My Travel Glossary: Jazzy De Lisser shares her favourite holiday hotspots
As one of the UK’s brightest young actresses, Jazzy De Lisser never stays still for long. Over recent months the 30-year-old has been busy jetting across the globe filming for the hit TV series Vampire Academy and the film Hilma, while her latest role in Top Boy is keeping her closer to her London home – for now. But having lived in Jamaica, New York and Los Angeles, it’s only a matter of time before the wanderlust bug strikes again. Here Jazzy De Lisser shares her favourite holiday destinations around the world and discusses the joys of travel.
I’ve recently been in Pamplona, in the Navarre region of Spain, filming for Vampire Academy. They chose it as a location as the area is filled with all these amazing castles. I play a guardian who defends the royal vampires – we’re fighters and almost superhuman, so there were a lot of stunt scenes. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle just before filming, which wasn’t ideal. I still managed to visit the Museum of Navarre, which has a very good Goya and the oldest map in Europe, dating from almost 10,000BC. We went out in the Old Town quite a bit – my favourite bar was Café Iruña in the Plaza del Castillo. It’s where Ernest Hemingway used to drink and is actually the meeting point for the main characters in his book The Sun Also Rises. Calle San Nicolàs is the street to go for amazing pintxos and I enjoyed eating out at El Bonito restaurant on Calle San Fermin.
I fell in love with Lithuania last year. I was based in Vilnius where I was filming Hilma, the story of the Swedish abstract artist Hilma af Klint. I play Thomasine, who is Hilma’s mother’s nurse and goes on to become a lifelong friend. Vilnius is so beautiful – I loved wandering around the Old Town, where the streets are lined with Baroque buildings, little vintage shops and furniture stores. Everyone was really warm and friendly – and the food was insane. My favourite bar and restaurant was Bistro Pranciškonai, which does the most delicious seafood, and I couldn’t get enough of the potato pancakes, which is a local dish.
Filming in another country often creates a really special environment on set. That was definitely the case when we were making Hilma. It’s directed by the Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström, and his wife Lena Olin was playing the older version of Hilma and his daughter Tora Hallström played the younger version. We had a female-dominant cast, which created a very supportive atmosphere.
Of all the places I’ve worked around the world, New Orleans has to be my favourite. I was only there for a few weeks to film Project Power, alongside Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but it was such a cool place. I feel like you see quite a European side of America there – in the culture, the food, the amazing characters. There are all these French influences, but it feels slightly Caribbean at the same time – it reminded me of Jamaica, which is where I was born and lived until I was seven. New Orleans had the same openness to it.
My dad’s side of the family is all Jamaican and they’ve been there forever. Growing up in Jamaica was an incredible experience. There’s a wildness to it; you’re so free, never wearing shoes, always outside. I still love it so much when I go back to visit – getting off the plane, it really feels like home. I usually head to our house, The Wharf House in Montego Bay, which my aunt now runs as a little bed and breakfast. It’s right on the water and holds a very special place in my heart. I also love Treasure Beach, which is a beautiful stretch of beaches, coves and waterfalls; Jakes is a great little hotel there.
“Growing up in Jamaica was an incredible experience. There’s a wildness to it; you’re so free, never wearing shoes, always outside. I still love it so much when I go back to visit – getting off the plane, it really feels like home.”
Jazzy De Lisser
I wanted to go somewhere new and exciting for film school, so I chose New York. I applied to the William Esper Studio and got in. I moved around a lot while I was there, from Chinatown to Alphabet City and then Union Square. Living in New York is a whirlwind – you have to be busy all the time and just throw yourself into it. It also feels very transient – now when I visit, all the old places I loved are gone. But one staple I will always love is The Waverly Inn, especially in winter. It’s so cosy.
Living in LA for three years gave me the chance to experience the Californian way of life. I was there for work just before the pandemic hit. I lived in a few different places, including Beachwood Canyon and Venice. When I was in Beachwood I’d get up in the morning and go out for a hike – it was so nice just to be able to get out into nature like that. And when I was in Venice, my friend and I would take our dogs for walks along the beach every day, which was heaven. I can’t help but miss that but, at the same time, there’s nothing like English humour and home.
I’m particularly drawn to the wild, dramatic landscape on the Isle of Bute. The island holds a lot of amazing memories for me, as it’s where my stepdad [Johnny, the Marquess of Bute] was from. When we were younger, we’d go every holiday and always spend Christmas up there. During lockdown we went on lots of long walks and went swimming in the sea at Scalpsie beach, which is one of my favourite spots, but it was freezing – we’d all have to run in and run out. There’s a café on the island called Ettrick Bay Tearoom that makes the best toasties. It’s where we all went after my mum and Johnny got married.
Whenever I come back to London, it always feels familiar, no matter how long I’ve been away. At the moment I’m living in west London, in a flat just off the Golborne Road. When we first moved back from Jamaica, we stayed with some friends in Notting Hill and I remember going to my first Notting Hill Carnival when I was about seven. It felt like home, with all the steel drums. And I feel like Golborne Road still has that charm of Notting Hill from when I first moved back. It’s got a real neighbourhood feel to it.
There are loads of brilliant local shops and restaurants in my area. I only really buy vintage clothes, and this part of London has some of the best vintage shops in the city. My favourites are Found and Vision and a new one called Lovers Lane, which is just at the top of Portobello Road. But Friday morning at Portobello Market is the best. You’ll often find me there around 7am – you have to get there early before the vintage dealers go in and buy all the best pieces and then charge a fortune. In terms of restaurants, I’ll often pop to the Golborne Deli for lunch or pick up some custard tarts from Lisboa, and I love The Pelican on All Saints Road for a pub dinner.
Right now I’m trying to be more grounded and stay still for a bit. I’m currently filming for Top Boy in London, which means I get to spend more time at home and with my dog Banana. It’s been really nice coming back but I’m sure it won’t be that way for long, I just get too much excitement from discovering new places. Until I’m settled down with a family, I’ll keep on travelling.