About Bespoke Travel Company

About Bespoke Travel Company Pink Umbrella Banner

We’re a little company with a big mission: to change the way people travel. Actually you’re already traveling in a different way than you used to, we’re just here to make it easier than ever before.

We believe in empowering people to learn more, experience more and maximize their time when they’re in a new city. And to put the trip in your hands so that you never feel you are having to adhere to someone else’s vision of what your trip should be.

We believe that to experience the world in a way that makes sense to you, you have to be the driving force behind your trip, not the tour company arranging it.

We know that you love big ideas, that you love discovering new things, that you want to learn as much as you possibly can about the world before you leave it – because we’re the same.

So we work alongside you to create an experience in our city that will refresh and inspire you for years to come. From a meal bursting with flavors you never knew existed, to a moment of calm finally enjoyed in a secret corner of a centuries-old temple. A Bespoke trip leaves room for all of this and more.

Our Story

Begins with our founder, Sarah Keenlyside, who left her job as a journalist at The Times in London to settle in Beijing when she had no Chinese-speaking ability, no friends and frankly, no idea. So difficult was it to get by as a newbie in China’s capital in 2005 that just eating lunch became a daily ordeal.

Back then Beijing was a city with no sandwiches, Starbucks and no delis – so what exactly were you expected to eat? Surely you weren’t supposed to go to a restaurant all by yourself and eat several plates of Chinese food?

However after 10 days of instant noodles, it seemed perhaps that was the only alternative. So she went to her local restaurant and ordered the three dishes she had mastered how to pronounce: broccoli, kung pao chicken, and rice.

…for the next three weeks.

Even getting from A to B becomes a nightmare when your best shot at being understood by the locals is a series of (apparently non-universal) hand gestures.

The truth was, such daily helplessness becomes demoralizing; worse, it becomes depressing. She had to reach a low point several months later before she began to understand and appreciate where she was; before she began to learn from and love the incredible city she was in. And when, during the 2008 Olympics, she saw others struggling like she had: being misunderstood, relying on guidebooks that were months out of date and missing out on all the good stuff because they didn’t know any better, she saw an opportunity to provide another solution.

So Bespoke was born – founded by an outsider who became an insider and wanted to share her knowledge. It was created to empower people on their travels around the globe, and to make sure not a moment is wasted in the pursuit of inspiration, enjoyment and greater knowledge in a city you are unfamiliar with.

Our Mission

  • We believe that the modern traveller wants to be spontaneous: to enjoy a city at their own pace but with help in areas where they feel less confident.
  • We believe that people – now more than ever – don’t have time to waste, and that every meal you eat should be outstanding, no matter how much or how little it costs.
  • We believe that giving the traveller access to experts whose life is spent living the city is key, and we believe every interaction you have with the locals should be thought provoking and rewarding.

At Bespoke, our mission is to ensure you leave a city knowing the world a little better than when you arrived, ready to continue your own life refreshed, inspired and with a big smile on your face.

Our Core Values

We believe that instilling confidence in others is one of the most important things we can do. Whether that’s empowering you to have the confidence to travel in a city you don’t know, or to empower each other to learn more and to achieve greater things. Empowered, confident people are happy people, and we can all achieve more together as a result.

We are committed to quality

We don’t think there’s much point in doing anything if it’s not done to the absolute highest standard, so at Bespoke we value quality above all else. True quality takes hard work and continued effort, and we never cease to look for better ways of achieving the highest standards possible, in everything we do.

We value authenticity

We know that you value an authentic experience rather than a highly constructed or touristic one. We also know that you like to know where your money is being spent to ensure it’s not being wasted. In short, we want your experience with our company and with our city to be a genuine one. That’s why we don’t have any ulterior motives when we make recommendations or suggest services – it’s always what’s best for you. Really.

We’re flexible

Not in the sense that we’re all yoga masters, obviously, but in the sense that we’re nimble and ready to go or change direction at a moment’s notice. So if you need a company that will respond to your needs at the drop of a hat, then you’ve come to the right place. We also try to be flexible internally, encouraging input from every member of our team when it comes to almost all aspects of the business.

We are always learning

We love to learn: about new places that open, new ideas, new cultures, and new ways of living and working. We like having our imaginations captured, our minds expanded and our misconceptions shattered, to look beyond the obvious and find out more for ourselves. So we put learning at the heart of everything we do. Including your trip. The ability to learn, be inspired by and act on new information we come across is what makes humans unique, and it’s what makes us feel at our best.

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