A Place in The Sun’s Laura Hamilton on Purley, property and places to visit
PUBLISHED: 10:05 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:31 12 April 2018
copyright by arrangement with photographer
When you think of your ideal place in the sun, Purley is not exactly the first location that springs to mind – but for A Place in The Sun presenter, Laura Hamilton, there’s nowhere quite like home. Andy Newbold pays a visit to find out why
Tucked away in a quiet and rather lovely corner of Purley is the home belonging to TV presenter Laura Hamilton, her husband Alex and their two young children, Rocco and Tahlia. Renovated throughout by the couple themselves in a modern and tasteful style, it is perfectly situated between London and Gatwick – handy for Laura’s frequent trips abroad. On my arrival, she tells me that she has just returned from being a guest on The Wright Stuff where she had her hair and make-up done professionally – perfect timing for a Surrey Life photo shoot.
“It was great fun and quite surreal!” says Laura of the Channel 5 chat show. “I had to comment on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech and talk about Brexit, which people are asking me about a lot, considering I film a show about people buying abroad.”
Born in Greenwich herself, Laura grew up in Kent but lived for a while during her early twenties in Cheam and Merstham. She met Alex, who lived in Purley, in 2009 – and has been a Surrey girl ever since. She explains that their current home is the latest in a long string of renovations, having moved three years ago from just down the road – at what turned out to be a rather hectic time. In just three weeks, the house was purchased and then, two days later, the couple welcomed their first child, Rocco. Three weeks after that, Laura was in Austria filming The Jump while the builders started work, including converting the garage and replacing a roof!
“I bought my first home aged 19 and have bought and sold ten times so far,” Laura tells me. “Doing places up is always something I’ve been into. This is the second one Alex and I have bought together, and we moved into this one when I was a new mum and at a particularly busy time with TV, but we managed to completely renovate it in seven months and have settled down now. We love it here, especially for accessibility, and it’s so leafy and green.”
Life in television
In fact, I soon realise that 34-year-old Laura is not one for sitting on her laurels – after turning down a university offer to study Law and Psychology, she became a runner for ‘124 Facilities’ at Channel 4 Television, which gained her enough insider experience to become a floor manager on shows such as Big Brother and large televised events. In total, she spent four years behind the scenes on a whole host of well-known productions before her big break on-screen in Fun Song Factory for CITV. Numerous other roles in children’s television followed, her fame resulting in her being asked to participate in the ITV show Dancing on Ice in 2011 finishing as runner-up. Since then, she has been on the box regularly, notably hosting the revamped Fort Boyard and even found time to be a celebrity blogger for Hello magazine and produce a fitness app. She is perhaps best known, however, for her role as a host of A Place in the Sun, Channel 4’s second-longest running programme.
“It really is a great show and most people have heard of it,” says Laura. “It’s such an exciting process buying a house and I’m honoured to be part of something so special in someone’s life. Of course, there are tricky times when we just can’t find the right properties and people don’t want to buy, but more often than not they take away really useful information and I have fun getting to know them.
“It’s funny actually what people tell you when the camera isn’t rolling. I’ve had women say to me, ‘If he doesn’t buy then I’m going to do it myself!’ Sometimes I feel like a counsellor. I am so lucky to be able to combine my love of property and travel with my career as a TV presenter.”
As if spending an average of 12 days per month away presenting a popular daytime TV show, renovating houses and bringing up two young kids was not already enough, Laura has recently embarked on an additional project as well. Her new website, Hamilton’s Hotspots, sees her recommending places to visit based on her own experiences – and she already has Monarch Airlines on board as an official partner.
“I found that I was always being asked, ‘where should I go?’, ‘what should I see?’, ‘where should I stay?’ and ‘what can I do with my family?’ and so on,” explains Laura. “Hence, Hamilton’s Hotspots was born.”
Her site is constantly updated with authentic reviews, travel tips and handy hints, making it a one-stop travel site. There is also a lovely little quote on the ‘about’ page – ‘The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.’ So from her atlas of experiences, what is Laura’s own favourite place in the sun then?
“I absolutely love the Maldives, which is a switch-off and relax destination, something I don’t do very easily, but for a city break I love Majorca; you can enjoy the cosmopolitan city of Palma or the great beaches of Illetas… yes, I’d say Majorca. I have been there four times in the last year and it’s the place where Tahlia went on her very first trip at three weeks old!”
In fact, the children accompany Laura whenever she is filming and Alex often joins them when he can get a break from his busy job in the city as a broker. Despite the hectic schedule, it’s clear that family remains her number one priority – something I also discover during our interview. I soon find myself doing colouring with the little one whilst Rocco, dressed as a superhero, tells me how he is off into the other room to save the day. Meanwhile, his mum calmly butters crumpets and retrieves discarded crayons from across the room. It’s that typical kind of chaos that all parents will relate to and Laura very much takes it in her stride. Over the sound of Peppa Pig on the TV and with lots of interjection and fly-bys from superhero Rocco, the conversation continues as Laura tells me more about her life in Surrey.
“I’m all about supporting local!” she says proudly. “Local shops, local restaurants and local charities. The Children’s Trust at Tadworth is particularly close to my heart. It’s an incredible charity doing such amazing things for such poorly children. The support they offer families is second to none. I’m only down the road from them so I get involved as and when I can.”
As we chat further about the challenges of parenthood, she admits that she feels lucky to be able to combine motherhood and her career – but what’s in store for the future?
“I’d love to see Hamilton’s Hotspots to be a success and to do more TV presenting,” she says. “I am often asked if I would do more reality TV, and I have been asked to do shows, but I don’t want to become a ‘reality’ person. People often say to me, ‘what do you want to do?’ And part of me thinks when they ask me that question, actually people would kill to do what I do – presenting A Place in the Sun is actually almost enough, but I am ambitious. It’s about longevity for me, and feeling like I have got somewhere to grow, so we’ll see what happens next!”
My favourite Surrey
Restaurant: La Scarpetta in Coulsdon. It’s a fantastic Italian run by Salvatore and his wife. It’s family-friendly and they also do great sea bass as well!
View: Box Hill. I bet everyone says that though! Actually, it is probably the view from my old house in Woodcress Road, Purley – you can see the old water tower at Netherne.
Shop: Lucinda’s clothing boutique in Purley where I get many of my clothes that you see on the show – and which I am wearing in the picture for the Surrey Life photo shoot too!
Place: Hobbledown Children’s Farm in Epsom – and in fact Bocketts Farm in Leatherhead too – where we love to take the kids for a day out.