Having narrowed down your choice of holiday to country, and then city, how on earth do you decide on the neighbourhood in which to rest your head?
Unless you're lucky enough to have a globetrotting friend in situ or spare hours in which to wade through several online guides, it's usually a tricky question. Central, touristy, the hotel that's on special offer but appears to be an hour's bus ride from anything you've deemed a must-see?
Now Airbnb has released a list of the most up-and-coming areas in cities worldwide based on booking data from the website's 40 million users – identifying Chuo-ku in Osaka, Japan, as the neighbourhood that should be top of your 2016 travel hit list.
According to the website's travel trends report, which takes into account rising bookings in increasingly popular cities and countries, Chuo-ku has seen a 7,000 per cent uptick in bookings over the past year thanks to its huge volume of shopping options, buzzing nightlife and impressive gastronomy.
The list of 16 neighbourhoods, which you can see in full below, is made up of areas surging in popularity thanks to factors such as an exciting arts scene, as in Richmond, Melbourne (15th on the list), which is known for its street art.
Other neighbourhoods, such as Constitución, Buenos Aires (16th) and Capucins in Bordeaux (4th), attract keen foodies, while top-notch shopping brings travellers to District VII in Budapest, Hungary (13th) and Poncey Highland in Atlanta, US (12th).
See the full list below.
Airbnb's top 16 neighbourhoods worldwide
1. Chūō-ku in Osaka, Japan
With more than 300 stores, Chuo-ku’s shopping is incredible, but Osaka Castle, built in the 16th century, is also worth a visit. A gastronome’s dream, Kuromon Market is known to locals as “Osaka’s Kitchen” for good reason and Airbnb hosts recommend turning off the busy shopping street of Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai to find the izakayas serving up fantastic food.
2. Banglampoo in Bangkok, Thailand
Khaosan Road is an ever-evolving marketplace and bar scene popular with travellers, but there's more to this north Bangkok neighbourhood than fish spas and henna tattoos – locally famous noodle shops on the bottom floors of apartment buildings and tucked-away on quiet side streets. In the Rattanakosin area, you’ll find Wat Phra Kaew – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, housing said statue carved from a single block of jade.
3. Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Known locally as Little India, Brickfields is undergoing a rapid transformation with a new upscale urban centre, but the locals visit Maha Vihara Temple for peace and relaxation, while you’ll find Indian restaurants at every turn. Banana leaf rice and curry puffs are popular snacks for a cheap bite in Brickfields and there are tonnes of vegetarian options.
4. Capucins in Bordeaux, France
Capucins is known as “the belly of Bordeaux,” so while the region is known for wine, Capucins is known for food. Most travellers start the day waiting in line with locals for fresh baguettes and jésuites (almond pastries), and the city’s major attraction is the Marché des Capucins, where people for oysters, tagine dishes, tapas and fresh produce. Meanwhile, Rue Sainte-Catherine is France's longest pedestrian shopping street.
5. Koukaki in Athens, Greece
Adjacent to The Acropolis, Koukaki – like all great neighbourhoods in Greece – is home to ancient treasures. In recent years, two pedestrian-only streets have cropped, Drakou and Olymbou, making it a fantastic destination for a wander on foot – especially now that streets have turned into a hub of outdoor cafes and restaurants.
6. Triana in Seville, Spain
Triana is almost an escape of its own in Seville, with some residents claiming to have never set foot across the canal in greater Seville. The district is known for its sailors, bullfighters, flamenco artists and azulejos – ceramic tiles made in local workshops originally using mud from the riverbank. The neighbourhood’s compact cobbled streets come alive with fantastic restaurants and terraces overlooking the water.
7. Hammerbrook in Hamburg, Germany
The Hammerbrook neighbourhood in Hamburg is an attractive mix of urban residential, industrial, and natural areas. It’s local nickname of “Hammerbrooklyn” after the New York borough is quite a change from its former tag “Little Venice” (thanks to the small canals winding throughout). Its modernity is expressed through the Berliner Bogen, a glass building shaped like an arc, and the Hammerbrook train station, made to look like a running train.
