'In Mykonos there's a rock I swim out to. I climb up on it and meditate'

A trip to Perranporth in Cornwall. We used to go quite regularly for our summer holidays. I absolutely loved it. We would ride horses along the beach and go surfing. It took weeks of preparation and it was quite a performance getting there, because there were no motorways. I have been thinking about going back recently.

Best holiday?

A holiday with my family in Morocco over Christmas and New Year. We were based in Marrakech in a gorgeous house in Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Majorelle and then travelled all over the country. That was quite something. On New Year's Eve we slept in the open air in a big stone fort, wrapped up in rugs beside a fire - it was magical.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Lake District. It has an atmosphere that I haven't found anywhere else in the world - and, of course, it's breathtakingly beautiful.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Not to over-pack. I have become quite an expert.

Ideal travelling companion?

Lord Byron, because he was a pretty good traveller and I think he'd have a good sense of humour, which is an essential quality in a fellow traveller.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

All three. I love bumming around on the beach, but I'm also fascinated by archaeology; I like adrenalin to a degree.

Greatest travel luxury?

A great shower.

Holiday reading?

I read a lot when I'm on holiday. I usually go to a bookshop and buy a stack of books and then chuck a few out along the way.

Where has seduced you?

Senegal; I have been a few times. It's a fascinating place and the people are wonderful. We took our kids, which was a real adventure for them. Another time we took medication into the jungle with Médecins Sans Frontières.

Better to travel or arrive?

The whole business of travel has become so stressful, but I love travelling by boat. The ideal means of travel would be Concorde or by ship, so you don't get jetlag.

Worst travel experience?

I first went to Australia for the opening of the Sydney Opera House and it took us about three days to get there. We were supposed to fly from London but they flew us to Rome, then back to London for about 12 hours and then on to Sydney. However, they were on strike at Sydney airport, so we had to fly to Canberra and drive to Sydney. I don't remember much about it, because I was so exhausted.

Worst holiday?

A family holiday to Bermuda. I'd been before and loved it, but this time we arrived at the end of a hurricane and it rained constantly. My husband hated it and the family didn't like it because they couldn't do anything.

Worst hotel?

The hotel in Bermuda wasn't great. It was a huge complex with dreadful buffet meals.

Best hotel?

The Ritz Carlton in Pasadena is just perfect. It has beautiful grounds, lovely views and the food is fantastic.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/ drive?

My favourite swim is in the sea around Mykonos. The beach I go to is divine and the sea is beautiful and quite cool. There's a rock I swim out to and I climb up onto it and meditate before swimming back.

Best meal abroad?

A meal with my husband in Portofino, which was perfect. It was early summer and we ate simple lobster followed by strawberries, in the fresh air. Sometimes perfection is just something very simple.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I check the shower and ask for extra pillows.

Dream trip?

I want to go back to New Zealand because I loved it when I last went. I haven't been to Tibet so I'd also really like to go there.

Favourite city?

I adore New York but San Diego is also fantastic. It's not too big and the climate is perfect. I love the Hotel del Coronado - it was used in Some Like it Hot - although they pretended it was in Florida.

Where next?

I don't have anything planned, but I'd like to go back to Ireland.

Interview by Sophie Lam