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My life in travel: Marcus Wareing, chef

'I'd love to take a trip across America'

First holiday memory?

My dad generally worked seven days a week but for two weeks of the year he used to treat us to a holiday in places like Spain, Tenerife, Tunisia and Italy. It was always a package trip and it was nice for me to be able to go abroad from such a young age. We never really holidayed in Britain.

Best holiday?

My last holiday, which was in a villa in the South of France, just outside of St-Tropez, near Port Grimaud. I went with my wife, Jane, and our three children. It was fantastic – a lovely villa with a swimming pool and perfect weather. It had everything we needed and we cooked every day; it was great.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

A couple of years ago I had three cottage holidays in Cornwall and Devon. So although I don't have one specific favourite place, I'd have to say the South of England – the coast down there is beautiful.

What have you learnt from your travels?

With young children, it's best to try and keep it as simple as possible. My children are aged eight, five and two and we usually try to avoid staying in hotels.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

At this stage of my life, I'd have to say that I'm a beach bum.

Greatest travel luxury?

It's nice not to have to fly in economy, but the luxury for me is peace of mind of where I'm going. This year we have decided to go back to the South of France, because the villa company we used last time – Royal Villas – got it absolutely spot on.

Holiday reading?

If I get through a whole book I'm lucky. Generally I like biographies and the last one I read was about Barack Obama. I thought Piers Morgan's diaries were hilarious and Jeffrey Archer's biography was an interesting read.

Where has seduced you?

The Maldives and Mauritius are pretty special – the ultimate beach locations. We stayed at Le Saint Géran in Mauritius and Kanuhura in the Maldives.

Better to travel or arrive?

I love travelling on my own and with my wife, but less so with the children. I love the experience of flying, from getting to the airport to checking in and getting on the plane. With kids, it's a complete nightmare.

Worst travel experience?

I have always been very cautious, but flying in business class on a night flight with the kids when they wouldn't sleep was a stress. The minute you sit down in the cabin with children, people look at you and you feel like this alien that's just stepped on to the plane.

Worst holiday?

When I was dating Jane about 16 years ago, I took her to a hotel in Tenerife I went to as a child. It was a place I remembered very fondly but with Jane it was the opposite of what I wanted it to be. It was a disaster. The weather was bad too and I just thought: "Why have I done this?"

Worst hotel?

The hotel in Tenerife. The food was disgusting. I enjoyed it as a kid but going back as an adult and a chef, I found it bitterly disappointing.

Best hotel?

Le Saint Géran in Mauritius. It captures everything about a holiday – the service, the hospitality and the location. Because I work such long and hard hours, the holidays I enjoy and remember most tend to be the ones near a beach.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

Driving along the Corniches in the south of France is pretty special and I'm very happy walking on Wandsworth Common in south-west London, where I live. I love it; it's where I play in the park with my children and it feels very family-oriented.

Best meal abroad?

At Alinea Restaurant, in Chicago. It has attention to detail at the highest level. It's modern and stylish, the service is impeccable and the food is unique. A very, very special place.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

If I'm with the kids, we try to get into the swimming pool as fast as possible. Then I'm happy.

Dream trip?

Once I've achieved everything I ever wanted to – setting up the businesses so that they're all happily functioning – I'd love for Jane and I to go on a long trip. I'd like not to worry about work and to do something like travel across America; go to the Far East, which I've never done; and discover Australia and New Zealand. The trouble is there is so little time right now.

Favourite city?

London. I love the culture and the history; it's a city with so much depth. There are things about it that annoy me, like some of the new buildings that go up that you would never see in places like Paris – I understand why Prince Charles gets so annoyed. But I've got to say London, because of the culture and the great gastronomy.

Where next?

The south of France.

Marcus Wareing is Chef Patron of Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, London (020-7235 6000; marcus-wareing.com).