8. Kaneohe on Oahu, US
If the drive through the jungle passage to get to Kaneohe doesn’t convince you that you are in paradise, the lush, green village should do the trick. Hawaii is no stranger to beaches and beautiful hikes, and Kaneohe has its fair share. Friendship Gardens is a trail consisting of a few loops that lead up to a ridge with spectacular views the higher you climb. Another local favorite is Chinaman’s Hat, an island viewable from a public beach comprised of local beach-goers.
9. Meireles in Fortaleza, Brazil
If gazing out into emerald waters is of interest, look no further than the Meireles neighbourhood. The city stretches 20 kilometres down the coast, and has a budding reputation for its restaurants and late-night spots. Fortaleza is also known for its crop of comedians and the forró music and dance – virtually any day of the week you can find a party with live music.
10. Roma Sur in Mexico City, Mexico
Roma Sur is an area revolving around tradition and daily routine. Historically an aristocratic hub, visitors will now see the streets teeming with people. Those who want to live like a local can buy fruit from street vendors, grab lunch at Mercado Medellín, or simply sit back and sip coffee at one of the many family-run shops. Locals recommend Vertigo Galeria – part modern gallery space, part workspace, and part music venue that teaches printmaking, ceramics, film, and showcases up-and-coming Mexican arts.
11. Oak Lawn in Dallas, US
Oak Lawn is filled with parks, and its streets are lined with coffee houses and restaurants. For those wanting to enjoy the outdoors, the Katy Trail is a paved jogging and biking trail that is kept well-lit 24 hours a day. Klyde Warren Park has free live music every Thursday, while there are awesome food trucks for sustenance. Another place to check out is The Magnolia, an independent movie theatre and the only theatre in Dallas that has a bar inside.
12. Poncey-Highland in Atlanta, US
Many hosts recommend visiting the Beltline Trail, which helped make the neighbourhood more pedestrian-friendly and now hosts art exhibitions. Walk along North Highland for cute local boutiques, such as Youngblood, which features items made by local designers. When wandering around, keep your eye out for the King of Pops, a fresh-made popsicle cart - you can’t miss its giant rainbow umbrella.
13. District VII in Budapest, Hungary
District VII, more commonly known as Erzsébetváros, is the old Jewish quarter and home to beautiful synagogues and architecture. It became a central figure in Budapest nightlife when people began transforming old buildings and derelict public spaces into popular ‘ruin bars’ in the early noughties. Craft beers are having a moment across the globe and Budapest hosts recommend popping in to Csakajósör Kft for some of the best local brews.
14. The Bukit Peninsula on Bali, Indonesia
The Bukit has the best of beach and culture. The gorgeous beaches draw the world’s best surfers, while the area is also home to the famous cliff-hanging temple at Uluwatu. People come to The Bukit for the scenery, not the scene, so there isn’t much in terms of nightlife. For music, travellers should head to Single Fin in Uluwatu, where you’ll find surfers hanging out and watching the sunset.
15. Richmond in Melbourne, Australia
Vietnamese noodle stalls, Greek taverns, and classic Australian pubs all line the main streets of Richmond. This culinary- and culturally-diverse neighbourhood also boasts hip bars, farmers’ markets and shopping destinations. Art is ever present, from the fantastical murals that grace the walls to the myriad galleries that line the streets.
16. Constitución in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Constitución is undergoing a revival. It is a central neighbourhood known for its relentlessly local feel, and still has some edges to it. Peruse its congested avenues, casual parrillas, and convenient electronics stalls, and check out the growing arts and music scene and is home to some of the famous milonga clubs, including host-recommended Lo De Celia and Nino Bien. Foodies will definitely find a home here too.
Images: Airbnb, Thinkstock, Rex Features