Dive in: the Great Barrier Reef, off the Queensland coast / Alamy

'The Great Barrier Reef was amazing... Australia is like being on another planet'

Actress Olga Kurylenko is a spokesperson for Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. To watch the latest campaign, visit bit.ly/WaldorfOlga

First holiday memory?

St Petersburg. When I was eight years old, my mother took me to see the culture and do some sightseeing. I remember the big palaces where the tsars used to live and the River Neva, because we walked along its banks. It was summer, so the weather was beautiful and hot. Everything was bright and golden.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

London. I love it, that's why I live in the city. I've been there three years. I was first attracted to it because I started to make more English-speaking movies. For a while, I was living out of hotels, which was crazy, so I thought I might as well just live there. I love Chelsea and Notting Hill, all the parks and walking around when it's sunny. I like having tea at Fortnum & Mason too, which is very touristy, but I'm into all that.

Best holiday?

The South of France. I love Provence especially. I've always wanted to get a house there. Last summer, I went on holiday there and I really enjoyed it. I've been before, but this time was special. It's so quiet and peaceful. I went on some beautiful hikes with friends and we just cooked food all the time and talked. We were near the mountains, which is not as touristy at the coast.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Take all the things you need with you. Don't assume you can get it there. Pack all your books and your drawing materials – I don't like to get stuck without things to do. Also, take a huge bag of medicines, so you can be your own doctor.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

If someone says "we're going to the beach'" I'm already filled with anxiety. After one day, I always feel I need to take a walk or go see something. If a beach is near a city, that's a perfect combination. Then I can go and explore with my backpack. I like discovering and sightseeing.

Greatest travel luxury?

Once you fly in a private jet, you realise that it's a pretty good luxury, because you never have to wait. I travel so much that I'm always at the airport, checking in luggage or standing in queues. It's obviously not an affordable luxury and I'll probably never have one myself, but I did fly in one when we went on tour for Quantum of Solace and also for Oblivion. When you have access to one … wow!

Holiday reading?

I'm not really into reading summer bestsellers. I feel like they're a waste of time. I usually read things on psychology or philosophy. I'm interested in why people behave in certain ways and how we develop. That stuff fascinates me.

Where has seduced you?

India. I went there for a holiday and stayed at the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur in Rajasthan. It was fascinating. We just had the best time. We walked everywhere – around the streets and the markets – we went shopping, we took a little boat tour on the lake, we ate amazing food. It was just relaxing and peaceful. The people were great, too. I didn't necessarily see beautiful things or an easy life, but I saw the reality and that's what I like.

Worst travel experience?

I was stuck on a yacht in the Mediterranean once with people I didn't really connect with. It was difficult because we were at sea so I couldn't just leave. I just didn't like the subjects they spoke about, so I didn't want to participate. I left four days later.

Best hotel?

I love rooms with space. I usually come with big suitcases for work, because I've got to carry things for premieres and press events, so I always need lots of room. The Waldorf Astoria hotels are definitely for people who travel a lot and need to stay for more than a day. They become like home.

Best meal abroad?

Japan. I've tried the most amazing dishes there. They realised how adventurous I am, so they would put the most weird-looking things in front of me, things that even Japanese people don't eat, to see if I would.

Greatest adventure?

Australia. I went to see the Great Barrier Reef and it was just amazing. You put a scuba mask on and swim along these lines of coral, amid all these beautiful colours. Apart from the sea, Australia has amazing forests and incredible animals, too. It's so different from what we have here. It's like being on another planet.

Where next?

Los Angeles, then Toronto. I still haven't been to Kenya, which everyone raves about because of the wildlife, so I'd like to go there. And a trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia would be nice.