guide

Five reasons to visit the Lower East Side, NYC (by a journalist and director)

Journalist and video director Sophia Li gives us five great reasons to visit NYC’s Lower East Side when the city reopens its doors after Covid-19. Read on for her favorite spots to eat, drink, stay, and shop.

We started Safara because we love to travel. We love that it opens our minds to new people, cultures, and ideas. It builds human connection. Travel sparks creativity, and fuels the global economy. We live and breathe this ethos –  we’re a global, remote team with a unified goal: to make travel easier, more efficient, and barrier-free. 

During this crazy time, that human connection we mentioned is a little compromised, right? While we all stay put, we want to be your window to the world, bringing you stories and inspiration from our global community of travel lovers. Our Insiders, who are also stuck at home and pining for their usual local haunts, have been thrilled to share reasons to add their neighborhood to your post-Covid travel plans. We’re going for the gold re: global coverage, and hope that you’ll find some new locals to try ASAP, wherever you are.

Next up in our ‘Five Reasons’ series is Sophia Li. This formidable Chinese-American calls herself a ‘citizen of the earth’, growing up between two countries and four states, but now calls the Lower East Side home. The names on her resume are v impressive: she’s former Entertainment Media Editor at Vogue.com and has directed conscious campaign videos for brands such as Adidas, Maybelline, and Theory. She’s also a long-time Safara Insider (read more about her here).

Like Sophia, we’re armchair traveling a lot these days, and planning for the future. We’re taking this time to build out our bucket lists, not just because it’s fun, but because it helps the industry we all love. By following and engaging with unique and local hotels, small businesses, and restaurants, we can collectively give them much-needed hope and encouragement during this strange and abnormally difficult time. 

Read on to travel (virtually) with Julie to the best spots in Park Slope, NYC…

NameSophia Li

Where you live: Formally East Village, Now Brooklyn.

Where you’re from: I’m a citizen of the earth!

What you do: Tell stories, interview people, direct documentaries, live for the ultimate survival of Mother Nature.

Follow Sophia on Instagram here.

Five reasons to visit the Lower East Side

The Food: Is a city a city without its corner, independently-owned neighborhood restaurants? Nah. If you also cried over Gabrielle Hamilton’s first-person NYTimes narrative on her restaurant Prune during the age of Covid and whether or not it will survive, then you are a true east villager. Then, head down the block for the most authentic Indian takeaway at Punjabi Deli. Go around the block again for vegan Divya’s Kitchen and vegan pizza at Double Zero.

There’s a reason we all wait outside for brunch at Cafe Mogador on the weekends followed by dinner and noodles at Madame Vo or Hanoi House. Oh and date nights at Wildair and Davelle during the sweaty summer months… love this hood. I might get sad at times but the belly stays happy here.

The hotel: Sister City NYC and the Ludlow Hotel. Dirty French is the bar attached to the Ludlow – great for fries and wine during a brisk evening, as is the fireplace in their lobby.

The store: Kallmeyer for your hot pink power dressing suit moments and Chop Suey Club for the most unique and creative designers hailing from China. ‘Made in China’ will never mean the same to you again.

The thing to do: Hot yoga hip hop flow at Y7 Studio followed by a sunset kundalini meditation at Ra Ma Institute to let out all the stagnant energy.

The New Museum

The culture: Because, now more than ever, we need to be supporting the Asian community amidst Covid-19, visit the Museum of Chinese in America. Also, The New Museum for a ponder, the International Center of Photography for nostalgia and wanderlust.

Read more from our Five Reasons series here.

Donate just $25 to the WHO with us here, and we’ll give you a FREE Safara Travel membership (worth $195!).

Five reasons to visit Park Slope, New York City (from a hotel marketing guru)

Vice President of Marketing at Ian Schrager Company Julie Wells gives us five great reasons to visit her neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn after Covid-19. Read on for her favorite spots to eat, drink, stay, and shop.

We started Safara because we love to travel. We love that it opens our minds to new people, cultures, and ideas. It builds human connection. Travel sparks creativity, and fuels the global economy. We live and breathe this ethos –  we’re a global, remote team with a unified goal: to make travel easier, more efficient, and barrier-free. 

During this crazy time, that human connection we mentioned is a little compromised, right? While we all stay put, we want to be your window to the world, bringing you stories and inspiration from our global community of travel lovers. Our Insiders, who are also stuck at home and pining for their usual local haunts, have been thrilled to share reasons to add their neighborhood to your post-Covid travel plans. We’re going for the gold re: global coverage, and hope that you’ll find some new locals to try ASAP, wherever you are.

Next up in our ‘Five Reasons’ series is Julie Wells. She’s an Aussie, but now calls Park Slope, Brooklyn home. She runs marketing and brand experience for Ian Schrager Company, which includes the likes of the indomitable PUBLIC Hotel. Prior to working at ISC, Julie ran marketing for hospitality brands like Soho House, Spring Place, NeueHouse, and more. We always trust her tips, girl’s got taste in spades!

