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Britomart, Auckland
Photograph: Todd Eyre

Neighbourhoods to watch in 2017

Plan your big trip now with Time Out’s guide to five of the world’s hottest neighbourhoods

Written by
James Wilkinson

From new bar openings to avant-garde galleries; hip hotels to nearby nature these five neighborhoods have more than their fair share going on this year. Stay and play in one on your next big overseas trip.  

Saint Roch, Quebec City
Photograph: Caroline Gagne

1. Saint Roch, Quebec City

The historic attractions of Quebec City have been the traditional drawcard, but it’s the restaurant, bar and craft beer scene in hip quarter Saint Roch that’s gaining momentum. Former Vue de Monde staffer Mathieu Brisson is the brains and hands behind

Former Vue de Monde staffer Mathieu Brisson is the brains and hands behind Le Clocher Penché, a modern Parisien bistro just outside the stone walls using local produce from nearby districts including Île d’Orléans. The menu changes often, says Brisson. “Producers bring what they have and we play around with the food,” he tells Time Out. The walls are lined with works from local artisans.

Craft brewpub Korrigane has six beers on tap and two guest beers daily. Your pints should be the Fev Follet, a cream amber ale, and the Mary Morgan, a Belgian white. As a side, order a bowl of wings and Korrigane’s take on classic Quebec dish poutine.

At La Barberie, there are nine beers on tap – make ours a double chocolate stout – to sample on the deck under the trees in a brewery beer garden packed with locals every night.

One side of Le Cercle is a bar and restaurant that serves produce from within 50km of the city and the other is a nightclub, where bands play several nights a week. 

The village of Baie-Saint-Paul, just east of Quebec City, is the home of Cirque du Soleil and before the circus became globally famous, performers could be found on the streets stiltwalking and juggling. When there’s a show visiting town, the atmosphere is electric.

Book a room at Hôtel Château Laurier Québec, located in the Old Town of the city, a five-minute walk from Parliament and next to outdoor dining and drinking street Grand Allée. The four-star, family-owned hotel features modern rooms with views over the Plains of Abraham. 

Get there: Air New Zealand flies to Vancouver; onward connections are available to Quebec City. 

Waikiki, Honolulu
Photograph: Supplied

2. Waikiki, Honolulu

Honolulu is the South Pacific’s hottest destination right now and in the heart of the action is Waikiki, which, despite being touristy, is one of America’s most fun neighbourhoods.

Right on the beach is Duke’s Waikiki and whether you come here for a Mai Tai in the Barefoot Bar or a meal in the dining room, one thing is for sure: you’ll be having a Polynesian good time. Everything here, from the pupus (snacks) to Tiki cocktails and live music, has a Hawaiian theme. It’s also good value, with signature Mai Tais priced at $12 and Time Out’s other favourite, the vodka and rum-based Tropical Itch (complete with back scratcher), costing a cool $10. When it comes to food, order the panko fried calamari, the Cajun fish tacos or pulled pork sandwich and round it off with hula pie.

Adjacent to Duke’s is the latest addition to the Waikiki scene, jazz bar Blue Note, which has already had some top headline acts in its short history, from Chaka Khan to Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Wailers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and a comedy pop-up featuring Amy Schumer last year.

The big breakfast at the Honolulu outpost of Bills might just be better than what we get here in Emerald City. The Hawaii ‘full Aussie’ is loaded up with scrambled Waimanalo eggs, cumin roast tomatoes, miso mushrooms, bacon, and pork and fennel sausage. Bills serves up the best flat whites in Waikiki, a juicy kale and pineapple smoothie, and a spiced Bloody Mary that will cure the worst of hangovers.

Get your shopping fix at the Ala Moana Center, the largest shopping mall in Hawaii, which has just undergone a major extension and now features 290 stores from J Crew to Nordstrom.

Oahu’s most storied hotel, the Royal Hawaiian, or the Pink Palace as it is also known, dates back to 1927 and retains many of its historic characteristics. Book a room in the Mailani Tower, where each room features a balcony and views overlooking Diamond Head, plus a complimentary breakfast and sunset drinks and canapés. Head to the Mai Tai bar for cocktails on the beach, Azure for lunch and don’t miss the Royal Aha’aina luau.

Next door, the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort has rooms to suit all budgets from ones with city views to those overlooking Waikiki Beach, plus there’s a pool adjacent to the South Pacific sands and four restaurants and bars. 

Get there: Hawaiian Airlines flies daily to Honolulu from Sydney.

Keong Saik, Singapore
Photograph: Edward Tian

3. Keong Saik, Singapore

For decades, Keong Saik was one of the notorious red light streets of Singapore, but in more recent times, thanks to hospitality entrepreneurs like Unlisted Collection’s Loh Lik Peng, the street and surrounding areas have become one of the city’s most happening hoods.

Book ahead and score a table at 24-seat eatery Burnt Ends, where chef Dave Pynt’s take on modern Australian barbecue comes in the form of smoking, roasting, baking and grilling on apple and almond wood burning machines and custom-built grills. Must haves are the beef marmalade, king crab with garlic brown butter (with sourdough on the side) and the dry-aged beef. Drinks man Andrew Cameron’s smoked cocktail pairing is impeccable – go for the barrel-aged Australian Negroni – and his wine list features some brilliant small-batch producers, including William Downie from Gippsland.

