'LA is a beach culture without sitting on a beach all the time'

First holiday memory?

My mother [actress Helen Shingler] used to do the TV show Maigret, so a lot of our early holidays revolved around France. They would film location stuff there and we would go along as well. We went all over: the Dordogne, the Loire, Brittany. We would find a camping site and spend a week getting there, stopping off at the odd hotel, but mostly at camp sites on the way.

Best holiday?

I think it's LA. When I was doing Buffy, our family would make holidays part of the job. We'd go out for three weeks, and the first two weeks we'd have together and do Universal Studios and Disney, and then the last week I'd start work and the kids would join me on set. The worst part of it always was saying goodbye; I'd be left to get on with the work and they'd leave.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Somerset. We moved there about 15 years ago. When I come back from travels there's a certain place where you come off the M4 that overlooks the Avon Valley. I always open the window and just breathe the air.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That it's always good to come home when you spend a long time away from your family. It's lovely to be in exotic places, but if I didn't know I was going home I think I'd lose it.

Ideal travelling companion?

My partner, Sarah. When I'm on my own because of a job and I'm not able to share stuff with her, it devalues what I'm seeing. We laugh a lot together; she's my best friend as well as my partner.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Beach bum. That's one of the great things about LA; it's sort of a beach culture without having to sit on a beach all the time.

Greatest travel luxury?

Someone to organise it all for me! That is one of the joys of being an actor – there is usually someone who takes care of the travel arrangements.

Holiday reading?

I always take a book and then never read it. It usually ends up that I've got a script or two that I take with me and I have to read them.

Where has seduced you?

We stayed in this beautiful nest of chalets in an old plantation in St Lucia. I still look at the pictures I took on my phone. It's a vista that goes around from tropical rainforests, taking in an extraordinary mountain spur, and then out to the Caribbean. It is the most idyllic surroundings I think I've known, a beautiful place.

Better to travel or arrive?

Definitely arrive. As far as travelling is concerned, I try to do as much as I can with Virgin: they do make travel enjoyable. They aren't quite as attentive as they were once upon a time; I do miss the in-flight massage.

Worst travel experience?

It was my own fault. I was travelling out to LA with my daughters to do a photo shoot for Buffy. I got them each their own passport, and for some bizarre reason I got single fares out there. We got to Heathrow and I was alright because I had a visa, but the girls needed return tickets. I'd left my credit card behind and had absolutely no means of paying, so someone had to take us all the way back to Bath. I missed the photo shoot and they had to shoot me separately and Photoshop me in; it was just hideous.

Worst holiday?

It was a working holiday but Haiti was the most unpleasant place I've been to. Just before I got there the crew had been kidnapped by a machete-wielding mob and held hostage. And while I was there, there was gunfire every night and six policemen were beheaded and left on the road.

Worst hotel?

The Stouffer Concourse hotel in LA. A long time ago when I did a commercial for Nescafé, somebody had the strange idea of running a competition to find the characters' names. The prize was to meet me and Sharon Maughan, who was the other actor in it, at the Stouffer Concourse hotel. As we were flying in, Sarah looked out of the window and said "Isn't that our hotel?" – it was right by the runway; there was an 18ft wall overshadowing the pool, presumably to stop people on the plane from looking into it.

Best hotel?

Without a doubt, also in LA, it's Shutters on the Beach. It's always been a favourite of Sarah's and mine. When the girls were much younger we would get a babysitter and go and have cocktails on the balcony overlooking Santa Monica beach. It's really relaxed.

Favourite walk/ swim/ride/drive?

We did this drive up to the Sequoias in North California in an open-top Mustang. It was great fun, but when we got there it was the most incredible place – stunning trees; the forest was absolutely beautiful.

Best meal abroad?

Crab cakes on the balcony of Shutters on the Beach with a margarita, or champagne.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Look at the view then look at the bathroom. They're both pretty much interchangeable; if you've got a crap view you've got a crap bathroom and vice versa.

Dream trip?

I'd love to go to Tibet. It's always held a great mystery for me.

Favourite city?

Palmyra, which is an ancient Roman city in the Libyan desert and one of the most extraordinary sites I have seen. There's a beauty to something that's been preserved in the desert.

Where next?

Paris, to do more Merlin. We shoot in the most extraordinary château called Pierrefonds, which is about an hour north-west of Paris. It's a strange sort of folly; Napoleon III commissioned it on the ruins of a medieval castle. The first time I walked into what we use as the throne room, which is this wooden chamber with a vaulted ceiling, I thought, "Oh my God; I am a King!"

Anthony Head stars in 'Free Agents', out now on DVD, £19.99