ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart

Ever keen to capture the perfect holiday snap, ITV’s widely travelled newsreader Alastair Stewart tells us of his love for Venice, dreams of living in windswept Scotland, and a hotel nightmare in Bermuda.

Which three luxuries could you not travel without?

I can’t go without my laptop because I’m a slave to what I do for my living, but also I use it as a diary and for my contacts. I’d also need my camera – I have a very beautiful camera with a beautiful set of lenses and I bore for England on photography. The other item is Joni Mitchell’s Blue album, because I’ve listened to it virtually every time I’ve been on a long-haul flight – it’s about her journeying back to Canada.

Oman sunset 250Sunsets in Oman are the best Alastair has seen
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So, what’s the photo you’re most proud of?

Probably a photo of my two younger children winning something on their horses. I’ve got lots of photos of the first Gulf War and some of me talking to people like [Margaret] Thatcher or [Mikhail] Gorbachev, but they’re not visually great photographs. I also have photos of sunsets in Oman, which I’m proud of as pieces of art. Photographs are at their best by association, as an aide-memoire.

Are the sunsets in Oman the best you’ve seen?

Yes. There’s something spectacularly beautiful about Oman. It has the most barren and bleak desert, with sand, slightly rouged ironstone rock, and brutal rock. That does extraordinary things to light.

Would you describe yourself more as a beach bum, city-dweller or adventure-seeker?

I’d describe myself as an erudite beach bum. I don’t need to go exploring. If I go away for 10 days and don’t have a period of time when I’m doing absolutely nothing, then I’m upset because the intensity of my work is enormous. The erudite bit is that I like to have a decent book with me.

Describe your favourite family holiday as a child

I remember going to Torquay; I can’t have been more than four years old. I remember the wide expanse of plain beach with rocks either side and a beautiful clifftop. My dad was washing out my swimming trunks, which had a picture of a shark on the front, and he lost them. So I was standing on Torquay Beach in just a towel. It stuck in my memory for all the best reasons; being on a lovely beach with my family, totally happy – and you can always get another pair of swimming trunks!

Venice instagram 250Alastair loves Venice's history and art
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What are the top three places you’ve been?

I love the history and the juxtaposition between the East and West in Venice. Then there are all the shops that my wife likes, the canals, and the Doge's Palace, which has a fine collection of art.

Washington, DC is a hub of economic, political and global power, and its public buildings are fabulous. Across the Potomac River, you’re into Alexandria, which is a little bit like the Home Counties of England, and parts of Virginia where much of the American Civil War was fought.

Edinburgh is the most beautifully schizophrenic city in the world, because there’s the medieval Old Town around the foot of the castle, but also the New Town that’s as beautiful as Bath or any Georgian town in England. Add to that great shops, great nightlife, fabulous restaurants and beautiful countryside just 20 or 30 minutes away.

What’s been your best off-the-beaten-track adventure?

A trip to a tiny island called Little Tobago, next to Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is a lovely location. We stayed at the Turtle Beach Hotel in Tobago, which had a rich tradition of nature and the environment, which I loved. One of my sons and I chose to be woken at 4am to see a turtle lay her eggs, but we also went on a boat trip to Little Tobago where we went on a long march to a clifftop. At the top, we looked down and saw hundreds of pirate birds diving in their natural environment.

Edinburgh castle 250Edinburgh's mix of old and new is a highlight
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What was your worst holiday experience?

Bermuda is a wonderful island full of fabulous people, a good range of hotels and two main communities. But a hotel brochure with fabulous pictures may have come hot off the press or it may be two years old. We went to one that was a complete misrepresentation. When you’re spending a lot of money on a holiday, you need to talk to people whose opinions you trust, such as friends or experts, and read reviews. Once you’re there, there’s nothing you can do about it. You spend the next few weeks thinking of everything you can do to avoid the hotel.

What’s the best hotel you’ve stayed in?

Cipriani in Venice. Its one of the very few hotels – and I’ve stayed in hundreds – that I can’t fault. My wife and I went for a long weekend and we had researched restaurants in Venice. But after dinner on the first night at Cipriani, she said there were so many dishes on the menu she wanted to try that we should eat there every night. Also, the boat that collected us wasn’t any old river taxi, it was a Riva speedboat; the room, service and gardens were also fabulous. I would go back tomorrow.

Which place are you dying to go to?

Alaska. I lived in America when I was 15 as my father was stationed there with the Royal Air Force. He took us to New England, Mexico, Florida, California, and into Canada; but we didn’t go to Alaska. I did a trip to Iceland with ITN a few years ago and I thought it was fabulous. But someone said ‘if you think this is fabulous, you should see Alaska’.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would it be?

Hawick, in the Scottish Borders. It’s not sunny or exotic, but it’s my favourite part of the United Kingdom. It has that little bit of Scotland that drives me in curious ways to enjoy cold days, windswept beaches and wide, open spaces. I’d like to have a beautifully constructed croft there with the complete works of George Orwell and the Rolling Stones.

Alaska instagram 250Alaska is the newsreader's dream destination
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What’s your favourite mode of transport?

First-class British Airways.

What’s the most useful phrase you’ve learned in a foreign language?

Si tu veux (if you want). I’m not that good with foreign languages, but the French remain the best caterers commercially in the world. France does it with a certain panache that I don’t think anyone else can. If you’re going through a complicated menu and the waiter suggests a dish, I’d respond si tu veux. That’s my little sign of resignation.

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