Like Julie, we’re armchair traveling a lot these days, and planning for the future. We’re taking this time to build out our bucket lists, not just because it’s fun, but because it helps the industry we all love. By following and engaging with unique and local hotels, small businesses, and restaurants, we can collectively give them much-needed hope and encouragement during this strange and abnormally difficult time. 

Read on to travel (virtually) with Julie to the best spots in Park Slope, NYC…

NameJulie Wells

Where you live: Park Slope, New York City

Where you’re from: Melbourne, Australia 

What you do: Marketing & Brand Experience at Ian Schrager Company 

Follow Julie on Instagram here.

Five reasons to visit Park Slope

The Food: Mariella – this place has so much heart and soul. Every pasta dish is sensational. My go-to is the Bolognese with gluten-free pasta, a glass of red wine, and the tiramisu. Far from regular, Café Regular is the greatest morning experience – you’ll feel like you’re in France with a cup of tea (or coffee) and a croissant. 

The bar: The Monro is a low-key British bar. I go there for the sausage roll when I’m feeling homesick. It’s also where I can find my husband when he’s not home.

The store: A beloved Park Slope bodega owner renamed his store The Bad Wife – but he insists that his spouse is anything but! Everything you need can be found here –  shop local! Sounds has a neighborly atmosphere and meticulously curated goods. The in-house cafe and backyard is a great place for sunshine and conversation. 

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

The thing to do: I’d recommend Prospect Park  farmer’s market and Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

The culture: Go to Public Records for music, Littlefield for comedy shows, the Greenwood Cemetery for the Sophie Calle Installation and concerts in the catacombs, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Wait, what about a hotel? There are no hotels I’d recommend in Prospect Park itself, so check in to The New York EDITION, The Times Square EDITION, or PUBLIC of course!

Read more from our Five Reasons series here.

Five reasons to visit Hackney, East London (from a fashion talent director)

Jo Gilmour gives us five great reasons to add Hackney in East London to travel wishlists after Covid-19. Read on for her favorite spots to eat, drink, stay, and shop.

We started Safara because we love to travel. We love that it opens our minds to new people, cultures, and ideas. It builds human connection. It sparks creativity and it fuels the global economy. We live and breathe this –  we’re a global, remote team with a unified goal: to make travel easier, more efficient, and barrier-free. 

During this crazy time, that human connection we mentioned is a little compromised, right? In the meantime, we want to be your window to the world, bringing you stories and inspiration from our global community of tastemakers. Our Insiders, who are also stuck at home and pining for their usual local haunts, have been thrilled to share reasons to add their neighborhood to your post-Covid travel plans. We’re going for the gold re: global coverage, and hope that you’ll find some new locals to try ASAP post-lockdown, too. 

Next up in our ‘Five Reasons’ series is Jo Gilmour. She lives in Dalston, an achingly hip part of Hackney in East London. Jo is from Lancashire in Northern England, but she loves this part of London, and when she’s not at work as a fashion talent director – basically getting people their dream jobs – she’s hitting up her neighborhood’s coolest cafes and stores.

Like Jo, we’re armchair traveling a lot these days, and planning for the future. We’re taking this time to build out our bucket lists, not just because it’s fun, but because it helps the industry we all love. By following and engaging with unique and local hotels, small businesses, and restaurants, we can collectively give them much-needed hope and encouragement during this strange and abnormally difficult time. 

Read on to travel (virtually) with Jo to the best spots in Hackney…

NameJo Gilmour

Where you live: Hackney, London

Where you’re from: Lancashire, Up North

What you do: Talent Director, placing the world’s best talent from fashion, lifestyle, and DTC into dreamy jobs!

Follow Jo on Instagram here and learn more about Talent Atelier here.

Five reasons to visit Hackney

The Food: First, Casa Fofō, it’s right on my street and has an awesome and very accessible tasting menu with a killer wine list. I also spend a lot of time in Del74 who do the best tacos in town along with amazing pitchers of margaritas. Also, Pophams Bakery –  their marmite, cheese, and spring onion pastry is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, they also flip into a pasta restaurant at night time.

The hotel: The Ace Hotel, I take clients for breakfast at Hoi Polloi and can take my dog 🙂 They also have an amazing flower shop and a club in the basement if you want to dance.

Blue Mountain School, London

The store: Blue Mountain School, it’s beyond a store, it’s an exhibition space, you can buy mind-blowing fragrances, get bespoke furniture and buy one-off pieces.

The thing to do: Barbers Gym, it’s the ultimate combination of specialist and accessible. If you want to learn how to lift weights, here’s your gym.

Victoria Miro Gallery

The culture: Victoria Miro Gallery – it’s in a former furniture factory!

Read more from our Five Reasons series here.

Tel Aviv

Though New York City may own the motto “The City that Never Sleeps,” Tel Aviv may be its long lost sister. Teeming with energy day and night, this condense urban metropolis also boasts 9 miles of Mediterranean beaches that are right there for you to enjoy. Traveling to Tel Aviv, you will probably find that you need less hours of sleep a night to happily function – the omnipresent energy of the city and its inhabitants is like a constant espresso shot to the head. It’s no coincidence that Tel Aviv is Israel’s technology center- startups here are thriving off the local energy. Work hard, play hard is definitely a mantra here- people are bustling about day and night, and you will, too.

