Lydia Bright on reality TV mashup Five Star Hotel and her travel bucket list

TOWIE's former leading lady reveals her suitcase essentials and favourite hotels at home and abroad

Five Star Hotel

Lydia Bright will be trying her hand at the hotel business in E4’s new show Five Star Hotel – along with Joey Essex, Spencer Matthews, Geordie Shore alumnus Holly Hagen and Ex On the Beach’s Ashley Cain.


The five reality TV stars are tasked with running a chic hotel on the gorgeous Greek island of Ios and catering to the every whim of their guests. They have to do everything from manning reception to serving breakfast. Naturally, there’s still time for a lot of flirting. (The show starts on Monday 12 March, 10pm).

We asked Lydia about the island of Ios, her top hotels and her perfect place for a marriage proposal.

Was the hotel as amazing as it looks?

Yes, it was very fun and cool. The décor was very modern, very minimalistic, very whitewashed. You can’t have massive chandeliers and ornate sculptures on a party island where people are going to be drunk most of the time!

What’s the hotel called?

We call it Five Star Hotel. I’m not sure what the real name of it is…

[We do: It’s really called Relux Ios Hotel and rooms start at £83 in June. You can check availability and book via]

Spencer and Joey admire the view
Spencer and Joey admire the view

So Ios is the place to go if you want to party?

We were there at the end of the season so it wasn’t as busy as it usually is, but apparently it gets really pumping. The main strip has got loads of bars and there are a couple of beautiful beach clubs that are a little bit more high-end. But weirdly, there were loads of Australians but not that many Europeans.

Did you get time off to explore?

I explored the whole island in the first three days. It’s really small. There are three main parts: the beach, the town and where we were staying – the pier where the ferry comes in. I’d say on the whole island there are a hundred shops, but there are some really cute little boutiques.

A lighthouse on Ios
A lighthouse on Ios

Was it your first time in Greece?

It was actually, which is weird because it’s on your doorstep isn’t it? But definitely intrigued to do more. To get to Ios, we had to fly to Santorini and then get a ferry over to Ios. And on the way back, I had a bit of spare time so one of my friends flew over and we explored Santorini.

What’s Santorini like?

Oh my gosh, it is amazing. The town of Oia is how you picture Greece: white houses with colourful roofs, beautiful mountain scenery and infinity pools. It’s the most incredible island. It wasn’t the best weather because it was the end of the season, so I’m going to go again this summer and stay in Oia and just chillax.

Santorini is famous for its blue-domed churches
Oia is famous for its blue-domed churches

Are you a sun-worshipper?

I do love the sun. I think I’ve got that SAD disease – Seasonal Affective Disorder – because I’m such a happy person in the summer. I try not to sunbathe too much though, and I get really bored sunbathing; I’m much more of an explorer.

What’s the most amazing hotel you’ve ever stayed in?

Last March I went to South Africa for my Dad’s 60th. We explored Cape Town, we did a wine tour in Stellenbosch and we did a safari at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve . Our luxury lodge was absolutely incredible – we had a pool, an outdoor stone shower – and it was in the reserve so you’d wake up in the morning and see baboons walking around. The whole experience was just amazing because we got to see rhinos, hippopotamus and every animal that you would dream of seeing on safari.

Favourite hotel in London?

The Rosewood because I love the classic décor in the restaurants. I’ve never stayed there but I want to one day. They’ve got loads of antique mirrors, chandeliers, a lot of glitz. It’s really glamorous.

And in Essex?

Definitely the Lifehouse Hotel. It’s an old manor house but they’ve built glass boxes onto it, so it feels very modern. The spa does a treatment that’s four hours long: they do a foot spa and head massage, then you go into these different pools, and you end up in these sleep pods. It’s my favourite spa ever.

There’s a marriage proposal in the second episode of Five Star Hotel. Where would you like to be proposed to?

I think it all depends on the person that you’re with. Whenever I’ve been with people that I thought I might end up with, like all girls I’ve wondered what my proposal might be like, and it’s been different every time. I think it’s got to be a personal place with a special meaning for you and that person – maybe the place where you first met.

But wherever it is, I would like it to be private. I wouldn’t want there to be loads of people around, and I certainly wouldn’t want cameras on me. I think I’d well up and cry and I wouldn’t want to do that in front of everybody.

Do you insist on luxury when you travel?

I don’t like staying anywhere that’s all-inclusive. When I go to a country, I like to explore and suck up the culture. I have stayed in luxury hotels but I’ve also backpacked around South-East Asia and I love basic holidays just as much.

Where’s on your bucket list?

A lot of places. I really want to go to Cuba. Iceland is on the list because I want to do whale-watching. I’m ticking off all of the New Seven Wonders of the World and Brazil is next on the list so I can see Christ the Redeemer and Rio Carnival.

Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue
Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue

When I was 25, I made a list of things to achieve before I’m 30. There’s an app called Been where you can tick off all the countries that you’ve been to and it gives you a percentage, and one of my “30 before I’m 30” is to have visited at least 20% of the world. I’ve ticked off 11 so far and I’ve got three years to go.

What are your three suitcase essentials?

My number one item is my camera – my Olympus PEN goes everywhere with me.

SPF – I’m really precious about my face and I don’t want to age. I wear SPF 25 without fail, even today [a dreary, wet Tuesday in February]. And if I’m on holiday in a hot country, I’ve got 30 or 50 on.

And a good book.

So are you going to go into the hotel business now you’ve got the experience?

I don’t think so but I’d never say never!

Five Star Hotel begins on Monday 12 March on E4, 10pm