My style icon is my mother, who is an elegant woman with great flair and style. I remember her showing up at a school play wearing light camel-colour slacks, a matching cashmere turtleneck and a wide, dark-brown suede Christian Dior belt with a gorgeous gold buckle – I still wear the belt today.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a Murano-glass lantern that I spotted on a table at the Il San Pietro hotel in Positano. It had been such a wonderful evening that I begged the waiter to sell it to me. Americans dare to ask; Brits are too polite. Via Laurito 2, 84017 Positano (+39089-875 455; ilsanpietro.it).
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Hillbilly Elegy: Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance, who grew up in a very poor family originally from the Appalachians – missing teeth, gun-on-the-front-porch kind of thing. It’s uplifting, interesting and funny. He worked hard and, after Marine Corps, went to Yale Law School; I have no doubt Vance will become a senator one day, if not president.
A recent “find” was the Anne Autegarden gallery in Brussels, late last year. I loved the timeless pieces with a modern feel, such as a gold and black lacquer lamp that caught my eye. 102 Avenue Marquis de Villalobar, 1150 Brussels (+32477-228 358; autegarden.com).
The last meal that truly impressed me was in the summer at Conca del Sogno on the Amalfi Coast, a place you can only access by boat. As we were pulling up, we saw one of the waiters emerging from the water in full scuba gear with seafood he had just caught, which elicited squeals of delight from our children. We drank white wine mixed with fresh peaches and the ricotta spinach pasta with fresh tomato sauce was the best I’d ever had. Via Amerigo Vespucci 25, 80061 Massa Lubrense (+39081-808 1036; concadelsogno.it).
The best gift I’ve given recently was a trip to Japan that Stephen and I gave our eldest daughter, Gabriella, as a reward for working very hard at her school entrance exams.
The last music I downloaded was Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane’s My One and Only Love. I heard it playing at my mother’s restaurant in Florida – I was in the middle of a conversation, but the dreamy sound of the saxophone caught my attention.
In my fridge you’ll always find chicken broth, which I make; seasonal fruit and vegetables from Michanicou Bros; 2011 Berry Bros & Rudd Tokaji Aszú, 5 Puttonyos, by Oremus; and the rather odd Túró Rudi, which is Hungary’s most popular dessert for kids. I think it’s disgusting – like cottage cheese covered in chocolate – but my kids love it. Berry Bros & Rudd, 3 St James’s Street, London SW1 (0800-280 2440; bbr.com).Michanicou Bros, 2 Clarendon Road, London W11 (020-7727 5191).
An indulgence I would never forgo is reflexology by Billie Jean at Reflexions in Chelsea. Some people hate the idea of people touching their feet, but I love it and can feel the impact all over my body. £57 for 60 mins; 250 King’s Road, London SW3 (020-7349 9475; reflex-shop.com).
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the 1st arrondissement of Paris. I go to Gianvito Rossi for shoes that are both glamorous and comfortable – not a common combination. I love wandering around the Palais Royal; I will stop in for a pair of leather gloves at Maison Fabre, which I am never without once the weather turns. And Serge Lutens is not just a fragrance man – at his store, I recently bought a soft violet lip stain in the chicest little bullet you have ever seen. De Profundis Water Lip Colour, €65; Serge Lutens, 142 Galerie de Valois, 75001 (+331-4927 0909; sergelutens.com). Gianvito Rossi, 40 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 (+331-4926 9643; gianvitorossi.com). Maison Fabre, 128-129 Galerie de Valois, 75001 (+331-4260 7588; maisonfabre.com).
An object I would never part with is my father’s engraved silver pitcher. He was a 50-year-old bachelor by the time he married my considerably younger mother and was such a wonderful, charming gent that he had over 20 groomsmen at the wedding. To mark the occasion, they gave him this pitcher engraved with their signatures. I use it almost every day.
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Tony Culver at Salon Sloane for my colour, who I have been going to for ever; and my osteopath Kristian Wood – I don’t know what he does, but I have seen so many over the years and whatever it is, it works. Kristian Wood, 221 Westbourne Park Road, London W11 (020-7243 0007; kjw-osteopathy.co.uk). Salon Sloane, 186 Pavilion Road, London SW3 (020-7259 0068; salonsloane.com).
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Budapest. I love its exotic flavour. It’s a huge movie-making destination and boutique hotel Brody House, is a social and cultural hub where actors and crew hang out alongside local artists, creating quite a glam, casual vibe. Menza is my favourite spot for lunch – I always order the daily special and it never disappoints, though for the best goulash in town, I go to Café Kör. A trip to Budapest would not be complete without a visit to the thermal baths and my favourite is the Gellert, with its gorgeous Zsolnay tiles along the floors and walls. I always leave feeling transformed. Brody House, Bródy Sándor utca 10, 1088 Budapest (+361-550 7363; brody.land). Café Kör, Sas utca 17, 1051 (+361-311 0053). Gellert Spa and Thermal Baths, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 (+361-466 6166; gellertspa.com). Menza, Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061 (+361-413 1482; menzaetterem.hu).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be involved in the world of politics and education.