In quotes: Pandora Sykes

Hotel lovers

In quotes: Pandora Sykes

A new series in which we sit down with noted hotel lovers to talk travel, truths, turn-ons and more – kicking off with one of our favourite writers

Team Smith

BY Team Smith19 August 2022

Pandora Sykes is a writer, broadcaster, podcaster, interviewer and many more things besides (a hotel reviewer, for instance). Her work has featured in Vogue, The Sunday Times, House & Garden, The Observer, GQ, Elle, The Cut, and her debut essay collection How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? was published in 2020. We met her in London for coffee and questioning…

Pandora Sykes by Louis AW Sheridan for Mr & Mrs Smith

Quote to live by
‘You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely’ (Ogden Nash) and ‘I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking… What I want, and what I fear’ (Joan Didion).

Accent or language that turns you on
French! Spanish! Italian! I actually love the Australian accent which British people are really rude about (why?) – I find their tendency to abbreviate everything riveting.

A book that shaped you
I am asked this weekly and give a different answer every time because it’s basically an impossible/cruel question. Tonight, Matthew, I shall choose Atonement by Ian McEwan. I wrote my dissertation at university on the ‘female bildungsroman’ which is basically a wanky word for ‘a coming-of-age story’. I love a coming-of-age story, especially because I was, at 20, coming of age myself. (That said, I think we are forever coming of age by dint of… ageing. I digress.)

Favourite artist
David Shrigley. Childlike, profound, sarky – a winning triptych. I would also love to own a piece by Tomo Campbell one day.

Favourite bar
Chiltern Firehouse in London and Hotel Costes in Paris, for the sumptuous decor but mainly the people watching. Find me a young man with an old woman and I’ll buy you a negroni.

Pandora Sykes by Louis AW Sheridan for Mr & Mrs Smith

Comfort food
Pizza, sushi, endless crisps and dip. Many a solo meal of crisps and dip.

Favourite cocktail
A watermelon or apple martini which are literally never on the menu. So, in their absence, an amaretto sour. Although recently I tried a blood orange margarita on holiday in Mousehole, Cornwall, and I have not stopped thinking about it. So maybe that.

Best vintage find
So many! I love ‘antiquing’ (not a verb, should be.) A few include: a massive print of Haruyo Morito’s Japanese Lady in Kimono which came in the most absurdly beautiful baroque frame found on Vinterior; a print of Peter Blake’s Babe Rainbow found on eBay; a beautiful nightstand with decorative painting that I found for £20 on a Manchester re-use site for my daughter’s room; and a 2×3 metre mirror with gilt edging that I bought for £300 from a closing down sale on Portobello and which stuns my kitchen.

Architecture that awes you
I love Georgian architecture. Vaulted ceilings and pretty moulding, I’m a basic bitch.

Interiors you envy
I love anything Beata Heuman does and there’s a sumptuous simplicity to Thea Speake’s work.

Homewares you hunt while travelling
Vases, trays, prints and ceramics.

Most stylish place
Copenhagen is full of absurdly, naturally chic humans.

Your must-pack outfit
There’s always a Doen dress and my Prada sandals in there.

Most regrettable holiday purchase
12 hand carved skewers from a Marrakech flea market that I then attempted to carry home in my hand luggage. Duly confiscated, ergo massive waste of money.

Go-to spa treatment
A massage, always a massage. I’ve had a chronically sore back since my teens, and I dream of a massage 24/7.

Pandora Sykes by Louis AW Sheridan for Mr & Mrs Smith

Best place you’ve ever swum
In the sea in north Scotland. Freezing, beautiful.

Best beach you’ve ever found
In north Scotland, it’s called Rabbit Island. Or maybe my dad just called it that. Never anyone else on it, accessible only by boat, covered in seals sunbathing and rock pools to dance in. I think of it – and my childhood on it – often.

Guilty pleasure
Books! I have to have some reading time everyday or I get itchy.

Pool or ocean
Ocean.

Define love in three words
Fills me up.

Define sex in three words
See above (sorry).


Pandora was photographed at the Laslett by Louis AW Sheridan. Her podcast Unreal: A critical history of reality TV is on BBC Sounds now and her latest book, What Writers Read: 35 Writers on their Favourite Book, is available for pre-order.