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Get into the Sustainable Swing of 2023: The Lesser Known Neighborhoods for Vintage and Thrift Shopping

With rising cost of living across the world, thrifting and shopping for secondhand treasures is becoming increasingly popular. Thrifting is a more sustainable alternative to fast fashion, often more affordable and can be great fun, especially when traveling to new and lesser known destinations. According to our recent research 80%* travelers want to enjoy community-minded travel - traveling to support or find out about local communities, cultures, and traditions, a trend which goes hand in hand with a sustainable minded explorer. 

Our research also reveals that almost half (48%)* of travelers think climate change will impact the way they plan their vacations and 53%* are planning to be more thrifty during their travels in 2023. Well-known cities across the world unsurprisingly have a wealth of options for travelers when it comes to vintage, thrift and sustainable shopping, however we are shining a light on five lesser known areas within these popular destinations to showcase the secret spots where it’s easier to avoid the crowds, grab a bargain and experience neighborhoods that are under the radar (for now). 

Neal’s Yard - London, United Kingdom 

Hidden away in the center of London in a colorful corner of Covent Garden is Neal's Yard, a small micro-village full of independent restaurants, bars, cafés and vintage shops. Travelers who are lucky enough to find this hidden gem will be rewarded with a little haven that offers everything from pizza to jeans…and every business is committed to sustainable and ethical commercial practices. While the idea of finding hidden gems is on the agenda, why not enjoy an Immersive Treasure Hunt Experience exploring London's hidden gems in a unique way. Using a downloadable app, embark on a virtual treasure hunt that will take travelers through the city’s historical sites during less busy periods and experience places that are not on the usual London city tourist map. 

Where to stay: With the money saved from thrifty shopping, stay at The Londoner which features a stunning guest-only club, six concept restaurants and bars including a rooftop lounge, a spa with pool, gym, superfood clinic and beauty salon. This beautiful hotel is located in Leicester Square, only a short walk from Neal’s Yard as well as many of other London's popular spots such as Soho, Covent Garden, and Trafalgar Square. 

Suarezstrasse - Berlin, Germany 

The neighborhood of Suarezstrasse stretches from Sophie-Charlotte-Platz to Dernburgstrasse in Berlin's Charlottenburg district and is the starting point for lovers of old treasures. The street is full of history and is lined with over 30 boutique shops offering antiques, collectibles and collector's items from all walks of life. Whether cupboards from the Biedermeier period, paintings, fashion from the 1920s, design objects or simply beautiful knick-knacks, just look, and it can be found. Many shops on Suarezstrasse and their owners have turned a very personal passion into their profession making it the perfect place to support locals and enjoy community involvement. For those interested in even more history, a trip to Berlin would not be complete without a visit to the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall Guided Tour will educate travelers on why it was built, what led to its fall and what life was like on both sides. 

Where to stay: About: Berlin Hotel is a contemporary-style hotel located close to Berlin’s famous Kurfürstendamm boulevard where plenty of vintage and antique shops can be found. This area has the hustle and bustle of Berlin, but still away from the crowds. Suarezstrasse is a pleasant stroll away and for guests who don’t want to go too far this Travel Sustainable property hotel has many shops, restaurants and bars nearby.

El Raval - Barcelona, Spain 

Barcelona is not only a popular vacation destination, it is also home to some of the best vintage clothes shops in Spain. Between eating delicious tapas or going for a swim in one of the many beaches, travelers can take the time to visit one of the many local shops filled with carefully selected vintage clothes, bags, jewelry and shoes in El Raval,a vibrant multicultural neighborhood in the heart of Barcelona known for its streetwear style, record stores and skate shops. El Raval is an area with cutting-edge exhibitions at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, bohemian bars, hip design shops and street art fill the streets with fun and local love. Besides this vibrant neighborhood, this beautiful Spanish city has so much more to offer. Travelers can join a guided tour of Gaudí’s multicolored masterpiece with fantastic views of the city. Skipping the long queues, people will get to admire many works of Gaudí's art adorned with ceramics, glass and marble mosaic tiles.

Where to stay: Rambla 102 is located just off the popular street Las Ramblas  and a short walk to the center of El Ravel. This Travel Sustainable property offers modern and bright apartments with views of the Ramblas. With its central location, there are plenty of bars, tapas restaurants and of course shops to get busy thrifting all within a walking distance and also not too far from the main Barcelona attractions like Casa Batlló, Park Güell, and La Sagrada Familia. 

Brera - Milan, Italy 

Brera is a district of Milan where art, fashion, vintage shopping and design merge, creating a unique atmosphere. Brera is known as the artists’ quarter of Milan because of its art school, historic museum-gallery, and contemporary art galleries and studios. For any traveler on the search for unique vintage finds, Brera is the place to find it with shops like Cavalli e Nastri, Urzì Vintage Selection, and Bottega Rossa supplying vintage fashion options from 1920-1990. After some extensive vintage shopping in Brera, and with the famous Duomo only a short walk away, it's the perfect excuse to enjoy a Duomo Rooftop Tour. On this tour, travelers will be able to explore the terraces of the Duomo with a local guide. After meeting the guide, travelers will get a chance to inspect the endless details of the Cathedral’s facade and overlook the city's busy antics below. 

Where to stay: Hotel Milano Scala is a carbon-neutral, eco-friendly hotel and just a short walk from the Brera district. This property holds a Travel Sustainable badge for the efforts it has taken to offer guests a more sustainable stay, and  has a panoramic terrace, open throughout the year and available for guests to relax on. Each room at Hotel Milano Scala is decorated to reflect a famous opera from throughout the years bringing even more history into this city break. 

Ekkamai - Bangkok, Thailand 

Bangkok has lots to offer when it comes to thrift and vintage shopping options, but avoiding the busy tourist areas is key to experiencing community minded travel. The neighborhood of Ekkamai is an up-and-coming district that’s worth a visit for those looking for an alternative to city-center experiences. Ekkamai is equipped with some of the best second-hand shopping. For an abundance of leather goods and incredibly cool shoes, thrifty visitors should really have this on their travel wish list. And when in Bangkok, a tour to explore the Risky Market and Amphawa Floating Market is a great way to experience more of Thailand’s local culture. At Risky Market, travelers will see a train periodically push through a busy market while shopkeepers rush to pull up their vegetables and meat out of the way. At the Amphawa Floating Market, travelers will enjoy the sight of hundreds of paddle boats selling traditional Thai food by the river.

Where to stay: Hide and Seek Boutique Hometel is only a short  walk to the vintage shops in Ekkamai. This Travel Sustainable hotel features a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center. This cozy bed & breakfast offers guests a beautiful home away from home, and due to its central location perfect to explore the city by foot.

*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.