On a hot summer morning in July we met with the lovely Serena Guen, Founder of
SUITCASE Magazine at her offices in the heart of Mayfair. We talked all things travel and
found out all about how this innovative magazine has blossomed and become an award
winning destination for explorers and holiday makers.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how SUITCASE started?
I grew up in London in an international family. School holidays were always spent visiting
different family members around the world from Tuscany to Delaware. At university, I chose
a course called Global Liberal Studies that took me abroad for two years in Paris and two
years in New York. Spending so much time abroad immersed in different cultures made me
realise how inaccurate most travel websites and magazines are when it comes to
describing what to do. Nothing was catering to the way people are travelling today – it's
more about experiencing the best of local life than traditional tourism. In my third year of
university I decided that I wanted to create something for the next generation of travellers
and thus began the long journey of building SUITCASE.
Since we launched, we have become one of the leading travel media companies in the UK.
We are now a website and quarterly print magazine with a readership of over one million.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
I think I was born with it – coming from so many different countries, it's literally part of my
What process do you go through when creating content and where do you draw
We use a mixture of things from data to reports and also our own knowledge as a team.
Data is good for the basics – seeing what's trending right now and making sure we have
enough content on our website about those places. However, we need to rely on our own
knowledge as a team to extrapolate on that data and predict what our readers might like
What advice would you give to someone starting up their own business?
Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Make sure you know your strengths and your
weaknesses. Build a team around you who will compensate for any blind spots.
Which part of the world is your favourite to travel to and where will you be heading
I'm a real foodie so nothing beats Italy for me – the ingredients are so fresh – let alone the
most beautiful way of life and scenery. Next I am going to Corsica, Bali, Chiang Mai,
Bangkok and Myanmar.
Can you walk us through a day in your life?
If I'm in London, I've started doing a little Pilates regime when I get up to wake me up for
the day. Breakfast is normally gluten-free brown toast (I'm allergic to gluten) with eggs or
peanut butter and a yoghurt. I read the news on the way to work on the NY Times app to
keep up with what's going on in the world. My days are usually made up of a mixture of
internal and external meetings, looking at travel trends and optimising the business. Lunch
will be something simple at my desk like steamed rice and vegetables and go for a quick 15
minute walk after. I usually have some kind of event in the evening so will work until then
and off I go to dinner.
How do you make your clothes work for you and your busy lifestyle?
I haven't quite figured it out yet. I spend so much time in so many different climates that my
wardrobe is exploding a little much to my boyfriend's chagrin. I definitely try not to buy
anything black anymore so I can wear it more seasonally. I also have lots of mix-and-match
basics like nice skirts and t-shirts so that I can wear them at any time of year.
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
Statement skirts, tailored trousers and simple t-shirts.
If I wasn't running SUITCASE... I'd be spending more time on #CookForSyria, the
initiative I started to raise awareness and funds for Unicef's Appeal for the Children of Syria
via Next Generation London.
My day isn't complete until... I'm in a good place with my to-do list.
The best thing about my job... Getting to know about so many different cultures.
My ideal breakfast... is the one I had at Hotel Sanders in Copenhagen. Scrambled eggs
with, gluten-free toast and jam.
Words to live by... Remember to have fun.
My guilty pleasure... Ice-cream. Don't feel guilty about it though.
My favourite London hangout... Bar Termini or Luca.