Globetrotter: Will Best

Portrait of TV presenter Will Best

Interview: Haris Stavridis // Portrait: Leigh Keily // Photos: Unsplash.com

I travel a lot with work, which is great but means I'm at the mercy of a shooting schedule, so there’s usually no time for any extracurricular activities. When I travel for pleasure, I'm pretty organised — at least when it comes to food and drink. I hate the idea of going away and not having at least a few places I know I really want to eat! Other than that, I like my trips to be as laid back as possible, although I can’t spend too long just lying by a pool. I get way too fidgety for that.

Tokyo

I almost never take more than hand luggage with me, even if I’m away for two weeks. Since 2013, I’ve been travelling with a super lightweight, black hard shelled Rimowa case, which I must have taken on nearly a hundred flights. Based on how it’s been treated over the years, I’ve come to a conclusion it’s indestructible, and based on how many clothes I can fit in it I'm convinced it was designed by Doctor Who — it puts the Tardis to shame.

When it comes to packing, I just remind myself that if I’m going somewhere hot, then one jumper is enough, one pair of trousers is enough, and realistically I’ll probably only wear one pair of shorts! If you’re not going somewhere super-hot, then plan your outfits in advance. It only takes five minutes, and taking “options” just means lugging a load of clothes you definitely won’t wear and queuing for an hour to check your bag in — my idea of hell.

There are three of my friends who, if I could, I'd never travel without. Olivia is a travel journalist who knows all the best places, and how to make the most of them. Sandy is the head chef of an amazing restaurant in London called The Culpeper and can sniff out the best meal possible in any city he’s in, and Clement is a sommelier at The Naughty Piglet, so he knows exactly which wines to go for no matter where you are in the world. And they’re all extremely funny, so it’s a killer combo.

I deal with jet lag by taking one melatonin capsule before bed to stop the “waking up at two in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep” variety, and plenty of booze to get through the “feeling exhausted at 8pm” kind. It works every time.

Seoul is for me the most underrated destination. I just went for the first time, and it’s an incredibly cool city. With great restaurants, incredible nightlife, wicked people, loads of culture — it completely blew me away. I’d love to go for a couple of weeks and really get to know it. Most overrated for me is probably New York. I always thought I'd fall in love with it, but I've been several times and never have. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great city, but if I could hang out in any city for a few days I'd choose London, Paris, Tokyo, Berlin, Seoul, Barcelona — even LA over New York.

Tokyo at night

I’d never totally rule out visiting anywhere again, but we had a tough time shooting The Art Show in Beijing. While we were there they broke all their own records for air pollution — it was front page news in the international press. The smog was so bad you couldn’t see the other side of the street. Your eyes started to sting after two minutes, and even with a face mask the bitter taste of chemicals in your mouth was over powering. We became good friends with our local fixer, and when we said goodbye to him at the airport, it genuinely felt like we were leaving him there to choke. I know it’s not like that all the time, but it was so extreme it couldn’t help but leave a lasting impression.

Tokyo is just perfect for shopping. Everything feels a bit more interesting there, every shop feels like a boutique, and I reckon the men there dress, on average, better than anywhere else in the world. It really inspires you to up your fashion game!

I love going back to Paris. I always discover something new there, and I feel like it's a city that’s evolving in a lot of ways. It feels like it's loosening up, and that, combined with the obvious history and incredible tradition of food, makes it really exciting. Plus it helps I've got friends there who know all the best places. I’d spend every weekend there if I could!

Paris

The west coast of Scotland is unbelievably stunning. I spent some time on the Isle of Bute, and it constantly took my breath away. The views from the shore line — looking out across a string of mountainous islands, seals on the rocks in front of you, no sign of civilisation. You really don’t have to go all the way to New Zealand to experience that kind of epic, wild beauty.

I often make short, last minute trips to Ibiza, and there’s a hotel I love called Es Vive which is the perfect bolt hole for that. Simple, great value, centrally located, with probably the best staff of any hotel I've ever stayed in, it’s got a really great vibe. I really like the Andaz in West Hollywood for similar reasons.

If I were to have my own hotel, it would probably be a boutique city hotel that's simple, comfortable, with a real 'home away from home' feel. The service would be the most important thing, with staff who feel like locals a clearly love the city they’re in. And a great bar. That’s a must. A real hidden gem that guests and locals all want to hang out in, and mingle in, and generally have a really good time in.

Scotland

Get into podcasts and invest in decent, comfortable, headphones. I often have to spend a lot of time in airports on my own, but I've always got something interesting to listen to and the time flies by. And make the most of the little luxuries travelling afford — primarily the guilt free beer (no matter what time of day you’re travelling, you can always have a beer in an airport as the normal rules just don’t apply), and miniature toiletries. I bloody love miniature toiletries.

For Globetrotter, I'd like to recommend my friend Olivia Palamountain (travel and lifestyle journalist), or Kate Bryan, my co-host for The Art Show. Both interesting, engaging people who write well and travel a hell of a lot.

    

Watch Will Best travel the globe with The Art Show, all episodes available on Sky Arts and on Now TV.

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