There’s probably no one on earth more suited to the role of Burberry’s Director of Private Clients for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa than Ben Safra. Born in Belgium to two Belgian Diplomats, he lived across Europe and then the US before landing here in London. He’s fluent in six languages, hangs out with a variety of luminaries and is as relaxed talking about the menus of little known bistros in Paris as he is describing the play-lists of Berlin’s supper clubs. We spend an hour over coffee learning about the personal tastes of this luxury brand ambassador.
My secret gem of a place to stay is Blakes Hotel. For me it’s home from home and if ever I want a weekend in London it’s where I head. When in Dubai I love staying at The Address Downtown with it’s very cool aesthetic and stunning pool. I’ve been quite a lot so they always greet me by name and tend to upgrade me, which is a nice touch.
I always travel with cosmetics I absolutely love them. I also never leave home without Havaianas in my suitcase and a pair of sunglasses. I have a sunglasses fetish, but two of my favourite are a very simple and beautiful pair of black YSLs that I use in the city and some vintage Ray Bans.
My packing varies depending on whether I’m travelling for business or pleasure. If I’m on holiday then I’m really happy to keep it simple with just one pair of shorts and a T-shirt. For business I’ve learnt to pack a few options rather than arriving at the destination and having to go shopping because I don’t have anything appropriate to wear.
The messieur I’d most like to travel with is George Clooney. He appears to be real fun and a bit naughty, which appeals to me. Mutual friends have also said he’s really interesting to chat to and has a depth which is not immediately obvious from his initial lighthearted appearance.
Luckily I’ve never had any travel disasters but came very close once when I booked a romantic hotel break with my partner and turned up to discover it used to be a brothel. It was all velvet and mirrors. We tried to move hotel, but to no avail, so decided to embrace our surroundings. It was fun.
Holidays tend to be centred around Ibiza where I have an apartment in Bortafogo. It’s an amazing place with a quiet, zen-like energy that totally relaxes me. I have built up an amazing group of local friends over the past 15 years and my visits will involve lots of barbecues and house parties with them all.
When in London the places I rely on are mainly situated around Piccadilly because of my office location. It’s Polpo, BBR and Bocca di Lupo when dining with clients and I like the burgers at Automat on Dover Street. I frequently use the bars at the Connaught hotel to meet with friends, clients or just have some time to myself.
My style is a blend of formal and casual elements as I never like appearing too serious. I wear a lot of Burberry but also like Lanvin and Margiela for shirts. Kooples is a great place for inexpensive, younger-feel pieces, whilst accessories tend to be Bottega Veneta. Every year I will buy a pair of plain-white trainers from Paul Smith and the current print-pattern satchel from Prada. My friend, the stylist Noel Casanova, cuts my hair and I tend to stick to two fragrances, Molecule in the summer and Le Labo for winter.
At the moment I’m listening to Lana del Rey, she’s my hero. 30 Seconds to Mars and London Grammar are also cool. Lykke Li, the Swedish singer is amazing.
A typical day at work often involves seeing the inside of a Heathrow terminal as I travel a lot, usually 25 days out of the month. I am constantly flying around Europe and travel to the Middle East or Asia four times a year, all with a view to developing collaborative relationships between Burberry and people in the luxury world.
When I can’t solve a work problem I take myself for a walk around Piccadilly or Westminster. I’m inspired by architecture and just looking at the beautiful Gothic, Victorian and Georgian buildings around these two areas helps clear my mind.
Choosing somewhere to settle is hard because my heart is in New York (where I once lived), the majority of my friends are in London; but I love Tel Aviv; and Madrid is just so beautiful.
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