The best cities in the world for music lovers

Close your eyes and let your ears guide you through these musical cities.

New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Image credit: f11photo/iStock
New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Image credit: f11photo/iStock

New Orleans, U.S. – the birthplace of jazz

The city of New Orleans is so serious about jazz they’ve built a hall to protect it.  Each night of the week you’ll find local musicians from a 100-strong collective performing swinging, stomping beats at the Preservation Hall.

If you like a little food with your music, book a table at the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, where they serve up live jazz with local dishes across a string of renovated 19th-century shops just outside the French Quarter. Here, acts such as the Charmaine Neville Band and Ellis Marsalis perform appear at what is often considered the classiest jazz club in New Orleans.

Book a hotel in the French Quarter to stay where the action is or check into the Royal Sonesta New Orleans hotel, which has its own Jazz Playhouse club. You can listen to live concerts seven nights a week without having to leave the hotel.

The view from the balcony of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. Image credit: Royal Sonesta New Orleans
The view from the balcony of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. Image credit: Royal Sonesta New Orleans

Los Angeles, U.S. – best for rock lovers

You know Los Angeles has a serious rock heritage when The Doors was once the house band at one of the city’s most popular club, Whisky A Go Go. The club, which opened in Sunset Boulevard in 1964, was also the launch pad for Guns N’Roses, Led Zeppelin, and KISS. The venue, which was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is still going strong and offers concerts most nights of the week.

Another musical destination is The Troubadour, which launched in 1957 and was where Elton John, James Taylor, and Tom Waits performed. The venue continues to be a destination for cutting-edge acts.

But for jamming sessions, you can’t beat the Rainbow Bar & Grill. The former hangout for John Lennon, Neil Diamond, and Motley Crue lets musicians jam every Wednesday night. Looking for somewhere to stay? Then how about Andaz West Hollywood where Lemmy of Motorhead penned the track of the same name on one of its balconies.

Andaz West Hollywood. Image credit: Andaz West Hollywood
The rooftop pool at Andaz West Hollywood. Image credit: Andaz West Hollywood

Berlin, Germany – best for street music

If you didn’t already know Berlin is a city of music lovers, just take a walk through one of its parks or along one of its sidewalks.

The city’s musicians turn the streets into one huge alfresco concert hall on Sundays when up to 40,000 visitors head to Mauerpark in Berlin, where musicians can play without a permit. Other hotspots also include Warschauer Strasse, East Side Gallery, Oberbaumbrücke, and Hackescher Markt.

The city also comes with its own music tour through the district of Schöneberg, where you’ll find the studio and hangouts of two of the city’s most well-known former inhabitants – David Bowie and Iggy Pop.

If you’re feeling inspired after this musical road trip, you should book into Europe’s first music hotel, NHow Berlin where you can make your own music in one of two professional recording studios overlooking the Spree River. You can also enjoy instrument room service, where a guitar, keyboards, and Bluetooth speakers are installed in your suite.

Guitars for hire at at nhow Berlin. Image credit: nhow
Guitars for hire at at nhow Berlin. Image credit: nhow

New York, U.S. – the most diverse music scene

If you’re a music addict whose tastes are varied, book a  Blacklane limousine ride to take you to all the musical hotspots throughout New York City. The city’s melting pot of different cultures has created a metropolis that celebrates hip hop, punk rock, and pop music to name a few.

Leave your luggage at the Gramercy Park Hotel, which has been home to none other than The Rolling Stones and Blondie, and go and tour the Big Apple.

The Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel. Image credit: Lisa Kato Photography
The Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel. Image credit: Lisa Kato Photography

Book tickets for the Radio City Music Hall where you can watch anyone from boy band Why Don’t We to legendary musician Billy Joel.

Wrap up your stay with a trip to the famed Apollo Theater for Amateur Night. Need a nightcap? Stop by Dante, one of Bob Dylan’s former haunts. Here you can order a Whiskey Buck made with Jameson, Drambuie, and ginger. Very rock and roll.

Apollo. Image credit: Sanden Wolff Productions
The Apollo. Theatre Image credit: Sanden Wolff Productions

Bogota, Colombia – best for festivals

Many a city has a good festival – there’s Wireless in London, Coachella in Indio, and the Governor’s Music Festival in New York. But the city of Bogota in Colombia has 60 of them. Named a UNESCO City of Music in 2012, Bogota is home to an array of salsa, fusion, rock, opera, classical, chamber, electronic, pop, tropical, ranchera, hip hop, experimental, bolero, and gospel.

If you haven’t got time to visit all 60 of its music festivals, head to Colombia al Parque from 31 August to 1 September 2019 for salsa, the single-day Baum Festival in May for electronic music, or the three-day Estereo Picnic each April for international artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Sam Smith.

If you are looking for a place to stay in the Colombian capital, check out  W Hotel Bogota, which has its own soundtrack.

London, UK – best homegrown talent

It’s only rock and roll, but the UK likes it. From stadium bands such as The Rolling Stones to dulcet-toned divas like Adele, the UK capital has created more than its fair share of crowd-pleasing, stadium-filling musicians.

But you don’t just have the option of seeing performers lighting up The O2 stadium. You can take in great music at the famed Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in a basement in Soho; the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, which was the setting for the Apple Music Festival, and even the Omeara in Southwark, owned by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons.

Stay at Ace Hotel London, which features its own club, Miranda. Here you can listen to musicians and live DJ sets in super stylish surrounds.


Claire Turrell

Freelance journalist Claire Turrell has lived and worked in London, Dubai, and Singapore. When she’s not busy writing, she is riding motorbikes off-road in Cambodia, diving in Oman or learning Muay Thai in Thailand.