British actor Tom Hardy recalls African adventures, London kebabs and butler sevice in the Maldives.
Born in Hammersmith, Tom Hardy trained at Drama Centre London and now acts in film, television and theatre. Nominated for both Olivier and Bafta awards, he has played characters ranging from Charles Bronson to Stuart Shorter , the homeless, disabled man in Stuart: A Life Backwards . His most recent roles have been in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Dark Knight Rises ; he is currently filming Mad Max: Fury Road (to be released in 2014 ). He is a patron of Flack , the charity for the homeless, and an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust .
How many holidays do you take a year?
If I’m lucky, one – for 10 days as a family – plus the odd weekend here and there. Before I got so busy, we went camping a lot, or on package holidays.
What do you do now?
We have a place in St-Rémy , in Provence, where we go for long weekends. It’s very romantic. We also love Como in Lombardy , northern Italy.
Any other favourites?
Avignon, Béziers, Nîmes, Sommières and Arles in the South of France, and Sarlat in the Dordogne.
Which parts of the world do you know best?
As a child, I grew up going to the South of France, to Burgh Island [off South Devon], Plymouth, Yorkshire and Florida with my parents. Now, most of my travels are work-orientated, so I get to look around the cities or countries we are filming in.
Your favourite city for a weekend away?
London, which is at its best around Christmas time and in summer. It has great people and great restaurants, and there’s so much to see and do.
Favourite spots in the capital?
For breakfast, I love the Monmouth coffee shop ; for clothes, Alfred Dunhill in Jermyn Street . If we fancy a night in town, it has to be the Soho Hotel .
And for nightlife?
The Groucho Club, followed by the Karaoke Box in Soho and then Maroush II , the all-night kebab shop in Beauchamp Place , or Pala Kebab House in south-west London. They make a mean doner with chilli sauce, and the owner, Serge, used to look out for me growing up in that community. It’s a real hub for intelligence and information.
Favourite restaurants abroad?
When I’m in Los Angeles or New York, Joe’s Pizza .
Where would you like to go next?
Somewhere hot where the air is fresh and smells of pine, with good food, where I can spend lazy days by the pool or next to a cool river with a book. I need to chill, really, and take stock. A nice long swim in a lake would be fantastic, too.
The most glamorous room you’ve stayed in?
I went to Villa D’Este on Lake Como once, which for me was totally wow, and glam. Alfred Hitchcock used to spend his summers there .
And the most luxurious?
We once went to Lily Beach Resort in the Maldives, which was a first for us as a couple. We’re not used to being pampered like that. It’s a beautiful tropical-island hotel, with a suite on stilts in the lagoon, scuba diving and snorkelling, hot sun, sand you can pour like water from your palm, coral lagoons and massages every day by Balinese ladies who spoiled us rotten.
The most decadent perk?
A butler called Ishlal who drove us to and from breakfast, lunch and dinner on a little golf cart like the Popemobile and served us candlelit meals on the beach at night. We watched turtles, fed fish, rays and sharks with bread rolls from the pier. It really was out-of-this-world luxurious.
And your next trip?
Center Parcs with my son Louis!
What makes a perfect day on holiday?
A lie in. Plenty of sun, fun with loved ones, and a good book. Not touching the phone and not thinking about work at all would be a dream, but it’s almost impossible these days. Doing something new and special also gets my vote.
Do you like adventure holidays?
My work often involves adventure; films such as Dark Knight and Mad Max all have a personal adventure built in. And to prepare for a role, I’ll often learn how to use certain weapons and vehicles. Last year, I went on several trips to research issues around animal poaching. So, on holiday, adventure is not really what I need!
Have you been on safari?
We took Louis to Erindi game reserve, in Namibia, on a weekend off during the filming of Mad Max. We saw rhinos, crocodiles, elephants and cheetahs, among other things. It was amazing, watching giraffes licking salt by the waterhole one night. And the sight of Louis changing the tyre with Tim the ranger was pretty memorable.
What do you make of Africa?
I love it – from Morocco in North Africa to Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Mozambique and even Congo. It’s not just the abundant wildlife that thrills me. The skies, the sunsets and the variety of people and music are incredible.
What’s the roughest you’ve travelled?
Backpacking and tents, I suppose, taking trains and staying in YMCAs as a student. It’s only recently that I’ve done anything really intrepid. When I do, I go with serious teams such as Olly Suzi Expeditions and Pilgrims Group, who make sure I’m safe in some of the toughest spots.
The most remote place you’ve been?
Poli Charkhi prison in Kabul, which was just weird.
Do you travel light?
That’s always the idea. I say to myself, “I’m just going to take shorts, a toothbrush and a book.” And then it’s “Oh, and those jeans, and these T-shirts… oh, and those shirts and sneakers, too.”
Any specific make of luggage?
A Help for Heroes holdall, a big strong bag I can fit all my kit in – and which supports a great cause.
The best airline in the world?
It used to be Virgin. But now I think all the people I work with agree that it’s British Airways. Air France has a great First Class cabin, too.