The frequent voyager on creating a home away from home
The Travel Connoisseur on creating a home away from home; comedian Mo Amer on in-flight etiquette and his reunion with Kuwait
The Travel Connoisseur examined the unique Art Deco interior of the private jet in great detail. Named The Manhattan, it was designed to give passengers a taste of the spirit of the Twenties – the era of true romance in travel – when the most adventurous nomads crossed the Atlantic aboard the Graf Zeppelin. The rich mahogany wood panels and the brass and gold trimmings were to his taste, and the Cloud Club on-board lounge with three high chairs was the perfect place from which to watch continents float by through two windows set opposite them. Or, even better – through the large loft window, unique to the aircraft.
“Customisation at its finest,” he murmured to himself, as he took a sip from his red flûte. “The luxury of feeling at home wherever you fly.” Sadly, the aircraft’s range of 4,600 nautical miles was half the range of the newest airliners, meaning he would still have to accept the hurdles of commercial aviation.
For TTC, flying halfway around the world for a cup of tea was his own definition of freedom. Since he had the luxury of being solo, he could spice up his weekends with a bit of impromptu travel. So he boarded a flight whenever he had a couple of days off, in his signature style. Some found it charming; to others it seemed, well, pompous. A vintage wooden trunk, a red crystal flûte and a wooden music box dedicated just for raspberries – even the most boring cabin interiors began to shine once TTC and his silent entourage were carefully placed on board. He recreated precisely the same mise en scene every time he was in the air – a trick that made flying feel familiar, comfortable and less exhausting.
The art of arrival became another carefully orchestrated act. TTC chose hotels that remembered his tastes or those that took personalisation to the next level. With several hoteliers following him on Instagram, they knew precisely what and when to prepare. A large bucket of ice, goose-down pillows, a tea set and an ironing board are staples – even the hotels that most pride themselves on service know he does not want a butler serving him (lukewarm) tea or pressing his clothes (hotels always make horrible creases along the sleeves – have you ever seen such creases on runway models?). Instead, he arranged the room to his liking.
Recently in Muscat, he found himself impressed with a hotel’s extra-mile service: the property offered a rosepetal menu, several types of bath foams and oils, as well as a selection of more than a dozen pillows. TTC was left pondering if sleeping on horsehair or cherry stones was his element, finally choosing instead ones enriched with vitamin E, known for its anti-aging properties – surely that couldn’t do any harm.
The next morning, as he hesitated at the on-site café in the morning, torn between organic lemon and ginger or Japanese green tea for breakfast, he heard a voice he’d come to know only too well.
“We prepared your breakfast in the room because we know you enjoy… um… bubbles,” said the butler with a cheery smile.
Moments later, he was returned to his room where the butler got on with the business of cork-popping. Air conditioning was set to 16º C and the balcony door was closed to shut out any disruptive outdoor buzz. TTC’s meagre diet was flawlessly served: raspberries, tea and a bubbly vintage. A familiar scene, complete with the red crystal flûte. It was absolute personalisation, meticulously executed.
Yet as he sat back and observed the scene, he suddenly felt a twinge of concern. This same breakfast setup could have been in Paris, Hong Kong or, as originally intended, in his own home. He was left with a troubling question: Had his quest for customising reached an extreme and made his travels boring? Could a bit of adventure in the form of a buttery local pastry at a street café have been a more memorable choice? Perhaps an occasional inconvenience would add to the romance of travel. A thought to be continued…