Condé Nast Traveler: The Crown’s Emma Corrin on her favourite places in the world

In the new season of The Crown, the British rising star plays Princess Diana – here she shares her travel secrets

From her favourite secluded hotel in the middle of the Atlas Mountains to what it’s like to film in the Royal Suite at The Savoy, acress Emma Corrin shares with us her favourite places around the world.

Your favourite small and secret hotel?
‘I’m reluctant to give up the name of this secluded gem but as much as I want it all to myself, people should definitely know it’s out there. In the middle of the Atlas Mountains, about an hour outside of Marrakech, is a hotel called L’Amandier. It’s on a plateau so you get this 360-degree panorama of the verdant Ouirgane Valley, meaning when the sun sets in the evening you feel like you are being totally engulfed by it. There are some amazing walks you can go on right at the doorstep. One hike took us through lush pastures with grazing goats, across barren patches where the red soil scuffed our boots and through villages where gaggles of children would follow us. It’s a real slice of heaven. The silence wraps you up, as do the views and the smells – a truly wholesome experience of life in the Atlas.’

One thing you have never told anyone about your travels?
‘As much as I love travelling with other people, I think there is something special about discovering new places on your own. These days we are constantly interacting – especially in my industry which is a very social one. I have found I really value time spent on my own and when you pair this with travel it’s a great combination. Take yourself off to a city you’ve never been to and just wander around aimlessly! Bliss.’

Your favourite classic hotel?
‘While filming The Crown recently, we were lucky enough to use the Royal Suite of The Savoy, which was standing in for Diana’s hotel room from her New York trip in 1989. For someone who has lived in or around London most of my life I had shamefully never really registered the beauty and history of the Savoy – but, oh my gosh! I feel like they should open up the Royal Suite once a year just so people can appreciate the completely absurd view you get over the South Bank through these vast windows. It was very hard for any of us to concentrate when all we wanted to do was gawp at the scenery and take turns trying out the enormous bed.’

A great little find away from the crowds?
‘I’m an absolute devotee of the Canopy & Stars website, which has quirky glamping destinations across the UK and Europe. Among my favourites was staying in a yurt in Somerset with a four-poster bed, a wood-burning stove and, most excitingly, a roll-top bath. With the ingredients from our welcome basket we made sausage stew on the open fire outside, then wrapped up in blankets and did some stargazing. Another gem was a converted horse-box in Wales which overlooked the Brecon Beacons. No phone signal, no Wi-Fi – everything you could wish for and also nothing you didn’t need.’

The book that inspired you to travel?
‘Reading Olivia Laing always makes me want to escape. There is a fluidity to her narratives and an incisiveness to the way she writes about selfhood that makes me feel so dissatisfied with the stagnancy of day-to-day life. It inspires me to shake off my shackles and run away on my own for a bit, to rediscover myself. I am also a huge Murakami fan and had read his books devotedly for many years before ever making it to Japan. I went on a theatre tour at university, we toured Romeo and Juliet around Tokyo for a month and it was one of the best trips of my life. The city is unlike anything I had imagined, it is electric and you feel like if you blink you’ll miss something – it’s a complete sensory overload!’

If you could have one feast right now?
‘I spent New Year in Venice in 2019 and one evening, on a friend’s recommendation, we wound our way through the backstreets to find Corte Sconta, a traditional fish restaurant with a little vine-covered courtyard at the back. The menu changes depending on the season and what has been caught that day, so the fish is always fresh and delicious. I would recommend the soft-shell crab and the scallops in particular but, honestly, it’s all so good. The atmosphere is also wonderfully low key and local, hardly any tourists know about it so it feels like a wholly authentic Venetian experience. I think the same family have been running it for two generations.’

The film whose location blew you away?
‘When I was younger I was obsessed with A Room With A View and it has left me with a completely irrational love of Italy, especially Florence. I think it was watching Helena Bonham Carter’s character come of age in a city so steeped in history and romance, I always thought that if I spent time there it would be particularly defining for me. Before I went to university I worked in pubs and restaurants in order to save money to travel Italy on a history of art tour, despite the fact I am no artist! We went to Venice, Florence and Rome, and it was just as magical as I had thought. I would really recommend exploring cities such as these in the context of learning about their art, it defines them, so it was an amazing way to explore. Next up I want to live in Florence for a few months and fall in love there – I don’t ask for much.’

The destination you’d most like to visit next?
‘I have family in Argentina whom I have never met, so I would love to see them. They run a stunning ranch out there, and to stay with them for a while would be a great opportunity to get to know the country and learn some of the language. Also, being a keen water-skier I’m always trying to find places where I can stay while keeping up that sport – any recommendations would be welcome!’

