From hotels to bars to books, meet the nine travel picks that most inspired us over the last year.
Sitting in drizzly England, nursing a sore head and a maple and walnut coffee, Modern Traveller is in need of some serious wanderlust fuel for the New Year.
Mercifully, 2016 gave us that in spades. Travels through Europe and Southeast Asia showed us some amazing places, people and things – and, whilst there are always new favourites to find, this list recognises nine of the most inspirational.
Indeed, as we think ahead to the next 365 days and what discoveries they might bring – both near and far – we can’t help but reflect on these and just how much they get our inner travel bug itching to book some tickets…
Brilliant brunch: Ulrich, Vienna
Vienna is truly a city for brunch-lovers – and Ulrich served up some seriously tasty treats. Nab a spot at one of the outdoor tables to bask in the morning sunshine, whilst feasting on fantastic fresh smoothies and perusing the array of delicious dishes on offer. Oh, and the crispy bacon is divine.
Cool café: Allan’s Breakfast Club & Wine Bar, Berlin
A cool coffee shop that becomes a hip wine bar on certain evenings, Allan’s was one of our top spots to stop at when wandering in Berlin – which is saying something. Visit for a cappuccino, be distracted by the delicious Eggs Benny and stay with a book from the nearby St George’s English Bookshop.
Old-world restaurant: The Refinery, Saigon
With a menu that caters to almost every western taste, whether savouring the soups, going big on the burgers, or delighting in the desserts, The Refinery offers dining in fine form and flavour – in the heart of HCMC. Hankering for the Saigon of days-past, we revelled in the French charm of this former opium factory.
Rooftop bar with a difference: Park, Lisbon
OK, so we actually visited at the very end of 2015 – but we didn’t do awards last year, and Park definitely deserves its place as one of our favourite cocktail spots. Perched atop – you guessed it – a car park, it’s well worth traipsing up the dingy stairs for the view, not to mention the vibrant hubbub and moreish alcoholic mixes.
Home-from-home hotel: Relais del Maro, Borgomaro
There were many contenders, but none could top the Italian charm of Relais Del Maro – our favourite boutique hotel of the moment. Fabulous rooms, a family-run feel and beautiful surroundings combine to make this village retreat a perfect example of the albergo diffuso concept.
Titillating page-turner: “War & Turpentine” by Stefan Hertmans
We leafed through a fair few books on our travels in 2016, but none kept us as captivated as David McKay’s English translation of Stefan Hertmans’ War and Turpentine. A vivid work which threads an entrancing true-life tale of art and war, its command of time and prose is second to none.
Backpack fit for a bear: Beara Beara Mochita Green
Our handbag alternative of choice, Beara Beara’s ethically made Mochita backpack is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship – not to mention a thoroughly useful sack for our city breaks and adventures alike. Woven details and a glorious green suede shell made it stylish, too.
Captivating city tour: Ljubljana Free Tour
We’re big fans of the free walking tour concept here at Modern Traveller – and our experience in Ljubljana was one of the best. Aided by the city’s compact size, this hours-long walk through the cobbled streets of the Slovenian capital meshed history, culture and captivating tales to enthralling effect.
Amazing museum: The Eagle Pharmacy, Krakow
Proof that the most intriguing museums needn’t be big, The Eagle Pharmacy occupies an unassuming store of four rooms in Krakow’s former Jewish ghetto. It’s an astounding, interactive take on a past at once terrifying, upsetting and, in some instances, inspiring. To say more would be to spoil the surprise.
WORDS & IMAGES BY CHRIS ROWLANDS