I was simply thrilled when I was first approached by Mr. and Mrs. Smith about establishing a partnership a little over a month ago. We share a common love of travel and boutique hotels, so I was immediately intrigued. Mr. and Mrs. Smith was named and established long before Brad and Angelina became Brangelina.
The real couple behind the pseudonym is actually comprised of Tamara Heber- Percy and James Lohan, an incredibly well-traveled couple with the vision and gusto to have their first book, Mr. and Mrs. Smith UK/Ireland published after it was rejected several times because several publishing houses simply didn’t understand it. Eventually, the pair persevered, and have published several books, including their most recent, The Global Shortlist, a must-have collection of the most beautiful and unique hotel properties in the world. They have also gone on to establish themselves as authorities in the world of stylish travel. Their website, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to plan a vacation. On the website, one can research a multitude of destinations, read reviews by their review panel (I am hoping to review some hotels!) and card-holding members who receive many perks (such as complimentary tours, discounts on hotel stays, cocktails, and upgrades), and of course, book their stay at hundreds of stylish boutique hotels across the globe.
I recently had a conversation with co-founder, Tamara Heber-Percy, who so graciously agreed to share some of her favorite travel memories and destinations with the readers of La Dolce Vita.
Co-founder Tamara Heber-Percy
LDV: Why did you decide to start Mr. and Mrs. Smith?
THP: As a couple, James and I were always looking for hotels to get away to from the city for a weekend. We found time and time again that the glossy brochures and lovely pictures a lot of hotels put forward were nothing like the real thing when we arrived. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a disastrous weekend we had been looking forward to for a while. When we arrived everything started to go wrong – from the impersonal, indifferent service to the dirty bedroom and chintzy décor – we just couldn’t wait to get out of there. At that point, we realised that to avoid any future hotel calamities we needed a hotel guidebook we could trust. There was nothing out there at the time that offered the kind of recommendation you’d get from a friend – so we decided to write it ourselves.
The Duomo, Florence’s Foremost Treasure
LDV: What is your favorite city in the world?
THP: That’s a very tricky question. For the buzz and the action I would choose New York. For the lifestyle (and my great family support network ) I’d pick London, and for sheer romantic spectacle, it would have to be Florence.
LDV: Do you have a favorite hotel?
THP: I’m not sure I’m allowed to, am I? I love them all. Seriously though, I love new things so my current favorite is the small but eccentrically formed Rough Luxe in London. It’s radically designed, visually arresting and totally unique. My favorite city hotel of all time has to be Blakes in London and my favorite holiday hotel is Ca’s Xorc in Mallorca – both of which I got married in (same husband each time, I should add!)
LDV: What do you predict will be the hot destination of 2009?
THP: Well, Mr & Mrs Smith are heading to Asia Pacific this year – we are opening an office in Melbourne, I think that Australasia and the Far East are going to be big this year.
LDV: Do you have a favorite travel memory?
THP: Eating at La Tagliata, a tiny, family-run restaurant on the hills overlooking Italy’s Amalfi Coast. We stumbled on it looking for somewhere to have lunch – it was buzzing, packed with locals, and served great wine, seemingly endless antipasti and an astonishing quantity of delicious grilled meat. We must have been there for hours.
LDV: What three items can you absolutely not travel without?
THP: A good book, some earplugs, and my husband. But not necessarily in that order.
LDV: What is your idea of living “La Dolce Vita”?