My Life In Travel: James Martin, television presenter and restaurateur

'I've got a pilot's licence – I find it very relaxing'

First holiday memory?

Blackpool. I'm a northern lad. We used to drive across the Pennines to Lancashire and then drop down into Blackpool. I remember eating candy floss and rock, riding a donkey up and down the beach and proper fish'n'chips in newspaper.

Best holiday?

The Amalfi Coast. Every corner you drive around feels like it opens a whole new world. It's just beautiful scenery and some of the most amazing, winding roads. The region is fantastic for food, too. It's famous for San Marzano tomatoes that grow near Vesuvius, buffalo mozzarella, great seafood and Amalfi lemons.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

You can take the boy out of Yorkshire, but not Yorkshire out of the boy. If you go from Pickering, right up over the moors towards Whitby, there's an area called the Hole of Horcum. When you've got a day with moody skies, I think it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

What have you learnt from your travels?

There's no place like home. It's great to venture out and see things, but you've got to appreciate what's on your doorstep. We've got great galleries across the UK and the landscape along the west coast of Scotland is some of the most beautiful you'll ever see. I've learnt to appreciate home a lot more.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

The thought of jumping out of a plane fills me with horror, but I did get my pilot's licence two years ago. I find it very relaxing: the phone's switched off and nobody can contact you.

I also love going to art galleries and cultural sites, especially in Italy. You almost can't describe the beauty of the Colosseum. The sheer size is incredible.

Greatest travel luxury?

Noise-cancelling headphones. I've got a massive pair, which take up half my luggage, but they're fantastic when I'm travelling.

Holiday reading?

I'm dyslexic, so I don't read novels. Instead, I take car magazines to flick through or my iPad. I'm better with more visual things.

Where has seduced you?

St Barts in the Caribbean. I want to retire there. It has the most frightening runway in the world – you drop off the edge of this cliff, land and hit the brakes quickly before you run into the sea – but if you could draw a perfect Caribbean island, it would be St Barts. I wanted to buy a house there after being there for 24 hours.

Better to travel or arrive?

Arrive. Over Christmas, I went to Goa, which was both amazing and depressing. You can't believe how people live there and the disparity in wealth. There's a colossal difference between those who have, and those who have not. I fell in love with the locals though – they were just the most humble, nicest people you could ever meet.

Worst travel experience?

A visit to the US, which got off to a bad start at JFK airport. I took my mum for her 50th birthday and ended up spending most of the first 24 hours handcuffed to a chair in customs.

They ripped my suitcase and clothes to pieces searching for drugs. Apparently someone had been using my passport number illegally. I walked out with all my stuff in carrier bags.

Worst hotel?

A place along the coast of southern Italy where I stayed with a film crew. To say the bathroom needed a good clean was an understatement.

There was no shower curtain – just a drain in the floor. The duvet fell apart when I touched it. There were stains everywhere. I'm sure David Attenborough would've had a field day in there.

Best hotel?

The Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. I go whenever I get a weekend off from Saturday Kitchen. It's just one of those old-fashioned hotels with a fantastic lobby and opulent rooms. It's bang in the centre, walking distance from the Champs-Elysées and close to a great antiques market. It's luxury personified. Also, a country house hotel called Chewton Glen, in the New Forest. I used to work there and still love it. They've got a beautiful health club and they're just building some luxury tree houses, too.

Best meal abroad?

French onion soup followed by sole meunière at Le Fouquet's on the Champs-Elysées. I go every time I'm in Paris. Even though it's expensive, you can sit and watch the world go by while eating great food.

Dream trip?

Asia. I've never been and, as a chef, I find the region fascinating. They're very imaginative with their ingredients, especially in Japan. I'm drawn to those kinds of flavours and would love to taste them there.

Favourite city?

Naples. It's a mad place but has amazing restaurants. There's one called L'Antica Pizzeria Michele which has been going since 1870. It only does two pizzas – with cheese or without – cooked by an old boy who sits smoking in the corner. It's the best pizza in the world.

Where next?

I might be going to the States to do some TV work. In terms of a holiday though, hopefully I'll make it back to St Barts soon.

James Martin will be cooking live at the BBC Good Food Show Spring (12 to 15 April, at Bluewater, Kent) and at the BBC Good Food Show Summer (13 to 17 June, at the NEC, Birmingham).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
Extras
indybest
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Recruitment Consultant (Trainee), Finchley Central, London

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor