The Insiders' Guide: Locals reveal the secrets of their cities
Berlin, Paris, Dublin, Barcelona,
Taking a city break? Want to get off the well-trodden tourist grid? Pól Ó Conghaile asked movers and shakers all over the world to open their little black books and reveal some of the secrets of their cities ... with delicious results
Berlin by Luke Atcheson
Luke Atcheson is Berlin editor of Unlike Guides (unlike.net/ berlin). Unlike Guides focus on unique and inspiring places. See also facebook.com/ unlikenetworks
In a sprawling city like Berlin, you don't tend to stumble across any hidden gems. This reality is confounded by the fact that many of the best spots don't even hang a sign outside the door.
This underground mentality, however, only raises the fun stakes. Agora Collective (agora collective.org) is the perfect example.
Lurking down a cobbled side street in Neukolln, there's no better starting point for a whirlwind introduction to the city's creative scene. It's basically a bustling cafe and co-working space by day, but hosts pop-up dinners, film screenings and art exhibitions by night.
Another place buzzing with cross-disciplinary action is the restaurant-cum-gallery La Soupe Populaire (lasoupepopulaire.de/en). It's been probably one of the most talked-about openings of the past year.
Located deep inside a tumbledown 19th century brewery, this is a dining experience you won't forget in a hurry. Surrounded by raw concrete and funky artwork, it's straight-up German food at its contemporary best.
To get your hands on some new clothes, Mitte is most certainly your go-to district, with Atelier Akeef (atelierakeef.com) currently leading the way in terms of Berlin streetwear. Their freshly renovated, up-cycled store interior is alone worth a peek.
As night falls, Trust (trust-berlin.com) is a sure-fire hit. The city's renowned decadence is in fine fettle here. Wedged under S-Bahn railway arches in Mitte, a peephole in a large cast iron door is the only indication that something special lies within.
The club is spread over two sumptuously golden floors, and the spirits are served only by the bottle, for stylishly dishevelled folks to mix and share as they see fit.
Paris by Trish Deseine
Trish Deseine is a cookbook author and restaurant reviewer based in Paris. Her latest book is 'The Paris Gourmet' (Flammarion). More info on trishdeseine.com
Parisian restaurants might be going through an identity crisis, with hip cocktail and small-plate bars like Mary Celeste (lemary celeste.com) hogging the limelight, but the patisserie scene has never been more vibrant.
Starry chef Jean-Francois Piege opens his pastry shop at the end of this month, and le tout Paris is already talking about the rumoured fluffiness of the Thoumieux brioche (thoumieux.fr).
On Rue des Martyrs, Sebastien Gaudard (sebastiengaudard.fr) is busy making exquisite gingerbread St Nicolases from 18th century cutters he came across in his native Strasbourg. Meanwhile, over in St Germain-des-Pres, Helene Darroze's pastry chef, Kirk Whittle, has put his white truffle, white chocolate and mascarpone dessert back on the menu, and the cooking gets better and better in accomplished Bistro Semilla (54 rue de Seine).
It's comforting to know, perhaps, that foodie oneupmanship can be avoided by eating for a good cause at the social enterprise (and very chic) restaurant Manger (manger-leresto.com), where unemployed youngsters train under the benevolent eyes of visiting big-name chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire and Yves Camdeborde.
Vienna by Thomas Kirchgrabner
Thomas Kirchgrabner is head of couture atelier at Lena Hoschek (lenahoschek .com), the retro and vintage-inspired Austrian fashion designer.
If you're eating out in Vienna, Tian (tian-vienna.com/en) is a very special place where you can find amazing vegetarian food, but those who want a taste of real Austrian food should go to Glacis Beisl (glacisbeisl.at), where the service is perfect and the dishes delicious.
If you're looking for a drink, there's a small place in the heart of Vienna city centre called Loos (loosbar.at). It's been there since 1908 – the architect was Adolf Loos – and you can have cocktails in American style. It's tiny, but has lots of charm.
Of course, you need to visit our little Lena Hoschek shop (shop.lenahoschek.com). Lena is one of THE young Austrian designers.
After all the drinking, eating and shopping, you may need a bit of a rest, and what better way than by catching some art?
You can do this all around Vienna, but the best place is the Museumsquartier (mqw.at), with four museums in one place. It has a great mixture of modern and historical art, with changing exhibitions. When you're done viewing, you can eat and drink there too.
