Written by Allie Schratz, Editor of Business Review Australia
What inspires us to take action on an idea? To formulate a concept worthy of action is a challenge within itself, but to actually implement it – successfully – usually requires some sort of driver. Often, this driver comes in the form of an incident that makes you think, “You know, this recommended [experience, bar, hotel, etc.] sucks. Surely I could have found a better one.”
This was precisely the thought going through Tremayne Carew Pole’s mind back in 2004 when, equipped with the big-name travel guide titles, he arrived in Budapest, Hungary with a group of friends, all hearts set on a great weekend. Their desires were anything but unique to a European traveller: they were seeking restaurants packed with in-the-know locals and good bars frequented by a similar crowd. Despite their guide book consultations, the group’s attempts to satisfy these desires failed miserably, and they found themselves sitting glumly in a soulless restaurant one of the books had recommended.
“It was a wasted weekend,” said Pole.
Fed up with lacklustre travel writers leading him askew on vacation, Pole did what many of us dream of doing: packed up his things and relocated from the UK to Prague, where he would end up penning the first Hg2 travel guide.
What’s an ‘Hg’?
Hg2, or Hedonist’s Guide to... is a travel guide tailor-written for a hedonist: a pursuer of pleasure. (We know what you’re thinking, but don’t dwell on it – there’s much more to hedonism than your naughty thoughts suggest.) “The traditional interpretation of hedonism is that it is all sex, drugs and rock and roll – but that's a younger version of hedonism,” said Pole, the company’s founder and publisher. “Hedonism could be about food, beauty, art - whatever you find pleasure in.” Pole, for example, established on the Hg2 website that “A total disregard for my own wellbeing, an inexhaustible approach to nightlife, not knowing when to say no, and being the last man standing” constitute him as a hedonist.
Is there an age limit to hedonism? Absolutely not: “Whatever age you are, you can find and define your own pleasures,” said Pole. Therefore, Hg2’s titles outlining the best places to eat, sleep, shop, drink, party, play and soak up the culture in 46 select cities are written for pleasure seekers of all ages.
How Their Guides Differ
Walk into any bookstore and the multitude of Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Time Out and Frommer’s titles are often fighting for space on the shelves. So, what makes an Hg2 guide stand out from the rest?
“Hg2 guides provide a filtered selection of the most interesting places to visit,” said Pole. “It's not all about the high-end expensive places – it's about the neighbourhood vibe, places where we know our readers are going to have a great time.”
The proof is in the pages: while Sydney’s sleek little guide includes the usual glamour spots – Bondi’s Icebergs, Ivy Lounge and Chi The Spa are all mentioned – lesser known gems are brought to the reader’s attention: Efendy in Balmain, Surry Hills’ Monkey Magic, and the weekend Glebe Market.
The entries make it clear that the writer has spent some serious time admiring the pre-war architecture of the Grace Hotel; enjoyed a cocktail Rockpool Bar & Grill; and took in a performance at the Enmore Theatre. Hg writers are required to be city residents who provide information updates for two years post-publication, so readers can rest assured that their guides are always on the ball when it comes to recommending the city’s top-notch offerings.
“We don't tend to use a team of writers, instead trusting the judgment and taste of an individual,” said Pole. “We want our readers to identify with the writer and let them be [led] on a journey.”