When Cartier, Mercedes-Benz or W Hotels (among others) need to set the right vibe at a glam occasion, they call DJ Alex Merrell. Playing these gigs has taken the New York-based Vancouver native to places like St. Barts and Morocco – and since she travels over 200,000 kilometres a year, she’s more likely to run into friends abroad. “My biggest frustration has been missing people by not knowing they were in town!” she says. That’s why she’s launching TREC this spring, an iPhone app for frequent travellers that syncs friends’ travel calendars by city. Not on the itinerary? “I avoid clubs! I prefer little jazz bars.”


Jet-lag lifesaver “The best way to decompress after travelling is the Romanstyle baths at Aire in Tribeca. They save my mangled body!”

Night out “The best cocktail in NYC is the bourbon-and-rum-based Start Me Up at the NoMad Hotel.”

Favourite resto to take out-of-towners to “La Esquina has great Mexican food. It’s underground, so it has a speakeasy vibe.”

Daily brew “I’m really into matcha from MatchaBar.”

READ MORE: DJ Alex Merrell’s long flight survival playlist


Best place to see Mick Jagger “I had a gig in Deauville, France, last year, and he showed up and danced until 2 a.m.”

Top airports “The Cathay Pacific lounge in Hong Kong is incredible, Heathrow has the best shopping and I love Vancouver because there’s a big piece of my father’s [Todd Merrell] art in the arrivals area.”

Best scene “The Hôtel Costes in Paris sets the bar for sexy. You can always find interesting strangers to have a conversation with.”

Jetset getaway “Saline Beach in St. Barts is my idea of heaven. It’s magical.”

Caffeine fix “In Istanbul, I DJed at Lucca, which is a restaurant turned party spot. I drank a lot of Turkish coffee there. It’s like a five-hour energy drink!”


“I usually catch the red-eye so I can start exploring as soon as I get to a city. If I’m not sleeping, I chat with my seatmate. I’ve made a lot of friends and business contacts on planes.”


“My ‘day job’ is a night job, so I bring killer heels, statement accessories and show-stopping dresses.”

10 of the best investment luggage sets
ELLE Escape: Exploring cool Copenhagen
Travel Memoir: The power of pilgrimage