We are proud to be the official luxury travel partner of the esteemed Mayfair Times magazine. Each month we bring Mayfair Times readers our expert insight and hot-picks, ranging from the latest hotel openings to our favourite destinations.
Exclusively for Elegant Traveller, we are turning the tables and inviting Mayfair Times’ co-owner and editor-in-chief, Selma Day to share her luxury travel experiences and favourite hotels. Selma’s life has been suitably exotic for a woman who’s come to know London’s most prestigious postcodes like the back of her hand. We were fascinated to sit down with her and explore her life in travel and all things luxury. We’re sure you’ll be inspired to follow in her (designer) footsteps. Over to Selma:
I was born and grew up in the UK, but come from an Indian background, so India has always played a significant role in all our lives. We’ve travelled there several times as a family, both as tourists visiting places like Kerala and Rajasthan, which we love, and, also spending time with relatives in Hyderabad, where my parents came from. One of our most memorable experiences was enjoying a Qawwali (a form of Sufi devotional music) performance at the Taj Falaknuma Palace hotel – the former palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad. In fact, my family used to supply fruit and veg to the Nizam – in a very modest way, their shop, situated by the Char Minar in Old Hyderabad, was the Fortnum & Mason of its day. It was great to visit the shop – still owned by my family (third generation) – although these days they sell books, not groceries.
As editor of Mayfair Times, I’ve been privileged to travel to many places and enjoy many unique experiences. A night on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express last year was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences – because of the ‘wow’ factor you get the first time you do it – and is something I would definitely recommend if style and glamour is your thing. When you’re on board the train, you really do get the impression of being on a glamorous film set of the 1920s. It’s not just about the old-school charm, the opulent interiors, the impeccable service, top-notch food, fine wines and champagne; it’s as much about the people you meet, many of whom are there to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, so it’s a happy and sociable place.
Combining the train journey with a stay at Belmond Cipriani adds to the whole experience – guests arrive by boat at the hotel’s private pier (as James Bond did in the ‘Casino Royale’ movie in 2006). The hotel is on Giudecca island, which for me is the best place to stay – it offers a completely different perspective of Venice, with magnificent views across to St Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, plus the stunning gardens offer a welcome retreat after a day of exploring the sights of Venice.
Italy is my favourite place in Europe and probably the country I have visited the most – I love everything about it, from the food and drink, the art, fashion and design, to the fact that the country is so varied. In the last two years, I’ve visited not only Venice, but also Rome, Tuscany, Lake Como, Puglia, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast and each place has offered a different experience – all wonderful in their own way. We’ve stayed in places ranging from farmhouses in Puglia, where the food is, literally, farm-to-table, often cooked by the mum, to luxury hotels such as the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como or Palazzo Avino in Ravello, which has to be one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Italy. All of them have their own charm and it’s difficult to pick out a favourite, although a boat trip from Praiano to the pretty fishing village of Nerano, taking in the beautiful views of Positano along the way, is one of the most magical experiences of my life.
I’ve been a journalist in central London for many years. Now, along with my husband Adrian, I run Publishing Business. Our publishing company produces several magazines for areas in central London that aim to meet the interests and needs of the residential, business and international communities that make up those areas. They include Mayfair Times, which has been going for over 30 years and which we took over around 15 years ago. I have been editing Mayfair Times for more than ten years, during which time the magazine has evolved to reflect an ever-changing area, albeit one that manages to retain its heritage and history.
I’m lucky to have been able to juggle a successful and rewarding career with family life – I have two grown-up children who have been incredibly supportive and are also both in creative industries (my daughter Haniah is responsible for Harvey Nichols’s online trading, while our son, Reyhaan is a writer and photographer). As a family, we have always travelled to places as diverse as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, The Caribbean, the US and Saudi Arabia, as well as many places in Europe. Another place we visit regularly is Sri Lanka – a bit more chilled and less crazy than India, so perfect for a week or two of relaxation, once you’ve ticked off all the visitor attractions.
A Day In The Life of Selma Day
I love to just walk around, look up and enjoy the architecture and history of Mayfair. I would urge anyone with some time to explore to visit some of the lesser-known spaces, such as Brown Hart Gardens and Mount Street Gardens, and take in some of the public art strewn around. Look out for the Antony Gormley sculpture outside The Beaumont, which doubles up as a room (and in fact is called ‘ROOM’, or the water fountain outside the Connaught by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
The Connaught is one of my favourite hotels in Mayfair, along with Claridge’s and The Stafford over in St James’s. My favourite restaurants? Well, we are spoiled for choice in Mayfair! Depending on my mood, I’ll opt for breakfast at The Wolseley, 45 Jermyn Street or The Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont for lunch, have dinner at Café Murano or Kitty Fisher’s and Cecconi’s for after-work drinks with friends. Not that you’d need it after such an indulgent (and perfect!) day, but the American Bar at The Stafford is my go-to for a nightcap.
My specialist options would be Chutney Mary for a delicious Indian meal or The Mayfair Chippy, which serves by far the best fish and chips in town. I’m also a big fan of The Arts Club – the food is always fabulous any time of day and it is the perfect space for a working lunch or catch up.
If you’re feeling inspired by Selma’s travels, or for a more information about our portfolio of luxury Belmond properties throughout the world, please call one of our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 578 or visit elegantresorts.co.uk