Kelsey Keith is the newly-minted Editor-in-Chief for Curbed.com and a curious traveller. She shares with us some of her favourite cities with lots of recommendations, as well as her travel tips to make your holidays more exciting (hint- it involves not having a data roaming plan!)
Follow her, @kelseykeith, on Instagram for some breathtaking pictures of interiors and architecture.
What is your favourite destination to date and why?
It's a toss-up between Copenhagen and Panama City. Copenhagen because the city's urban and design cred are unmatched; Panama City because it was completely foreign to me and therefore surprising.
Can you tell us where to eat, drink and party there?
Relae - Daily 4 & 7-course menus of inventive dishes served without pretension in a minimal space.
Kødbyens Fiskebar - An industrial-style restaurant in the former meat market serving simple, fresh seafood dishes.
Torvehallerne food halls - Over 60 stalls selling all kinds of glorious food to match the mood you're in. From fresh fish and meat to gourmet chocolate and exotic spices, as well as small places where you can have a quick bite to eat.
Mikkeller - A brewery that collaborates with other brewers to produce their recipes or experimental one-off brews.
Manfreds & Vin - is all about creative cooking in an intimate space.
Log Lady cafe - Go for the experience. You can relax with a cup of coffee, read a book, play board games with friends or listen to live music while enjoying its quirky interior.
Ruby's - Have some creative modern cocktails here while you chill in an intimate ambience.
Panama City/Casco Viejo
Manolo Caracol - One of the best restaurants in Panama. People recommend their vegetarian tapas.
Mercado del Marisco - Panama city's fish market, open for business to local restaurants and the public every day except the third Monday of each month when it's closed completely for thorough cleaning.
Danilo's Jazz Club at American Trade Hotel - owned by Grammy-winning, internationally renowned Panamanian jazz pianist and composer Danilo Perez. A must-visit if you're into Jazz!
Mojitos sin Mojitos - Don't be fooled by their name. Mojitos sin Mojistos is a great place for a good burger and a drink (but not mojitos!)
You travel for design. What are some meccas of design for you?
The Nordic cities - Helsinki, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo (more on these below).
As a New Yorker, it's controversial to talk too fondly about Los Angeles, but there's such a fascinating interplay between architecture, urbanism, and design that's been heating up since the mid-20th century.
And of course - TOKYO!
(Read the Roomorama Tokyo guides and recommendations here!)
In your travels, what are some architectural and design highlights you've come across?
I love the Nordic aesthetic and in Helsinki, you can get a good dose of it, very quickly. Helsinki is small enough that you can traverse it in a day. Spend the morning taking a drive up to the Alvar Aalto house, drive back into town past the Sibelius monument, and spend the afternoon traipsing around the design district: Designmuseum, Artek, Artek 2nd Cycle, Marimekko, Iittala, R/H, and Johanna Gullichsen stores, as well as the smaller vintage shops for discontinued Arabia glassware and small treasures.
You also love checking out stationery shops when you travel. What are some standouts stores you've discovered on your travels?
Any stationery store in Tokyo, for the best pens and smoothest, finest paper. (New Yorkers: For something similar, check out Kinokuniya on Bryant Park.) Another thing I love buying in Japan are the novelty dish sponges shaped like sheep, hearts, you name it.
A recent favorite is a ceramic wind chime/bell I picked up from Arcosanti in Arizona. The off-the-grid community was built in the 1970s as a desert utopia by a visionary architect, Paolo Soleri. Very few people actually live there but they cast bronze bells and keep a ceramics studio.
As a design buff and avid traveler, what kind of souvenirs do you usually bring back?
I always look for hand towels (locally-made and easy to pack), toiletries, and architecture/interiors magazines (even if I can't read the language).
What are some of your must do's when you travel?
I try to wake up early so I don't feel bad about napping later in the day. Drink plenty of water and plenty of wine. Write down the names of places you want to see, then ask for directions instead of pulling out a map (or your phone); you discover surprises much better that way. I never buy a data plan and try to only use my phone on hotel Wifi.
What are your 5 travel essentials?
- A wrap for the plane — raw silk is good: lightweight but warm
- Wristwatch — I adjust the time as soon as I step onto the plane
- Pen — for making lists and doing crosswords
- Goldfaden MD Bright Eyes cream
- Chai Green and/or PG Tips teabags
If you could have a dream vacation home, where would it be, and what would it look like?
This question is too hard for an architecture editor! Toss-up between a Brutalist, cliff-dwelling lair in the Caribbean and a farmhouse with a modern gable in Vermont. Though I wouldn't mind an Art Moderne flat in France, either.
Stylish places to stay in Copenhagen
This bright and spacious apartment is located in central and vibrant Vesterbro. It is on a quiet street between the beautiful and broad avenue of Frederiksberg and the lively and fun Vesterbrogade.
Going to Copenhagen? Check out more places to stay in Copenhagen on Roomorama.