Favourite places to stay on holiday?
When I stay in hotels I like places that have beautiful spacious rooms with great views and I think that it’s important it’s relaxed and not too formal.
I don’t tend to stay in hotels very much because I always find with the kids, aged 12 and 15; I prefer to rent houses. We took the children to the Maldives which they loved but, as we have houses in Cornwall and Switzerland, they love going back to the same place and have all their friends there.
We love Verbier – it’s a really nice mixture of being a village, which is safe and accessible so kids can get to and from things on their own, and a real party town – yet I feel comfortable with kids having some independence there. If they leave their coat somewhere they actually get it back!
I really like going to Cornwall, I love the sea there because it’s very wild and it’s always changing and I don’t like to be too hot – I’m happy with the fact weather can be quite patchy! The geography is beautiful. It’s very changeable and you never know what to expect when you look outside. It’s very down to earth there too. As I live in London it’s obviously very urban and when I go away, it’s lovely to be somewhere quite informal and still quite wild.
It’s very relaxing to be somewhere where you’re dwarfed by nature and what Verbier and Cornwall have in common is you have that feeling that nature is bigger than you. In Cornwall, the sea is always changing and in Verbier you have this wonderful sky and mountains.
I find that when you’re caught up in physical activity, it’s a great de-stresser, especially because of being so close to nature, and you’re doing things that require concentration and care.
Privacy: getting away from other people. In a home rental environment you have private space rather than a public space.
Comfort: all beds and sofas come with handmade, fantastic upholstery and all are made with feather cushions and sprung bases. It’s really important not to have a sofa that feels you might slide off and it’s just for show. After a hard day’s skiiing, and after you’ve been very physical during the day and so when you come back, you want to be enveloped in warmth and comfort, with fantastic beds to retreat to.
They are very much loved homes and so you feel you’re in a private house with a private touch and attention to detail, and each is quite different. They all have their own personality… Nice pieces of folk art, which when I look at them I think how lovely they are – they’re quirky. They are stocked with things like loads of packets of green tea, or there might be a fantastic collection of books or decorative features.
There’s also an extraordinary wine collection – my husband loves Bordeaux, and he particularly likes big-format bottle sizes – magnums or double magnums. I think that good wines are something more people are interested in. We try to price it in a way that’s accessible, so if you are interested in wine it’s not outrageous.
Any bugbears with travelling?
I don’t want any nasty surprises; I want somewhere to be exactly like it is in the photographs, and do exactly what it says on the tin. All too often when you’re travelling, spaces all run to a corporate formula no matter how beautiful they are, and you could be anywhere in the world.