My Life In Travel: Kelly Rowland, recording artist and X Factor judge

'I love a nice hotel room – a place with great sheets'


First holiday memory?

Jamaica with friends and family when I was 16. We stayed at this nice resort where I remember eating a lot of jerk chicken, with rice, peas and plantains. I wanted to wake up at 7am every day to go down to the water because the way the sun came up was so beautiful.

Best holiday?

Mexico. I went to Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula with friends and a boyfriend at the time for New Year's Eve. It was very romantic, the cliffs were beautiful, the tequila was abundant and the food was so fresh. We took quad bikes on the beach and went fishing on a boat. At night, we danced on the tables and partied until I don't even know what time in the morning at El Squid Roe – it was fantastic.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Cardiff was really beautiful when we went down to do The X Factor auditions. The sun was out and all the seagulls were flying around. We had a hotel by the bay. It was so good.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I love a nice hotel room – a place with great sheets. But the more you experience different kinds of luxury, the more you know what you're comfortable with. I stayed in the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, where they gave us a butler. Some people love it, but it was too much for me. It just felt weird.

Ideal travelling companion?

Somebody who's adventurous, spontaneous and likes to have fun. I have a friend from LA who loves to go out when we're away. We'll lie on the beach all day, go to our rooms to freshen up, meet in the lobby, go out to dinner, followed by drinks and then a club. After, we'll go to the beach again, at which point I'll want to crash and she'll want to carry on.

Better to travel or to arrive?

It's all about the arrival. I'm one of these people who gets annoyed going through security and the whole process of waiting for the flight. When I landed in Cabo San Lucas, we stayed at the Esparanza Hotel, which was so beautiful. You walk through this little passage and look over the cliff which takes your breath away. When I was there, the whales were migrating, so you'd see all these spouts erupting out of water.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I have aspirations of being an adrenalin junkie, but something always seems to come up. I wanted to go bungee jumping in Mexico, but then it rained so we couldn't go. In South Africa, I was supposed to go shark diving, but I had to cancel it.

Greatest travel luxury?

My passport. I've heard the craziest stories of people losing them, so I keep mine stuck to my thigh. I also love my luggage – it's sturdy and the airlines seem to have taken very good care of it.

Holiday reading?

I've just picked up a book about Marvin Gaye's life called Mercy, Mercy Me, which I'll start on my next trip. But generally, I like catching up on magazines. From fashion and interiors to travel. I like the ones where they tell you the best deals: where to go and what that destination has to offer?

Where has seduced you?

The Palace of the Lost City, a beautiful hotel in Sun City, South Africa. There were monkeys outside my window, which I started feeding each day at 3.30pm (even though they told me not to). After the first time, they came knocking on the windows and trying to slide the doors open. I loved it.

The service in the hotel was amazing, too. I was sick when I arrived, but they brought a doctor in and fresh tea. I would go back there in a heartbeat.

Best hotel?

The Beverly Hills Hotel. I recently went back to LA for a quick visit to see some friends and stayed there. It's the ultimate luxury. Everything from the carpets to the sheets is just right.

Favourite drive?

From my house in Miami up to Orlando, Florida. I often take my godchildren to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios up there. There's a lot of greenery along the way and I have them in the back asking every five minutes "are we there yet?"

Best meal abroad?

Evita's – an Italian restaurant in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was the first time I had arrabiata pasta and I drank really great wine with it. The whole meal was just lovely. Also, I love the duck salad in Hakkasan's, a Chinese restaurant in Mayfair, London. If the waitresses see me one more time, they're going to get sick of me.

Dream trip?

Bora Bora in French Polynesia. I love the way the houses sit on the water and it seems so far away when I see it on TV or in movies. I'd like to go with a bunch of friends, so we could get a couple of nice villas and just have fun.

Favourite city?

Miami. I've lived there for six years and I still love the creative energy I get from being there. I'm gone so much it still feels like a vacation being home. There's a nice little Cuban restaurant called FiFi's Seafood and it's always just so good, especially the mango tuna rolls. Also, Prime One Twelve is a good place to eat. It's a steakhouse where they do things like Kobe beef with great sides.

Where next?

Possibly Africa after we wrap up The X Factor in December. I'd like to do a safari but haven't quite figured out the details yet.

Kelly Rowland is the new face of the 'Make Mine Milk' campaign. Her album Here I Am is out on 28 November

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