Vineyards, Redwood forests, the Chateau Marmont and fresh pancakes – Diana Cherry explains why California is her destination of choice in 2015
California. I love the fact that every time you visit the States, you have an entirely different holiday experience. I’ve been to LA a few times now and earlier this year travelled from San Francisco to LA along the Pacific Coastal Highway in an open-topped Chevy Camaro. I travelled with one of my best friends and (apart from meeting Brad Pitt), it was a true Thelma and Louise experience. It was one of my Bucket List trip and instead of feeling like I’d just ticked the box, it whet my appetite – I’d love to go back and have the time to leave the highway and explore the local towns, as well as lose myself in wine country, explore the Redwood forests and carry on past LA to San Diego and all the way to Mexico, maybe even as far as Los Cabos.
Who would you go with?
It would have to be the same friend. She’s senior cabin crew for Virgin and she and I have had many adventures over the years in some fantastic places. We have that rare Travel Buddy total compatibility – we always want to do the same things and share experiences, we love meeting new people and seeing new places – we’re both laidback and love food, wine and shopping… so why would I want to go with anyone else? (Plus, she loves to drive, leaving me free to choose the tunes, navigate and be in charge of the camera!)
How would you get there?
I have been equally impressed, but for different reasons, with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and BA First Class, so if you’re offering me a ticket, either of those would do nicely! And some kind of American Muscle car would be fun for some more highway cruising, but this time I’d love to experience some sea and air views too.
Where would you stay?
In the interests of new experiences, I’d love to experience the Post Ranch Inn – it looks like my kind of place, with massive sea views and nothing else nearby. I’d love to try some quirky guest houses in the Vineyards around Sonoma and I’d love to return to both the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air, both of which sum up LA for me, as some of the best people-watching, and best, most friendly service, I’ve ever experienced in a hotel.
What would you eat?
Probably easier to ask ‘What wouldn’t you eat?’ I have a passion for brunch, nowhere does brunch like the States, and more specifically California – anywhere with a sea view and fresh pancakes. Mama’s in San Francisco is legendary, for all the right reasons, and brunch at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel is exceptional, but I’d maybe pop in to the Chateau Marmont, purely for comparison purposes, of course. I’d also squeeze in a visit to a local, spit-and-sawdust rib shack – always the best barbecue in town.
What would you drink?
In Sonoma and Napa, I think I’d be spoilt for choice, but I’m also partial to a beer for a local microbrewery (of which California has many) or a cocktail in a smart hotel.
What would you buy?
A beach-cruiser bike from Venice Beach Bikes… so I can take in a little California sunshine as opposed to cycling around Oxford city centre!
Diana Cherry is Director of Operations at Oxford Private Travel