nsfw = NEVER SAFE FROM WALUIGI
I hear she does car commercials… in japan
The Essex-born actress, who plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey, tells us her traveller tales
Where have you just come back from?
Paris. I love it. I love the people, the food… We went on the Ferris wheel in the Jardin des Tuileries, which is the kind of thing I would never think of doing in London, and it was great.
Name a place that most lived up to the hype
Venice is so stunning, I felt as though I was on a film set the whole time I was there. There’s an island called Burano, which you have to visit if you go to Venice, where every house is a different colour according to an ancient government system. It’s just so beautiful, I would like to go back again and again.
What’s your favourite city?
Other than London, I would have to say New York. I really like the energy, and the fact that you can get anything you want at any time. I love its history, too. I’ve been reading Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, and all the stuff about the Chelsea Hotel made me want to go and explore that area. I was in the city for three months filming, and have been there a lot to promote Downton Abbey. It’s a place I could definitely see myself living.
Which is your road most travelled?
Back to my mum and dad’s home in Essex. I don’t drive, so I get the train, and I visit as often as I can.
Describe your favourite view
One of the best is from Highclere Castle, where we film Downton Abbey: the view from the back looking up to the folly, which is known as Heaven’s Gate. I still can’t believe it’s where I work. It’s incredibly beautiful, and I appreciate something new every year. I almost feel that I love the surroundings more than the castle itself.
Describe a memory from a childhood holiday
I went to Atlanta, Georgia, when I was 14, and it was the first time I had been to the USA. I went with my granddad to visit relatives. I think that’s why I feel so much at home in America, because it was where I went on one of my first major holidays. Everything about it is so clear in my memory: the taste of the food, the people, and that Southern drawl.
Describe a holiday disaster
I was in New York when Hurricane Sandy hit, which was quite a surreal experience, and it’s given me a real emotional connection with the city. It’s amazing how people dealt with it. The attitude of the New Yorkers was so admirable. Everyone was in it together.
What do you always pack first?
The St Christopher necklace I’m wearing. My mum gave it to me, and I always take it with me when I travel.
Tell us about a great little place you know
La Fontaine de Mars in Paris, a typical bistro where the food is amazing. It’s quintessentially French. If I’m in a city, I want to go to a place that feels right. In London, I want to go to a pub.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met on your travels?
I went to Jordan with Oxfam to do an appeal for Syrian refugees. On our last day we were taken around the sights by a driver called Abu Fadi, and he was a really incredible man. He went out of his way to show us his country. He was so polite, and his values and traditions were fascinating. I’ll never forget him.
What would you most like to find in your minibar?
In Soho House, you get a little kit of painkillers for when you’re hungover. That’s quite a good thing to find.
How do you relax?
I love reading. I’m not really a sunbather, so I like to lie in a hammock in the shade with a book. And I just like seeing where I am. I find being a tourist relaxing.
This feature was first published in Condé Nast Traveller July 2014
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↳ You never really know what Tatiana’s going to do. She does a lot of prep but I think she surprises herself too. – John Fawcett