The Luxury Travel Bible - Q&A Lord Alistair McAlpine


Lord Alistair McAlpine, bon vivante, art collector and treasurer of the British Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher (he became a life peer in 1984 as Baron McAlpine of West Green) has always loved to travel. In Australia's far north west he is akin to royalty, he revitalised the little pearling town of Broome, preserving historic buildings and crating tourism with his Cable Beach Club. Now Lord McAlpine and his Greek wife Athena have opened their private holiday home, Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in Puglia, to select paying guests; so it seemed a good moment to ask him what are the essential elements of good hospitality.

From The Cable Beach Club in Broome to a luxury B&B Puglia - in what is it about providing accommodation for other people that appeals to you ?
Hospitality. You either love providing it or you don't. It is not something you can learn.
You've travelled all over the world - what do you think your experience as a guest has taught you about providing sanctuary for others?
Gold taps do not a luxury hotel make. It is atmosphere, friendliness and service. The sort of place where you return and always find the same staff.
What makes Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli special?
No wifi, no phones, no TV, a home opened up to guests, amazing art and library, great staff, fabulous cook, fresh local ingredients, highly personalised service and hands on owners!
What is the next big luxury travel trend?
Smaller hotels in unusual places.
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
The best bed linen and a good laundry service.
Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
The Costes, Paris. Their attention to detail.
What is your favourite city and why?
Amsterdam. It combines elements of the other cities I love; London, Paris and Venice
Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli
What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
A lunch of fresh fish and lobster washed down with raki and ouzo, on a small harbour, on the island of Chios, Greece.
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
Singapore Airlines. Because it's very good.
What three things do you never travel without?
A book, my pills and a hat.
What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
As a teenager, travelling on the original Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York. It was caviar and crepe suzette all the way!
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
Money can sometimes remove obstacles in the way of a comfortable voyage.
What is the most important thing it can't?
Money cannot buy the pure excitement and joy of travelling. That comes from within yourself.
Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli featured in TLTB's Top Ten Heavenly Hotels
McAlpine's Choices
The Costes, Paris
Singapore Airlines
Queen Elizabeth 
Posted 30/3/12
Copyright © 2024 The Luxury Travel Bible