Insight Into | Travelling Solo

It was only 5 weeks into my trip, when I was sat on my flight from Sri Lanka that it really struck me that I had fallen into this ‘Solo Traveller’ bracket. There I was flicking through the ever-engaging Singapore Airlines in-flight magazine, when I came across an article called ‘Going Solo’, and I couldn’t believe how much it rang true. So I thought I’d give an insight into my experiences, alongside a few of my top tips to allow yourself to embrace the art of travelling solo.

According to Google trends, the term ‘solo-travel’ rose 50% between January 2015 – December 2017, but more interestingly (to me anyway) is that in the past year over 75% of these ‘solo travellers’ have been female.

Why? I mean, it’s not totally clear cut, but I have a few suspicions:

– Women are becoming more financially independent & consequently more apt to travel.

– A wide social shift in independence & personal freedom.

– The Instagram Movement – I really do believe this plays a huge part, so many females are seeing photos of beautiful destinations, and just wanting to book a flight and leave ASAP.

– Finally, something I really believe is the key defining factor in all of this – ‘Technology’ – smartphones allow people to feel comfortable, safe and connected anywhere on the planet; something that just didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, travelling with my nearest and dearest have been some of the greatest times of my life, but there is nothing like the freedom of having your own schedule and the satisfaction gained from adventuring alone.

My First Hand Experience


– I found that I am more present and have paid better attention to details than when I’d travelled with friends.

– I have definitely been more open-minded to new activities, partially because I have had no excuses to say no, but also because it’s been a great way to meet new people.

– Don’t fear eating alone. Whilst I haven’t found myself sat in any white-table cloth restaurants alone, I have sourced out places that have bar seating. You’ll be surprised how many people are in the same situation, and by the end of the meal you’re unlikely to have sat like a lonely lemon for the whole thing (even if it is just the bar man that’s engaged with you for the past hour).

– Whilst I don’t know that I can claim I’ve mastered the art of solo-travel just yet, I can claim to have become acquainted to the various shades of solitude: from the occasional bouts of loneliness to the unencumbered joy of absolute freedom.

My Top Tips For Travelling Alone


– DO YOUR RESEARCH Whilst we all love to think ‘wouldn’t it be great to just book flights, accommodation etc as we go along on the trip’, this just isn’t something I’d recommend do when travelling solo. Whilst I’m a stickler for a good spreadsheet, I didn’t want to ‘over-plan’ my trip. However, I had booked all my flights, and most of my accommodation prior to leaving. This didn’t leave me feeling restricted at any point in my trip thanks to the research I had done to ensure I spent enough time in each place. However, this did hugely reassure me (& my family) that when I was arriving to a new destination I at least knew where I was resting my head that night. The last thing you want to be doing is arriving in Sri Lanka at midnight and trying to find somewhere to stay.

– STAY CONNECTED Don’t forget there are people at home that are still living their everyday lives, and worrying about you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your travel bubble and forget this. So keep them in the loop, I found that making a group WhatsApp for my nearest and dearest so that I just had to send one message was the easiest way! But also grab an app like Find My Friends, just so they can check in.

– THINK SMART It’s easy to get carried away with taking on a carefree attitude when so far from everyday life, but personal safety must never be forgotten. I found that simple things like only withdrawing cash during the day, not wandering around at night without reason , staying covered up in the evening (I’m not talking full body suit, just be sensible, take a scarf to cover your shoulders, chest etc.). I have met some people that take this pretty seriously –  I’m talking wearing a fake wedding ring to keep unwanted attention at bay, but I can’t say I took to this.

