Celebrities' Favorite Places
“To be alone in nearly 300,000 acres of pristine wilderness with young Masai warriors guiding you is really a peak experience,” says Norton.
Travel + Leisure asked tastemakers and celebrities—from chef David Chang to fashion designer Michael Kors—to reflect on their ultimate travel experiences, and their answers are as eclectic as the people themselves. Each locale sheds a bit of insight into the person, and none is off limits.
Your next vacation might be inspired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who reminisced about the charms of her childhood hometown of Prague (pictured here), or by Vampire Weekend keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij, who took an overnight train through Rajasthan, India, and waxed poetic about a night sleeping in the desert under the stars.
Walter Isaacson, author and president of the Aspen Institute, feels a similarly powerful affinity with New Orleans, saying, “I inhale the mixture of humidity and magnolias, and it’s like Proust biting into the madeleine.’ He treasures biscuits in the courtyard of the Soniat House hotel, strolling along Chartres Street, and listening to jazz legends Charmaine Neville and Ellis Marsalis at Preservation Hall.
These notables often have the world at their well-connected fingertips, so it’s intriguing to learn which places have left an indelible impression. While no adventure is the same, each one is special and even transforming. Perhaps we can take a cue from novelist John Steinbeck, who said, “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike...we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
Find out which places have already won over celebrities, and prepare to be taken. —Jeryl Brunner
See T+L’s Complete Bucket List
Napa Valley, CA
“Napa Valley has great restaurants, but for me the high points are the local events, such as bocce competitions at Crane Park, in St. Helena. I can hold a ball in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, and so far, it’s not against the rules.”—Francis Ford Coppola, filmmaker and owner of Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge, in Belize
New York City
How to condense New York City into a single perfect day? Here’s one take, from hotelier, entrepreneur, designer, and lifelong Manhattanite Ivanka Trump.
10:30 a.m.: “The exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art are so inspiring. I like to pick up stylish housewares at the museum store.”
1 p.m.: “Head to Casa Lever ($$) for antipasti; the dining room is very Mad Men.”
2:30 p.m.: “Stroll through Central Park to see the Carousel—my daughter, Arabella, adores it.”
3:30 p.m.: “You’ve got to make time to shop, so hop a cab to SoHo. Two musts: Odinfor men’s wear and Warby Parker for great sunglasses.”
8 p.m.: “My husband and I love Supper ($$$), in the East Village. The mint pasta is insanely good.”
Chyulu Hills, Kenya
“Campi Ya Kanzi, the Masai-community-owned lodge in the Chyulu Hills of eastern Kenya, achieves the perfect combination of luxury and exclusivity, with rigorous sustainability and commitment to the locals. I like to walk with Masai trackers early in the morning or hike up to the cloud forest, which is another world entirely.” —Edward Norton, actor and board member of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
Prague, Czech Republic
“The beauty of Prague, where I was born, can be found in its ancient cobbled streets, towering cathedral spires, haunting statues, and architecture that ranges from Byzantine to bizarre. I love being an American, but each time I go back, I find that a piece of my heart has never left.”—Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state
Jackson Hole, WY
“I love to go fly-fishing in Jackson Hole, in Wyoming. It’s where I get some of my best thinking done. WorldCast Anglers leads excellent guided trips for all levels.” —David Chang, chef
“When I first visited Beijing, I enjoyed it so much that I remained for five months, exploring the old and new parts by foot, bicycle, and rickshaw. The Chinese capital stimulates the brain and enlarges the mind.” —Gay Talese, writer
“André Le Nôtre’s gardens at Versailles established a style that is still influential today, from France to the most humble plot in Long Island. I’ll never forget the experience of walking along the Grand Canal, or in one of the exterior garden rooms, or bosquets.” —André Leon Talley, contributing editor, Vogue
“The food in Oaxaca, Mexico, is excellent: complex moles; chicken soups with different kinds of chiles; fresh street-side tacos. I love La Biznaga Restaurant ($$), which specializes in regional Slow Food dishes.” —April Bloomfield, chef
“In Rajasthan, India, we took an overnight train from Jaipur to Jaisalmer. The fort city was built more than 850 years ago, and almost every surface is sandstone. I’ve never felt so far removed from my everyday life as I did there. On our last night, we went to the desert and slept on a sand dune, with only blankets for warmth. That night, I felt a deep connection with my ancestors.” —Rostam Batmanglij, keyboardist for Vampire Weekend. Book through Pallavi Shah of Our Personal Guest.
“My favorite place to go on vacation is Capri and to stay at La Scalinatella—it’s heaven. The dreamy surrealism of the hotel (colorful tile floors, scrolly furniture, weird sculptures) is all whomped together in a way that captures the otherworldly majesty of Capri. It’s quirky and improbably un-self-conscious. The shops are tiny but they always entice me with incredibly creative displays. They hang a shirt at a jaunty angle; they create a pile of sweaters that you want to eat; they make swimsuits look like they will change your life. I always come back with 10 new swimsuits from Russo Uomo. They're irresistible!” —Jonathan Adler, designer
New Orleans, LA
“I could’ve spent years at the Grand Bazaar, in Istanbul, sifting through rugs and kilims, the amazing baubles at Sehrazat, and the all-natural bath products at Abdulla. The trip informed my entire Resort 2013 collection. Everything I saw—the jewel-like colors; the architecture of the Old City; the handcrafted decorative details—added up to a dazzling inspiration board.” —Michael Kors, fashion designer
The best day in London is layered with one-off experiences. Accessories designer Anya Hindmarch shows you how to fit it all in.
