Travel is defined as "to go from one place to another," but there's much more depth to that. It's the act of escaping one reality for a brief dalliance in another, be it across the globe or down the block. It's a weekend in a boutique hotel downtown, or a month-long odyssey in a far-away land — it's all about the act of escape, and the experience.
Travel is one of the world's largest industries, which explains the ceaseless cacophony surrounding travel on the web. There are hundreds upon hundreds of booking websites, where you can rank hotel rooms based on unimportant things like ice machines and wi-fi signal strength. Flight flash sale emails, with screaming headlines like LAX-PHX FROM $129, pile up in millions of inboxes. The bottomless pits of Yelp and TripAdvisor have become practically useless, due to the imminent demise of the Personal Review. Instagrammers flood feeds with carefully-edited bikini beach shots, complete with trivial hashtags and minimal useful information. Endless travel blogs tell you how to see everything you're "supposed" to see on just dollars a day — hooray?
Where does that leave us? By "us," I mean those of us who are searching for something more. We're the ones looking for the hidden cafés that the locals hang out in, the one-off hotels masterfully designed by the best of the best, and the independent shops that feature local makers, creatives and artists. One-night-only gallery events, cutting-edge fashion shows, and excursions beyond the normal and expected.
That's why I created Chouf Chouf. It's for you — the design-savvy adventurer, looking for a different way to look at travel. Chouf Chouf comes from Arabic — شوف (shuf) means "look!" and chouffer is an obscure French verb that means "to be on the lookout." Thus, I am constantly on the hunt for the coolest, the most chic and the unseen. I have found and hand-picked a truly talented group of people to share their knowledge alongside mine — they're the Editors. Paris, NYC, Los Angeles and many more to come. They're the tastemakers and coolhunters in their respective cities, and we'll be sharing exclusive pieces from other incredible people within their circles. We'll also be sharing our favorite places — bars, restaurants, hotels, shops — including important architecture and interior spaces you shouldn't miss. Our super-chic Style Editor will keep you looking fantastic with reports from the fashion trenches, and collections of travel essentials. On top of all of that, I'll be sharing some of our favorite travel tips and techniques — how do you plan a five-country, two-week trip? I'll tell you — and I'll tell you how to do it while making it look easy. We're also not fans of strict itineraries or guided tours. Our favorite noun in French is le flâneur, the wanderer — it's the best way to experience a new place, so we'll show you how to wander intelligently. I'll leave you with a tease: in a few months, we'll be releasing our own City Editions — guidebooks for those who hate guidebooks.
Most importantly, we'll be sharing personal and poignant stories from across the globe — day-to-day life as an LGBT person in Morocco, a series of personal journals of China in 1984, a glimpse into San Francisco as it was in the 70s, and video diaries of the real Los Angeles. Travel writing, rethought.
I'm so, so excited to share my passion with all of you — and I hope I inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and explore, be it your own city or one you've never seen before. I'm headed to Europe and North Africa mid-September — be sure to follow along at our Live page, or on Instagram @lechoufchouf. Also, I'm always looking for collaborators so if you feel like you have a great scoop for CC or want to share the secrets of your city, please reach out!
That's the end of Letter N° 1 — the first of many, many to come.