The Habit Hunter x

Travel To | Berlin

STAY


1. Hotel Zoo – a lux hotel located moments from the Zoo (ironically), with a state of the art design
2. 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin – an ultra chica hotel with views of the zoo amidst a concept mall
3. Capri by Fraser – for a new hotel providing a combination of perfect location and clean design
4. Hotel Sir Savigny – for boutique chic in Charlottenburg
5. Michelberger Hotel – for creative design in a quirky area moments from the East Side Gallery

COFFEE 


1. The Barn Café
2. Silo Coffee
3. Distrikt Coffee
4. Father Carpenter Coffee
5. Five Elephant

BRUNCH


1. Roamers
2. Commonground
3. Father Carpenter Coffee
4. Cabslam
5. Distrikt Coffee

HEALTHY SPOTS


1. Rose Garden
2. Funk You
3. Daluma
4. The Bowl

DINNER


1. Panama – for ultra slick sharing dishes served in an innovative manner in a chilled out environment
2. Katz Orange – for a laid back setting, with divine food! – Order the cauliflower — end of!
3. The Butcher – for the best burger in town! I’m talking truffle burger.. truffle sauce.. truffle chips
4. Night Kitchen – for contemporary dining designed to be shared amongst friends
5. Transit – for a tapas style take on asian cuisine

DO


1. Get cultural at the East Side Gallery
2. Take in a tour rambling around the city with Sandemans
3. Create your own scent at Frau Tonis
4. Hit up the best concept mall in town at Bikini Berlin
5. Head to The Corner and ogle over your designer dreams
6. Take a trip to Soho House and indulge at the Cowshed Spa or scout out some treats at The Store
7. Wander the streets of Mitte for casual Berlin chic nestled amongst independent coffee stores!

The Habit Hunter x

Travel To | Stockholm

When I signed up to the Stockholm Half Marathon at the beginning of the summer, it seemed only right to make a girly weekend of it when it came around in September. So as a birthday surprise, I whisked off my best-friend and off we went to frolic the Scandinavian streets in search of the best spots in town. Anyone who knows me, knows my slight coffee addiction, so when I heard about the Swede’s concept of “Fika”, this was something I was going to seriously embrace.

Fika (Swedish pronunciation: [²fiːka]) is a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning “to have coffee”, often accompanied with pastries.

COFFEE


1. Drop Coffee
2. Cafe Pascal
3. Snickarbacken 7

BRUNCH


1. Pom & Flora
2. Pascal
3. Oaxen Slip

DINNER


1. Meatballs for the People
2. Lilla Ego
3. Kott osk Fiskbaren

STAY


1. Haymarket Hotel
2. Ett Hem
3. Story Hotel

SHOP


Nordiska Kompaniet
Granit
Grandpa
Acne Archive
H&M

The Habit Hunter x

Hotel Review | North House, West Cowes

Overview:


The owners of North House in Cowes started their ventures with the popular Coast Bar in town, and expanded to open this boutique just last year, and they’ve nailed it! Whilst also running a local interior design store in town there’s no surprises when it came to the furnishings everything was impeccable. It’s chic, homely and sophisticated all at once, and quite frankly (in my opinion) the only choice you want to make when heading to Cowes for a trip away!

The Location:


10/10! Located on the aptly named ‘Sun Hill’ – North House has been given a prime spot in town. Just minutes from the bustling high street, as well as the sea. The bus stop is just around the corner, and the views from all aspects of the hotel are second-to-none.

The Rooms:


With just 14 rooms in the hotel I’d be surprised if you could find one that disappoints. They’re decked out with romantic fireplaces, pillows to-die-for, quintessentially beautiful bed linen and views of the sea — could you ask for anything more?

Oh wait.. to top it off you’ve got Cowshed Spa toiletries to use until your heart is content. (It might be cheeky – but take some refill bottles and take away some of the lotions and potions with you to remind you of your stay – don’t take their bottles.. unless you want to fit the bill)

The Food:


North House oozes seaside chic with its in-house restaurant – The Oyster Store! The food was quite simply, sublime. We opted for dinner and breakfast in the hotel and neither left us disappointed. The specials menu is full of the fresh catch of the day (and really choosing anything other than fish when on the IOW would be a mistake).

