Katie Melua: "My big life plan is to make a Georgian folk album."

Celebrity Concierge • October 2013

A word with…Katie Melua

Katie Melua has sold more than 11 million albums since her chart-topping debut ten years ago. Born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, she moved to the UK as a child, growing up in Belfast and Surrey, and is now a British citizen. Her hits include Nine Million Bicycles and The Closest Thing To Crazy. She released her sixth album Ketevan - her birth name in Georgia - on her 29th birthday on September 16.

Interview by Tim Cooper

How much of an influence has your Georgian heritage had on your music?
Georgian people can hear the Georgian in my music, even if it's not immediately apparent to others. My big life plan is to make a Georgian folk album.

Why should people consider Georgia as a tourist destination?
For the fantastic beaches by the Black Sea, where I grew up; stunning rainforests and marshes where you can explore nature; the mountains for hiking or skiing; the world's deepest cave, the Krubera Cave, and the Vardzia cave monastery. But most of all, for the Georgian hospitality, which is legendary.

Where in the world do you like going back to?
Norway. The nature there is very special and the light is stunning.

What's the roughest travelling you've ever done?
In 2011 I went to the Arctic Circle. We arrived in Canada and then had to take a metal motorboat to get to our accommodation. On the way, we crashed into an iceberg at 30mph, Titanic-style.

Where's the best place you've ever stayed?
I'm always on the lookout for new hotels. I've got a trip planned to Thailand, which is a country I love. I've done a lot of research and I think I've found the two most wonderful hotels: the Siam Hotel in Bangkok, which is on the river and supposed to be like heaven - I'm going to take traditional Thai boxing classes - and the Sri Panwa Hotel in Phuket.

Where haven't you been, which is top of your bucket list?
I want to see the Monarch butterfly migration in Mexico. I read an article about it and it looks breathtaking. They migrate up to 2,500 miles each year and return to the same trees as the year before, even though they're not the same butterflies - they're their great-great-grandchildren. You can find 100,000 on a single tree.

The Monarch butterfly migration in Mexico

What's your favourite overseas restaurant?
The Stinking Rose in Los Angeles. I love garlic, and everything on their menu has garlic in it - even the wine and the ice cream! Their official motto is: “We season our garlic with food.”

And at home?
I really enjoy eating in my local Italian in west London, Timo. Their ravioli is delicious. And I just went to Burger & Lobster in Soho and thought that was brilliant.

Where do you go in London to escape the crowds?
Holland Park is an oasis of serenity. It’s near my home so I can walk there whenever I want some peace and quiet. It's beautiful and full of nature - there is everything from pigs to peacocks. 

This article has been tagged Opinion, Travel Tips