The destination for all destinations. Founded by partners in life and love, Guy Hellier and Katrina Israel, CuriousCities is the ultimate insiders guide for where you’d rather be. We all know that the best travel tips don’t come from city guides, blogs or Lonely Planets, they come via word of mouth from likeminded people. The trouble is, this can often mean hounding friends for the name and address of that restaurant they don’t remember because they were a little too tipsy on “the best martinis ever” – the street was cobble-stoned though, the same one as that famous patisserie, they think. Thanks, likeminded friend.
This is why CuriousCities is kind of ingenious. It collates detailed lists and tips from your chosen network of fellow travellers who have trod similar paths, who are interested in similar things, so you can map out your itinerary based on specific recommendations from trusted curators. And it’s user-generated and interactive, which means it’s constantly evolving. You can even enter your travel dates and destinations to see which of your friends are where and when – no Facebook shout-out required. Brilliant.
Guy and Katrina take a moment to chat to RUSSH about avoiding Croc-clad tourists, why a kettle should be in everyone’s luggage, and where to find the biggest Sicilian olives.
Tell me a bit about CuriousCities and the concept behind it?
It's a boutique travel community where friends can save, rank and share their favourite finds – which we call "travel truffles" – with the click of a button. We think of it as an edited version of the touristy recommendation websites that rate the obvious attractions and chain restaurants. It’s invitation-only to keep the content relevant to our demographic.
How did you guys meet and what made you decide to collaborate together on the project?
We met in Ibiza, which is funny considering we grew up a couple of streets away from each other in Sydney. On our first trip together we drove around Tuscany and somewhere between the tourist buses and zimmer frames of San Gimignano we decided that there must be a better way to cross reference travel tips. Living in London we travel a lot and we’re constantly researching and asking friends for their must-dos. We wanted somewhere convenient to file them online that you could access while you were planning from home and also use on-the-go when away.
How is CuriousCities different to other travel websites and city guides?
Building on Katrina’s editorial background we knew that we wanted CuriousCities to be a user-generated, interactive platform that our friends could use easily, and add to with their own travel truffles, rather than a blog of ‘our’ recommendations. So instead of writing long articles about places we like, we do bite-size films, which takes in my background, of the best bits for Instagram. Secondly, city guides are great, but again you need to store the info somewhere and places close, or get overrun by Croc-clad tourists. We wanted something that adapted constantly – hence the trending bar on the homepage that reflects what’s happening inside. Within, each destination has aggregate rankings of what the community likes most, so if your friends haven’t been there yet, then the wider CuriousCities community is there to help. And we also wanted to get away from the cluttered design of most travel platforms, and so developed a clean list format – it’s all about timesaving. Our favourite tool is the Friend Finder, as we were always just missing mates – you’d find out from their Instagram that they’d been there yesterday. So once you’re connected on CC, you simply enter your upcoming travel dates, and it will cross-reference with the cities that your friends are visiting.
What are your travel essentials?
Katrina Israel: A travel kettle - I live on green tea and not all hotels in Europe have tea facilities in their rooms. Similarly, when you ask for a takeaway tea in Italy (or anywhere outside of France on the continent) it comes in a plastic cup like the ones that accompany a water cooler. It’s a fail taste-wise, and is also dangerous on the fingertips. But kettle aside, my MacBook, a multipurpose Turkish towel and Comme des Garçons jewellery/make-up/money purses that double as clutch bags.
Guy Hellier: My Billingham camera bag, data roaming, Master & Dynamic headphones, Google Cardboard, lots of blue shirts, Tod's and Air Max.
If you could only travel to one destination for the rest of your life, what would it be?
GH: Ibiza – every time
KI: The Amalfi Coast because you get the trifecta of Capri, Positano and Ravello. And sand is entirely over-rated. Give me a rock to jump off any day, white lace linens, hand-painted crockery, massive Sicilian olives and blazing sunsets over the Bay of Naples.