We love places where history thumps through the streets like a heartbeat, but some of the world’s greatest cities are even greater thanks to contemporary influences. Here’s our collection of our favourites that manage to perfectly marry the very old and the very, very new.
Brooklyn & Manhattan, New York
In the city that never sleeps you’ll find little occasion to spend too long in your hotel room with all that’s going on around you. This lightning-paced metropolis has no shortage of activity, both indoors and out. From Harlem to Hell’s Kitchen, Soho to NoHo and TriBeCa to NoLiTa, each neighbourhood varies vastly, where the pop-up restaurants and bars change as frequently as the fashions and the pavements are a catwalk. If Wall Street’s not your cup of Joe, take a meander through Greenwich Village or hop over the bridge to Brooklyn and Williamsburg, where you’ll find hip coffee houses-cum-concept stores, warehouses as hotels and more artisan breweries than you can shake a gentrified stick at.
From one city that never sleeps to another, Mumbai can’t fail to impress. The commercial capital of India can take you on a whirlwind journey through the country’s glorious past and fascinating future; in the best way possible, it assaults every sense. Intoxicating colours and scents mingle with temples, stately hotels, divine scenery and ultra-modern skyscrapers home to inspirational businesses and artistic minds. Blending the romantic old and the thrilling new, get under the skin of Mumbai’s interminable presence of chaos and action by throwing yourself wholeheartedly under its spell: from malls to monuments, parks to museums and all the sights in between.
From its super-modern skyscrapers to Zen gardens and bullet trains, Tokyo is a world of contrasts in one city and its web of contrasting neighbourhoods (over 50 in total) present hugely different subcultures in the form of music, art, customs and fashion. The child in you will appreciate Akihabara, where anime and manga cartoons stare insolently down from every billboard. Busy, bewildering and in your face, the neighbourhoods of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ginza are lit up in neon, and it’s here you can buy just about anything under the sun. Harajuku, famous for its outrageous fashion sense, is wonderfully eccentric, and you could easily lose an afternoon just checking out the scenery. Escape the bustle in Ebisu and Daikanyama, where the small winding streets are lined with patisseries, coffee shops and restaurants
Marrakech is the perfect blend of old and new. Browse traditional markets selling local goods and souvenirs against the backdrop of the imposing Atlas Mountains. An assault on the senses; the busy, lively and fragrant markets leave visitors feeling like they’ve really stepped back in time. For a more modern take head to Ville Nouvelle to discover boutiques, fine dining and contemporary art. The Majorelle Gardens offer the perfect escapism from the city old and new.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
There’s a reason why Buenos Aires A is called the Paris of South America – its early settlers came from Europe, colonising the city in a distinctive yet inimitable style. The elegant streets of this loud, Latin metropolis are flanked with stunning examples of Colonial, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, in a city where artists’ quarters sit between slick coffee houses and tango is danced on street corners. Home to the widest avenue in the world, Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires doesn’t do things by halves: the heart of the city at Plaza de Mayo is a stately green oasis packed with imposing statues, overlooked by Eva Perón’s iconic balcony. From Recoleta’s grand buildings to Camanito’s pastel hues and the derelict yet beautiful poverty of the barrios, sensual Buenos Aires is like a thousand European towns rolled into one.
Claire Powell is Digital Marketing Manager at Abercrombie & Kent.