Hotel La Chèvre d’Or in Èze, France. Picture: Chevredor
Hotel La Chèvre d’Or in Èze, France. Picture: Chevredor
Carolyn swimming at Steyn City
Carolyn swimming at Steyn City
Carolyn ordering curry at Chutney Mary restaurant in London.
Carolyn ordering curry at Chutney Mary restaurant in London.

Carolyn Steyn, the founder of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, loves travelling. The charity is preparing for a Golf Day wool-raiser on March 23. They are also planning a Family Hook-up Day on April 23 to celebrate 23 years of democracy. Families from across the country will hook up wherever there is a Mandela statue or any kind of commemorations to donate blankets.

First holiday memory?

When we were little, our parents occasionally took us to Scottburgh, on the South Coast. The most vivid memory was of my late mother burnt to a crisp after a few hours of lying on the beach. Her entire body was burnt bright red and filled with massive water blisters. I have been terrified of the sun since and make a point of wearing sunblock.

Favourite place in South Africa?

Without hesitation, our home “Palazzo Steyn in Steyn City” in Johannesburg.

Best holiday?

Four Seasons Hotel in the Seychelles. My husband and I took our favourite friends with us on our second honeymoon four years ago and we had the best time.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Only travel with people who make you happy. Travelling alone can also be a joy as you are more likely to connect and meet interesting people.

Ideal travelling companion?

Michael de Pinna always makes me laugh, knows how to make new friends and when to give me my space.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Culture vulture. I love London for the world-class theatre, museums and fabulous restaurants.

Greatest travel luxury?

My iPad to keep me connected with the world. My Nike sneakers for comfort when travelling.

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Holiday reading?

I always carry a French book with me. Right now I am in London (about to attend an event at the House of Commons) and have La Vie Vous aime (Life Loves You) by Louise Hay at my bedside.

I have just finished reading the most beautiful book, Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez.

Which place has seduced you?

A few years ago I traveled on my own and found myself in a place called Eze, a medieval French village where very few people speak English. I was forced to get by with my French.

The Hotel La Chèvre d’Or teeters off a cliff and is wedged between the sky and the sea on the French Riviera and the restaurant has two Michelin stars. Each night I dined on my own and savoured every minute.

Worst travel experience?

My recent trip at the end of last year on British Airways has to go down as my worst. They delayed the flight without apology by 17 hours and I was offered muesli, yoghurt and a green banana for dinner at 2am.

The cabin crew on the flight to London were unbelievably loud and disrespectful. As passengers were trying to sleep, the cabin crew were having their own party, talking and laughing with vigour. I still have had no response from British Airways to my letter of complaint. This time I flew Virgin Atlantic for the first time and was extremely impressed.

Best hotel?

Not to seem biased, I have to say the Saxon (owned by my husband) comes out tops. I love Cape Town and there are great hotels but I don’t understand why none has a decent-sized swimming pool.

The Four Seasons in the Seychelles is perfection. Each and every chalet has its own very large swimming pool overlooking the ocean.

Favourite walk, swim, ride or drive?

I swim every day in my pool at home. Nothing beats that. That is my meditation, my “time out”.

Best meal abroad?

The spaghetti schillaci at San Lorenzo (Princess Diana’s favourite restaurant) in London. It is served al dente with a basic tomato and basil sauce with a hint of chilli – just the way my late mom Yvonne Mazotti made it.

Favourite city?

London.

Where to next?

South of France to practise my French.