The Daily Telegraph - Travel
‘Everything feels so grand and magnified in Brazil’
How often do you travel?
At the moment, every week: recently I’ve been to Amsterdam and New York three times each. For work, I travel to America the most. I’ve been to Los Angeles to record my latest album. The first five times I visited, I found it disorientating, but I’ve realised it’s all about balancing your work with moments of calm. You can wind your way up through the hills in the city to a place that feels very peaceful.
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
Time, stillness and heat. I like to get away for two weeks, read as many books and magazines as possible and swim. I can hibernate for two or three days in a “hermetically sealed” resort when I’m really burnt out from work but afterwards I’m usually like, “OK, let’s drive into the mountains.”
Your earliest memory of travelling abroad?
My family couldn’t afford to travel, so we used to go either to Felixstowe or camping with people from our church. My first flight was to Majorca as a 17-yearold. But the first time I really ventured out abroad to Canada and Japan as well as to Europe, to France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, was to promote my first album.
Have you visited St Kitts, where your family is from?
My grandparents came to the UK in the Sixties and remained here while I was growing up. They have moved back since, so every time I visit it feels like home. You can drive around it in about two hours – it’s beautiful and not “touristy”.
Most adventurous travel experience?
Scuba diving with sharks in Belize. They were only
nurse sharks but they were still about 6ft long and we got very close to them. We saw stingrays, huge crabs and octopus too. I’m short-sighted, but the sea seemed to act as a lens and somehow sharpened my vision so everything was incredibly vibrant.
The most remote place you’ve been?
The French Pyrenees. On some days the only person I saw was a priest on his way to a monastery. It was very, very peaceful.
Your most relaxing destination?
St Lucia. We stayed right on the beach where you could walk out of the house straight into this beach bar restaurant, then sit on the white sand and just watch the waves. And if you get bored of the
beach, St Lucia has the most amazing rainforest.
Favourite filming location?
I loved the lunar landscape of Fuerteventura, where the music video for Been to the Moon was shot. It’s a magical place where you can grab a handful of sand and it’s full of shells because the desert used to be at the bottom of the sea and has risen to the surface because of the island’s volcanic action. I found it fascinating.
Best holiday ever?
A camper van expedition to the Pyrenees. I loved the freedom of travelling in a camper van and not having to pack. You just throw your clothes and passport in the wooden drawers and you can sleep wherever you want.
Favourite holiday destination?
Brazil. It was uplifting to be among people from different cultures, including those with African ancestry mixed with European cultures. I love the music, the food and the climate there and how everything feels so grand and magnified.
La Mirande in Provence, opposite the papal palace in Avignon. The walls are decorated with this beautiful chinoiserie material and the food is incredible.
New York because there’s just so much going on culturally. And I love the fact that you can stand on any corner and see 200 people from all over the world of all ages and backgrounds.
Most memorable meal abroad?
On my first night at La Mirande in Avignon, I was taken into this tiled room with a roaring fire and was served dish after dish of succulent meat, beautiful vegetables and stunning wine.
I love Singapore’s rooftop bars. I remember having a drink on the 38th floor of a skyscraper there once.
Best city for nightlife?
New York. I love the Bowery Hotel by night. The last time I was there, I saw Tilda Swinton. People are often only in Manhattan for 48 hours, so it feels like everyone wants to make the most of it.
Worst travel experience?
Apart from missing the odd flight, I’ve been lucky not to have had any yet. I have so many people organising my travels for me, so I tend to think someone will always have a plan for anything that could go wrong.
Virgin Atlantic always offers quite interesting films and I love their Vivienne Westwood-designed cabin crew uniforms. I don’t have a least favourite airline, but on any flight, I hate it when I am made to feel like I’m an inconvenience, and then have to endure two hours in a grubby grey metal tube.
Best piece of travel advice?
I used to think that whenever I flew it was great to have a glass of wine to put me to sleep but I can feel my brain shrink by 3mm all around the edges each time I do, so I only ever drink water on planes now.
Best beauty tip for travelling?
I love Liz Earle’s Superskin Concentrate moisturiser, which keeps my face and hands hydrated.
Your one travel essential?
My silk, lavender-filled sleeping mask. It feels very luxurious, especially when you’re travelling on a grim tour van with loads of guys at four in the morning.
What do you hate about holidays?
Unpacking. I always have two unpacked suitcases at home and I’ll happily start a new one. I hate trying to work out what’s clean, what’s dirty and where everything needs to go back to when I return from a trip.
I’m performing in South Korea, then Cheltenham and then I’m back in New York for some more shows before officially kicking off my small US tour. I would love to one day see the rock churches in Ethiopia and learn about the history of Rastafari in the country, as well as see the amazing landscapes of Iceland.
Corinne Bailey Rae’s new album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, released by Good Groove/Virgin EMI, is out now.