One of my favourite magazines to read (or look longingly at the pictures) isConde Nast Traveller. A lot of whats in there one can’t afford but there’s always lots to enjoy and I did pick the Villa in Mallorca for my 40th Birthday and my tour of Burma directly from it so it does inspire.
They’ve got one monthly section I always enjoy called Where in the World where they interview someone famous and glamorous about how and where they travel. I love to know other people’s little travel secrets and tips so in honour of that article here’s mine.
Where have you just got back from?
I always like to go away at the end of September (as Timehop keeps reminding me). It’s after the last trade shows of the year and before things get bonkers for Christmas. Just got back and still suffering from jet lag from a whistlestop hop around the States. Orlando, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Big Sur. Lots of flights, some great views and a top notch new hotel discovery that I want to go back to already. And who doesn’t love a spot of Disney – it’s wasted on kids.
Name a place that lived up to the hype
Tokyo. It’s basically the future and even more Japanese than you can imagine. And everyone is so polite you find yourself bowing after being there for 24 hours.
And one that least lived up to the hype
Boston. Everyone I know whose been seems to love the city but I found it unfriendly. Everywhere seemed to close early and I couldn’t even find any decent Irish bars. I think the problem was I had visited other more fun places previously on the same trip and Beantown just couldn’t compare so maybe I need to give it a second chance. It’s been a while.
Describe your favourite view
The view towards Ambleside and the Fairfield Horseshoe from the tables outside the Drunken Duck Inn in the Lake District. It’s one of my few happy places.
What do you pack first?
Socks and pants. You won’t go very far without them. I’m prasctical.
Describe a childhood holiday memory
Every childhood holiday memory will be Weston Super Mare where we always went as a family and where I still do. It would be me and my brother playing in the video arcades and then peering through the windows of the pub across the road where Mum and Dad would be having a drink. We always missed school in November to go to see the Winter Carnival and they were always such happy breaks. Fact fans I’m having 80% of my ashes scatted in the sea at Weston.
First holiday without your parents?
It was a trip to Paris with my Brother when I was seventeen. This was the early nineties when you still went and sat down at a travel agents and they booked it all for you. It was also my first ever flight and I remember being so excited despite it being a one hour hop over the channel.
I remember eating in lots of either average or overpriced (or both) tourist restaurants and to this day I’ve never had a great meal in Paris. I was excited as EuroDisney (as it was called then) had just opened and I got my first taste of the cult of the mouse.
Which is your favourite city?
New York, without question. I must have been over 30 times since I first went in 1997 and I never get bored of the place. My main reason now is definitely the food and drink and there is always a mixture of exciting new restaurants to visit as well as perennial favourites. It doesn’t matter whether I’m there with others or by myself (as I often do) and I enjoy it just as much.
Tell us about a great little place you know
Door 74, a lovely little cocktail bar / speakeasy in Amsterdam. I can find these a bit full of attitude usually but this place is so relaxed and friendly you just feel like you’re having a drink in a friends very well stocked bar at home. They make some killer libations and they’re not afraid to have some fun with the drinks. It’s even more fun considering there’s lots of stag and hens very near by with no idea this place is here.
Smartest hotel you’ve stayed in?
Smartest? If we’re going smart it has to be Claridges. The service is exceptional – how the barmen remembers my name and what I drink every time is a mystery and probably why I’d never get a job as a barman – and there is something very buzzy about the lobby with its perfectly polished marble floor. And they have Japanese style toilets.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve encountered on your travels?
There’s not a single person I can pick out but dining solo at the bar in many New York restaurants you are always guaranteed to end up chatting with other diners about the most remarkable things. One couple I got chatting to in L’artusi in NYC – she was trying to set me up with the best plastic surgeon in Monterrey in Mexico and he was suggesting we do some lines of coke in the toilets. I refused both.
Which foreign phrase to you use the most?
Si, which I usually confuse with Oui. Or copa de vino tinto. That comes in useful all the time.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
It’s got to be flying at the front of the plane when I can. It’s always unpleasant travelling so anything I can do to make it better is worth it for me. And if I’m on an overnight flight I just can’t sleep unless I’m flat so if I didn’t I’d spend the whole night a crazy twitchy mess.
What would you like in your mini-bar?
Good crunchy crisps. Hotel du Vin have great ones.
Favourite holiday souvenir?
A coconut that dropped a tree in Cuba and missed my head by a few inches. That would have caused a serious bump if it had hit.
Nominate your 8thwonder of the world
The negroni cocktail. Divisive, bitter, grown up and alcoholic. Perfect way to start or end an evening.
How do you relax?
With difficulty. Being my own boss I’ve always found it difficult to switch off. One place I usually manage though is escaping to the Lake District to my favourite place to stay (see favourite view, above) and doing some long walks away from as many people as possible.