Before I left for China, I went over to Park Slope in Brooklyn to interview Travel Channel's Samantha Brown. She is just hands-down the best in the biz. I really admire what she's accomplished in this crazy business, for encouraging people to travel along with her to places they might not have otherwise considered (and of course, Disney World).
All I've ever heard in the industry is "I love Samantha!" No skeletons in the closet or secret diva moments. One completely humble, hard-working and funny lady.
Here is my interview with her for National Geographic's Intelligent Travel about her favorite spots in Brooklyn and favorite hotel in New York. Enjoy!
Samantha Brown's New York
Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown relates part of her travel philosophy to me over breakfast at Perch Café near her home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “People cultivate the soul of a city. Spend time with them and the place comes to life in a different way than just checking off the top things to do,” she says.
While Samantha has checked off over ten years with the Travel Channel, she is now exploring other avenues, in addition to hosting, that have her staying closer to home. She just sent a book off to publishers (“It’s basically about my tenets of travel and how I do it”) and is selling out an eponymous croc-style luggage line on HSN.
I can download any of her shows on iTunes and instantly travel thousands of miles with her. But Samantha is also a New York homebody, splitting her time between the city and a home in the Hudson Valley she bought with her husband a few years ago. “We live in the city but it’s amazing, that pull to be agrarian. It has the farmhouse, the front porch, the whole feeling of family and setting down roots.”
Like all of us, she has her go-to spots near home. “What I think Brooklyn has is great mom-and-pop shops trying to make it in the neighborhood. And when you support them, you support the whole community.”
Annie Fitzsimmons: Where do you love to eat in Brooklyn?
Samantha Brown: There’s a fantastic Korean restaurant called Moim that we love, off of Seventh Avenue.
I love Moutarde, a great French bistro with this amazing shaved fennel salad with blue cheese and walnuts. Al Di La is great when you can get in, but you can also go to the little bar, which has the same menu.
A really authentic Italian restaurant is Two Toms. When you sit down, they just have one meal and that’s what you get. It’s a really neat, only-in-New York kind of experience.
The best place for coffee that rivals Italy is Café Martin in Park Slope.
AF: What’s one of your favorite hotels in New York?
SB: I really love the Library, a boutique hotel near the main New York Public Library. Each floor is based on a subcategory of the Dewey decimal system. They have the Biography Room or the Architecture Room, and your room has a shelf of books all on that subject. So right then and there, what a great concept. On the top floor, instead of having a Penthouse Suite, they have a Poetry atrium. The public spaces in the hotel inspire you to read and relax. I think it’s a great hotel for New Yorkers to go when we don’t need to see New York but we do need to get away. By the way, the number one room that’s requested is Erotic Literature.
AF: What book are you reading right now?
SB: I’m reading the new Jeffrey Eugenides book, The Marriage Plot. He hasn’t written a book in eight years, and I’ve been waiting so long for this one. Middlesex by him is one of my favorites. When the book ends, you are a part of that family.