Music and food are shared between friends everywhere from the beaches to the many outdoor patios, and even as a fish out of water (or off a long-haul economy flight), you’ll find Tel Aviv to be super welcoming- you’ll instantly feel right at home here. It’s like your favorite Instagram account has curated goodies just for you: the food will never stop to amaze, the markets are a treat to all 5 senses, amazing architecture and art galleries are everywhere, the many boutique hotels are super vibe-y, and the city is constantly buzzing.

Where to stay

There are plenty of great boutique hotels in this city. Hotel Montefiore is our favorite. If you’re not able to book one of the 12 rooms, make sure to at least stop by for an afternoon drink. Newly opened boutique The Vera Hotel is another option that we like.

Where to eat & drink

The beauty of this city is that the best food is usually served in the most understated settings (aka: street food is amazing here). Port Said is an iconic restaurant behind the Great Synagogue that serves hip locals seated at tables spilling out onto the sidewalk and courtyard. Even though it doesn’t sound very impressive, the eggplant and sweet potato were our favorite dishes. Sometimes simplicity is bliss- and when the ingredients are so good, you don’t need a lot of extras (in fact, the whole “farm to table” trend has been here for centuries- because of all of the amazing markets, access to super fresh produce is a way of life). Bicicletta is a great spot for a romantic evening- tucked away under the treetops and hanging lamps, this place is a must for dinner.

The best hummus is found in the Jaffa area at Abu Hassan. Judging by looks alone, this is a very casual place- but we can assure you that they are very serious about their hummus. Hummus is made here in the morning, and then put in the bin by 2 pm when it’s not fresh anymore. Though in the west we eat hummus whenever, here it’s a dish best served for breakfast or lunch (at breakfast, they put an egg on it). For the best of all worlds in this area, we recommend that you go around noon for a hummus-laden lunch, and for breakfast, you should try the Shakshouka at Benedict instead.

Where to get a coffee

Cafelix

This place is widely touted as the best coffee place in Tel Aviv by locals, and even though we haven’t been to them all of them and cannot, therefore, confirm that…we can definitely say that this one is worth a visit when in need of that kick.

Where to shop

Neve Tzedek

This area, close to Rothschild Street, is filled with cute shops. The best shopping is done on Shabazi Street, especially at the end towards the seaside, where our favorite store Boutique 77 is. Finish off your retail therapy with the best ice cream in Tel Aviv at Anita.

Where to see some hits of culture

Bauhaus center

The best way to enjoy some culture in this city is by walking. Not only do you get some free cardio, but you get to enjoy the Bauhaus-architecture that Tel Aviv is known for. In this area you’ll find several stores with coffee table books to bring home with you, and also guided tours if you don’t feel like doing the research on your own.

What to do

Go to Jerusalem for a day and visit the wailing wall (maybe even continue to the Dead Sea, if you get moving early in the morning). Dress for the occasion (read: cover yourself! This is not a place for “jorts” or bare arms). Make sure to book a table in advance at Machneyuda for either lunch or dinner.

Where to party

You won’t be disappointed with the party scene here. There is something for everyone. We would start with a drink at Denim Drinks First, and then head over to Kuli Alma. Come here and listen to the music (sometimes there are live performances), and sip on their famous Mojito slushie (Tel Aviv’s “Froze”), and do some drunken shopping at the vintage store that’s tucked away in the back of the venue. If the night goes according to plan, you should end it by dancing at 4am to loud electronic music at either Bootleg or The Breakfast Club.

Best place to buy gifts

There are so many markets in Tel Aviv where you can find great gifts. Walk to Jaffa by the coast in around 30 min from the city center (& if you’re feeling lazy, just grab a taxi via the Gett App), and visit the market in the old area of the city. The area is really run down and feels like the 3rd world compared to other neighborhoods, but that’s the whole charm- you feel transported to another time when looking over the fort.

Where to work out

Go for a walk or a run on the beach, its 13 km long so you won’t need to do more than that! In case you need some extras, you can always take one of the yoga classes on the roof of The Vera Hotel, or rent kayaks or other sporty equipment on the beach from one of the many vendors. You can even join in on a volleyball sesh, if you’re feeling bold and sociable.

Best bar for a secret rendezvous

They happen to love Speakeasy bars in this city, and are experts at hiding great rooftop bars behind secret entrances, so this really is the city for a secret rendezvous, if there ever was one! One of our favorites is the Speakeasy Rooftop Bar on Rothschild. Perfect before or after dinner!

Best spot for your new Bumble profile photo

Floating in the dead sea (if you go, that is- you have to get up super early for that!). If not, then perhaps at the old fort at Jaffa, or at the rooftop bar listed above!

Book Hotels. Earn Points. Travel for free.


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