Holidays in heaven ... and hell

Joanna Page.
Joanna Page. 

Actress Joanna Page recalls her best — and worst — holidays.

Great holidays ...

Which was your best holiday?

It was one of the first beach holidays James (Thornton) and I had as a couple. We stayed at an idyllic resort called Cocoa Island, in the Maldives, which is a collection of gorgeous beach huts. It's the most romantic place I've ever been to. There were only 30 other couples in the resort, so we more or less had the entire island to ourselves. The weather was beautiful and we even saw a shark while scuba diving. We also treated ourselves to plenty of spa treatments and massages and regularly gorged on seafood at the resort's restaurant.

And the best hotel you've stayed in?

It has to be Cocoa Island. There are literally no words that can describe just how amazing this hotel is. Based on a tiny island, it's a collection of little huts that are spaced wide apart — you'll struggle to hear fellow guests — and the staff are really polite and attentive. They have an amazing on-site restaurant, a tiny pool and a small stretch of sand for sunbathing. It's extremely private, which is what I loved most about it. Decor-wise, each hut is like a luxurious little mansion with beautiful wooden walls, a generous four-poster bed and glass floors, so you can see the fish swimming beneath your feet.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

Someone special to share it with and a good book.

What do you always take with you?

I always download a bunch of films and box sets on to my iPad before I head off on my hols but I usually end up watching the films on the plane.

What's your best piece of travel advice?

It's a good idea to carry your toothbrush in your hand luggage just in case your suitcase goes missing. You don't want to have smelly breath throughout your holiday.

Where do you want to go next?

Since watching Kate Winslet in Hideous Kinky I've had a profound love affair with Morocco, specifically Marrakesh. I've wanted to go for as long as I can remember because it looks a very romantic city and I'm a sucker for romance. I can somehow imagine myself sitting in an Arabic-style tavern, trying lots of different exotic food and smoking a massive pipe.

... and disasters?

Which was your worst holiday?

James and I went to the Algarve in Portugal about 10 years ago and it was one of the worst holidays I've ever had. We booked it through a cheap travel agent in Swansea because we didn't have much money and the hotel turned out to be absolutely awful — it looked like something out of the movie Hostel. We had two single beds instead of a double, so James and I couldn't snuggle up together. There was nowhere decent to eat, there was a building site directly opposite the hotel and the noise was just unbearable.

And your worst experience on holiday?

I was in South Africa filming To the Ends of the Earth for the BBC. Although I was originally booked to stay in a plush apartment, I ended up staying in a filthy hotel in the remote countryside near Durban. Since my colleagues weren't around, I thought I'd head to the local mall for a spot of shopping. After I was finished, I hailed a taxi and the driver refused to take me back to my hotel. He drove me around for ages and said that he would only take me back if I let him take nude photos of me. I politely refused and he finally ended up taking me back to my hotel. To make matters worse, after I headed back to London, my co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch, with a couple of colleagues, got kidnapped. The kidnappers drove them to a field, held a gun to their heads and took all their money. Benedict thought he was going to die.

What's the biggest packing mistake you've made?

I surprised James with a trip to New York for his 30th birthday. I assumed it would be sunny, so I packed lots of sandals and short dresses, only to discover when we arrived that it was freezing cold. The following day I went out and bought a coat, a pair of boots, four jumpers and a hat and a scarf. I'm quite impulsive when it comes to planning holidays, so I never bother to check weather reports or anything like that.

And the worst hotel you've stayed in?

A hotel in Bulgaria that was a complete and utter dive. Our room was cramped and dingy and when James opened the door to the balcony it came off. But perhaps the most annoying thing was the couple next door. We could hear them having sex and they were constantly at it. After a while we just wanted to go: "Shut up already!" The hotel in Durban wasn't any better. Words cannot describe how awful it was. I cannot remember the name, but it was a massive ugly concrete block that was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and there were hordes of prostitutes hanging around the area. To make matters worse, my bedroom window didn't close properly, so I was kept awake at night by the thought of someone breaking into my room.

What do you avoid on holidays?

I need privacy when I'm on holiday. James and I are the type of people who run away from other couples.

What do you hate about holidays?

Coming back. I hate repacking and I don't like flying because it leaves me feeling stressed and exhausted. The last time I got off a flight, I looked a right mess and somebody came up and asked to have a picture taken with me. I wanted to say no but I just put a smile on my face and said: "Yes, of course. That's fine."

Interview by Bertan Budak

The Daily Telegraph

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