Travel

M.P.A _ Co - editior in chief

A trip to Chicago to spot all the best addresses

Chicago has been out of favour for many years, but more to the point, it's just not that well known.

The famous names it conjures up - Al Capone, Frank Nitty or John Dilliger – have an unsettling, even disturbing charm, they're exciting but these days nothing more than myth. A John Lee Hooker or Muddy Waters Blues soundtrack that lingers in the city's jazz clubs. 

Chicago has been an architects' playground since the great fire of 1871 which ravaged the city and its buildings. The first skyscrapers were drawn up by Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lyod Wright, Louis Sullivan and Daniel Brunham.  

It's not worth having your hair set here, the Windy City lives up to its moniker, blowing night and day along the avenues. It's a fresh wind and a decadent rhythm that blows across the States: the city is more arty than Brooklyn, has more culture than San Fran and more going on architecturally than anywhere. 

Take the time to see and try everything: the banks of Lake Michigan, the Art Institute, the Loop,  Millennium Park. Don't forget to keep looking up at the skyline or check it out from afar, perched on a hip rooftop, cocktail in hand. Here's a district by district overview of our adventures and unusual encounters.

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Everything to the west of Loop, the famous aerial metro line, has become the hip district of the city. The new arrivals have colonised this former meatpacking and warehouse district with enough lofts, artists' studios, galleries, restaurants and bars to make your head spin. Here's our selection.

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Chicago's most cutting edge district in the making, and already a great night spot. Logan Square is a bus terminal as you come out of the metro. Complete with church, old Victorian houses and a bold theatre sign with the name of the neighbourhood. Preserved but also in the throes of a transformation, the neighbourhood is pumping in the evenings to the sound of the hundreds of bars. The daytime sees hipsters in search of the perfect coffee roasting house and art gallery.

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Afficianados have known about this place since the tail end of the 90s, for its specialized second-hand book shops and art galleries but it's really been enjoying its hour of glory in recent years with the transformation of the abandoned railway into green cycle lane and new cool hipster hangouts. A little visit to our favourites.

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Take a Divvy bike to the North of the city to discover the hidden hangouts in this little corner of paradise. Go via the beach to show off your bikini or via the park, beer in hand and sound system on the handlebars.

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Take one of the packed bridges that crosses the Chicago River, amongst the most creative skyscrapers of the city, to discover River North. It's swankier around here, with a mix of art galleries, museums and boutiques where the Amish come to hang out at the weekend, a curious and amusing contrast with the urban landscape, time momentarily stands still.

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M.P.A _ Co - editor in chief

A trip to Margate, UK to discover this hidden city with Lavinia Cernau 

Getting off the train in Margate, the beach awaits with rosy-cheeked girls out in bikinis and
miniskirts, despite the thermometer reading of 12 degrees. Welcome to the English coast. The
smell of fish and chips mixes with the salty scent of the sea but disappears as soon as you plunge into the narrow winding streets of the old town. Shane Meadows depicted an England that stands up for its battles in This is England, here it' s the same, left, right and centre, gleaming Nissan Figaros all over town, Victorian buildings with or without brick and no big logos. Margate has the sea and the South-East's rocky chalk cliffs but with a difference. This mini-paradise also boasts a range of hip understated locations. Springtime is all about plunging into the glacial water, oysters on the harbour steps, and shopping sprees amongst the vintage gems and local designers.

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THE READING ROOMS (spot MPA)

The adorable little Victorian house reveals itself to be a temple of perfection as soon as you open the door. Louise and Liam have that je ne sais quoi that we love about the English, style, class and a ton of stories to tell. Liam, who grew up in Florence, has masterfully decorated this B&B with its pared-down walls and creaky old floorboards. One room per floor, what luxury! The top floor, under the eaves, is bathed in light and has an unforgettable view over the town, its rooftops and Hawley Square. Feel like Cleopatra in the XL bathroom, where bathing is a must, with rose oil and great acoustics. Breakfast in the rooms, so chic, everything is perfect here.

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HAECKELS 

Paddling in England is a battle with seaweed, great for strength training, less cool for the kids running about the place. Dom has found the coolest of solutions in creating a line of subtle natural skincare products that would make Aesop blanche. These perfumes smell like a rainy spring day on a winding country path, the scent of poppies, mint, parsley and elderflower mix with wet grass, or a winter's day under the sun of Botany Bay. Dom is both a British-as-you-like gent, tartan, cap and cardigan with an impeccable moustache to finish the look, but, more importantly, an important figure in the town. He had managed to turn seaweed into something with real value and a multitude of perfumes in a super hispter-chic setting. For the happy few there is also an itinerant massage experience in a Victorian sea-bathing machine on the beach. Next step, a cafe on the first floor of the boutique. But as Dom never stops he is also planning changing rooms for the shy and retiring in Walpole Bay and classes to raise awareness in children of the marine environment. He's looking after everyone from 7 year olds to 77.

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M.P.A _ Co - editor in chief

A journey into Switzerland most design cities.

Fiefdom of local architects Herzog & de Meuron, Basel is surprisingly large and boasts an incredible heritage. At every street corner you stumble upon a work of art. In Grossbasel discover the paved streets, the ultra-specialized interiors shops and the historical district with its hidden destinations. In Kleinbasel, strut your stuff at one of the new spots for seeing and being seen. As soon as the warmer days make an appearance, locals from 7 to 77 float down the Rhine in the water from the North to the South of the city and meet on the quaysides for an aperitif, improbable? We tried it, go for it!

 
 

Grimsel

Grimsel – mountain in German, is one Grossbasel's best kept secrets. From the outside it looks like a little Japanese-style interiors boutique. Inside it's another story – in the first section we berate ourselves for not having brought a big enough suitcase for the tableware. Beyond that an immaculate gallery opens up overlooking the Rhine: vintage 50s furniture, glass blown by local artists, German porcelain in pastel colours by Birgitta Sehrader. Bettina and Alexa also offer an interior decorating service, which will leave you wishing you had a pied-à-terre in Basel!