Amanda Holden: My Life In Travel

'I fell in love with Florence - that's why it's my daughter's middle name'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

We used to go to Cornwall every year around Polperro, where we'd rent a house or go camping. I have memories of buckets and spades and eating sand sandwiches and cockles in polystyrene cups on the beach. My parents live in Bude, so I go back quite a lot.

Best holiday?

I have a place in Norfolk that I go to at weekends, which I love. Otherwise I was lucky enough to go to Necker Island in the Caribbean when I was about five months pregnant. There were 12 of us and the staff were so accommodating - we dined on the beach and on cliff tops, you could probably eat on the roof if you wanted to. If you were hungry in the middle of the night you could help yourself to something in the kitchen. It was like being in a gorgeous open house.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Norfolk, near Burnham Market, where my house is. Holkham is a vast beach where we walk our dogs - it's like walking on the moon. We eat at the Hoste Arms, which is owned by friends of ours. Norfolk hasn't been spoilt by tourism; it's one of the best places in the world.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I wish I could learn to pack economically, although now I've got a baby I've learnt to pack a little bit better. I once went to see my sister in Thailand and it took several men to get my suitcase off the carousel at the airport!

Ideal travelling companion?

My partner Chris, because we have such a good time together. We like to sunbathe for the first week then go and explore.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

My first major holiday with Chris was in Florence. We stayed at the Villa San Michele, which was stunning. We sat by the pool for the first few days then went out and saw the Duomo and soaked up the culture. We also enjoyed long lunches and siestas. That's our perfect holiday.

Greatest travel luxury?

I love being able to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. You're picked up and dropped off at the airport and there are flat beds with lovely quilts on the plane. It's particularly nice when you're travelling home because it takes the edge off finishing a holiday. Because I spend a lot of time going back and forth to South Africa filming Wild At Heart I always try and fly with them because it makes it so much more enjoyable.

Where has seduced you?

I love Florence, my daughter has that as a middle name. More widely I just love Italy - the food, the culture, the weather and buildings.

Worst travel experience?

It was in Venice. I was in the middle of doing Thoroughly Modern Millie, and when I was there I keeled over with back pain. They mis-diagnosed it so I ended up being rushed to hospital and it turned out to be an acute kidney infection. It ruined the holiday, particularly since we had started the trip in Barcelona where Chris had been really ill.

Worst holiday?

A holiday in Cyprus with my ex-husband. We stayed at the Hotel Mirabelle and it was like a Carry On film. The hotel was half built and there was a crane outside our room.

Worst hotel?

The Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth. Chris and I went for tea and it was one of the worst services I've ever experienced.

Best hotel?

The Columbus in Monte Carlo. It's really funky and modern and has stunning views and a lovely bar where everyone congregates. You feel that you're getting real value for money because it's not overly expensive.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite walk is from Holkham Beach to Well's Beach. I also love walking through the woods on the Sandringham Estate.

Where next?

Back to South Africa to film Wild at Heart. Before that Chris and I are heading to Babington House in the Cotswolds for a few days to relax and to take our daughter swimming.

Amanda Holden is fronting the Goldsmiths jewellery campaign