My Life in Travel: Emilia Fox

'I was arrested in Moscow airport and held by armed guards'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

Going to Pisa with my parents when I was about seven. We travelled by train and my father wore a winter three-piece tweed suit with an overcoat. He didn't take it off once and it was the height of summer. My mother and I had to sit in another carriage because we overheated just looking at him.

Best holiday?

It would have to be a holiday with my fiancé Jared on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It meant a lot to us, because it was the first holiday we took together and also because it was at his father's (Richard Harris) house.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Dorset, because my mum and dad have a house there. We used to go on family holidays to Dorset nearly every summer; it was very rare that we went abroad. I've got lots of childhood memories of the area.

What have you learnt from your travels?

When I started working I didn't really go on holiday, I just travelled for work. However, since I've been with Jared we've been to such incredible places, that I have realised I should try and see as much of the world as possible while I can.

Ideal travelling companion?

Jared.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

A marriage of beach bum and culture vulture, but never with too much emphasis on either.

Greatest travel luxury?

Jared taught me to buy a small tin of caviar at the airport and take it on the plane. That way you feel like you've instantly been upgraded, so it doesn't matter too much if you're stuck in economy.

Holiday reading?

It's bliss because when I'm working my reading goes on hold. I'm also a great believer that if you take a book with you it doesn't matter where you are - if you get stuck at an airport for eight hours you'll have some way to pass the time. I like reading books about the place I'm going to. I was in South Africa this summer and I read the entire Alexander McCall Smith series, as well as JM Coetzee's Boyhood and Youth.

Where has seduced you?

South Africa. I'd never been to Africa before this summer and I went out for about five weeks because Jared was working there. It's quite extraordinary in terms of its size and culture. I also found it quite a humbling place.

Better to travel or arrive?

I enjoy both. I like the void of time in a plane because I can catch up with things like reading scripts. At the same time, being on holiday is so exciting. I manage to travel for pleasure quite a bit now, especially since we've bought a house in Los Angeles - I seem to be forever hopping on and off planes.

Worst travel experience?

Being arrested at Moscow airport on my way back to London. I put my bags through the X-ray machine and as they went through, the official caught my eye and decided to examine all of my bags. I was subsequently put through an eight-hour ordeal. I was arrested and kept in a back room at the airport with armed guards.

Worst holiday?

A school holiday to Switzerland. I have horrible memories of it, because I was with girls that I didn't know. It was probably the loneliest holiday I have ever been on, because everyone disappeared and got drunk and I was left on my own.

Worst hotel?

The Metro Hotel in New York. We walked straight out because the rooms were so unwelcoming and smelt terrible.

Best hotel?

I've got a few. At the top of my list is the Hotel Locarno in Rome. It's a taste of old Rome and is very intimate. Each room is individually designed with beautiful furniture and paintings and the bathrooms are extraordinary. My second favourite is the Phinda Game Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, because it is the most exciting and extraordinary hotel. My favourite in New York is The Maritime, because it's an unusual hotel in the Meatpacking district - it's designed as if you're on a ship and the food is delicious.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite walk is across the Dorset cliff tops, my favourite swim is in the sea off Paradise Island, my favourite ride is on a safari in St Lucia in South Africa and my favourite drive is a safari game drive at Phinda.

Best meal abroad?

The first meal that you have when you get off the plane. I have cravings for a restaurant called Sasabune in Los Angeles. It's Japanese, and has the most delicious food you could ever dream of eating.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Look at the view, then I check out the bathroom and the room-service menu.

Dream trip?

An around-the-world trip with Jared writing about the best secret hotels and restaurants we could find.

Favourite city?

Rome. It's so beautiful you can't believe it's a real place where people actually live. The residents also appreciate their city. There's a real sense of enjoying life and I like the hours that they keep. Their lifestyle is one that people should aspire to.

Where next?

Sheffield for work.

The actress Emilia Fox is a guardian angel for the Angels Against Addiction Campaign, which was launched by Action on Addiction (020-7793 1011; www.aona.co.uk). You can support the campaign by buying a T-shirt or angel wing charm or making a donation

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