On long car journeys and at drawn-out family occasions the question, "Who, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party?" is likely to rear its head. Scraping the barrel as far as conversation is concerned, it is nonetheless a good question. Without hesitation, Aerin Lauder is always first to be seated at our hypothetical table.
Think about it. Her grandmother was Estée Lauder - that's an advanced class in beauty history ready to go. She sets an impeccable table, as indicated by her resplendent Instagram feed, which oozes with palm prints and elegant silverware. As founder and creative director of lifestyle brand AERIN, she would most certainly bring an impeccably wrapped gift for the host - we're reaching for one of AERIN's fresh scents and a salad dish from her Williams-Sonoma collab. She's also a long-time resident of The Hamptons, skis in Vienna on the reg and summers in Palm Beach - so the travel recommendations are likely to be free-flowing (and top-end).
While our interview wasn't quite the dinner party we'd envisioned, Aerin did let us in on her well-trodden holiday routes, her musings on what constitutes a great hotel and the best place for interiors shopping in NYC.
What destinations inspire your creativity?
I have been inspired by destinations from all over the world, whether it's a walk in Central Park, our home in the mountains of Aspen or Vienna, where I spent time as a teenager. I have recently been heavily inspired by the colours, feel and lifestyles the people in regions across the Mediterranean including the South of France and the Aegean Sea.
Do you link smells/ fragrances to places you've visited?
When we design a collection, whether it is for home or beauty, we often start with a destination and then build around the look and feel of that location. For our newest fragrance, Aegea Blossom, a voyage around the Greek islands served as inspiration. It captures the blue sea, cool breezes and pure light of Greece.
What do you think makes a good hotel?
A good hotel should always reflect the place you are travelling to, while simultaneously making you feel at home. I love to travel but it is important that I feel comfortable and relaxed when I get back to the hotel at the end of a long day. I also love beautiful sheets and delicious room service.
How important is scent in terms of hotel experience?
I think scent plays a major role in a hotel experience. Warm and inviting fragrances can help invoke a friendly, relaxing and comfortable atmosphere which is an important part of hospitality.
Which are your most frequented travel destinations?
Aspen, Palm Beach and The Hamptons.
If there was one destination you could go back to immediately, which one would it be?
I always love returning to Vienna. I lived there as a young girl, so it feels like home to me. The Viennese culture is a big part of who I am and has inspired many collections of AERIN.
Where do you go to relax?
My Hamptons home is the ultimate retreat. No matter the season, I'm most at peace there with my family.
Best spots in the Hamptons include…
In Southampton, the garden in Sant Ambroeus is the ultimate summer experience. The Candy Kitchen is my go to for the best Oreo milkshake and grilled cheese - I've been a frequent visitor since I was a little girl. I love eating at The Clam Bar or Duryea's for a really authentic Hamptons experience. For a quiet and serene beach setting, visit Georgica Beach. I love walking along the sea on a quiet summer morning.
Where is the best place to shop for interiors?
Bergdorf Goodman has a great home department. For unique finds, Creel & Gow is one of my favourite shops in the city.
Where should we head on the Upper East Side, NY?
For burgers, nothing compares to JG Melon. Some of my favourites are Majorelle, The Mark Restaurant and Lobster Club. For an art-filled outing, Neue Galerie, which my father founded, is a jewel-box museum filled with masterworks by the likes of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos. Café Sabarsky (located inside the museum) is great for a morning coffee or a quiet lunch meeting. For shopping, I usually walk Madison Avenue or go to Bergdorf Goodman.
Must-visit spots in Palm Beach?
Palm Beach is such a unique place because it has the perfect mix of old and new. Worth Avenue has great shopping. For a more vintage shopper, I recommend going to the shops on Dixie Highway - Palm Beach Vintage in particular. Renato's, Pizza al Fresco and Taboo are all classic Palm Beach restaurants, but I also love Green's Pharmacy for an old-fashioned diner feel. The Breakers is iconic to Palm Beach - a great hotel for dinner or a drink by the beach.
What are your travel essentials?
A large cashmere scarf because it's perfect for keeping warm on the plane and a versatile piece, and a classic blazer from Blaze Milano. The ENZO Travel Domino Set is easy on-the-go entertainment, Estee Lauder advanced night repair and the Rose Lip Conditioner from AERIN Beauty. The AERIN Travel gold comb is practical - it's lightweight and the perfect size for travel.