Every year, we poll thousands of people around the world to find the world’s coolest neighborhoods: the places that embody the spirit of the world’s greatest cities. These are the places to go for food and entertainment, art and culture, atmosphere and character. Every year, there is much debate and much love. Here are the coolest neighborhoods in the world.
The Coolest Neighborhoods in the World
Esquerra de l’Eixample, Barcelona
Barcelona’s sprawling Eixample district is divided into two distinct sections – and while the Dreta de l’Eixample usually gets all the attention, with its dazzling luxury shops and spectacular modernista buildings, Esquerra de l’Eixample will be the focus in 2020.
This residential and down-to-earth section of the Eixample has distinctive architecture, with each block of flats featuring its own interior courtyard. During the city’s strict lockdown, these spaces became focal points for the city’s energy, such as the pop-up Hidrogel Sessions, in which residents dressed up in costumes and organized mass dance parties from their balconies.
Downtown, Los Angeles
There’s a version of this year in L.A.’s revitalized city center that would have only been about MOCA – the Museum of Contemporary Art – dropping admission fees and the new Hoxton hotel stacking hazelnut pancakes. What a sought-after co-working space While the Donut Man prepared its legendary strawberry-filled doughnuts across the street at Grand Central Market, NeueHouse relocated to the mezzanine of the beautiful Bradbury Building.
Instead, this was the most difficult year in Los Angeles’ recent history, and in a city with no single, central gathering place, Downtown became its supportive soul. Following Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, wreaths, candles, and a quiet togetherness engulfed Los Angeles. Live in the plaza. When the pandemic kept us doomscrolling at home, the Broad museum provided some virtual Infinity Room peace, and the now-closed Broken Spanish restaurant vacuum-sealed tamales and fed undocumented restaurant workers.
Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
Sham Shui Po, one of Hong Kong’s oldest districts known for its textile industry, has recently been revitalized by young creatives. Traditional street vendors, historical buildings, and fabric shops – frequented by international designers such as Versace and Calvin Klein – still exist, alongside Michelin-starred restaurants such as Kung Wo Tofu Factory and third-generation family-run noodle shop Lau Sum Kee Noodle. On weekends, Hongkongers flock to the area to eat, drink, and check out the art scene.
Phvlo Hatch: a three-story former textile shop now housing sustainable coffee shop Colour Brown as well as Phvlo, a fashion design platform promoting sustainability through fashion upcycling, and Hatch, a local NGO dedicated to empowering the underprivileged, coexists harmoniously with old fixtures.
Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York
Bed-Stuy is a historic neighborhood with leafy residential streets that pulse with a sense of community and tradition: lively conversations on stoops, blocks that feel like extended families, and rows of ancient Victorian brownstones. However, this year, the neighborhood was dubbed “New York’s Greatest Future Incubator.” Bed-Stuy, long a cultural center for the city’s Black population, served as a major hub for Black Lives Matter protests. In the aftermath of Covid-19’s devastation, it gave birth to mutual aid networks such as Bed-Stuy Strong to protect its most vulnerable members.
Sorry, Sydney: Melbourne has always been Australia’s cultural capital. However, the city’s cornerstones – live music, café culture, world-class arts and restaurants – have been put on hold due to two tough lockdowns in 2020. On the other hand, Melbourne’s community spirit has never been stronger, and the westside suburb of Yarraville best exemplifies that.
It’s summed up in two lockdown stories. To begin, Yarraville resident Lee Smith-Moir began placing adorable ‘happy signs’ on walking tracks in the area to cheer up residents during the state’s second lockdown. Then there’s skater Belle Hadiwidjaja, who has been skating through the streets in various costumes to keep families entertained on their daily walks.
Neighborhoods in Berlin like Neukölln, Kreuzberg, and Mitte are known for their here-today, gone-tomorrow carousel of faddish restaurants and shops, but the slower pace is here to stay in Wedding. Its multicultural, multigenerational community, located north-west of the city center, remains loyal to local businesses, ranging from independent grocers to upstart street food spots.
Along with longtime favorites such as Asia Deli on Seestraße, newcomers such as vegan-friendly Italian Sotto, homestyle Taiwanese joint Cozymazu, and Ernst (which used lockdown to renovate its premises and revamp its Michelin-starred menu) have quickly established themselves as popular local hangouts.