One of the most memorable places I’ve been to is Zighy Bay in Oman. We’ve had a few family holidays there, so it’s very special to us. It’s not super flash, but it’s totally remote and with that comes a real sense of luxury. At about 6pm, when the sun has gone down you walk bare foot on the sand back to your villa after kids tea and a cocktail and it has this magic that I can’t quite explain.
The most remote I’ve ever felt is probably on Cocoa Island in the Maldives. I remember walking around the island, looking out to sea and feeling like I could touch nature – it was so very far from life as we know it.
I love Asia. Before we had children, my husband and I loved to go to Asia, especially Thailand. The service there is second to none and, strangely, I love humidity. My father lived in Hong Kong when I was a child, and I used to visit him several times a year. I love the heat that hits you when you step off the plane. Six Senses Yao Noi is a highlight. It’s rugged, remote, private and the rocks that jut out of the sea are truly stunning – they have to be seen to be believed.
When I’m booking a hotel, the rooms are key. I’ve been known to throw my toys out the pram if I don’t like the room! Someone once said if your own home is nicer than the villa you’re renting or the room you’ve booked, then it doesn’t really feel like a holiday. I agree!
Another family favourite is the Anassa hotel in Cyprus. When my eldest two children were little, we had some lovely family holidays there. There’s a brilliant kids’ club, the staff are charming, and it’s only a few hours from, London. Again, the resort is pretty remote, and the setting is stunning. There’s a terrace for drinks in the evening with live music, delicious cocktails, nibbles and stunning views. I’m a sucker for some jazz and a sunset.
Now my children are a bit older, Rocco Forte’s Verdura is top of our list. There’s more for older children to do – from golf to bike rides – and, as a family, we just adore it. My husband calls it his happy place. We’ve been there three times and even managed to get there at the end of August last summer. It really has everything for everyone. The staff are wonderful, the food is delicious, and we all love it.
Ravello on the Amalfi Coast is probably the most strikingly beautiful place I’ve stayed in Europe. We went not long after we got married, and I still remember the look on my husband's face when he went to sign for a couple of club sandwiches and a bottle of rosé. It was worth it: breakfast on a cliff edge overlooking the coast is breathtaking.
As for the UK, we used to spend a lot of weekends at Calcot Manor. We would go every half-term but my children are getting a bit big for the kids’ club sadly. It was great when they were little though: there’s a kids’ tea in the pub every day, a listening service, an indoor pool, tennis courts, croquet, bikes, nice walks… it ticked all the boxes.
My family have a little bungalow at Harlyn Bay in Cornwall. I went there every summer up until I had children. There isn’t really room for us all now, and my husband and I have a real soft spot for Brancaster in Norfolk. We often rent a house there in the summer holidays. Norfolk is a pain to get to but it’s worth the effort. The coastline isn’t as striking as Cornwall, but it has a charm all of its own.
Soho Farmhouse is always fun if you’re with a group of friends, but I don’t massively rate the service. Beaverbrook is great for a girls’ night – fab interiors, an amazing spa, a Japanese restaurant and it’s only an hour from London. Heckfield Place is lovely if you’re going as a couple, but I wouldn’t go with a group of friends – as is The Newt. They’re both pretty pricey, but I’d rather have one night at either of those than two or three somewhere mediocre.
When I was 15, my family rented a Cadillac and we drove up the west coast of California. LA, San Francisco, Napa, Carmel…. I can’t wait to do it again with my own children. I’m a big fan of the US. My brother-in-law lives in Colorado, so we’ve been out there a bit. They got married in New Orleans, which is an incredible place to visit.
For our honeymoon we went to the Kruger on Safari and then to The Residence in Mauritius. We got married pretty young, and there are probably better places to stay on safari. I hope we’ll go back when our children are teenagers. That said, the bush is not my natural habitat! I have a terrible phobia of snakes and spent most of the time walking around with my eyes closed. The Residence was lovely at the time, and it will always hold a special place in my heart, but I don’t think it’s quite the same today.
If I had just two nights to spend abroad, it would have to be Ibiza. Two nights is doable, three nights is ideal. I love that place – the sense of freedom is beyond.
My ultimate city break destination has to be New York. It’s gets better the more you go and the more you get to know it – I’m pining just writing this! In terms of Europe, I love Hotel Sant Francesc in Palma.
My most memorable meals on holiday were probably at the Cheval Blanc in Courchevel and the Plaza Athénée in Paris. Together, they have a handful of Michelin stars and there’s a lot of truffle flying around. I’m a sucker for truffle…
I’m really not a fan of room service. I like to get dressed in the evening and go for dinner. Plus, my husband is an accountant and thinks it’s bad value. The thing I order the most though is probably spag bol for the children.
If I had to live in a hotel, it would be Claridge’s. I love their china… and how they do Christmas.
One place I didn’t really enjoy visiting was Egypt. It was one of those ‘five-star, seven-day all inclusive’ packages, just before we got married in 2006. I remember them checking the bus every time we went in and out of the resort for bombs. The food was horrible, and the rooms were pretty crap. It was less than £500 for the week, including flights… so I guess you get what you pay for.
My holiday packing essentials always include ear plugs and an eye mask, self-tan and some nuts. We always buy a bottle of gin in Duty Free, and I like a G&T and a few cashews while I’m getting ready for dinner.
Before the pandemic, we were supposed to take the children on their first skiing holiday. We put it off for as long as possible because I love a hot Easter holiday, plus my youngest wasn’t old enough. Now they’ll practically be teenagers before they start! For my 40th we were also booked to go to Cobbler's Cove in Barbados. It's pink and has rooms designed by Soane. I literally couldnt ask for anything more. Sadly we didnt make that either, but hopefully one day.
A group of us have booked a holiday to Ibiza for June 2021 and I have everything crossed. We’ve booked a couple of staycations, too, and by total luck had booked Bibury Barn Farms from 12th April for a break in the Easter holidays. I highly recommend it. We also panic-booked a week in Dorset for July and in August there’s a slim chance we’ll make it to LA and Cabo in Mexico. I’ve wanted to go the One & Only Palmilla for 15 years. I’m hoping my dream might just come true….
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*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.