Wil­liam Gilchrist

A life­time’s travel tips from The Rolling Stones’ stylist, lover of all things nau­ti­cal and cham­pion of Cuban sushi

Esquire (UK) - - Style -

If I were to be stranded it would be on a Mediter­ranean is­land — not sure which one — and

I’d read the com­plete works of Gabriel Gar­cía Márquez. Or per­haps The Peo­ple of Pa­per by Sal­vador Plas­cen­cia. My favourite ho­tel is the Ge­orge V in Paris.

I’ve got some bloody good mem­o­ries from there. If Paris and Mum­bai were to have a love child, they would spawn Naples. The deca­dence, the beauty, the pile on pile of his­tory: it doesn’t get much bet­ter than that. There’s noth­ing like wak­ing up on a boat in the Mediter­ranean, get­ting up, hav­ing an espresso and jump­ing off the boat. There’s a sashimi res­tau­rant in a run­down ma­rina on the edge of Ha­vana called Santy. You just or­der what­ever they have. It’s beau­ti­ful. If a risotto takes less than 20 min­utes, it’s not a risotto. When I pack, I “do the onion” and make sure I have lay­ers. I al­ways chuck in a bunch of scarves, and I have very light­weight cash­mere and silk jack­ets that can go over a reg­u­lar jacket. And then a suit, which isn’t a suit: it’s a pair of trousers and a jacket. Peo­ple think they are in­sep­a­ra­ble, but that would be a boiler suit. There are cer­tain things I’ll al­ways have with me. A wire­less speaker, a room fra­grance — Fico d’In­dia by Or­ti­gia — and kikoys, the Kenyan scarves. They work as a towel, a mop-your-brow, as a bag. And one goes straight over the TV in the ho­tel room. I can’t stand TVs, they’re in­cred­i­bly ugly. One of the great things about be­ing tall is that you get put in the co-pilot’s seat on small planes, which means you can smoke out the win­dow, and they’ll give you con­trol of the plane. Once, in Tan­za­nia, we were fly­ing along and I asked, “What’s that over there?” So the pilot told me to take con­trol and have a look. I flew us around the is­land a cou­ple of times, and even landed the plane. My par­ents were in Mau­ri­tius [when I was grow­ing up], so I’d visit, and that got me the taste for ocean life. But the funny thing was, when you travel a lot as a kid you reach a point, prob­a­bly in your early teens, when you say, “I’m sick of trav­el­ling, I don’t want to go to the Sey­chelles.” And now I think, what a pre­co­cious id­iot. I’ve had tur­bu­lence where a chap didn’t have his seat­belt on and knocked him­self out on the ceil­ing, and I’ve had an en­gine fire as we were land­ing. But noth­ing too sig­nif­i­cant. I’m a be­liever that if there’s noth­ing you can do, do noth­ing.

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