That brilliant, charming and allegedly vicious travel, food and television writer A.A. Gill has been staying at the Langham this week.

He cuts quite a figure. He was wearing a bespoke tweed jacket, a wristful of those ethnic chic bracelets smelly backpacking youth pick up on their travels, and fingering a set of Islamic prayer beads, made from seeds, as he strolled the hallway.

He looks like Bertie Wooster's homosexual brother, a description nobody should attempt to better. You can guess who came up with it.

He blew in to New Zealand on the night of a storm. He said he felt as though he was in an episode of Dr Who. "It was like being blown back to Hull - 30 years ago."

He is a clever bugger, but I already knew that. He is also languidly charming, and, really, the most generous person to interview. He said, "Actually, can I tell you, about the interview? Make up whatever you need." I will, I said. "No, I mean it. I don't mind."

He makes up stuff about himself all the time, in interviews, then other people make up stuff about him and then people like me ask him, in interviews, about all of the mad, made-up stuff.

So, to continue that cavort - what he calls journalists interviewing other journalists - here are some things about A. A. Gill which may or may not be true. He has a valet; he does flower arranging; his suits are lined with ladies' scarves.

He thinks he is "devastatingly handsome", according to his friend, journalist Lynn Barber. He has no sense of humour and is not funny, so please don't expect him to be. He shot a baboon because he wanted to know what it felt like to shoot somebody.

He does have his suits lined with ladies' scarves. He says he doesn't think he's devastatingly handsome. "Who does?" Fair enough. But in the next breath he told me everything Barber has written about him is "spot on". He doesn't Google himself because that way madness lies. "I'm frightened of my innate vanity. I mean: the suits lined with scarves? Even I know the warning signs. I could quite easily end up in a tiny Playboy mansion, all on my own."

Why did he shoot the baboon? "Do you want to know the truth? The real truth is that I was with a bloke who said, 'I bet you can't shoot that baboon'." How macho. How silly. "It's indefensible," he said. When he laughs it puts you in mind of a hyena who has chanced upon something pongily ripe to eat.

A hyena snicker. "I don't feel remotely guilty about it."

I don't hate him for the silly baboon. I do see why people might hate him. In a piece about keeping chickens he writes that his girlfriend says they can't keep them and "'we do owe Arun and Elizabeth a wedding present'." Just in case you haven't got it, he goes on: "So they went and scratched on Elizabeth Hurley's farm."

That was shameless. "No, there's no excuse for that. None. Except that as you write it you know there'll be people all over North London spilling cappuccino all over their cornflakes."

Gordon Ramsay kicked him out of one of his restaurants. That's no reason to hate him. He was dining with Joan Collins at the time. That might be a reason to hate him.

How did he come to be having dinner with Joan Collins? "I've known Joan for years." But how does he know her? 'I don't know! How do you know your friends?" I'm not friends with Joan Collins, I said, stating the obvious.

What I was getting at was this: Is he a celebrity? "No." Is he sure? "Yeah. Again, that's one of those cringey questions like: 'Are you handsome?' I suppose in the sense that the red rope of celebrity has been set now so far away from where it ever was, you know ... I suppose somewhere in that huge crowd of passing, pointless faces I, you know, pass by. Humphrey Bogart said, 'You're not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi."'

They can possibly spell his name in Albania, a place which proves, he says, that God exists because it shows He has a sense of humour. He writes of the capital's natural history museum that it is "a perfect and poetic metaphor for the country ..." It contains, among other awful long- dead things: "Boxes with pinned flies inside cases full of random dead flies."

So I'm still not sure whether he is a celebrity or not.

He is certainly recognised at restaurants and gets the special treatment, which just means waiting hours while "the chef goes, 'F***, f***, f****"' and recooks the mains.

Nobody looks like him. He became a dandy, he agreed, as a reaction against the mess he was when he was a chronic dipso and used to vomit and wet himself. When he stopped drinking, at 30, he had to make up a new personality: "To get as far away from the person who had been the drunk."

He made up an odd person, that Bertie Wooster's gay brother character. He just is odd, I suspect, and so chose appropriate props for his new self. "Laurence Olivier used to say that he would find the role when he found the nose ... I just had to put on all this stuff."

