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Musicians, eccentrics and chefs: an insider's tour of east London

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To celebrate the launch of Airbnb’s new Insider Guidebooks, ShortList joins the company’s co-founder Brian Chesky on a tour of east London.

Airbnb has changed the way we travel forever – no more following the masses, as the home-sharing concept allows a richer city experience. And now it’s gone a step further with the introduction of Trips, where hosts can offer users authentic local experiences, tips and recommendations.

“We realised we had this great community of people who offer much more than just a home,” explains Brian Chesky, cofounder and CEO of Airbnb. “Meanwhile, many travellers are out there doing things that people who live in those cities would never do. We want to give them an inside view of the city.”

And that’s where the new Insider Guidebooks come in. As part of the Trips platform, they allow you to view a city through the lens of a local with a specific passion and expertise.  “They’re basically curated lists of people’s worlds,” says Chesky. Keen to experience it for himself, Chesky discovered east London with the help of singer/ songwriter Emeli Sandé and a few other inspiring insiders.

Strange Beginnings

Insider: David Carter Boutique hotelier David Carter greets Chesky at 40 Winks, his Mile End home which he also runs as boutique lodgings. Carter has penned an Insider Guidebook to Eccentric London, and this is perfectly summed up in his quirky townhouse. “I also host literary pyjama parties here,” Carter informs Chesky. “Guests don’t stay over but they do dress in glamorous nightwear and drink intoxicating cocktails while listening to stories that have them squealing with delight for months to come.”

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Discovering the art scene

Insider: Emeli Sandé Next, Chesky heads to Whitechapel Gallery with soul artist Emeli Sandé, creator of a Musical Inspiration Insider Guidebook, which details her favourite spots across her adopted city. “When I moved to London from Glasgow in 2009 I lived near Brick Lane,” says Sandé. “I visited a nearby gallery all the time. It’s very peaceful, shows new and innovative artists, and the gift shop is great.” It also creates a space for her to reflect on her own art. “Visual art is always inspiring — seeing how people communicate through colours and textures, the way I do through music.”

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Having a brew

Insider: Jo Llewellyn-Jones In the mood to sample some local beers, Chesky takes a lesson from Jo Llewellyn- Jones, co-founder of Brew Club, a school that teaches first-time homebrewers how to make beer. He also hosts a homebrewing Airbnb experience and is an expert on London’s thriving beer scene. “Sip the beer and let it gently trickle over your tongue,” he instructs as Chesky picks up his first drink of a strong line-up that includes a hoppy Beavertown beer as well as Llewellyn-Jones’ own Brew Club creation.

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Chilling out 

Insider: Emeli Sandé Keen to continue the theme of drinking, Chesky hangs out with Sandé at the singer’s local drinking establishment of choice, Big Chill Bar on Brick Lane. “I used to come here all the time when I lived nearby,” she says, “especially during the summer when everyone sits outside. It’s exactly as the name suggests – a really chilled place to relax with a beer or a mojito. I like that it’s open-plan, casual and laidback, and I really enjoy it when they play reggae-infused music. I went drinking Peroni a lot there one summer with the music producer Chris Loco.”

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Room Service 

Insider: Will Courtney- Hatcher Chesky meets Will Courtney-Hatcher, who runs Room Service, a street food-style catering business. “A couple of years ago I had my eureka moment on holiday after ordering a club sandwich in my hotel,” he explains. “I had to stop working in marketing and just do what I wanted to do.” His signature dishes are variations on the club sandwich. His Insider Guidebook focuses on street food stalls so good they’ve gone permanent, and he invites Chesky to sample some of his favourites

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Premises Studios

Insider: Emeli Sandé Sandé leads Chesky through a cosy Turkish café, its walls covered in pictures of musicians (including Sandé herself). Then they go through an unsignposted door and amble down a corridor to the unexpected discovery of Premises Studios. “This is where I rehearsed before my first tour,” she reveals. “It’s a really special place for me. The café is run by a lovely family, and the pictures on the walls are singers who’ve rehearsed or recorded here. It was such an honour when they put my picture up. Nina Simone is even on there…”

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Discover some surprises with Airbnb insider Guidebooks

Download the Airbnb app to get access to Airbnb Insider Guidebooks. Written by notable locals, every recommendation comes with insider tips and insight. Find Insider Guidebooks under ‘places’ on the Airbnb app and discover a whole new side to cities you thought you knew and those you’re ready to experience for the first time.

Click here to start exploring London 

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