We peek into the airport routines and bizarre quirks of the world’s most well-travelled people
To everything there is a season, and for Simone Ashley, this season is all about work. The English actress has spent most of the pandemic under lockdown while filming Sex Education or Bridgerton, the latest season of which she stars as a woman who catches the eye of the family’s eldest son. All the excitement has been wonderful for her career but less so for her passport. ‘I can’t say I’m heading off to Tokyo,’ she laments. ‘If I’m very honest, I’m very dedicated to my work schedule right now. I want to just put all of my energy into that and make the most of it.’ Ever the traveller, though, she’s always got one eye on the Mediterranean. ‘Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to escape to Italy for another weekend of tortellini or something,’ she says.
In anticipation of a star-making turn on Bridgerton, streaming now on Netflix, Ashley spoke with Condé Nast Traveler about her passionate feelings for that little stuffed pasta, as well as her experiences filming around the UK and eating seafood in business class.
The most memorable places around England where she shot Bridgerton:
We predominantly filmed on stages, but we also travelled around a lot. I would say my top three favourites would be Hampton Court, Windsor Park, and Bath. Bath was stunning. Anywhere you looked in the distance, it would just be green trees. It was very wholesome, and it was very beautiful, the architecture. Unfortunately, I was only there for 40 hours or something, one night, in and out. Hopefully, for season three, we go back to Bath. Windsor Park, I think, is my favourite, because we would just horse-ride through the forest around there and in the fields, and riding up to set every day we would drive past the really famous long lane that leads up to Windsor Castle. It was a very scenic, beautiful, like, athletic job in that sense.
Her go-to plane outfit:
Comfies! Loose-fitting trousers, a [tank], a hoodie, and maybe flip flops or trainers. Very loose, comfy.
The one non-work trip she’s been able to take in the pandemic:
I went to Greece last year for two nights, and I managed to escape to Italy for a night or two. I’m very grateful that I could travel and see friends, and get away and get some perspectives – see a new city, try some new food. I love travelling. I’m very much looking forward to having a window where I can spend a good 10 days and get to know a new place.
What she prioritises when planning a vacation:
I’m a big nature person. I love to swim. I love hikes, going to the beach, eating really good food. For me, a perfect vacation would be exhausting myself playing in the sand, swimming, hiking, exploring, and then treating myself to an absolutely massive meal and some really nice wine with friends and good music. I’m trying to be a bit more cultured and push myself to do more city-searching and going to exhibitions and all of that. But at heart, I’m a big explorer.
How she wound up in business class at age eight:
Oh my goodness, it’s actually a really good story. My mum and I were travelling to California together and we were flying coach and I think it was a really long journey. We did a layover somewhere, maybe in Dallas or something, and then flew to California, but we were checking in and I don’t know – the guy just upgraded us. We didn’t persuade him or anything! He was just being really kind and upgraded us to business class. I got served Ben and Jerry’s! I had scallops for the first time. I was eight, so scallops were a big deal for me. It was really fun.
Her travel pet peeve:
People not being team players. I get it, everyone’s on their own, you’re just minding your own business. But we’re all getting on the same plane. Give space, have patience. Just have spatial awareness! I know airports can be stressful. Be kind to one another.
The place she could go to a million times and never be sick of:
Italy, especially in the spring-summer. The food, oh my goodness. When I went there in February, I was like, ‘This is going to be a food and wine trip, and that’s that.’ I just ate tortellini all day, every day. Tortellini for breakfast. I actually had tortellini for dessert at one restaurant, which was insane. Because the Italians – or [at least,] this restaurant – said you should leave the dinner table with cheese in your mouth, with the taste of cheese in your mouth. So after we had a tiramisu, they gave us tortellini, and I was like, ‘I’m not complaining.’ That was great.
The area of the UK she thinks more people should see:
Wales is beautiful. We filmed Sex Education in Cardiff and Newport. I went to see some friends while we were filming in North Wales and it was a long drive – winding roads, hills, forests. It’s so untouched and it’s so green and nourished and rich and beautiful. And I’m a sun baby. I usually love the summer sun. But there’s something about Wales and the cold and rain – it’s a part of the experience then you run away to a little pub and cosy up by the fire and eat good food. Wales has a place in my heart.
The coolest hotel she’s ever stayed in:
I wish I could say something a little bit more hole the wall, very understated, somewhere that no one’s ever been, but I stayed at the Four Seasons Athens and it was pretty amazing. I slept like a baby. It was just beautiful views. The beach was amazing.
Why she’s telling everyone to visit Athens:
I think it’s fab! The transportation’s really cool out there, the food. I’m probably going to get a lot of weird comments for saying this, but I had amazing sushi there – I guess it’s because the fish is so fresh from the Mediterranean. I had amazing, authentic Greek food. It’s a lively, populated city. Yeah, I’m waving the Athens flag! I support people going to visit Athens. The culture is amazing. I was there for a minute and I was exhausted and my friend dragged me, like, ‘While you’re in Athens, you have to see the ruins and the buildings and all the historic stuff.’ I’m glad that he did, because I got to see some amazing stuff. I loved Hercules growing up!
The hotel amenities she cares about:
A good sauna. I’m a massive sauna fan. I’m usually in hotels now for work, so I’ve got lots of makeup on. I love to sit in a sauna for two hours and sweat out the week of work that I’ve just gone through, and then have a nice little ice shower. When a hotel’s got a good little spa, then I’m definitely interested. I [also] always look at the room service menu. I’ll be on the plane looking at the menu and be like, ‘I want this. I want that.’ It’s luxurious. To go to work and be put up in a nice hotel, I’m very aware that that is a luxury and I’m very grateful for that. So I try not to be picky. As long as I’ve got good food, clean sheets, a nice robe – here comes the list! – a good view, and a good spa, then I’m happy.
Written by Kaitlin Menza
Published March 29, 2022