Olga Polizzi: My life in travel

‘My parents would take a suite for  themselves and a house for us children’

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

I don’t enjoy travelling anymore, it’s ghastly.

I just got back from Munich and Frankfurt,  because we have a hotel in each city. When you travel for business, that’s all you do. They grab you when you arrive and show you around and tell you everything they want done, and you tramp around for hours and you don’t really have a chance of seeing much else.

When I was a child we travelled  en masse.

We were six children and we travelled with my parents, my nanny and my grandfather, and a helper for my grandfather. My father used to  insist we had to be dressed very smartly, and we weren’t allowed to carry anything by hand in case we lost something.

My father ran the catering at lots of the airports, so we always arrived at the airport in time for lunch. We all had to eat the same thing or else it would be long-winded with everyone saying “I want this and I want that”. My father would say: “Chicken for everyone!” We would raise our hands and say: “I want fish,” and he would say: “No, chicken for everyone!”

My parents would take a suite for  themselves and a house for us children.

We had a hotel in the Algarve and as there were houses near the hotel we used to stay in the house and they stayed in the hotel. Every morning, my father would arrive for breakfast and we all had to jump up and be there.

Praia da Marinha, a popular beach in Algarve

There was always a sigh of relief as my father went back to the hotel. It was a month of  endless swimming and sunshine which I’ve never really had since. I do sometimes like to take my own family to Sicily, to a place we’ve got, but that’s only for a week or so, so it’s not quite the same feeling.

I don’t tend to stay in hotels on holiday.

I usually take a house or I stay with someone.

Cornwall is another country.

It feels like being abroad. Everything moves at  a slower pace, you feel like people know you,  it’s just so much easier. There’s wonderful walking in the Roseland, which is an untouched corner of Cornwall. You walk from Nare Head and Portloe. It’s a very hard but magnificent walk along the coast – we try and do that at least once a year. And the Lizard Peninsula is still rather unknown.

Rome is marvellous.

You eat well, you can walk everywhere in the centre; it has a lot of pedestrian areas. There’s fantastic shopping, and every corner and every square has something beautiful to see.

rome main_1.jpg
Toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and to Roma you'll return. REX FEATURES

Jumby Island in Antigua is like a film set.

It has a long, white, pristine beach, is fringed by palm trees, and has a crystal clear sea that you can walk in for quite a while before it gets deep.

I used to think Brussels was so boring.

But I’ve found it’s got marvellous antique shops and fairs, beautiful  1930s architecture, left as it was. That surprised me, as now I love going to Brussels. And it’s so close; you can go for two days. It’s a very rewarding city, and it’s small enough to know it.

Cambodia is my next trip.

I’m going in October, down the Mekong River from Vietnam, on a lovely small boat. My husband, William, is the lecturer on board. And he’s written a lot about Vietnam and Cambodia. Cambodia has been quite ruined lately, but the temples of Angkor are amazing.


I try to eat less on holiday.

It’s my slimming period, but good food is always a great pleasure. Years ago, I went to Yugoslavia, as it was then. And near Dubrovnik we went for lunch, and they dived and collected oysters and they opened them for us and we squeezed a bit of lemon on them. I’ve never eaten an oyster like it, incredible.

Olga Polizzi is director of design at Rocco Forte Hotels, founded with her brother, Sir Rocco Forte (roccofortehotels.com)