My Life In Travel: Angela Hartnett, chef

'It's like you have the ocean to yourself in the Hamptons'

Angela Hartnett MBE is chef- patron at Murano and York & Albany in London and Cielo by Angela Hartnett in Miami

First holiday memory?

Going to Butlins at Camber Sands. I have a vivid memory of seeing my brother in a boxing ring there.

Best holiday?

Some of my best holidays have been in Italy – renting houses in places like Puglia. I know Italy fairly well now and I particularly like the south, because it feels like it hasn't been polluted by loads of tourists. Sicily is also amazing.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Devon and Dorset are both great. I like the countryside and the lovely beaches around Studland Bay and Lyme Regis – it feels like proper British seaside.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I've learnt a bit about myself as well as other people and places. I've also learnt that other people are less fortunate and have come to appreciate home more.

Ideal travelling companion?

My mate David, who I've been on a few holidays with. We've known each other since we were at college and we work well together. We both like playing cards on the flight out and we can go off and do our own thing while we're away.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm a bit of a beach bum and culture vulture, which is probably why I like Italy so much. I've no interest in throwing myself off a mountain though.

Greatest travel luxury?

My iPod; I like to have my music with me.

Holiday reading?

I love reading. I've just bought the new Superfreakonomics book, because I really enjoyed the first one.

Better to travel or arrive?

I prefer to arrive. My idea of travel is to check in online, then get straight on the plane and arrive. I can't abide the airport experience. I leave everything to the last minute – hence I've missed a fair few flights! I travel a bit for work, to Europe and the US. My brother lives in America so I go to New York quite a bit.

Where has seduced you?

When I went skiing for the first time in Lake Louise, Canada – it was amazingly beautiful with the snow and mountain scenery. It is a stunning part of the world.

Worst travel experience?

I InterRailed for a month years ago with my friend Nicola, and it was the first time we'd properly been away from home. About 10 minutes into the journey I was in tears and wanting to go home. We had a few scrapes – I got my head stuck in the doors of the metro in Rome. Otherwise, it was great fun.

Worst hotel?

The Hotel Dora in Cinque Terre, Italy. I stayed there with Nicola and our room was so small it took one of us to lift one bed up to get into the other one. We couldn't both stand up at the same time.

Best hotel?

It has to be Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Tuscany.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I loved swimming in the Hamptons. I am very lucky that I've been a few times because a friend of my brother has rented villas there. The waves are amazing and nobody goes in so it's like you have the ocean to yourself. We'd cycle down and go for a swim at about 5pm as the sun set. It was just wonderful – so refreshing.

Dream trip?

I'd love to see the Chilean fjords in Patagonia. They look amazing.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Go for a walk to see what's going on and what's around.

Best meal abroad?

Recently it has been a restaurant called Arzak in San Sebastián, northern Spain. It's a three-star restaurant run by Elena Arzak and her father. It's not pompous, the food is great and they are two of the most hospitable people.

Favourite city?

I love Venice. It's stunning and lovely to walk around. There's always something new to see.

Where next?

I'm cooking at a Crisis centre over Christmas then I might go to New York for New Year, but I don't have anything booked yet.

Angela Hartnett is supporting the "Donate a Dinner" campaign for Crisis Christmas centres. She is cooking a Quality Standard beef dinner for the homeless and vulnerably housed on 23 December. You can "donate a dinner" at collection boxes in Quality Standard butcher shops or at simplybeefandlamb.co.uk

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