monkman,  looks at historical Western European and American stories and disrupts the narrative with provocative interventions 

Browse Safara hotels in Toronto here.

Top 12 Travel-Inspired Books According to Our Safara Insiders

When interviewing our Insiders, almost everyone claimed they’d cram a book into their carry-on. Granted, we’re not really able to vacation right now (#Covid-19), but the list still applies. Whether you’re staycationing or self-isolating, we’ve shortlisted our favorite recommendations for your trip (or armchair trip). From Hemingway to Bill Bryson, Joan Didion to A. A. Gill, simply click to buy, and get lost in a story. 

1. ‘Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor’ – Tim Lawrence Brooks

“Because it reminds me of my youth and my home.” – Carissa Barrett

2. ‘Notes From a Small Island’ – Bill Bryson

“It’s an amusing read.” – Nicholas Campbell

3. ‘A.A. Gill is Away’ – A.A. Gill

“His 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.” – Louis Sheridan

4. ‘The LUXE Guides’ 

“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.” – Sabrina Meier

5. ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ – ‎Ernesto “Che” Guevara

“Takes one Ernesto to know another.” – Ernesto Roman

6. ‘The Lightning Field’ – Walter de Maria

“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.” – Kimiko Ninomiya

7. ‘Arcana Volume 5: Magic, Mysticism, and Music’ – John Zorn

Recommended by Grace Lee

8. ‘Mandala Of Being’ – Richard Moss

”Because I can practice mindfulness and awareness as I read it and apply practices in real time.” – Megan Puleri

9. ‘A Moveable Feast’ – Ernest Hemingway 

“Hemingway always reminds me of my Dad, who was my favorite travel partner. Recently, I read Donna Tartt’s ‘A Secret History’ while traveling between Shelter Island, CA, and NYC. I’m a little late to this one, but I am a huge fan of her writing and this book is definitely one you can get lost in during those hours in transit.” – Georgia Zeavin

10. ‘Vagabonding, An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term Travel’ Rolf Potts 

“He makes a compelling case for why you should not wait to travel until you’re retired or you’ve saved “enough” money—if you really want to travel, make it a true priority now. Take the money you’d otherwise spend on a few dinners or fancy jeans and buy a plane ticket instead. This philosophy really inspired me to change my career path and, in fact, my entire lifestyle.” – Christina Perez

11. ‘The Bright Continent’ – Dayo Olopade

“An investigation of technology and development in Africa. I reported it across 17 countries in two years, and while it covers meaty issues like education, health care, and finance in Africa, it’s also a contemporary travelogue that brings back memories of some of the most unusual and fascinating places I’ve been.” – Daya Olopade

12. ‘The White Album’ – Joan Didion

“For her packing list on page 34 and her devastating essay on Hawaii. Among new works, I’m obsessed with Flights by Olga Tokarczuk for her beyond-inventive descriptions of airports and travel-sized toiletries.” – Amelia Mularz

Emilie Hawtin, brand strategist + senior editor

Travel has been part of Emilie’s life and career for quite some time, and she pretty much designed it that way. A New Yorker at heart, she’s worked in fashion for most of her career, as a copywriter, brand strategist and all-round creative thinker for brands that include Belstaff, Carolina Herrara, Jason Wu, Atelier Bomba, and Mr Porter.

Her heart is in menswear, though, demonstrated by her own personal style (think chic sports coats and a neverending collection of neck scarfs) and her committed attendance at Pitti Uomo every year.

Read on for her go-to trip planning resources, her favorite ‘office’ to get work done and her ultimate hotel picks, and follow her life and travels at @ehawtin

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

Duc de Saint-Simon: a celebration of chintz in Paris that feels fresh and elegant on a sweet little street. I love chintz.

Borgo San Felice: a small town of its own where everything’s quiet and personal in the Tuscany. 

Deetjens Big Sur Inn: for the worn-in, salt of the earth feeling that Big Sur provides. 

