When planning our trip to England last month I found myself a little stuck. I wanted to show off London to Mr Style – parts he hadn't seen, not the touristy stuff, the cool local stuff. Not having been a local in London for almost six years I went to internet for help.
Within minutes I'd discovered the Hedonists Guide to London, and promptly introduced myself to folks behind the guides and they invited me to review them. I opted for both London and Los Angeles. The two cities I know best, in the world.
I'm a travel freak in as far as I need to know everything about a city before I visit – I love playing tour guide, so a good guide to essential.
The London guide is aesthetically, incredibly pleasing. Hot pink, embossed, with no glaring "TOURISTS GUIDE TO" and what not – which would be quite frankly embarrassing to pull out in your own city. Being a girl who's stylishly inclined I was already sold.
Fast forward to the contents. Every trip to London with Mr Style thus far had focused on West and Central London – being that was the area I lived in. However in the past decade, East London has grown in to an excellent area of London (ah gentrification) – as with most East sides in major metropolitan cities. In a parallel fashion, I have also grown into a person that would enjoy the East side of a major metropolitan city, so naturally this trips focus was on East London.
Thanks to the Hedonist Guide to London we secured an uber cool and affordable hotel in The Hoxton (my review is here). I also discovered new and fun places to eat and drink (Uh, Callooh Callay, Shoreditch anyone?) and felt like a local in no time, so by the time we actually arrived in London – I was taking my local friends to the cool places. I'm that girl.
I can't wait to go back to London in February (for more than 48 hours) and use up the whole of the guide.
The Los Angeles guide is a little more conservative in appearance (go figure) it's sleek, black, but still subtle in appearance – so even though I've lived here for years and my accent betrays my residence, I can play tourist without looking like one.
I can't imagine how difficult it is to create a guide to Los Angeles, it's a sprawling mass of mini cities, each with their own distinct identity (much like London) except the business turnaround here is pretty rapid. I've lost count of what the last cool place to dance was – and the likelihood is, it's the same cool place to dance it was ten years ago – it's just changed names 10 times.
Despite all of this The Hedonist Guide to Los Angeles does a really good job of covering Los Angeles – even the parts I was honestly ready to criticise them for not covering (being the kind of Los Angelian that doesn't go west of Los Feliz and east of Venice…) the East side was well covered – still maybe not as covered as I would have it – but still it was there.
My Los Angeles classic favourites like Dominicks and The Dresden Rooms were there, but many were notably missing – I found the Snack section more appropriate for dining than the restaurant section and was impressed to see it included Portos and In n Out Burger (Los Angeles classics!).
Really notably missing was an extensive guide to downtown – it's such a diverse part of our city, the flower markets and the fashion district were both missing. Also our extensive vintage selections were largely skipped over.
In both guides, London and Los Angeles, I did feel like the shopping sections were fairly weak – but I'm a fashion blogger and a shopping obsessive – so it's likely most guides, unless entirely devoted to shopping, wouldn't satiate my needs!
Overall the Hedonists Guides are some of the best travel guides I've come across in years of extensive travel. Affordable (under $20) compact, good looking, lightweight and diverse in content. They also offer extensive online guides (now completely free), a fancy iPhone app and the guides are available in over 50 countries.
"Hedonist Guides to" are available here.