How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
Having been fortunate enough to have worked in the travel industry for so long, I am always reading, listening and filing away little nuggets of information about where to go and where to stay. I have certain travel writers and bloggers whose opinions I trust, but I tend to steer clear of anything labeled ‘hot’ or ‘trendy’. I will leave those places to the hipsters who want to see and be seen. What I am looking for is something informal and laid back, in a great location, with great food and a cocoon of luxury and service that I can’t get at home or from a cookie cutter hotel where the rules cannot be changed, even for the guest.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special hotels you have ever stayed at?
Belmond Hotel Splendido – it has the prettiest, conversation-stopping view down over Portofino harbour that you could drink in all day. And the fact that you never arrive at the Splendido without hearing laughter.
The Hell Bay Hotel on Bryher in the Isles of Scilly – you feel part of the community here and it is so laid back. They recently introduced the Crab Shack. It literally is just a shack, with chickens wandering about, but the most mouth-watering crabs prepared freshly that would rival anything in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Las Casitas del Colca- hidden away in Peru’s Colca Canyon – it is special because it is run by people so passionate about the hotel and the region and you really feel like you are at home. It’s warm by day and you can see the condors fly up on the thermals, then at night temperatures drop and you go back to your little casita to find a burning log fire and a little hot water bottle in your bed. If you are feeling very adventurous, you can pop into your own private heated plunge pool and watch the stars.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
- A roll top bath with a view, be it of the ocean, a sunset or a passing herd of elephant
- Great coffee, freshly made, in a cafetiere that actually stays hot
- The opportunity to always discover or try something new. I was recently at a resort called NIZUC in Mexico, which had the most incredible breakfast, with informative chefs on hand to encourage you or try a homemade tortilla garnished with habanero chili that can only be found in the Yucatan
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
- Toiletries that actually need proving thought has gone into the process, particularly as a woman. We need hair conditioner and eye make up remover!
- Morning tea at the Mount Nelson in Cape Town – a groaning table of savories for those mid-morning munchies
- Great coffee and a quiet space in which to linger over it
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
Over-attentive management – I had a terrible experience with a very over-enthusiastic boutique B&B owner who lurked about waiting for us to come through the door and even texted us while we were out to ask what time we would be home in the evening. It was like living with your parents! Other horrors include an empty breakfast buffet and feeling like you have outstayed your welcome after checkout. In the Outback of Australia we had an hotelier banging on our door asking us to leave at two minutes past the designated hour. Our last impression was not good!
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
Mostly I think “at last!” My friends and I are always playing ‘fantasy hotel’ and talk about what we would and, most importantly, would not have. I am thrilled that Italy is the first location and can’t wait to visit.
Where are you off to next?
Myanmar – to try out the new river cruiser by Yangon’s Strand Hotel, a 113-year-old boutique hotel that is still reinventing itself.
Vicky Legg spent two decades working for, and ultimately leading, the global PR team for Orient-Express Hotels, a collection of luxury hotel and travel experiences, a role which took her on countless adventures through the good, the bad and the ugly of hotels worldwide.
They say that the more you see of the world, the more your appetite for adventure grows, and despite repeatedly falling in love with many of the world’s most iconic hotels and heart-stoppingly beautiful destinations in her prior role, the lure of a new challenge and adventure became too much and Vicky Legg established Thrive Communications, her own independent PR agency, in January 2015.