Tell us one place and hotel you definitely want to go in 2020 and why?

I want to ride horses! I’m heading to Buenos Aires and have a feeling I’ll want to return to one of the small estancias or Idaho Rocky Mountain ranch where my boyfriend likes to fish. 

What is the one item you can’t travel without?

Scarves and bandanas. I end up wearing the same thing most of the time but these change things up. In the summer, a bandana in the hair addresses sweat, sea, and sun. I also use them on planes as a full-faced sleeping mask, to many neighbors dismay. It’s a collection that takes up little space and I can justify!

Emilie Hawtin, brand strategist + Senior Editor at Brooks Brothers

What is the best hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

Fresh exotic flowers in the shower at the Aman in Cambodia. It’s not a useful amenity but felt special. Also, hotels whose staff know and remember your name, a rarity that means the world.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Big windows that open, natural light, and soundproof walls.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

I like going to a local library when I’m in Europe, sometimes you have to get a library card like Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris or ask very nicely. But there’s something grand and very sweet about being in a library that I enjoy much more than working from say, The Bowery Hotel lobby. You feel more connected to the place you’re in.

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

If I’m going somewhere close, upstate NY is great for lack of phone service. I go to Italy, Florence usually, when I want to be off the grid, even though it’s on the grid, I lay low and can just be. Or I go hiking, camping, horse riding, surfing, or to Montauk in the offseason when it’s empty. I feel the happiest in nature or in a sleepier foreign city. 

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 keeps me interested and excited about everything else. I’ve worked to position myself to travel in a sustainable way. Freelance is obviously designed for this, but it takes a certain structure and doesn’t always go the way you’d like. I’m usually working when I travel: on trains, on planes, on nice days in places I don’t feel like doing work in. I consider it part of how I’m able to be there which is what keeps me disciplined. I’ll go work outside or explore in the morning then work in the afternoon.

I’m always grateful to have the work and a career that allows flexibility more often than not. Travel informs the way I think. There’s so much to learn and spending real time in places is humbling and expanding, it makes me a better person.

Emilie Hawtin, brand strategist + Senior Editor at Brooks Brothers

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Land of my Dreams – Anna Domino

The Big Ship – Brian Eno

Your Silent Face – New Order

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

Well, the bandanas for starters. Sunglasses, something to bundle as a pillow which has been a sport coat lately, Laundress travel soap to hand wash clothes, melatonin, and water.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world (alive or dead) at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Oh lord. I think Bryan Ferry’s kit would be interesting.

Have you or would you travel alone?

I travel alone a lot. As much as I enjoy being with someone else, namely my boyfriend who I travel with the most, I think it’s really interesting and important to understand how you are in a place when you’re simply with yourself. It teaches you.

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

I do tons of research and make lists. I’ll research the titles I trust and then I’ll research a lot more. Condé Nast has always a good resource but times are changing. I like guides by people whose taste I trust, personal things. Magazines like Yolo! NYT, and Sometimes. I have about 47 folders on Instagram, but I don’t end up using them all that much.

What was your favorite room service experience ever?

I had a mandolin delivered to me on a train in Malaysia and the piano player started playing moon river. I performed, terribly, for the train. 

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

The fastest road to jet lag recovery is being active the moment you arrive, if only for 20 minutes. Repeat outfits and bring few. And make an effort to understand and respect the culture you’re in, not expect people to bend to what you’re used to or expect. Make an effort to speak even a little of the language and tip well at places you’d like to return to. Those are collected insights.

Emilie Hawtin, brand strategist + Senior Editor at Brooks Brothers

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

Meals at the home of my friend Silvio in Tuscany. He is an incredible biodynamic winemaker and makes the freshest, homemade food from bread to wine to meat in what has become my favorite kitchen. It’s natural, stylish, calm, warm and inviting—the most important qualities in just about anything.

What is your favorite travel book or magazine- for at home, or abroad –  and why?

