Posted 7th November 2014 by FRENCHTOASTFACE – Anna Hart
The multi-talented travel writer, Louis Vuitton City Guides contributing editor, blogger, AND editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith, on the perfect yellow wheelie case, a bohemian bargain in Budapest and the £7.99 lipstick that beats all designer ones
Confession: I'd had a travel-writer crush on Juliet years before I met her on an unforgettable weekend in Budapest. Ever since she quit editing music mags in the 90s to co-found super-sexy hotel portfolio Mr & Mrs Smith, in fact, because Juliet is the jetsetting, shutter-happy travel writer that every girl wants to be. The Smith selection might be slick, sexy and stylish, but Juliet's infectious glee at pretty much every element of international travel makes her a real traveller's traveller. This week we partied at the annual Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards [you'll want to add every single one of these beauties to your to-die-for list] but she still found time to show me her suitcase....
Suitcase-wise, how do you roll?
I have the most beautiful brown leather Mulberry weekend bag – but it’s so heavy! My bright-yellow lightweight cabin-fit Tripp which I bought for a snip in Debenhams has proven the best ever carry-on suitcase – its wonderfully nimble on its wheels and makes racing through terminals a breeze.
Do you prefer backpack holidays, or wheelie-suitcase holidays, or do you have a fondness for both?
I’d be fibbing if I said I’d ever been much of a backpacker – it’s been wheelies all the way. I remember turning up at a beach shack in Thailand and lugging it through the sand looking a right Londoner.
What wardrobe item always winds its way into your suitcase?
Definitely one of my Lily & Lionel scarves for Mr & Mrs Smith - whatever the season. My ‘Venice' one is has served every purpose imaginable, from keeping me wrapped up and warm when the seasons suddenly changed on a minibreak, to blocking an annoying draft onboard a plane, to sitting on it on the beach or at a festival.
What is the weirdest thing in your suitcase?
E’lifexir Flat Tummy Plus tablets that are said to help beat bloating and improve digestion with prebiotics and peppermint oil - always handy on a plane when you’re stuck in your seat for ages and cabin pressure always changing: £9.99 for 30 tablets.
Have you ever had a complete packing disaster, when you brought all the wrong stuff or lost your suitcase or something?
I actually left my suitcase on the pavement at home when I caught an early-morning cab to the airport once...
Do you amp up your evening outfits on holiday, or do you take this as a chance to be super-casual?
Generally I am neither extreme – I’m a little bit of lipstick on the beach or in the bar person, never too designery or dressy. Dresses are always handing when travelling — easy to dress up or down.
Heels or no heels?
I have various pairs of Penelope Chilvers wedge-heel espadrilles which are a beast to pack. Thankfully they make up for their bulk with their versatility and my silver or gold shoes go with most outfits.
Are you a Kindle person or do you faithfully lug beautiful hardbacks around? What's on your reading list?
My Dad got me a Kindle and I thought I’d love it: but it feels a bit like work when I read on that. I still love actual books. That tangibility gives a sort of physical connection. Even with Donna Tartt's Goldfinch which is the size of an old Yellow Pages, I preferred carrying the book itself. Don’t be put off by the word count for that one either — I really recommend enjoyed it. I felt bereft when I came to the end.
Is there a pre-trip beauty treatment or other random ritual you do before jetting off, that keeps you a bit more low-maintenance on the road?
It is an extravagance - I’m a sucker for Strip, the bikini waxing parlour, which has an outlet near me in Notting Hill. It's as pain-free as is possible. I always get an Artistic manicure from Swanky’s Nail Parlour: it’s better than Shellac, and doesn’t destroy your nails and you can choose a super-bright colour that stays on looking decent for about 3 weeks.
What key items are always in your wash bag?
I bought a set of three clear toiletry bags from Boots which are ace for travelling as you can see what’s in there, and the small one is ideal for going through security. I was lucky enough to be given a pot of Dr Barbara Sturm’s MC1 cream(molecular cosmetics) – it’s made after she takes a sample of your blood cells which and she synthesises your own healing power to create a totally bespoke collagen-boosting face cream which means you don’t need a separate eye, day and night cream. It costs a fortune though...
Any amazing new make-up discoveries that are somehow perfect for travel?
Not new but a favourite: Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipsticks, a bargain at £7.99. I love the bright colours: easy to apply, stays on for ages and doesn't dry out lips or feather like most long-lasters
What's always on your playlist when you travel?
John Martyn’s Solid Air – it’s as old as I am but it’s a timeless folk-jazz (did I really write that?) album that’s as suited to cocktails on your balcony at sunset as a road trip.
Juliet at Brody House, her fave. I got to go with her!
If you could be at ANY hotel anywhere in the world right now, which one would it be? With who?
Brody House in Budapest! With my other half, Simon. Sampling Tokaj wine and making plans for our wedding which we’re having there next May.
What's your earliest memory of travelling?
When I was six months old we moved to Algeria (my Dad was a Canadian diplomat) and we travelled there via the QE2 to France.
Got a killer travel tip?
There's a lot to be said for not overly planning your schedule, as the whole reason you go on holiday is to escape timetables... HOWEVER I have learned over the years, that if you don't arm yourself with some intel you will invariably walk past that secret gem of a need-to-book four-rooms-only family-run restaurant and end up in a tourist trap eating average fare otherwise. And I have realised that creating a Googlemap before you go gives you a good orientation before you land in a destination. I just did one for my circuit in Somerset and it was great for when driving to have given myself a better sense of direction.