What makes a place
an unmissable experience?
We are 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 we started this adventure of selecting the best experiences in a city, whether in Lisbon or in NY, we had to think very carefully about what is, after all, a cool experience? In fact, a recommendation is always a mark of quality. Therefore, we established some basic criteria, and took 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.
We add new elements to this list regularly, in order to make it easier to recognize what transforms a common place into an unmissable and cool 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.
We only write about places where the best experiences occur. The spots that we visit, but do not consider to be the best experience possible, are not even mentioned. We believe that only the best should be experienced.
Often, the places that are published and referred attract media attention, and that makes us extremely proud!
Price is not a decisive factor. In each city’s website you’ll find all sorts of spaces - 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 scent.
- In terms of accommodation, the availability of utilities that go beyond the basics (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 errors 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.
- The 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 answer 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: the staff should be friendly and should take care of and talk to the customers (without being inconvenient), making sure that the customers are satisfied, if they need anything else or if there is any food the customers do not like or are allergic to.
- The staff must explain anything that the customer questions, and should always know what a certain dish or drink or service is comprised of. This is especially important in a restaurant.
Food and drink
- The freshness of the ingredients and the taste of the food.
- The right temperature of the dish.
- The explanation of the dish.
- The suggestions (always balanced).
- The cutlery should be changed according to each dish.
- The acceptance of criticism.
- The dish exchange if the customer does not like it or is unhappy about something.
- Presentation should always be careful and in agreement with everything else.
- Imagination and creativity in presentation and plating.
- 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 quality and quantity, as well as the entire experience.
- Very expensive locations are not necessarily better locations than those where prices are friendlier.
EXAMPLES OF ADDITIONAL CRITERIA
- Does the space offer specific details?
- Does the space have a coherent theme or concept?
- Is the furniture beautiful, has design, and/or is it consistent with the concept?
- Are requests made early, or are they offered and provided on time?
- Are there excellent explanations?
- Does it offer more than expected?
- Is it a place where the customer wants to return?
- Is passion felt, both from the management and the staff, in everything they do there?
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.
- 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.
- The existence of a person specialized in drinks is always an asset.
- Menus should be descriptive and enlightening about the existing options and availability.
Accommodation atmosphere and details
- The scent 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 each space: for example, there should be no noise in the bedroom, but in the reception area there may be ambient music according to the concept.
- 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 they were the only one there.
- 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 for the customer.
- 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 vibe 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?