The top five ‘InterContinental ICons’ in key global cities

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts research pinpoints the experiences luxury travellers seek out most

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has pinpointed the most iconic sights, sounds, smells and sensations of a city that travellers should experience in 2020.

The maiden InterContinental ICons range from Sydney’s Manly Ferry’s breeze, to the smell of fresh bagels at a West Village shop in New York, to the unique flavours of Karak Chai in Jumeirah Beach in Dubai.

The list of experiences was determined through an online public vote and then ranked by a panel of leading travel experts as the best additions to conventional tourist destinations. The initiative comes after an independent study for the brand revealed that most locals (59%) feel visitors are missing out on the true spirit of the place, while 75% of luxury travellers want to experience cities as a well-informed local.

Sydney local artist and ICons judge Dina Broadhurst comments: “Getting on board one of Sydney’s ferries is a unique way to reach your destination. The Manly to Circular Quay ferry is a must-do as it’s a way to see Sydney’s harbour, beaches and city skyline all in the one trip. Take off from a lazy beach day in Manly, feeling the sea breeze and sunshine on your shoulders on deck, and find yourself in the CBD’s gateway in just minutes as you pass The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from a unique vantage point on the water.”

The top InterContinental ICons voted in each city revealed as:

  • Sydney – The cool breeze on your face on the Manly to Circular Quay ferry
  • Paris – Smell of oven-fresh bread from the boulangeries of Oberkampf
  • London – The contrast of old and new architecture on the ever-changing London skyline
  • New York – Fresh bagels at a West Village bagel shop
  • Dubai – Tasting the many unique flavours of Karak Chai along Jumeirah Beach Road
  • Mexico City – The smoky flavour of tacos al pastor
  • Shanghai – The sound of old songs played on a vinyl record player
Foreshore Walk. Sydney

The final selection of ICons in Sydney includes:

  1. The cool breeze on your face as you ride the Manly to Circular Quay ferry
  2. The Sydney skyline viewed from a rooftop in Five Ways Paddington
  3. The smell of suncream and a barbeque cooking up on the North Bondi grassy knoll
  4. Fish and chips enjoyed barefoot at Kutti Beach
  5. The sun on your shoulders on the Hermitage Foreshore walk while you soak up the best views over Sydney Harbour

The InterContinental ICons have also inspired curated experiences that can be booked at some of the leading InterContinental Hotels and Resorts across the world.

For international travellers and locals in Sydney’s exclusive suburb of Double Bay, InterContinental Sydney Double Bay is offering a luxurious gourmet picnic lunch to discover one of the cities favourite ICons.

For travellers after something a little more exotic, InterContinental Dubai Festival City is taking guests on a sensory journey through time with bespoke Arabic bukhoor sessions with an in-house expert, or embark on an truly local experience with InterContinental Park Lane’s Head Concierge for curated tours of London’s top ICons.

Jane Mackie, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, IHG Luxury Portfolio comments: “True to the InterContinental brand’s heritage of pioneering luxury travel, we’ve spent the last few months working with leading experts and canvassing public opinion to uncover truly fascinating and meaningful details that showcase the best of global cities around the world. We are excited to reveal the first ever list of InterContinental ICons as well as curated itineraries to inspire travellers to go deeper.”

Charlie Hamilton James, Photographer, National Geographic and member of the judging panel said the campaign “opened my eyes to the many undiscovered facets that I’d been missing in each of these well-visited cities.”

Other InterContinental ICons

New York

  1. Fresh bagels at a West Village bagel shop
  2. Sipping craft cocktails in a bar in an up-and-coming neighbourhood in Brooklyn
  3. The sharp blue sky against the striking architecture of the city skyline seen from the Hudson River Ferry
  4. Soaking up the sunshine on a lunchtime picnic in Central Park
  5. The astonishing luminosity as you stand on the concourse of the Oculus
Cathedral Isaac, Mexico
The Oculus, New York
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City


  1. The smoky flavour of tacos al pastor
  2. The scent of mezcal just before taking the first sip
  3. The surprising downtown museums, like the Palacio de Bellas Artes with its Diego Rivera paintings
  4. The contrast of buildings in Zocala, from the plaza and National Palace to the Templo Mayor ruins
  5. The view of Paseo de la Reforma in the early morning
InterContinental Grand Hotel Paris


  1. Smell of oven-fresh bread from the boulangeries of Oberkampf
  2. The tickles of the blades of grass during a springtime picnic in the Buttes Chaumont
  3. Sounds of laughter and glasses tinkling at apero hour on the terraces in Bastille
  4. The washing sound of boats as your stroll along Seine near the haven of Ile Saint-Louis
  5. Filling your basket with organic cheeses and prunes from the organic market in Les Batignolles


  1. The contrast of old and new architecture on the ever-changing London skyline
  2. A Sunday roast enjoyed by the fireside in a historic, hidden London pub
  3. Hearing the market traders and watching the eclectic mix of people on Portobello Road on a Friday morning
  4. Spotting the stags emerge in Richmond Park on a misty, autumn morning
  5. The thrill of seeing the twinkling lights of the capital as you cross the Thames in a cab at night


  1. Tasting the many unique flavours of Karak Chai along Jumeirah Beach Road ​
  2. The enchanting smell of burning bukhoor, transporting you back in time​
  3. Sound of water lapping an Abra as it glides along Dubai Creek ​
  4. The crackle of a campfire breaking the silence on a night-time desert escape
  5. The fascinating contrast of old and new under the glow of a warm Dubai sunset

For more details of bookable experiences, visit

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