If you're visiting Vienna during the summer, spend Tuesday night in the Volksgarten Pavillon (volksgarten-pavillon.at). It is completely crowded, but the garden is original 1950s style and has a great atmosphere.
New York by Róisín Flanagan
Róisín Flanagan is a freelance stylist and journalist based in New York. She writes for the 'New York Daily News' and blogs on fashion at roisinflanagan.com
New York is a city adorned with food and drink delights – all wrapped up with exciting culture and artistic pleasantries. From my time living in the city of dreams, here are my go-to picks that instantly satisfy cravings for cocktails, food, shopping and art.
One of my favourite bars is Wilfie & Nell (wilfieandnell.com) in the West Village. The perfect little alcove to wind down after shopping, it hosts a vast collection of craft beers and Australian wines. For old-school New York treatment, head to PJ Clarke's (pjclarkes.com) for the best cocktails in the city – it's famous for its appearances in 'Mad Men'. Order an Old Fashioned or a Side Car.
The best wine bar in New York is YN in SoHo (ynbarnyc.com), owned by a man called Stefan. Order the goose pate and Chilean red. You'll find the best eggs and brunch in Balthazar (balthazarny.com).
For restaurants, my picks are Cask (casknyc.com) for its scallops or The Palm (thepalm.com), which opened in 1926, for an authentic NYC setting. It does exquisite steak and has this unique decor where you'll find the restaurant's Hollywood patrons' signatures strewn across pictures on the walls.
If gigs are your thing, The Bowery Ballroom (boweryballroom.com) or Webster Hall (websterhall.com) are musts. If you like checking out exhibitions, MoMA (moma.org) always has a completely compelling show.
For shopping, SoHo is your one-stop for a mix of designer and high street, but for vintage, Beacon's Closet (beaconscloset.com) in Williamsburg and Hell's Kitchen Fleamarket (hellskitchenfleamarket.com) never fail to please. For partying, I recommend the Gansevoort Rooftop (hotelganse voort.com) in the Meatpacking District, followed by a trip to Cielo (cieloclub.com), New York's most legendary club.
Dublin by Ciaran Walsh
Ciaran Walsh is managing editor of Le Cool Dublin (dublin.lecool. com), a free weekly magazine sharing the hippest shops, eats, spaces and events in the city.
If you're not having a party in an unused (or under-used) space, I'm not interested. Leading the pack for under-the-radar shindigs are Mabos on Hanover Quay (mabos.ie) and The Dublin Whiskey Company in Mill Street (dublinwhiskeycompany.ie). Mabos is a multi-functional arts and entertainment space run by the people behind the Kings of Concrete Festival (kingsof concrete.com).
The Dublin Whiskey Company won't start making whiskey until next year, but in the meantime the building hosts fashion shows, street art exhibitions and straight-up celebrations, depending on the night.
If you're eating in Dublin, check out The Fumbally (thefumbally.ie). It's undisputed royalty among the scenester set, and has earned its reputation through perfectly executed simple dishes. It's proper cool cuisine on Clanbrassil Street.
It also surprises me how few people have experienced the rustic gem that is Mulberry Garden (mulberry garden.ie) in Donnybrook. Closeted on Mulberry Lane (behind Kiely's pub), its weekly changing menu reflects the freshest of ingredients, and the staff guide you through every dish with panache.
Katie Sanderson (facebook.com/living dinners) has turned the Dublin food game on its head with her fresh, edible ideas. The pop-up she ran alongside Fiona Hallinan in Temple Bar's Monster Truck Gallery was the perfect antidote to the opening of McDonald's across the road. If you can't wait to see how she follows that up, try to bag a place for her upcoming Winter Dinners in the elegantly wasted splendour of Henrietta Street.
Meanwhile, convincing people that drinking in a laneway is cool is the greatest trick the Damson Diner (damsondiner.com) ever pulled. Colloquially called Willie's Way, this side access to the South William Street restaurant is where you'll find the hipsterati on weekends.
The Connoisseur Bar at the Guinness Storehouse (guinnessstorehouse.com) is not technically a public house, but it's definitely worth a visit – especially if you're showing out-of-towners around the city.
It's behind a secret door within the Guinness complex, and you need to book tickets in advance, but once inside you can enjoy varieties of Guinness from around the world and get a personable history spiel too. Warning: there are no windows or clocks in there.