Yolo journal —personal insights and off the beaten path places from the most tasteful people around the world. 

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

A sport coat, trousers, velvet slippers, and a scarf. 

Rank the following, from most to least important to you, re: what you seek in a hotel experience: unique, comfortable, architecturally intriguing, close to things, dope minibar, has a pool, doesn’t break the bank, locals hang out there.

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?

I’m pretty sure it would not surprise anyone if I did. In Italy, if I could figure out the tax system and politics. 

What’s the craziest thing you’ve purchased abroad and brought home (or tried to carry-on) from your travels?

Copper pots and pans, wooden cutting boards, nothing crazy but a lot of heavy things. 

You have an hour to spare at the airport. What would I find you doing?

Reading at a closed gate or in a lounge. 

Emilie Hawtin, brand strategist + Senior Editor at Brooks Brothers

Beach or City or Mountain?

All three.

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Kombucha to combat everything else.

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check out, usually.

Favorite subscription service you’ll never delete?

I forget life before Spotify.

Favorite travel app?


Yoga or hotel gym?

Yoga, especially in a foreign language or on-demand with YogaVida.

Deanne Moser – creative match-maker + art consultant

How many ‘creative match-makers’ have you met before? Deanne Moser is one of them. She’s also an art consultant, a board member for Luminato Festival Toronto, Co-Chair for the Art Gallery of Ontario young patron fundraiser, Co-Chair for Creative Current, and a committee member for Canadian Art Foundation and Art Toronto Opening Night. Basically, she lives and breathes art.

And the match-making part? In short, she connects people, brands, and organizations to artists and cultural leaders. As if that wasn’t enough to take up her week, she’s launching Space’d Studio, her ‘new baby’ that is all about sustainable entertaining. Follow Deanne on @deannemoser for more on this, and read on for her unmissable artsy travel recs.

Deanne Moser – creative match-maker + art consultant

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

El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas: Marfa is a 2,000 person art town in the middle of nowhere and El Cosmico is just as crazy as the town. Think colorful airstreams, yurts, and outdoor showers. The place screams of personality.

Fogo Island Inn, Fogo, Canada: If you want to go off the grid and unplug, this is probably one of the nicest hotels to do it in. 

Casa Kimberly, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: There is something very romantic about staying in the former home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 

Tell us one place and hotel you definitely want to go to in 2020 and why?

Chateau LaCoste in Provence, basically my idea of an all-inclusive. The art, the food, the wine, the design, the views –  everything I want, all in one place. 

What is the one item you can’t travel without?

Away Suitcase –  I really like the USB phone charger that is just there when you need it.

What is the best hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

Good customer service –  because no chocolate on the pillow can replace kind humans. 

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

Soho House, especially during art fairs like Basel Miami and Frieze. I hate asking for a WIFI password so I really appreciate the auto-connect in all cities and countries. And, obviously, the after-work offerings like the infamous Miami Beach tent is always a plus. 

 What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist? 

Drake ft Meek Mill, Going Bad 

Jay Z, Dirt off your shoulder

H.E.R – Slide 

When you travel for work, how do you take time to see the city you’re in?

I make it a priority to slip into a museum or gallery exhibition even if it’s just for an hour. You can buy a timed exhibition ticket and put it in your calendar like a meeting so it forces you to go. 

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world (alive or dead) at baggage claim, who would you swap with? Why?

Lauren Santo Domingo. I think her style is perfect and I love how she includes new and upcoming fashion designers on Moda Operandi from all over the world. 

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

Don’t bring back packaged prescription drugs that you do not have a prescription for, especially if you have a government-issued fast track card. Hot tip coming from Daniel Rechtshaffen, my friend and criminal defense lawyer.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve purchased abroad and brought home (or tried to carry-on) from your travels? 

Two vertical wood slat panel oil paintings and a paper/acrylic canvas collage from Havana, Cuba gifted to me by Richard Branson. Getting original art out of a country can be a challenging process. 

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