New columnist Kathy Lette on the moral and practical dilemma of negotiating a getaway and an extramarital affair — and where best to go.

Q. I’ve been having an affair with an older, married woman for the past two years. I’m under no illusions and I know she won’t leave her husband. Yet our relationship has been transformative for me and I love her. I’m making the most of the time we have because I know it won’t be forever. We’ve finally managed to get four nights in the diary to go away, but because we haven’t travelled before together I don’t know what to book. How do I impress her? City break? Or the beach? I’m 33 and she’s 67, and we’re splitting the bill.

A. I take it that your lover has an open marriage? Or at least, a little bit… ajar? Therefore, how heartening to encounter a young man who isn’t ageist. Women suffer from facial prejudice — we get judged on our looks in a way that men don’t. While older men are given the sexy “silver fox” sobriquet, women the same age get labelled hags, bags and old crones… No wonder we often feel we have the sexual magnetism of a half-thawed rissole. Our main worry is that the police are going to put up posters of our mugshots captioned “Not Wanted; Dead or Alive”.

That Donald Trump is 24 years older than Melania doesn’t raise any eyebrows. Yet Madonna, Kate Beckinsale, Robin Wright, Demi Moore and Susan Sarandon’s penchant for younger partners sees them labelled as “cradle snatchers”.

But a union between an older woman and a younger man makes biological sense. Put it this way: 19 goes into 60 a hell of a lot more times than 60 goes into 19.

With increased longevity, marriages last so long now. From honeymoon to tomb can be 60 or 70 years. Inevitably, for most married couples, being “creative in bed” simply means taking up knitting while watching the late news. So, if a husband and wife agree to some extracurricular carnal activities, where is the harm in that?

As long as you don’t get hurt. I’m pleased to see that you’re realistic about your future and appreciate that this is only a fling. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that wealthy older women attract younger men like flies to a dropped chop. Many toy boys like to find a woman they can really bank on. But the fact that you are splitting the bill indicates mutual respect and genuine affection. So, where to go for your first romantic getaway — a beach or city break?

Well, don’t even think about the beach. When I took a much younger lover to Barbados I soon realised that “costume drama” does not describe a ABC series with buckled shoes and breeches. No, it refers to a middle-aged woman trying to lie casually on her beach towel while desperately attempting to hide all wrinkles and crinkles. The greatest beauty aid known to womankind? A dimmer switch; not the sun’s harsh spotlight. Most women in their sixties haven’t even gone sleeveless in a decade. Clearly it’s time to kick-start a campaign that gives older women the right to bare arms, but your first romantic getaway is not the time to do it.

Love is blind

No, I would choose somewhere with soft European lighting. Or maybe Iceland, midwinter, where there’s only four to five hours of sunlight each day. Hey, love is blind, right, so why not proceed by a sense of touch?

A destination with antiquities is also a good idea, say Rome or Athens. Nothing makes a woman look younger than being photographed next to an old ruin — that isn’t her husband, that is! (Just joking, fellas.)

But my perfect choice would be Paris or Bordeaux, or the romantically historic streets of Lyons or Nice, especially off season. After all, the French invented the phrase je ne sais quoi. French men clearly like to read between a woman’s lines – her facial lines. In most of the world, women are deemed to have passed our amuse-by date, by about, oh, 39. But the sight of an older woman with a younger man? Well the French simply shrug their insouciant Gallic shoulders.

While on that ill-fated beachside Barbadian break with my 25-year-old lover, I had to endure so many “jokey” comments from other guests about whether I was going to date him or adopt him. “So, where did you two meet? At an auction? Or possibly an archaeological dig?”

When the (male) car-hire clerk noted the age discrepancy on our driving licences, he asked, in a mocking voice, if we needed a car with a booster seat. (If I’d been behind the wheel at the time, I would have run him over, repeatedly.)

Actually the most effective accessory to make a woman look younger is a toy boy draped over her arm; so much better than a face cream. It’s also an excellent anti-ageing diet; a case of having your beefcake and eating it too.

In truth, age doesn’t matter — unless you’re a building or a stilton cheese, perhaps. And I’d say that every woman reading your lovely letter would agree. In short, we’d all like you to be the wind beneath our bingo wings. So au revoir and have fun.

My top romantic European spots


The Eiffel Tower

The City of Lights is a classic choice for a romantic holiday. There are the obvious highlights (such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre), but there’s also so much else for you and your beau to choose from. Stop in Le Marais for a low-key, delicious meal — head to Breizh Café on Rue Vieille du Temple for the best crêpes (from $20; — or try Le Dôme in the 14th arrondissement, which will take you back in time (meals from $115, If you fancy somewhere outstanding to stay, Hotel La Tremoille is a characterful, recently renovated boutique in the 8th, featuring a gorgeous spa (room-only doubles from $580;

The Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Eiffel Tower in Paris is perfect for a romantic holiday.


A room at Hôtel de Sèze

This southwestern French city is ideal for wine-lovers and history buffs alike. The delightful medieval district of St Pierre is a must-visit, but there’s grandeur to be found everywhere you turn, such as the magnificent 18th-century Grand Théâtre, the Girondins monument and Saint-André Cathedral. Or, hit the bottle — it would be rude not to in a city known for its wine. Embark on a sophisticated bar crawl in the heart of the city, or book onto a whistlestop tour of the Bordeaux wine roads (from $83pp, Stay at Hôtel de Sèze, an elegant 18th-century townhouse with a spa (B&B doubles from $300;

Bordeaux is ideal for wine-lovers and history buffs.


Cours Saleya

For a stylish, love-filled trip to France’s southern region, where better than Nice? In this Côte d’Azur city you’ll love the elegant seaside strolls, gorgeous hotels and high-end restaurants. And even in February you’ll enjoy mild weather, with averages of 12C. Nice isn’t all luxury hotels and expensive restaurants, though: make sure to stop off at the colourful market on Cours Saleya, and visit Vieux Nice, the city’s charismatic old town, where you’ll also find classic bistros. For a dazzling few nights away, book into Le Negresco, one of its most famous hotels featuring the Michelin-starred Chantecler restaurant (B&B doubles from $660;

The stylish city of Nice.

Kathy’s column originally appeared in The Times, London.