The Smart Girl's Travel Guide

Nail your next business trip by passing for an in-the-know local. Tuck this handy cheat sheet in your bag and thank us later.

(Image credit: Archives)


THE CLUTCH BUSINESS LUNCH: The vibe at Kokkari Estiatorio, the always-packed Greek powerhouse in the Financial District, is upscale casual. (Note: Those jeans-clad diners seated next to you may have invented Twitter.) On the menu: fresh seafood and meats grilled over a wood-fired stove, plus plenty of salads and light platters. The first business lunch you'll ever wish would last till dinner. 200 Jackson Street;

EXPENSE-ACCOUNT DRINKS: Though best known for its impeccable, locally sourced American-fare dinner menu—it earned a Michelin star two years in a row—Spruce, in Presidio Heights, has an equally impressive wine list of more than 2,500 labels. After dark, the clubby eatery draws a sophisticated bar scene of moneyed professionals. Act like a regular—order a Riesling and make a meal of the charcuterie platter. 3640 Sacramento Street;

NAILS IN A PINCH: Instead of brainstorming with your boss at the hotel bar, suggest heading over to ZaZa Nail Spa, where you can sit side by side and strategize over the "polish for two" ($25 each). In a hurry? The salon also offers the quick and glossy CND Shellac, which requires no dry time. Best of all: online booking. 543 2nd Street;

HAIR TO IMPRESS: San Fran's notorious wind, fog, and seasonal rains can wreak havoc on a polished 'do. Pit-stop at Drybar's Golden Gate outpost and choose from a menu of blowout options, like the pin-straight Manhattan or the voluminous Southern Comfort, each for $35. Every station is equipped with an iPhone dock so you can recharge while you refresh. 1908 Fillmore Street;

LAST-MINUTE LIFESAVER: Sign up for Uber, your very own private car service. Here's how it works: Text your location to Uber and they'll dispatch a town car to pick you up within 10 minutes. There's no payment hassle: Uber automatically bills your account. Save the number—Uber also operates in other cities, including New York City, Paris, and Seattle.


(Image credit: Archives)


THE CLUTCH BUSINESS LUNCH: The city's mascot should be a porterhouse. Chicagoans love their steaks, so give them what they want, but still wow them with your sophisticated taste at the Michelin-starred Sepia. The understated clubhouse for foodies and influencers is housed in a converted print shop in the West Loop neighborhood. 123 North Jefferson Street;

EXPENSE-ACCOUNT DRINKS: ROOF ON THE WIT caters to Chicago's power grid, from investment bankers to political operatives, their faces always illuminated by a BlackBerry glow. Reserve a table in the airy penthouse living room, with its gasp-inducing views of historic State Street. 201 North State Street;

NAILS IN A PINCH: You barely had time to pack, let alone squeeze in a mani. No worries—The Nail House has you covered. With quick service and a prime location in Lincoln Park, the salon is a convenient place to get an affordable drive-by manicure ($13). Best of all, it's open till 8 p.m. on weekdays. 1611 North Clybourn Avenue;

HAIR TO IMPRESS: Mario Tricoci's pristine full-service salon on the Magnificent Mile offers blowouts priced at just $30—a steal in this luxe shopping district. Start your day off right (appointments begin at 8 a.m.) and be ready to woo prospective clients over breakfast. 900 North Michigan Avenue;

LAST-MINUTE LIFESAVER: If you want to clinch the deal, pop over to Vosges Haut-Chocolat and order the 16-piece Exotic Truffle Collection ($40), a top-selling gift for business clients. Send it over—with a handwritten note— to that VIP you've been trying to get in to see, and wait for the phone to ring. 520 North Michigan Avenue;


(Image credit: Archives)

THE CLUTCH BUSINESS LUNCH: With its soaring ceilings and sweeping archways, The Wolseley, a Viennese-style brasserie in London's tony Mayfair, was designed for Very Important Meetings and is a favorite outpost for celebrities and moguls. The café menu ranges from basic burgers to a divine lamb cooked for seven hours. Host primo clients in the private room, perfect for confidential dealings. 160 Piccadilly;

EXPENSE-ACCOUNT DRINKS: The Connaught Bar knows how to treat guests: Settle into your croc chair, order a martini, and a bartender will appear at your table to mix it, cocktail trolley in tow. No wonder the place is filled with fresh-from-the-office execs, armed with corporate cards and a thirst for $27 drinks. Well worth the long waits. Carlos Place;

NAILS IN A PINCH: Don't be fooled by the prairie vibe at the Cowshed, nestled in the swanky Shoreditch House hotel. This ranch-themed spa caters to busy professionals with a "speedy" manicure ($44) that will have you meeting-ready in 30 minutes or less. Or splurge on the "Cowgroom"—for about $125, a pair of technicians will do a quick facial, brow wax, and mani. Ebor Street;

HAIR TO IMPRESS: Book a fast, fab blowout online at The Hershesons Blow Dry Bar, a glass-enclosed hair emporium inside Topshop's flagship Oxford Circus store. Get the "superstraight" ($38) and leave in less than an hour, more than enough time to snag that pencil skirt on the way out. 36-38 Great Castle Street;

LAST-MINUTE LIFESAVER: You've just landed and realize you left your laptop charger back home. No problem: Head to one of the city's 12 Currys electronics stores—London's version of Best Buy—for a quick replacement. 88 Oxford Street; +44 844 561 6263

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