For dessert, in my eyes there’s no competition for the sticky toffee pudding & salted caramel ice cream. But if you’re looking for a savoury option, the cheese board won’t disappoint.

The breakfast offered a variety of choices from the ‘market table’ (yoghurt, fresh fruit, cereals, toast etc) as well as the choice of a variety of hot options (think avo, smoked salmon, eggs benny, the whole shabam!)

TOP TIP: If the seafood chowder is on the specials menu – order it!

The Drinks:


They outdid themselves on the cocktail front, offering not only sublime tasting cocktails, but also at a very decent price! (For a Londoner anyway). If you’re a gin fan (& female) opt for ‘The Pink One’. It’s even served with ‘Mermaids Gin’ – the only gin distilled on the island.

The Facilities:


For a small boutique hotel, they really outdo themselves on ‘the added extras’. The sun-trap pool was huge hit, with French Riviera style loungers & towels to match! It’s heated all year round, so no excuses.

If you’re heading in the winter they’ve got a cosy fire pit, complete with blankets on the terrace. The perfect setting for a glass of rosé and a toasted marshmallow!

With Cowes high street on your doorstep you won’t be struggling for things to do. Take a stroll to Gurnard Beach – or head off to Queen Victoria’s old summer stomping ground at Osborne House. Both well within reach by foot from the hotel doorstep.

The Service:


The front of house team were a godsend – they couldn’t have offered to do more and they truly were the most friendly bunch.

Being such a young hotel, it’s inevitable there’s to be a few teething issues, and this seemed to be on the ‘new staff’ front. Not sure if it was that we chose to go at the end of the summer (perhaps when the new staff were joining) but there was a lot of newbies on the team. Whilst I’ll give them their due that they were trying their best, there were moments where you’d have thought a bit of ‘prior training’ could’ve been of use, before letting them loose on the main affair.

But don’t get me wrong – this hotel is a winner. From arriving to departing, everything was tip top!

The Habit Hunter x

Travel To | Madrid

STAY


1. The Principal – For 5* boutique luxury in the heart of the city.
2. Hotel Urso – For top-notch dining on your doorstep.
3. Hotel Orfila – For a small but stunning palace of delights.
4. 7 Islas – For affordable chic just of Gran Via.
5. Only You – For Veuve-Cliquot fiends & chic shoppers.

COFFEE 


1. Toma Café
2. HanSo Café
3. La Bicicleta
4. Federal Café

BRUNCH


1. Habanera
2. Federal Café
3. Panela & Co
4. Olivia Te Cuida
5. Cristina Oria

HEALTHY SPOTS


1. RawCoco
2. Juice Lab
3. FitFood
4. Juicy Avenue

DINNER


1. Habanera – For designer dining amongst the most beautiful setting.
2. Peyote San – For a Mexican-Japanese fusion of flavours.
3. Grama Lounge – For a casual South American vibe with a great cocktail menu & to-die-for nachos.
4. StreetXO – For an unreal evening! It’s well worth the wait!
5. Juana La Loca – For 5* tapas worthy of the Michelin star.

COCKTAILS


1. Amazonico – If you can manage to get a table – GO GO GO!
2. Ramses Life – For Philippe Stark slick design & a people-watching hot spot!
3. Tartan Roof – For unrivalled views of the city.
4. Terraza Room Mate Oscar – For a chic roof top with generous G&Ts.
5. Grama Lounge – For deliciously decadent cocktails in a relaxed setting.

DO


1. Row a boat in Retiro
2. Take a stroll through La Latina
3. Indulge in a cup of chocolate & churros at San Gines
4. Ramble in the food markets at Platea & Mercado de San Ildefonso
5. Sip a cocktail on a roof top terrace at Room Mate Oscar or Tartan Roof
6. Eat every flavour of gelato at Kalua Heladeria – The coco will make you loco!

The Habit Hunter x