The ABC Of VIP

She's been travelling the world since the Sixties. She's been anywhere and everywhere - so long as it's the very best, darling. She is the definitive jetsetter. So what kind of travel arrangements meet the approval of a globetrotting blockbuster novelist? Jackie Collins tells all
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The Independent Travel

I'm best known for writing "rags to riches" stories and once my characters have achieved their riches, life is all about the private jets, the limos, the hotel suites and the yachts. I was first introduced to the jet-set lifestyle when I was only 18 and engaged to my first husband. He had a private yacht in Juan-Les-Pins, which was beautiful. But he was a hard-working businessman so he would leave me on the yacht while he returned to London during the week. I'd get quite bored and say to the captain, "Let's go to St Tropez today," and he'd say, "Oh no. There's a mistral coming." This bloody yacht wouldn't go anywhere unless my husband was there. I noticed early on that people treat men and women very differently - even the captains of yachts. But given the choice, I'd always travel by private yacht.

On one memorable trip, I was on this enormous yacht in Monte Carlo owned by a Saudi prince. There was me, my fiancé at the time, a couple of friends, the owner and a crew of 100. We never sailed anywhere but they catered to our every need. They even had their own dry-cleaning plant, which I thought was the ultimate in luxury.

Another great trip was with some American friends and we sailed all along the Italian coast. We went to Capri, which is fantastic, and there's a marvellous restaurant called the Lemon Tree, which everybody who goes to Capri has to try. The little streets are full of jewellery stores and you can have the most beautiful shoes made for you. Then we sailed to Sicily and on to Sardinia. It was such a fabulous trip that I did it three years in a row. Quite nice, huh?

Not surprisingly, I've never been backpacking. I've always managed to go first class and I've got so used to it that I don't want to travel any other way. Although I'm not that fond of private planes. They're very luxurious but I prefer first class on British Airways. For me, it's the best form of travel because you get pampered, you often see people you know and the crew is always so friendly. I appreciate how spoilt I am but you know, my publisher is usually paying!

Wealthy people are very competitive about their private planes. They have this thing in LA called Net Jet, where you can hire a plane for certain hours of the year. A lot of people do that and it gets kind of, "My dick is bigger than yours," ie "I have more hours than you have!" Some of my friends are total plane whores - both men and women. They just hang around waiting to see who's flying to New York or Europe so they can hitch a ride. I don't do that, unless it's a very close friend.

The late Marvin Davis, an American billionaire, and his wife Barbara, who is a very good friend of mine, were a wonderful example of jet-setters. They had their own plane and were very gracious hosts. You would board the plane and Marvin would go off to his bedroom and sleep all the way. To me, that's the perfect host. You don't have to make conversation for the whole flight.

I don't think the jet-set heyday is over, far from it. But I think style is far more important than wealth. Any rich person can buy a plane and maintain it, but it's a total waste of money. And yet the private jet is definitely a status symbol. People are into the latest and biggest plane and they'll decorate it to look like a luxury apartment. I've heard about wild parties on board but I don't want to be on a plane while that's going on. I want the pilot to concentrate on flying. I hear the rock stars are inclined to throw a few orgies or two.

Some people feel the need to travel with an entourage but I travel alone. I bumped into a famous singer who's staying at my London hotel - not Michael Jackson, although he travels with an enormous entourage. This was another famous singer and he was standing with his bodyguard and I thought, " How strange. You just draw more attention to yourself." I think the bigger the entourage you surround yourself with, the more you get distanced from real life. They laugh at your jokes, tell you you're wonderful. Tom Cruise is the classic example. But take it from me, you really don't need an entourage to travel in style.

Jackie Collins's new book, 'Lovers and Players' (Simon and Schuster, £17.99) is out now

My favourite hotel

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I lived in the Beverly Hills Hotel for six months. It's an amazing hotel because it has such a history. Friends of mine tell me that originally there was a park where you could ride your horses. Guests used to ride their horses right up to the front of the hotel and tie them up. Also, there's this great pool which, in itself, is a Hollywood legend. The pool man, Sven, who was there for many years, could tell stories about all the old movie stars like Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable. I think he had affairs with a few of them. Then, of course, there's the famous Polo Lounge which, today, is filled with people like Sean Penn and Angelina Jolie. It's just a legendary hotel.

Beverly Hills Hotel (001 310 276 2251; www.beverlyhills hotel.com). Doubles from $490 (£272) room only

My favourite destination

I love Hong Kong and I find it fascinating. What I love about it is that you can be in a high-rise, modern hotel and look out on to the river and see all these old junks sailing by. Old China is right there in front of you. You can sit at the window of the Peninsular Hotel, for instance, and watch this parade of old junks and modern boats against the skyline - it's the most fantastic sight. Also, the people treat you very well there. One of the reasons I travel so much is to do research for my books. I don't want to write about a place unless I've been there.

My favourite countryside

I was born in England and I love the English countryside. When I'm here, I visit Michael and Shakira Caine who have a lovely home about an hour out of London. It's an idyllic house in a beautiful setting and they are an amazing couple. They've become stalwarts of English society - isn't he Sir Michael now? They are the most warm and welcoming people. I've known them a long time. They used to have a beautiful house in Los Angeles and they'd have a salon every Sunday where people would just drop in.

Jackie's top tips

HANG A LEFT ON THE PLANE

"I like to sit in seat 5A on British Airways because it has the biggest shelf. The great joy of travelling on BA is that you get your own shelf in First Class. You can pile up your books, your iPod, your drink and your papers."

DITCH THE POSH BAGS!

"All my friends have Louis Vuitton. I have this wonderful cheapo Tumi luggage, yet theirs is always being stolen or lost. All the Gucci stuff is great but it screams, 'Take me, I've got plenty of money!'"

NEVER HESITATE TO UPGRADE!

"I normally book a nice suite, but sometimes they upgrade me to the presidential or penthouse because they know I'm going to write about them. The next book is about Vegas: I'm hoping for the penthouse at the Wynn Hotel. "

MY ULTIMATE BEACH CLUB

"The Ocean Club in the Bahamas. It's very glam with a fabulous beach. It's almost like old colonial England, because you get a lot of old colonial English people there! Then you get the American movie stars. It's a really fun hotel."

KNOW YOUR AIRLINES!

"BA First Class or Qantas First Class. In America, I fly United. They have a special service from New York to LA which is great. I don't do all the pampering stuff, like massages. I don't like to be touched unless it's sexual."

ALWAYS SPARKLE!

"I love Graff in London and Harry Winston in LA. When I'm travelling, Ibuy jewels. A lot of young stars advertise jewels they've borrowed. If you're going to advertise jewels make sure the jeweller gives them to you."

NOTHING BEATS A YACHT

"I love private yachts. Travelling by them is wonderful - you have a luxury base and can visit different places. I never go by helicopter. I was in one once that was trying to land on a yacht, and we nearly ended up in the sea."

IT'S COCKTAIL HOUR!

"A lychee martini is the drink of the moment. Apple martinis are so over. Mr Chow's in LA makes the best lychee martini. On planes, it's very nice to have a mimosa. Champagne gives me a bit of a hangover."

PERSONALISE YOUR SNACKS

"A little caviar served in a lettuce leaf is a great snack on the plane. But also, when I get up to my room, the chef usually prepares me something special. He will bring up chocolate truffles specially made for me. "

DRESS DOWN TO FLY HIGH!

"I always travel in a tracksuit and tennis shoes: be comfortable and have fun. I had a girlfriend who was a movie star and two hours before landing, she'd go to the loo to change. Everybody hated her as no one could get into the loo."

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