8 a.m. Go for breakfast at the historic cabmen’s shelter on Pont Street ($); it’s for cabbies only, but you can sweet-talk them into making you a bacon-and-egg sandwich.
10 a.m. Gallery-hop in Mayfair: Haunch of Venison and Timothy Taylor are standouts.
Noon: Take a turn through Old Spitalfields Market before exploring East London’s heritage architecture.
1 p.m. Stroll to the Rochelle Canteen ($$) for lunch, then cab it to the Museum of Brands, a window into 20th-century consumer culture.
5:30 p.m. Grab a delicious sausage toast at the Dock Kitchen ($$$).
7:45 p.m. The Royal Court Theatre gets it right with every production. Case in point: Jez Butterworth’s The River is now playing.
“St. Bart’s is equal parts shopping and paradise. My go-to spots: Shell Beach—there are so many shells you can hardly see the sand—and Lolita Jaca, for beautiful day dresses and beach cover-ups.” —Rachel Roy, fashion designer
“Sri Lanka has sandy beaches, colonial architecture, and an interesting mix of Buddhist and Tamil Hindu cultures. The country’s Arab name was Serendib, from which we get serendipity. Yes, Sri Lanka is a pleasant surprise.” —Paul Theroux, writer
Yosemite National Park, CA
“Stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel ($$$), in Yosemite National Park, and visit the ancient sequoias in Mariposa Grove, the biggest living things on earth.” —Ken Burns, filmmaker
“One of the world’s greatest concert halls is the Musikverein, in Vienna, the home of the Vienna Philharmonic, known for the quality of its acoustics.” —Riccardo Muti, conductor
Cape Town, South Africa
“Cape Town is the only place I know where I can indulge almost all of my interests simultaneously. It has beaches on both the Atlantic and Indian oceans, several indigenous cuisines, and a major wine region inside the city limits: Constantia.” —Jay McInerney, writer
“I grew up watching vintage Italian movies, but it wasn’t until my forties that I finally got to Rome. It was worth the wait. The people-watching is off the charts—even the nuns and priests at the Vatican are stylish. Buy a sloppy gelato at San Crispinoand fantasize about jumping into the Trevi Fountain like Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.” —Simon Doonan, creative ambassador at large, Barneys New York
Mexican Hat, UT
“The San Juan Inn, in Mexican Hat, Utah ($), is a motel, trading post, and diner on the banks of a gorgeous red river. It’s like the motel from that Humphrey Bogart movie Petrified Forest. Monument Valley is 25 minutes south, and what you see on that drive, the scale of it, is so vast and beautiful. You’re in this enormous, wondrous silence.” —Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
“Dharamsala is where the Dalai Lama lives and also a settlement for the Tibetan refugees. I stayed in the Temple of Norbulingka, where they have about six or eight rooms for visitors. To be on the temple grounds is extremely peaceful and relaxing, and you feel very privileged. There are a lot of artisans and craftsman working to keep up the tradition of Tibetan art, and it’s a great melting pot. I just really disconnected completely from the world to the point that when I went to the airport to take my flight I thought I was 20 minutes late and, actually, I was two days late.” —Eric Ripert, chef
"From when I was a young boy growing up in Dresden, I imagined that the Swiss Alps were the most beautiful mountains in the world. I dreamed of seeing them, but in those times, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, we were never certain what would happen next. Since then, however, I have not only had a chance to visit them, but to sing in Verbier—one of my favorite places in the world. I am not always a man who seeks luxury, but there is a wonderful hotel there, Le Chalet d’Adrien, which should not be missed." —René Pape, opera singer
“The highlight of my Nile cruise was being back on the ship at dusk. Along the river’s edge, I could see minarets, hear the Muslim call to prayer, and smell the wood fires.” —Harold Koda, curator in charge, Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
“My trip to Jerusalem with my daughter was so special. The Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem during a downpour was melancholy and unforgettable. The boats of the heroic Danes and the deeds of others on the Wall of Remembrance are the exceptions that prove the rule of selfless heroism.” —Amy Fine Collins, writer
A foodie’s dream day, as conjured up by Daniel Rose, chef-owner at Spring restaurant.
Breakfast: Head to the crêpe stand at the Ave. Président Wilson market (Wednesday and Saturday) for buckwheat galettes with andouillette, ham, cheese, and egg. Order a big bottle of cider—it’s the only way you can drink in the morning without someone looking at you funny.
Coffee: I love the informal and busy vibe at the Café du Marché (33-1/47-05-51-27) on Rue Cler, my old stomping ground when I was a student.
Lunch: Arpège ($$$$) always has a great selection of vegetables; the ravioli with fresh peas is a standout, as is the lobster.
Snack: A loaf of yeasty pain des amis from Du Pain et Des Idées. Eat it on the bridge over the Canal St.-Martin.
Dinner: Order the lamb shoulder at Au Passage (33-1/43-55-07-52; $), in the 11th Arrondissement, co-owned by Spring’s former sommelier.
Sumba Island, Indonesia
“Nihiwatu ($$$) is essentially a surf camp built by an eco-minded American couple. The staff is made up of mostly locals, and they’ll take guests on village tours. Hikes, bike rides, and diving are all on the menu. Did I mention the surfing wave is perfect?” —Yves Béhar, industrial designer
“Even today, when there are so many tourists at Angkor, in Cambodia, you can still have a personal experience. Preah Kahn is a particularly beautiful temple from the 12th century, surrounded by water and a moat, with magnificent sculptural friezes—and it’s never crowded.” —Bonnie Burnham, president, World Monuments Fund