Your favourite city for a weekend away?
Paris. I’m not a big shopper, but I love browsing at the Marché aux Puces or
in antique shops, just wandering around seeing beautiful things. It’s best
in spring, because of the flowers. I stay at the Plaza Athénée, where I love
the inner courtyard and to lunch at Le Relais.
Other favourite cities?
Venice, which is very mysterious and romantic, particularly if you arrive by
vaporetto and watch the city rising up from the sea. We stay at the Gritti
[Palace] or with friends.
Top treasure-hunting spots?
Antique shops, flower markets and bookshops. The best bookshops are Librairie
Galignani on Rue de Rivoli in Paris, and Heywood Hill on Curzon Street in
London, which has every interesting book you could ever want. I love books;
my suitcases are always full of them. Books and shoes. I read when I am sad, when
I am happy, when I am nervous. My favourite British author is Jane Austen, and
my favourite American one is John O’Hara.
Benetos, on the Greek island of Patmos, in a house by the sea with a vegetable
garden; Scott’s in London for fresh fish; and Casa Lucio in Madrid, a
typical Spanish place that does the most fantastic huevos estrellados – “broken”
fried egg with chips. The dish tastes unlike anything you could make; you
could waste 40,000 eggs trying to do it at home.
Where would you like to go next?
Istanbul: one of the world’s great cities.
The most romantic hotel?
The Hassler in Rome, with views of the Spanish Steps. The room we take has a
beautiful terrace, with the whole of Rome below. In the mornings and
evenings, it is unbelievable. We go every year, sometimes twice.
Luxurious treats on holiday?
I always have breakfast in bed – just my dog and myself. Always. And my
Are you a fan of wild places?
One in particular: La Gran Sabana in Venezuela, in the Amazon, which belongs
to a friend of mine. It was built near a magnificent waterfall and
everything had to be brought in by helicopter. You are surrounded by jungle
and mountains, so it’s very exotic and virginal. You stay for a week and you
take everything. If you go anywhere, it’s by helicopter; we went to see the
tallest waterfall on the Amazon, then had lunch on top of a mountain.
Otherwise, you walk in the jungle, swim in the river…
Have you ever travelled rough?
Once. We stayed on a beautiful Venezuelan island called Los Roques, and the
water and the lights didn’t work for three whole days. We were in a group
and everyone made the best of it, swimming instead of bathing.
The most glamorous room you’ve had?
At Windsor castle: the Queen’s. I can’t go into more detail; it was a private
Most glamorous hotel?
The Ritz in Madrid, which I’ve stayed at since I was a child, always in the
same apartment. It is a proper old hotel: grand and filled with antiques. I
don’t like modern ones where you push a button and the lights all go on in
the middle of the night. It’s in a good position, too: close to the Prado
and the botanical gardens.
The best hotel in Britain?
Claridge’s, which has the best concierge in the world, Martin. I love him. He
makes your life different and can do anything.
Favourite shops abroad?
I rarely go into a shop on holiday, because fashion and design are what I’m
involved in every day. I need another world. I do like linen shops, though,
particularly Casa Bonet in Palma. In London, I visit SJ Phillips if I can,
to see their jewellery. And in Jaipur, I went to the Gem Palace with my
daughter; it was like Ali Baba’s cave. The maharajahs took us there on their
elephants, which was a wonderful way to travel.
Your favourite airline?
Emirates. The ceiling is covered in little lights that look like stars, you
have your own cabin with your own television, and you can have dinner and
lunch whenever you like.
Handbags I have designed myself, and old Vuitton suitcases. I’ve always
travelled with them, so I’m used to them. They have the space I need. I
don’t know how to travel light.
Ideal capsule wardrobe?
That’s a funny question, and one I can’t answer: I don’t know what a capsule
wardrobe is. I take a lot of shoes: walking shoes, high shoes, sandals. My
luggage is always overweight; my husband’s is, too.
What would you never leave behind?
My dog – I cannot leave that behind. My diary. And a small picture of the
Virgin Mary who has been with me since I was a little girl. It was given to
me by my mother.
Bobbi Brown lipstick, DR Harris body creams, Patricia Wexler face cream. And
lots of water.
Your greatest luxury when travelling?
Not to have a timetable.