Like everyone else, my life was severely disrupted by the pandemic. Frequent trips to the airport have been part of my existence for decades. Suddenly, I found myself effectively grounded. Sixteen months on from the declaration of a national emergency (on March 13, 2020), I find that my attitude to travel has subtly changed. Having been deprived of London and Paris, the search for novelty seems much less important. Necessarily, the editor of a travel newsletter is in pursuit of the new hotel, the new restaurant, the new ship, but now I long to continue my search in classic destinations like Italy, France and England. Mongolia and Malawi may have to take a back seat for a while.
I want to stroll along a colonnade in the Place des Vosges, marvel at the scenery from a loggia overlooking Lake Como, and soak up the sun in Amalfi or Antibes. I yearn to stay in Olga Polizzi’s new place in Sussex, The Star, a reinvented 14th-century inn within walking distance of the famous white cliffs. I long to wake up and gaze over the gardens of Versailles from the Le Grand Contrôle, perhaps the most glamorous new hotel in Europe. I need to see what the Maybourne Hotel Group (owners of Claridge’s and The Connaught) have done with their new resort, The Maybourne Riviera, set on a rocky peninsula high above Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. And I want to watch the sun set over the Umbrian hills from the (apparently) exquisite Castello di Reschio, and fall in love with the Mediterranean all over again from the absurdly picturesque (so I’m told) Villa Treville in Positano. There is no mystery why such places have been part of American lives for generations: They are enduringly wonderful and transformative.