'Coming home is a great thrill. I miss the English sense of humour'

Sitting on a train going to Ilfracombe with my mother. I loved the huge stretches of white sand and playing by the sea. I must have been about three or four at the time and I remember owning a little doll that I set down on the sand one day while I paddled in the sea, and when I came back it was gone. I was heartbroken for several years.

Best holiday?

On a friend's yacht. We were travelling along the Italian coast and over to Sardinia. It was fantastic to visit places like Capri and Positano on a private yacht - arriving at dawn or dusk - both looking exactly as they do in postcards, then being able to get off the boat and wander around.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Brighton. When I was a kid, my parents used to drive my brother Bill and me there every Sunday. Once we arrived we would race along the beach, stop for an ice-cream, then have tea with my grandma. Brighton holds a lot of good memories.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Travelling teaches you many things, and one of them is to never carry money! American Express has a useful new travel card, which means you don't need traveller's cheques any more. I've also always tried to master a little of the language of the country I am going to be visiting, especially France.

Ideal travelling companion?

My three daughters. Last year we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas, which was amazing. We stayed in a great high-roller suite with an amazing view of the Strip. We went to all the hot restaurants, the best shows and then gambling, which I absolutely love, although I'm not a degenerate gambler!

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

An adrenalin junkie. When I visit countries I have a need to find out what's going on beneath the tourist veneer. Sitting on a beach doing nothing is not for me - I certainly don't trail around all the exhibitions and culture spots. I like to capture the feeling of the place I'm in, so if I'm in Rome, for instance, I like hanging out in cafés and talking to the locals.

Greatest travel luxury?

Travelling by private plane. I don't have one myself but a lot of my friends do and it's a real luxury. My other luxury is first class on British Airways, which is the absolute best.

Holiday reading?

I love to read on holidays because I never get to do it when I'm writing because I don't want to pick up the rhythm of another writer. My current favourite is Detour by James Siegel, which is a thriller that I couldn't put down.

Where has seduced you?

I am seduced everywhere I go. Venice is a particular favourite - you feel as if you're in a Bertolucci movie when you're there.

Better to travel or arrive?

Travelling is a drag because of the security problems today, although I wouldn't have it any other way. As soon as I arrive at my destination, I head out and explore the city.

Worst travel experience?

Recently when I was in the Bahamas and decided to leave during a holiday weekend. There was a line for security that stretched all the way out of the airport. Hundreds of people stood outside in the boiling heat for hours and I was one of them.

Worst hotel?

A hotel in Germany where the fire alarm went off at 2am and we all had to be evacuated. It was a false alarm and naturally no one apologised.

Best hotel?

The Dorchester in London. It's like a home from home and I always have the same suite overlooking Hyde Park. The people who work there are so friendly. I would recommend it to anyone.

Favourite walk / swim / ride / drive?

I enjoy driving. When I am in London I usually drive out to see Michael and Shakira Caine, who live in the countryside, and the drive there is fab.

Best meal abroad?

At Nobu in London, which is abroad because I live in Los Angeles. The blackened cod is so delicious that I want to order it again and again.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Unpack before anything else. A great tip is to put all your clothes on wire hangers with dry-cleaning bags over them and then you never have to get anything pressed. It's instant unpacking.

Dream trip?

I guess it would be around the world, stopping in places like Hong Kong, Bali and Australia.

Favourite city?

London, where I was born, so coming home is a great thrill. I love the English sense of humour, which I miss very much living in Los Angeles.

Where next?

Whenever I write a book, it's about a place I have usually been to and experienced the restaurants and ambience. My next novel will be set in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so keep on reading and I'll keep on travelling!

Jackie Collins' new book, 'Lovers and Players' (Simon and Schuster, £17.99), is out now. www.jackiecollins.com