Forms of identification: Paul Carr
Paul Carr in the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. (Anthony Mair, 2011)
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Name: Paul Carr
Title/bio: Author of The Upgrade: A Cautionary Tale of a Life Without Reservations
Twitter/website: @paulcarr, www.paulcarr.com
Born in: Dunfermline, Scotland
Currently living in: Hotels around the world
1. Where would you rather be right now?
Right now, nowhere but here: the brand new Yotel in New York. Tomorrow, who knows? I live permanently in hotels, travelling to wherever the best deal or the best potential adventure is. Living like that means if there's somewhere I want to be, I can just go there. Tomorrow I'm heading to LA and then after that, I have no idea; maybe Ohio, maybe Oslo.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
It's a pathetic cliché, but my first choice would have to be Hunter S Thompson, who I imagine would be both the world's most entertaining and most frustrating travel companion. Also, I've just finished reading Round the World Again in 80 Days (Mon Premier Voyage) by Jean Cocteau in which he retraces the fictional steps of Phileas Fogg, smoking opium along the way. That would have been a fun trip too.
3. You’d be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
I've spent hours -- literally hours -- in some of the most incredible and vibrant cities on earth, holed up in hotel rooms watching old episodes of Jonathan Creek and Spooks on my laptop. The trouble with travelling permanently is that you get amazement fatigue. Sometimes you just want a night off from being flabbergasted by the beauty and vibrancy of the world.
4. Your most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel moment:
Four am, half-way up a mountain in Spain, my friend Scott and I running for our lives away from two knife-wielding drug dealers. Lesson learned: it's never a good idea to ask Spanish drug dealers for a lift, even if you're staying at the top of a mountain and are too drunk and lazy to walk.
5. Best (or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while travelling:
Australians. Best and worst.
6. Strangest meal abroad:
Shark in Iceland. It's easily the foulest smelling creature ever to have been killed for food. To make matters worse, I was eating it right across the street from a Subway sandwich shop. I was trying to be cool and cosmopolitan but in fact all I could think was, "I could be eating a meatball marinara right now."
7. If someone was visiting your town, what’s the one thing you’d show them?
Living in hotels means I don't really have a town, but San Francisco has become my adopted home, based on the number of nights I've stayed there. I'd show them the view from the Top of the Mark bar at the Mark Hopkins hotel. It's the first thing someone showed me when I arrived in San Francisco, and it made me instantly fall in love with the place.
8. Material thing you miss the most when away from home:
Everything I own fits into my hand luggage so I don't have anything material to miss. What I miss the most are my friends. Fortunately, though, they have a habit of popping up wherever I travel.
9. Most unique souvenir:
I don't have much room for souvenirs, but this May, I stayed a single night in each hotel on the Las Vegas strip and so now have a complete collection of room keys from all of them. From a practical point of view, that means I now have access to every hotel swimming pool on the strip.
10. Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
I met Kate Bosworth at the screening party for her movie, 21. Unfortunately I didn't realize she was Kate Bosworth until much later in the evening; I thought she was just a very attractive waitress. I asked her to get me a glass of Champagne.
11. The travel story you’ll never stop bragging about:
The night in Las Vegas when my friend Michael and I pretended to be the owners of a hair salon in London (called "British Hairways") to talk our way into a toga party filled with 800 female hairdressing students.
12. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
There's really no need to own more than one pair of shoes.