GUEST OF THE MONTH - NOVEMBER 2016
It's not hard to lose yourself in David's writing; it's magic captivates readers across the globe. This contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue Living and New York Times lives a stylish life on the road seeking unique stories. We were lucky to get his thoughts on travel and it's profound effect.
When did this all start for you? What was the genesis of your travelling life?
I’ve always been curious. My parents took my family (all six of us) on a budget euro vacation when I was 9, we stayed in Youth Hostels, Dad drove a mini-bus (badly!) and my hormonal older siblings fought and slept most of the time but I was young enough to get a taste for how exciting and beautiful the world outside of Brisbane was and I guess my imagination ran wild from there. I moved to Italy to study when I was in my early 20’s and to keep up with my much more sophisticated friends I began pitching my stories to the Australian magazines (I’d collected Vogue Entertaining + Travel since I was a kid) I’d occasionally helped out on after school and they bought them. That’s how it started, I never planned it.
Is there somewhere you’ve visited recently that has really resonated for you
I guess it isn’t that recent and I know always use this example but travelling to Syria before the war had a profound effect on me. What happened there since feels much more real to me and so is totally devastating. That is the power of travel, it connects us deeply and makes you think like a global citizen. I think that has never, ever been more important than it is now.
You are constantly on the road, which seems glamourous but is usually exhausting. Are there things you do to keep yourself centred and healthy?
I’ve tried everything but I’m coming to accept that if I am going to do the job of finding the best, the delicious and the covetable for the reader it is virtually impossible. I throw myself hard at destinations because I want to get a real sense of them and that means you can’t stick to your routine, you have to embrace the new place. One thing though that does help is running every city I am in, or at least walking everywhere. You get a sense of the place, the mood, the people, scenery, architecture and design by osmosis and then also without fail I’ll stumble across that little gem that hasn’t been written about. Two birds, one stone.
We love hotels and we know you’ve slept in the best of them. Do you have a favourite?
I don’t have a favorite. There are different hotels for different reasons. For instance if I want splurge factor and sublime service then the The Upper House is the very best of Hong Kong. In Australia, I love Halcyon House because it reminds me of childhood beach holidays and I like how Aussie the owners are. I like the broodiness of The Nomad in NYC, just as I love the Downtown discretion of The Greenwich. In Paris, Le Bristol is old-school (in the right way), so too Villa Spalletti Trivelli in Rome. I love a good Irish country house hotel because they are just so absurdly hospitable and fun. I call them the the ‘Ballys’; Ballyfin for serious Downtown Abbey vibes, Ballynahinch for jaw dropping scenery, Ballyvolane and Ballymaloe for the food of course. There are so many wonderful hotels I guess the only thing that I really care about is that they feel like they are holding up a mirror to the best of that place. I don’t really care for hotels whose major selling point is consistency or ‘world class’ xyz. Unless you are a solely a business traveller, why stay somewhere souless?
Best budget travel destination?
India. It can be a struggle but that is part of the fun, it is a place that offers a life-changing and perspective altering experience, if you let it. For me, there is nowhere where you get a bigger bang for your buck.
You’re one of our favourite travel writers and its hard to imagine you ever having a nightmare itinerary. Have you had any travel disasters?
Thanks! I am a big fan of yours too. I have had so many travel disasters that I have become really good at spotting potential pitfalls. I can literally sniff out a good meal and can sense immediately when a hotel is not worth its rack rate. But it has only come from bitter, bitter experience. Let’s leave it at that!
You’re an incredibly stylish traveller. Do you keep it simple when packing or do you take everything? What are your essentials?
I have to keep it pretty simple, aggressively simple. My wardrobe needs to take me from the the plane to countryside then the street and perhaps to a fancy dinner or important meeting in a day. To that end I like a well tailored white shirt (Thom Browne, Margiela), jeans (Acne or APC), a pair of RM Williams boots, a jacket (J Crew or P Johnson) and I love sunglasses from Mikita. For luggage I have Filson (backpack, suit and wash case) which is indestructible and has been a great investment. I always pick up a few magazines (New Yorker, Vanity Fair and T Magazine) for the flight and like every other traveller I never leave home without my iPhone, its become my indispensable visual diary and actual diary.
Keep up with David's travels on his Instagram here: