What makes a place
an unmissable experience?
I am often asked "what makes a place cool?"and "How can my space achieve a standard of excellence?", and sometimes "what’s the criteria for becoming a referenced cool spot?".
When I started this adventure of selecting the best experiences in a city, whether in Lisbon or in NY, I had to think very carefully about what is, after all, a cool experience? In fact, a recommendation is always a mark of quality. Therefore, I established some basic criteria, as well as taking into consideration that something Cool is always more about something that you feel and less about something that you can explain.
Respect for the details and criteria ranging from universal hygiene, cleanliness and decor, to the staff’s attitude and efficiency, food, service, atmosphere, value, appearance, passion... and the feeling that is interpreted when all these factors come together.
I add new elements regularly, in order to make it easier to recognize what transforms a common place into an unmissable experience.
The Coolest spots
The Coolest spots are presented on each city’s website and used in the apps, so that those who wish to discover the city, can have a great experience and, of course, create unforgettable memories.
I only recommend places where the best experiences occur. The spots that I visit, but do not consider to be the best experience possible, are not even mentioned. I believe that only the best should be experienced.
Often, the places that are published and referred attract media attention, and that makes me extremely proud!
Price is not a decisive factor: here you’ll find everything from the smallest and strangest spot, but with a great experience; to the best 5-star hotel in the city, which also has to provide an outstanding experience.
Criteria for non-public places (restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels ...):
The place’s cleanliness and hygiene
- The overall space must be clean.
- In terms of accommodation, towels and bed sheets must be spotless, and have a fresh aroma.
- In terms of accommodation, the availability of utilities that go beyond basic (ex: combs, feminine hygiene products, lotions, creams, slippers, fresh fruit, chocolates, open bar, fresh water, customer pampering upon arrival) are always an added value.
- The room must be cleaned before another customer arrives.
- The reception area should be clean, smell good, and be a welcoming place.
- Atmosphere and sound should be in harmony.
- Crockery, glasses, napkins and cutlery must not have defects; they must be clean and consistent with the space.
- The menu should be updated, consistent with the place’s atmosphere, should not contain spelling mistakes and be in good condition.
- Food and drink should be in line with expectations: memorable.
- Employees should be presentable, and in accordance with the space.
- The bathrooms should be clean and fresh, and contain the basics: toilet paper, towels, paper towels, hand dryer, soap, moisturizing hand lotion...
- The space must show that the common areas are attractive and cared for.
Decor and Atmosphere
- The floors and walls should comply with the place’s style and boast an appealing decor.
- Tables and chairs should comply with the place’s style and help create the desired atmosphere.
- Fresh flowers should always be fresh.
- There should be consistency between the space and all its decorative elements.
- The dishes, crockery, cutlery, napkins, menus must comply with the space’s concept.
- On arrival and departure: friendly, attentive, presentable, welcoming, greet and part with a genuine smile.
- Should portray the passion that corresponds to the space’s vision.
- Should know how to help, and explain any questions that the customer might have.
- Should know how to explain all the options, and how to help make the best choice, according to each customer.
- Should make the customer feel special.
- Orders must be processed within a reasonable period of time.
- The customer should be the first priority: be friendly, caring and speak to the customer without being inappropriate.
- Should make sure that the customer is satisfied and if anything else is needed.
- Should explain anything that the customer questions, and should always know what a certain dish or drink or service comprises. This is especially important in a restaurant.
- Should ask if there is any food that the customer does not like or is allergic to.
Food and drink
- The freshness of the ingredients, the taste of the food is essential.
- The right temperature of the dish.
- An explanation of the dish should be made.
- Suggestions should be balanced.
- The cutlery should be changed according to each dish.
- Receive criticism with positivity.
- Change the dish immediately if the person does not like it or is unhappy about something.
- The presentation is careful and in agreement with everything else.
- Imagination and creativity in presentation and plating.
- A passion for food.
- Is the space nice, appealing, with a unique decor that is consistent with the whole concept?
- Does the customer feel welcomed? Does the customer want to return?
- The price should reflect the quality and quantity, as well as the entire experience.
Knowledge of food and drink
Especially important in restaurants.
- The staff should know the difference between the dishes, the ingredients and the confection process.
- The staff must know how to advise the customer, according to their preferences.
- The staff should know what options exist to replace a certain food or drink.
- The staff should maintain a friendly posture in whatever space they may be.
- In terms of beverages, they should be able to explain the type of drink, its origin, suggest substitutes, and advise the customer in accordance with the best available option.
- Is there a person specialized in drinks?
- Menus should be descriptive and enlightening about the existing options and availability.
Accommodation atmosphere and details
- The aroma should be always fresh and welcoming.
- The sheets, towels and utilities should not show any kind of prior use.
- The space should have a decor that is consistent with the rest of the place and its concept.
- The bed should be comfortable.
- Sound should be adjusted to space: for example, there should be no noise in the bedroom.
- Breakfast should surprise.
- Was your wish anticipated, offered and provided?
- Staff should always be attentive to guest's needs and requisites.
- Staff or owner should do the honors and receive each guest as if he were the only one.
- Welcoming / checking in a guest should take the least amount of time possible.
- Welcoming the guest with a drink or a snack is always a plus.
- The operational details should be explained to the guest, and the staff/owner should display availability for any eventuality.
- Is coffee, water, tea, snacks, welcome treats provided in the room?
- Are magazines offered?
- Would I love to return to this place?
- Is a coherent concept felt?
- Would I highly recommend this place?
- If I was to ask for a snack in the room after hours, is there someone who can provide it?
A public space can vary a great deal, visiting a monument, feeling the vibration of a city at a certain point, should be worth it, and should be memorable. So, for you, only the best!
Is it memorable?
- Would you return to this place during your next visit?
- Would you recommend this spot to someone else?
- Can you feel the city and the city’s livelihood here?
- It is more than a tourist spot: is it a cool spot?
- Will this be a lasting memory?
- If you could, would you spend more time here?
- Would it be worth traveling just to visit this place?