My life in travel: Zandra Rhodes

'My ideal travel companion? Someone who never wants to sit down'

First holiday memory?

Being in Paris with my mother, who was a garment fitter. We'd stay with a woman we called Auntie outside the city. I remember being there at Easter, and it was wonderful. It was the Fifties and we wore bright printed-seersucker skirts, and my mother wore a little hat.

Best holiday?

The best holidays are the most inspirational, such as the time I went to the Atlas Mountains, off-season, with the artist Andrew Logan. It was freezing, and there was even dew on the desert in the mornings. We drew a lot, and I recall the villagers singing as they shook olive tree branches to get the olives to fall.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I like walking in London, particularly from the Fashion and Textile Museum, along the South Bank, to the birch trees beside Tate Modern. I also love hidden-away places such as Dennis Severs' house at 18 Folgate Street, in Spitalfields. There's no electricity and it's heated by coal fires. Each room represents a different period of its history.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Take everything as it comes. You can't hurry people and expect things to be done how they're done at home, because that's not why you travel. And the worse the experience, the better the stories!

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I spend half my time on the beach in Del Mar, California, as that's where my house is. I'm inspired by places where I see and experience things, where things are more of an effort.

Greatest travel luxury?

My sketchbook.

Holiday reading?

If I'm in India, say, there's bound to be some waiting around, so I tend to read then, usually books about where I am - by William Dalrymple, for example.

Ideal travelling companion?

Someone who wants to keep going and never wants to sit down.

Where has seduced you?

I haven't spent enough time in Egypt, particularly as my partner comes from there. The whole idea of burying all those treasures is so off-the-wall.

Better to travel or arrive?

The whole excitement, from checking in and going through security, to getting on your way, is all part of the adventure. If I'm with Andrew Logan, we always find something funny about where we are.

Worst travel experience?

Arriving somewhere when you've got nowhere to stay heightens the experience. The main thing is not being alone.

Worst holiday?

I'd never go back to Lanai in Hawaii. My boyfriend took his entire family. Expensive hotels are only enjoyable if there are just two of you, and it's somewhere romantic.

Worst hotel?

I was put up in a run-of-the-mill chain hotel when my flight was cancelled at Palm Beach. That was fairly crappy.

Best hotel?

The Splendido, in Portofino, is fabulous and romantic. The Beverly Hills Hotel is pretty if you're in one of the bungalows.

Best meal abroad?

There's a restaurant in Ahmedabad where you sit on the ground and eat food served on stitched leaves.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

I had a great holiday at Rancho La Puerta, in Tecate, Mexico. The walks into the mountains are unbeatable.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check the place out and, if I know people there, call them. If not, I look at a Lonely Planet guide and a historical guide.

Dream trip?

I'd love to go to Tibet and Cambodia with Andrew Logan to sketch. It would be a dream trip because it would be as far away from everyday life as possible.

Where next?

Possibly Egypt, as my partner has been invited to visit Alexandria's new library. Then I'm doing a trip to Pakistan with the High Commissioner, which should be amazing.

This week, Zandra Rhodes was presented with the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award, at the Fashion and Textiles Museum that she founded (

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