I’m an efficient traveller when I am going on business. I’ve just come back from a seven day trip to Asia, visiting six cities for ten projects I am currently working on. However, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to holidays as I’ll always opt for the longest possible stay in one place.
When it comes to packing, I always have my jackets and shirts wrapped in plastic sleeves. This helps me skip using the ironing service on arrival.
My ideal co-passenger would be my wife, the jewellery designer and former De Beers Jewellery creative director Raphaele Canot. She places huge trust in my choices and insists only that we take direct flights wherever we go. Travelling with Raphaele is like being in the perfect dream cocoon. We could be on a plane together for twelve hours straight and I wouldn’t even notice, it’s truly quality time. That’s what it’s like travelling with your best friend and only love.
Our favourite destination which is top of the list every year - because we rarely actually make it there—is Borobudur, the 9th century Buddhist temple in Indonesia. We also love the beaches in Thailand.
To deal with jet lag, I take long haul flights which arrive at bedtime in order to allow the body to recover. I also take a melatonin pill for a maximum of two consecutive nights. When I wake up, a long run, preferably in the sun, followed by a double espresso, do the rest. When the going gets tough, an extra helping of one Solgar V2000 vitamin does the trick, releasing its power slowly and steadily till the evening. I always adhere to local times for eating and sleeping and I do my best to ignore emails before going to bed.
Las Vegas is probably the one place I never want to see again. It embodies the most depressing vision of civilisation.
I adore Big Sur. The giant redwood forest on the cliff facing the Pacific Ocean below where wildlife exists alongside humanity is simply magnificent. You can stay at the Post Ranch in one of the spectacular tree houses on the cliff or higher up at the Ventana Inn in a fantastic mountain cabin. Hikes on the coast as the wind blows on your face are an inspiration, especially when combined with a stop for lunch at the mythical Nepenthe Restaurant and followed by a late outdoor hot tub looking at the stars with a glass of Russian River Merlot. You can even extend your trip to the Esalen Institute for a spiritual retreat and encounters with the some of the world’s greatest minds.
The most breath-taking scenery for me is reaching the top of Mont Blanc in the early morning hours and looking at the massive shadow its peak projects over everything else below. That’s why I returned there this summer for my second ascent.
Puli Hotel Shanghai is an inspirational urban retreat resort. It has a stunning lobby, amazing rooms and enormous attention to detail from the reception through to bespoke bathrooms.
The staff at the St Regis New York and Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong offer impeccable service that only a hotel established over fifty years ago knows how to deliver. Without overwhelming you, they understand your body language before you even express what you were thinking you might need. This level of service is a rare find.
Being an architect and a design obsessive, I appreciate simplicity and a high level of attention to detail. I like places that make me feel at home with staff who understand my needs without either of us saying very much. If that doesn’t happen, I tend to lay low and just hope I won’t need to ask for help. Do I sound like a recluse or just socially dysfunctional?
If I were to own a hotel, it would be three words—chic et simple. No fuss, no glitter, no showiness, just essential design of the highest quality made from great materials. There are few hotels like this—the Raya Hotel in Panarea, Italy, where you feel blessed among the gods between the sea and the sky—is one of them.
Travelling for work can be like slavery at times—the delays, the missed meetings and the frustration with onboard service. Sometimes, it feels like I’m fighting for my life. So my advice is stay cool. For me, leisure travel is all about pampering, so I’d say just spoil yourself.