Why I love my home town
For many people, where they live is a real source of pride, so to celebrate that home town love we’ve rounded up a few frequent flyers from around the globe to share their local stories and explain why it should be top of your next trip list
Check country entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel
Who: Actor, Pilou Asbæk
When people say their home city is the best city in the world, that’s how I feel. Copenhagen is small, it’s intimate, it’s old. I love this city so much because I love my home country and Denmark is very well represented in Copenhagen. People used to call it a mixture of Berlin and Amsterdam, but it’s more refined.
There’s a real pop-up environment right now; a lot of underground restaurants. The cuisine here is absolutely amazing. I think it’s one of the best cities in Europe to eat in. Noma is astonishing. As an experience it’s like going to the theatre. But you can find equally good – just different – food in the suburbs. I enjoy traditional Danish food like smørrebrød (an open-faced sandwich). Café Wilder is one of my favourite places to get it from – it’s in Christianshavn, which is a little island in Copenhagen where I live. It hasn’t changed in 400 years.
There’s so much to do here; it’s such a vibrant city, but one thing visitors should definitely check out is Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park in the middle of the city. In the high season during the week there aren’t many tourists, so I tend to pick up my daughter early from school and we go to Tivoli and eat a hot dog (I don’t know if that’s very Danish!) and just hang out and try out rides. I love it. I should also recommend my family’s gallery, Gallery Asbæk. My parents created the professional art scene in Denmark and now my two brothers have their own galleries as well: Collaboration by Thomas and Tanya Asbæk, and the Martin Asbæk Gallery. They’re two of the best galleries in Copenhagen.
What’s new in 2021 for Copenhagen?
Accessible only to swimmers and kayakers, a collection of floating islands is being built in Copenhagen harbour to create the world’s first ‘parkipelago’. Made from recyclable materials and encased in Forest Stewardship Council-approved timber, the islands will serve as swim platforms, floating saunas, sail-in cafés and stages for outdoor events.
Where: Horsforth, Leeds
Who: Actor, Matthew Lewis
Horsforth was a really great place to grow up. When I was young I thought I’d never leave. I didn’t want to. When I was working on Harry Potter, I’d be in London five days a week then insist on driving home on the Friday night so I could spend as much time as possible in Leeds, with my friends before going back on Sunday.
It’s a mad town: at one point it had 24 bars and pubs (I counted them all because my friends and I tried to do all of them at once but we didn’t manage it). It’s got so many nice bars and cosy, warm pubs. I used to do the pub quiz at the Queens Arms with my dad and brother every Tuesday. I miss that hugely being in the United States.
Leeds will always be my home and whenever I come back to England I visit. It was nice taking my wife there for the first time (she’s from Florida) and showing her little old Horsforth and the tiny train station. It’s a great place to have a drink and some food; there are a lot of really nice restaurants. I love a pizza place called Il Forno but my wife is obsessed with fish and chips (she’d only had imitation versions at Universal Studios before coming here). We like to get it from The Cove and the newly opened Midgleys, which makes it to order - frying it there and then so it’s not been sitting out. Last time we were in Horsforth, we had fish and chips four times in three weeks!
I wish more people knew about a guy called Louis Le Prince who’s said to have filmed the first ever motion picture in Leeds. Most people think it was the Lumière brothers or Thomas Edison, and there’s an open debate about it. Unfortunately, Le Prince disappeared in 1890 so he fell by the wayside without any recognition.
Although I was on the other side of the world when shooting Baby Done, filming in Auckland felt very familiar; like coming home. One morning I was on the balcony of my apartment in Downtown and I heard the familiar sound of the cricket ball hitting willow and I realised, even living in London (never mind America), that I hadn’t heard that sound in years. My parents live opposite Horsforth Cricket Club so I used to hear that sound all the time. That moment was like, “Woah, this is weird”, so I put my shoes on, found the park and sat there and watched village cricket for a whole day. Who’s done that in the last 20 years? It was great, I absolutely loved it!
What’s new in 2021 for Leeds?