A place you fell in love in?
‘Every summer from the age of 13 to 18 me, my mum and my two brothers would pile into the car and drive to the Limousin in France. We had friends from Scotland who owned a farm there and during the summer invited guests to stay in teepees on the farm. It was totally idyllic. They had about 10 children of all ages and there were two other families from the UK who also returned with us year after year. All in all, we were a 20-strong group of kids and we grew up together over those blissful summer weeks, inventing games and spinning bottles, sleeping under the stars and pulling pranks – we all fell in love and out of love repeatedly, and it taught us a huge amount about ourselves and each other.’

Your washbag essentials?
‘My Foreo face brush, which is fantastic for cleansing skin while travelling. And I can’t go anywhere without Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream to tackle dryness, especially on lips during flights. Scent is also important to me – to be surrounded by familiar, soothing smells when I’m away – so I take my perfume, Tom Ford Café Rose, everywhere and usually some lavender essential oil that I can put on my pillow, in a bath and even on my temples.’

Best shop?
‘I have a favourite café that I visit almost every day and I just don’t know what I would do without it. It’s on Brecknock Road, near Kentish Town and Tufnell Park, called Bread By Bike – it has Vagabond coffee, which is sublime, and mountains of freshly baked bread and cinnamon buns. I am such a frequenter that for my birthday my friends got me a painting of the outside of the shop, which now hangs in my bedroom! I think that no matter how far and wide you travel there’s no place like home and your favourite local spots.’

Your favourite place in the whole world?
‘Knysna in South Africa will forever be home to me. A part of me always remains here. It’s where my family is from and where I spent a lot of time growing up. Honestly, it’s one of the friendliest and most beautiful places in the world. My grandma’s house was where we spent most of our time – it was right on the edge of the lagoon, with a lawn and the beach out front. She had a wooden balcony and we would sit there at tea time and eat Twinkies, and everyone who passed walking the dog or jogging by would stop and say hello. Everyone knew and loved my grandma and almost every face that passed was a familiar one – people used to come round with cakes or to share photo albums and stories, it showed me the beauty and power of community from a young age. It was in Knysna that I learnt to swim, cycle and water-ski, and we would spend the whole time barefoot no matter if we were on the sand or in the supermarket. I grew up on the beach and went from building sandcastles in nappies to sunbathing, reading pretentious literature hoping a surfer would notice me.

I love it – it utterly has my heart and although when I go back now there is a twinge of sadness that those childhood days will never quite be recaptured, I am always finding new ways of enjoying my time. These days it’s breakfast at the East Head Café, long walks in the Knysna Forest, surfing at Buffalo Bay, a long weekend at boutique hotel Nima Lodge and hiring a small boat and chugging down the beautiful Keurbooms river.’

Which travel hub gives you a spring in your step?
‘Touching down at Cape Town airport – it’s so familiar to me and signifies coming home. The smell of the air that hits you when you step out of the plane is unlike anything else!’

A song that reminds you of holidays?
‘For some reason when I was younger and we used to fly back to South Africa regularly to see family, I started the tradition of playing “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine just as the plane takes off. Still to this day, as the plane starts heading down the runway, I have to play that song, otherwise it just doesn’t feel right!’

Most memorable view?
‘I realise I’ve mentioned views a lot before getting to this question – they are a defining feature of a place and it’s amazing how many you encounter while travelling. However, I think I am most fond of the one at the top of Parliament Hill. It’s on my running route and there is something so rewarding about legging it up that hellish incline and then seeing the whole of London before me. It is such an energetic city and never seems to sleep, but from this spot you can see all of it almost as if on a postcard, still and perfect.’

Your holiday look?
‘Holiday clothing for me will forever be a swimming costume under a summer dress. Ganni is a winner if you’re looking for fun, floaty silhouettes, and Reformation also has some gorgeous ones with blue and white patterns, which are such summery colours.’

Three items always in your holiday wardrobe?
‘I always pack my Birkenstocks – you just can’t go wrong with them and over the course of a summer I become very emotionally invested in whatever pair I am using. I also take a printed silk scarf to tie my hair back with and keep cool in the sun. And a good jumper is essential; Paloma Wool makes the softest ones which are wonderful to travel in and have some groovy designs, too.’

Your evergreen staycation spot?
‘Last year, just after my part in The Crown was announced and everything got a bit hectic, I took myself and my puppy away to a secluded cottage by a stream in North Devon. It sits in its own little valley and there is no phone signal – it was just us, the sheep in the field next door and the babbling stream. Total heaven. We went out each day and explored the dramatic coast; my puppy encountered the sea for the first time which was hilarious; and there are some incredible walks along the South West Coast Path – 630 miles of breathtaking shoreline and the longest National Trail in the UK. You can also drive across the border into Cornwall. There are a lot of good pubs in this part of the world – pubs, walks and tea rooms.’

A company that’s making the world a better place?
‘Sheep Inc, one of the first carbon-negative sweater brands. There’s a little tag that you scan to follow the sheep whose wool you are wearing.’

Your trusted suitcase brand?
‘Currently it’s Samsonite, but adverts for Away keep popping up and I think I’m going to try those next. I also have a great sturdy weekend bag from Rains that I love.’

Source: Condé Nast Traveler

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