If you're shopping, check out Molloy & Dowling (molloyanddowling.com). Colm Molloy and Jed Dowling are the Gilbert and George of glasses.
Both are qualified opticians, but you won't find three-for-two offers in this dispensary, just vintage, retro and unusual frames in a curios-filled environment. They also are agreeable to the barter system.
Elsewhere, check out Indigo & Cloth (indigoandcloth.com), and The 3rd Policeman (facebook.com/t3rdpoliceman), a Rathmines vintage store that would not be out of place in Berlin. In some stores, vintage means old – here, it means unique and covetous.
Istanbul by Antony Doucet
Antony Doucet is director of sales, marketing and communication at The House Hotel (thehousehotel. com), a group of boutique hotels in Istanbul.
My favourite restaurant in Istanbul is Munferit (munferit.com.tr) in the Galatasaray area. Let's call it a typical Turkish tavern with a modern twist. The food is absolutely to die for and the only place to be seated is the corridor at the entrance (outside with heaters).
The Cukurcuma area is lovely to walk around, not at all touristy, and if you're looking for a cute and unexpected museum, you'll find it in The Museum of Innocence. It's based on Orhan Pamuk's book of the same name, so it's better – although by no means mandatory – to have read it before you visit. See masumiyetmuzesi. org
After an exhausting day's sightseeing, the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam (ayasofya hamami.com) is a dream place, taking you back to the Ottoman splendour of Istanbul. It really is the best in the city.
When it comes to clubbing, Rehab (face book.com/ rehabistan bul.com) is good if you like a more underground scene, while Club 29 (group-29.com) is the place for VIPs and sparkling scenery. It's where the golden youth of Istanbul meet.
After all of that, you should of course stay at The House Hotel Bosphorus. It has stunning river views and is set in a vibrant neighbourhood, but the best spot for breakfast is The House Cafe Ortakoy (the househotel.com).
My recommendations? Try the menemen (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers) with simit (Turkish bread).
Barcelona by Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso (carlos-alonso.com) is a journalist and blogger based in Barcelona. He's also a member of BCN Media Lab (bcnmedialab.org).
After spending all morning strolling about Barcelona's Old Town, your best option is to sit down and refill your energy in Caravelle (facebook.com/caravelleBCN). They change the menu here every few weeks, but the hamburger is one of the best in Barcelona, and there are several options of craft beer on tap to wash it down. They also have a brunch menu at the weekends, which in Spain is a very recent cultural import. What we've always done is "tomar el vermu" (literally "go drink a vermouth"), usually with some tapas and snacks.
Nowhere better to taste Spanish vermouth than Morro Fi (facebook.com/morrofi. barcelona). It's small and always packed, so get there early. Oh, and do yourself a favour and order the fries with mussels.
For dessert, take a short walk to DeLaCrem (facebook.com/delacrembcn) for an amazing artisan Italian gelato. In the same street there are always interesting things going on at gallery/bar Cosmo (galeriacosmo.com). For dinner, try Gracia, where you'll find Kibuka (kibuka.com), one of the best sushi restaurants in the city. It's a mix of Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine.
London by Úna Burke
Úna Burke is a leather accessories designer and artist. She has designed for many celebs and her work features in the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art's New Living Art IV exhibition. See unaburke.com
I love LMNT (lmnt.co.uk) on Queensbridge Road. I just passed it today. It's so bizarre – they've got an Egyptian pharaoh theme, with little cut-out areas you can sit in – like little treehouses in the corner – and it's just so unlikely in East London. It's tacky, but the food is really good. It's been described as the poor man's Les Trois Garcons (lestroisgarcons.com).
I have a soft spot for mojitos, and there's this really cool rock bar, The Crobar (crobar.co.uk) that I've been to once and have to get back to. It's off Charing Cross Road on Manette Street, and full of people that just wanna have fun.
One shop I really love is Cop Copine (cop-copine.com). They have two branches in Upper Street in Islington. It's womenswear with a lot of black, but their motto is, like "Yes, we do black, but we do it well". There's some really nice drapey gear – we're not talking red carpet stuff, but you can dress it up or down. It can be casual or evening wear.
I also like the Southbank (southbank london.com). I guess I'm drawn to water – most people find it calming – but there are also galleries along there and lots of performance art.
All of a sudden you run into a whole little festival you didn't hear about. Keep walking, and you get to the dockyards where the tall ships used to come in.
I find that idea really nice, how trade and society has changed – and grown up.