A riff off of The Great British Bake Off, Ready, Steady, Bake It lets you pit your baking skills against your pals’. Pick a bake, choose your ingredients and one of the ten workstations available and, after 90 minutes on the clock, unveil your showstopper to the world.
Where: New York
Who: Model, Miss Fame
They say if you spend ten years in New York then you become a New Yorker. It would’ve been ten years for me in April, so I’m claiming it.
Before I moved there, I had this intuition that it would be a place I needed to live. I first visited in 2010 for a photoshoot. We went out to this amazing club called On Top and New York nightlife royalty was there; Amanda Lepore and a lot of drag and queer culture entertainers. That was my first taste of New York, and I just knew then that I needed to get there.
I’ve lived in so many different boroughs throughout my experience but was in Hell’s Kitchen with my husband for five years. We were on 42nd Street; Times Square just an eye shot away. We had access to all the great bakeries, all of the nightlife and little gay bars. We had the Bakeri flagship store within walking distance, so I’d go there for a carrot cake and a chai iced tea. It was the most delicious combination, and the environment was just so perfect, so Brooklyn. You can visit so many parts of the city and have a completely different experience depending on which borough you’re in. Soho, Greenwich Village, East Village, these are amazing places. I met my husband on 46th Street – four blocks away from where we lived. Everything happened in a little microcosm in that specific borough.
I really cherish ‘the city that never sleeps’ aspect of New York. You can go to a restaurant at any hour, listen to music and connect with people in such a random way. It has a real heartbeat; you can feel the energy of the city. You end up letting the city trail you through it. I found that so alluring.
The good thing about New York is that it’s not going anywhere. You can always visit when you like. Once you’re a New Yorker you’re always a New Yorker.
What’s new in New York for 2021?
One of 2021’s new art institutions, the Frick Madison will occupy the Marcel Breuer–designed building on Madison Avenue, New York, formerly home to the Whitney Museum of American Art and most recently The Met Breuer. Opens early 2021.
Where: New Orleans
Who: Photographer, Cedric Angeles
Love brought me to this city. It’s where I met my wife Mia, 13 years ago. I was in New Orleans for a magazine shoot about how the city was rebounding from Katrina and she was one of the subjects I needed to photograph. She introduced me to the city. It’s a beautiful mix of the American south with Creole, French, and African. Some even consider New Orleans the northernmost Caribbean city.
Most come here for the food, music and architecture - and yes, those are great reasons - but perhaps the main reason for me is that it’s a city that embraces uniqueness. It’s a place where showing one’s true colours is celebrated.
I also love how small the city feels; it’s like a village. People say hello to you. Getting invited for a drink at someone’s home is normal, Southern hospitality is alive and well here.
Music is in the blood of the city. I’d argue that there are no bad musicians in New Orleans; you won’t last if you’re mediocre. You can watch local artists like blues guitarist Little Freddie King or singer John Boutté perform at bars like the DBA or the Jazz bar Spotted Cat. I remember having a drink at Dragon’s Den, listening to spoken poetry, then a DJ setting up to play house music all night. If you visit, come for the culture; eat and drink your way around the city. Explore beyond the French Quarter… go to the Bywater, to Frenchmen Street, visit the City Park, ride the streetcar through the Garden District. Avoid Bourbon Street and any tourist traps (except the beignets at Cafe Du Monde, which are worth it).
What’s new in 2021 for New Orleans?
New mezcaleria Tacos del Cartel is a buzzy Mexican outfit, touting a concise, inventive menu of tacos and sides, plus veggie options using tofu tostada and deep-fried crispy mushroom. The drinks and mezcal menu are a highlight.
A Breakfast at Tiffany’s guide to New York
Experience the iconic city through the eyes of one of cinema’s most famous females
More from Destination guides
A love letter to British food
BA partner and beloved British chef Tom Kerridge rhapsodises about kale and fish and chips
More from UK & Ireland
How I travel… as a matchmaker
Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking guru Sima Taparia talks love, life and long-haul flights
More from Travel Stories