Head across the street and seek out a tiny shopfront that resembles a pop-up book store and then ask nicely for the password. That will gain you access to the dimly lit Library Bar where rum-based drinks dominate the classic-styled cocktail list, including some served as punches and one in a mini wooden canoe.

A few minutes’ drive away at the back of Marina Bay, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve walked onto the set of Avatar while strolling 20 metres in the air among the Gardens by the Bay’s Supertrees after dark. Here, tree-like structures rise up to 50 metres above the ground and light up at night time, turning the rainforest-style gardens into a visual spectacular. The trees are home to ferns, vines and orchids, bars and restaurants.

At the New Majestic Hotel around the corner from Keong Saik, ‘quirky’ would be an understatement, thanks to suites with elevated loft-style beds, dual bathtubs in the middle of the room, a pool over the restaurant with portholes in the ceiling and a tuktuk in the lobby. There’s restored vintage Compton fans and colonial furniture throughout.

Another short drive away, olde-worlde charm and modern technology fuse seamlessly at Sofitel So Singapore, housed in a Neoclassical building that’s loaded with French and Singaporean décor. Flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi and balconies with city views are features, while on the roof there’s a pool and cocktail bar.

Get there: British Airways flies daily to Singapore from Sydney.

Britomart, Auckland
Photograph: Supplied

4. Britomart, Auckland

Spread across from the waterfront, this creative pocket of Auckland’s CBD has become a hive for bars, restaurants, galleries and boutiques.

First up in the morning, Oaken serves 63.5-degree eggs on sourdough with house smoked butter for breakfast, Wagyu bresaola sandwiches for lunch and housemade pork and fig sausages for dinner alongside Te Matuku oysters from Waiheke. Wine list highlights include Trinity Hill Homage Syrah and Mountford Estate Liaison Chardonnay from Waipara.

The Sours, Negronis, punches and Bellinis at Beirut continue to make us want to come here for the bar alone, despite the top Lebanese cuisine on offer at the restaurant next door. Order the Phoenician Sour, Bedouin Milk Punch and the Bahar Negroni, a great twist on the classic with gin, turmeric, gentian liqueur and an aperitif wine.

There are classic cocktails aplenty at Caretaker, in the basement of a building on Roukai Lane, where you’ll want to score a stool at the bar and have one of the bowtie-wearing bartenders stir you up an Old Fashioned with freshly chiselled ice. The decent selection of Japanese whiskies is best had in a Sour. 

New Zealand’s best fashion designers can be found in Britomart. Stop in at the boutiques of Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Juliette Hogan, Kathryn Wilson, Trelise Cooper and Zambesi. The district is also increasingly a haven for art galleries such as Britomart Project Space, with several permanent and visiting exhibitions.

The view across Waitemata Harbour from the guest rooms at Hilton Auckland, located right on the end of Princes Wharf, might just be the best in this city. You’ll find a great experience with modern and spacious rooms that have king sized beds, 81cm TVs and oversized bathrooms with walk-in showers. Have a tipple at Bellini (good luck choosing from the 130-strong cocktail list) and head upstairs for a meal at Fish, helmed by top chef Gareth Stewart.

Get there: Air New Zealand flies daily to Auckland from Sydney.

Mitte, Berlin
Photograph: Supplied

5. Mitte, Berlin

Mitte is one of only two boroughs made up of both former West and East Berlin districts, and it’s that eclecticism that makes it one of the city’s most fun and buzziest places.

Go on a walking tour of the city with Penelope Hassmann, an Australian expatriate who’s been living here for over ten years and who owns Berlin Private Tours. Her knowledge of the city and its landmarks is exceptional and her bespoke tours can last from a few hours to a whole day. On the Greatest Stories tour, visit Unter den Linden, Bebelplatz, Gendarmenmarkt, Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall and the old Nazi government district, as well as the Jewish memorial, Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.

Chef Marco Müller’s eatery Rutz has a two-Michelin starred restaurant atop and a 750-label strong wine bar below. Score a table and go for Müller’s ten-course inspirations menu or pull up a stool downstairs and let sommelier Alexander Seiser choose the right riesling and some food to match.

With a speakeasy theme and prohibition-style cocktails to match, Mitte’s Reingold is under the watchful eye of barkeep David Wiedemann, a leading bar tzar in this town whose obsession is everything classic. On balmy nights, enjoy drinks on the terrace out back, while the German snacks are washed down well with a kicking Negroni, served by bar staff decked out in braces and bow ties. 

On popular Charlottenstraße, Newton Bar is a not just a place to stop by for a consistently good Vodka Martini; hanging on the walls are images snapped by the great Berlin-born Australian fashion photographer Helmut Newton. 

Australian-owned Adina hotels have been popping up in Berlin in recent years, offering oversized rooms with kitchenettes and comfortable beds. Our pick is Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt, thanks to its vibrant location in the heart of Mitte and close to Unter den Linden and Alexander Platz. Time Out’s pick of the rooms are the one-bedroom apartments, which offer an ideal amount of space for a week in Berlin.

Get there: British Airways flies daily to Berlin via London.

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