My Life In Travel: Gina Jackson
My favourite country to travel to is Italy, without a doubt. My parents are keen travellers and have been taking me there since I was little – it’s probably the country I’ve visited most throughout my lifetime. I love how there are so many incredible regions and cities to explore – no other European country is as varied or has such a rich history. For incredible scenery, there’s the Amalfi coast, Lake Como, Puglia, plus beautiful cities such as Florence, Venice and Bologna. And don’t even get me started on the food! I studied Roman history at when I was at Cambridge, so naturally, I’m fascinated by Italian culture.
When I choose a hotel, I look for three things: interiors, food, and service. Interiors will initially pique my interest – I love minimal and contemporary design, but I can appreciate when hotels are maximalist and colourful, too, as long as it’s still tasteful. Hotels that are good examples of this are Number One Bruton and Beaverbrook. As a foodie, good food is also important to me, and some of the most memorable hotels I’ve stayed at serve a really good breakfast. I’m always looking for something beyond your basic eggs on toast and find it really disappointing when a hotel serves a good lunch and dinner but doesn’t put as much effort into breakfast. Lastly, the service is what really makes or breaks it for me – being made to feel welcome, and personalised touches throughout your stay are really what complete the experience.
My favourites hotels in the UK include Heckfield Place and Foxhill Manor. Heckfield is a stunning Georgian manor with beautiful period features and contemporary, elegant interiors. The grounds are also very impressive, and there’s a farm-to-table approach throughout, which I love. The food, directed by Skye Gyngell, is delicious, and the service is flawless. Foxhill Manor is a private hotel in the Cotswolds, so you aren’t allowed to step inside unless you’re staying there, and there are only eight bedrooms. The hotel is your playground: pop into the kitchen to let the chef whip up whatever you fancy, which you can then eat in the cinema, in your bedroom – wherever you choose! There isn’t a formal restaurant.
One of my favourite hotels abroad is the The Upper House in Hong Kong. I usually try to visit every year and this hotel, located right in the city centre, has super sleek and modern interiors. The service here is amazing – they go out of their way to make you feel welcome and personalise your stay as much as possible. We’ve stayed there every Christmas as a family since it opened, and I wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else in Hong Kong. Another favourite is Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como. It’s a completely different experience but just as special. The service is flawless, the food in each restaurant is amazing and it just oozes grandeur and decadence.
The most memorable place I’ve ever been to is Patagonia in Chile. It’s incredibly remote and the scenery is unlike anywhere else I’ve been. During a family trip, we spent several nights in Santiago before travelling to Torres del Paine National Park, which took around nine hours, and spent our time hiking and exploring. Patagonia is stunning in so many ways – you’ll encounter all four seasons in one day: sun, snow, ice and rain. The hotel we stayed at, Tierra Patagonia, was unforgettable.
For a city break, I love Amsterdam. It’s only a 45-minute flight from London and has such a laidback atmosphere. I love the cute houses, and how walkable the city is. Whenever I visit, I always feel like I could live there.
For a UK staycation, I often head to the Cotswolds. It’s where my in-laws are based, and where I got married last year, but it’s also one of the prettiest parts of the UK, and home to so many good hotels and restaurants. I have a blog post rounding up some of the best hotels in the area, but my favourites are Soho Farmhouse, Foxhill Manor, and The Rectory.
My favourite place for a beach holiday has to be the Maldives. My parents took me as a teenager, and I would love to go back now. Malaysia also has some great beach destinations – last December, we spent New Year’s in Langkawi.
The most romantic place I’ve ever been to is Venice. There’s something magical about being near water, and the canals that run through the city are mesmerising. I also love the colours, the architecture and the history.
If I had just two nights abroad, I’d go to Copenhagen, one of my favourite European cities. I love the Scandinavian design, and Copenhagen has some wonderful restaurants and cafés. Hiring bikes and cycling around the city is so fun.
My packing essentials include my phone, a good camera and my skincare essentials. SPF is a must, too!
My most memorable meal on holiday was fried chicken and waffles in Austin, Texas. I also remember having delicious tacos on the beach in Tulum, and a really great chicken noodle soup in Hanoi. I’m such a foodie, and often plan my trips around restaurants I want to visit, so a lot of my most memorable meals have been on holiday.
I spent many of my child holidays visiting family in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Whenever I visit either of them now, I get a strong sense of nostalgia, and there are definitely certain foods that take me back and bring up certain memories.
Our honeymoon was in Mexico. It was our first time visiting, and we spent ten days in Tulum, staying at three different hotels: Nomade, Be Tulum, and Habitas. I absolutely loved it there. Habitas was my favourite, thanks to the incredibly relaxing atmosphere and amazing food. Our bedroom was on the water, and we woke up to the sound of the sea each day, which was heaven. We also did some incredible day trips while we were there, including a sunrise tour of Chichen Itza.
A place I didn’t love so much was Houston in Texas. I went on an epic road trip around the US with two friends, and visited so many incredible places, but I didn’t like Houston at all. I found it to be a really dull and tired place, especially when compared to Austin, which had been our previous stop.
Top of my travel bucket list is Sri Lanka and India. I’ve heard incredible things about both countries, and I’d love to experience the colours, atmosphere, beaches, and of course, the food.
Before the pandemic, I had so many trips lined up. I was going to spend two weeks in LA and New York over Easter and was also planning a summer trip to Malaysia and Bali. Those were obviously cancelled, but I’m grateful for some short trips to Italy I managed to squeeze in earlier this year, and being able to have a few staycations in the UK, too.
In 2021, I’d love to go to Morocco and visit Marrakech as I love Moroccan architecture. I’ve only been on a short visit to Fez before, so I would definitely go back for round two. I also want to visit the Balearic Islands, as we had to cancel trips to Mallorca and Menorca this year.
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