Andy Lynes is a Glenfiddich award-shortlisted food, drink and travel writer based in Brighton. He writes the Food Miles column for the travel section of the Independent on Sunday and contributes regular food and drink-themed travel features to the paper. He has written about travel for various publications including The Daily Express, olive magazine, Sainsbury’s magazine and Jamie magazine and writes and edits the online guide Britain’s Finest Restaurants He blogs at Kitchen Person
Cheapflights: What do you always do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Andy Lynes: Despite the frequency of my trips, I’m still an anxious traveller and have to check and re-check that I’ve packed my passport and have all my travel documents. I carry them in my laptop bag and I feel compelled to look several times on the journey to the airport in case they’ve somehow disappeared.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
AL: I hate it when there is no tea and coffee making facilities in the hotel room. I like to make myself a coffee when I arrive and in the morning when I wake up and not have to call room service to get a hideously overpriced and probably lukewarm cup delivered. Ludicrous hotel Wi-Fi rates also get my goat.
CF: What is your favourite kind of trip (preferences, romantic, city, beach etc)?
AL: I never tire of visiting new cities. I do my research to find the best restaurants and bars, but nothing beats wandering around the streets and following your gut instinct. Talking a left turn down a side street and stumbling across a bistro or café somewhere by accident that turns out to be great always feels like a small triumph.
CF: Best destination you have ever been to and why?
AL: I celebrated my 40th birthday in Paris. My wife and I stayed at the Le Meurice hotel and had one the best meals of our lives in their restaurant. It’s a beautiful city and we walked for miles around it. I love the Musee d’Orsay, as much for its amazing architecture and design as the fabulous art.
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for money?
AL: I recently visited Brooklyn for the first time and there is a very exciting food and drink scene which offers fantastic value compared to Manhattan. Accommodation is also more affordable.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
AL: If you love wine, then Alsace offers fantastic value. Many of the top winemakers are represented in the charming medieval village of Eguisheim, which is also a great base from which to explore the surrounding wine country. You can drink grand cru wines for a fraction of the price you’d pay for them in the UK and a fraction of the price of grand crus from other French regions. The regional cuisine is hearty and delicious too.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from and is there a tip to make this airport experience great?
AL: Vancouver Airport is beautifully designed with lots of space and feels almost tranquil. It’s worth arriving early to take the self-guided tour (download here) of the First Nations Art Collection and Architecture that includes the huge Jade Canoe sculpture by Bill Reid whose work is wonderful.
CF: When you fly, is there a tip you can share to make the experience a great one?
AL: The only way to have a great flying experience is to travel Business or First Class, but I’ve found that accepting the crowds, queues, delays, intrusive security routines and lack of room on board makes the experience far more bearable than if you huff and puff your way through it.
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
AL: Delhi to the Taj Mahal by taxi was the most frightening trip of my life so far. “Do what thou wilt” appears to be the whole of the law of the roads in India. I don’t know how we avoided head-on collisions with the numerous trucks thundering directly towards us from the opposite direction, or the cows in the middle of the road, or the dancing bears. And I thought we’d never extract ourselves from those gridlocked crossroads. The driver insisted on diversions to visit his various relations’ businesses, so the trip was punctuated by several lengthy pitches from rug salesman and a terrible meal in a not exactly pristine roadside café.