7 Travel Resources for Food Lovers
As the travel leg of Gilt Groupe, the flash sale experts, Jetsetter is as stylish as it is useful. Finding deals as good as theirs (nights from $220 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York and from $206 at Hotel Montalembert in Paris) is a great way to kick off a holiday. But where they excel, and differentiate from other flash sale travel sites, is with their trip-planning services that include custom itineraries and in-house booking help. So instead of just finding a great hotel and calling it a day, they use their expertise (they also have Gilt City and Gilt Taste to draw from) to provide the full spectrum of where to go, what to eat, what to see, and when to do it all. They’ll also book private homestays for members, that range from wallet-friendly choices (villas for less than $100/person, anyone?) to high-end homes with amazing views.
Tip: It’s free to become a member, so start by logging in and checking out hotels that pique your interest. Then scroll down to read their “what to know” tips about the hotel and its surroundings.
Even traveling gastronomes need the overarching help of a site like Kayak to get their travels off the ground. It’s user-friendly and regularly churns out better deals than its flight-and-hotel-search counterparts. And beyond that, they have straightforward city guides to a heap of their most popular destinations. Their guides include smart tips for first-time travelers, a list of cheap flight deals to that destination, a list of 10 highly recommended eateries (that run the gamut from budget to luxury), a list of attractions, and access to the best local deals in that city. While they’re not going to book restaurant reservations for you, their simple guides help you hit the ground running as soon as you arrive.
Tip: Check out their daily deals, where you’ll often find hotels offering packages that include food and drink or savings on flights.
Trufflepig is probably the most food oriented custom trip planner around (with perhaps the exception of Purple Truffle, which is exclusive to France and Italy). They plan custom trips that are unique and reliant on a member’s tastes, whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, cooking
lessons, or a lazy beach trip. The goal at Trufflepig is to dig just a bit deeper than the rest of the travel-resource pack to find the cream of the crop for their clients — whether that’s helping you decide what to order at the best hole-in-the-wall or giving tips for finding great, wallet-friendly travel deals on your own.
Tip: Read through their online travel magazine, The Sounder, to get an idea of the cool activities and locales they’ll include in custom itineraries. Also, they’re a small group and don’t plan trips where they haven’t been, so while their list is long, it’s not unlimited. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/UmbriaLovers)
True boutique hotel experts, Mr. and Mrs. Smith cherry-pick each hotel they feature to be sure they’re only recommending and getting the best rates for the cream of the crop. On top of that, they grant access to perks and upgrades that are exclusive to Smith members, like a private tour of the hotel’s kitchen, a complimentary bottle of prosecco, or an indulgent spa treatment. From a tiny boutique hotel in Romania to seaside villas in Thailand, their range is exhaustive and their commentary is juicy and detailed. They’ve also got an Eating & Drinking section in every destination guide, where they recommend restaurants, cafés, and bars around the world with little notes on why they chose them.
Tip: Before becoming a member, look through their generous guides and tips for really useful information like tipping practices, the best books to read before your trip, a hotel’s ideal dress code, and local foods to try. You’ll feel like an expert when you reel off the knowledge and it’ll make you want those extra perks.
For architecture buffs, design hunters, and food lovers, Wallpaper* City Guides are the classic choice, whether you prefer the feel of an actual book in your hand or want to download the city guide app. Only 10 cities are available as apps at the moment (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris, Rome, and Tokyo), but they’ve published more than 80 guides to cities
around the world in their signature small, bright, and colorful book format. Inside, they offer tips on how to navigate a city (what each neighborhood is like), what local foods to try and where, what the must-sees are if you only have 48 hours there, and the top spots for a quick getaway from the city, should you need one. Their suggestions are consistently spot on and are often gleaned from in-the-know locals.
Tip: Unfortunately, they don’t put much in the way of suggestions or favorite places on their web site, so you’ll have to browse the books in-store before you purchase. They come with a handful of blank pages at the back for you to take notes on what you liked and what you wish you’d skipped. (Photo courtesy of Jane Bruce)