Innovation That Matters

Hand-sketched city maps feature drawings and local advice

Travel & Tourism

Travellers looking for city maps and advice face an overwhelming array of alternatives, all competing with a slightly different approach. Whereas recent entrants such as Tripwolf, Offbeat Guides and TripIt all strive to provide some tailored package representing the best of what’s on the web, however, a new Swiss startup aims to focus instead on what a local friend might say, presented artistically with hand-drawn notes. Launched earlier this month, A la Carte Maps are designed to combine guidebook, tourist map and original art in one. Currently available for six cities—Barcelona, Munich, Zurich, Shangai, Tokyo and Washington, DC—A la Carte Maps present an array of each city’s best-kept insider tips on a beautiful, 70-by-42-cm, hand-drawn map. An accompanying welcome letter provides key information about the city in question, such as where to exchange money, how to get around, what to do on a rainy day, etc., while access to a comprehensive city database—provided with each purchase—adds even more insider information as well as the ability to create a customised itinerary. In addition to its curated “My City à la Carte” maps, A la Carte also allows seasoned travellers to create their own, customised maps of a city with their own notes and artwork. Both types of map are ad-free and matt-laminated, and are priced at EUR 8.90; A la Carte donates 10 percent of the profits from each map to a social project in the city it represents. Maps have always been an essential tool for travellers of every kind, but in this era of technology-enabled mapmania, they are the focus of perhaps more attention than ever before. With its unconventionally personal and hand-crafted approach, A la Carte could stand out amid the sea of web-focused competitors. Where else could a low-tech and artistic approach provide a compelling alternative…? Spotted by: Yuan



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