All this stuff. Why is he wearing those bracelets? He'd just written a piece on men's jewellery, he said. Was he going to go on wearing them? "Well, not if you say I shouldn't."

He toys with the prayer beads because "it's in the nature of thinking about things that you do another activity that doesn't involve thinking".

Apparently it helps dyslexics - he is famously, chronically dyslexic - to have things to do with their hands. He phones his copy through to what are presumably the last copytakers in the world (most newspapers no longer have such things) because nobody could read his writing.

He can read, though, obviously. I asked because I've never understood why, when he's asked the age of The Blonde (his girlfriend and mother of their twins, Nicola Formby, a former model and now Tatler editor who appears in his restaurant reviews as The Blonde), he says he doesn't know.

A journalist once asked why he didn't just look at her passport and he said he wouldn't be able to work out what the numbers meant, so there would be no point. That sounds like a way of saying, "Sod off. None of your business". But he says, no, he really couldn't work it out. How can he read a book then?

He said, "Don't mock the afflicted. If I was sitting in a wheelchair, you wouldn't say, 'Come on, just walk to the door'." I might, I said, meaning: if it was A. A. Gill in a wheelchair ... and so might he say such a thing to the afflicted.

"Ha, ha, ha. I'm trying to work out the time in England and I can't," he said with the conclusive air of a man who had just settled that argument. Surely he's not really sensitive about his dyslexia? "No."

He couldn't be, now could he? Here he is on the Welsh: "Loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls."

We came to Wales by way of Elton John and David Furnish, who he interviewed recently (he probably has dinner with them and Joan and Elizabeth.) He said: "They are both very decent and kind people. And that doesn't fit with the story of him being the petulant, over-spending, hair-woven poof." Then he looked at the recorder and said: "I didn't say that."

What! That's nothing compared to the things he's said over the years. What did the Welsh ever do to him? "Ha, ha! Well, I get stick for writing stereotypes and constantly I get the same lines back which are: 'You wouldn't say this about us if we were Jewish; if we were black you wouldn't write this about us.'

And you go, 'Yeah, but on the other hand, you think it's right to say whatever you like about Americans. Because they're just Americans and nobody gives a shit.' And, in talking about groups of people and mocking them or stereotyping them ... which is what I do, you have to say: 'What are the bigger consequences?' Now with the Welsh, there are no bigger consequences. No Welshman is going to lose his house, or his job; the Cossacks aren't going to come and beat his wife and kids."

He has a soft spot for Canadians. How can he? "Exactly that. That's exactly why." They're earnest and like doing all those outdoor things.

"Hello Mr Kettle. Meet Mr Pot. I mean, that is a description of New Zealand!"

He writes, in the introduction to one of his new books, Here & There, (The other is A. A. Gill is Further Away) about "how places make people ... Tribal identities, from the taste to food to the love of the view to the sound of nursery rhymes to the jokes you laugh at, are peculiar to geography." Then: "All people from small islands dance funny." The haka? "It's Morris dancing choreographed by Quentin Tarantino."

He might like to see the Langham Hotel's pet weta. "What's that? A pit weta?" A pet weta. He has a pet dog; the hotel has a pet weta. "You said pit." No, I said pet. "Ha, ha. Play it back!" See how annoying he is? To annoy him back, I'll point out it's haa-ka, not "hacker". So there.

He does encourage this sort of childish carry-on. He is the boy who revels in saying "bum" to mother and this is one of his chief joys, or irritations - depending on how grown up you like to think you are.

He was terribly, childishly, interested in the weta. "Can I have one?" No, it's endangered. "Everything here's endangered! What isn't endangered here?"

Anyway, did he want to see it? "Yeah! Course!" So we went and looked at the wetas, (there were two.)

I think I can safely say that he was amazed, to the point of being, possibly for the first time ever, momentarily dumbstruck. I was rather hoping he might try to eat the thing. But other than that - and the not having a valet and not doing flower arranging and being an utter sweetheart and not a shit at all - he doesn't disappoint. And of course I wish I was making that up.

So because he's such a delight, and because he's A.A. Gill, he deserves the final line. He said, finally, then: "Oh. Look. It's moved. What is it?"

It's hours of fun.

"I'm pleased," he said, "because there's nothing on television."

* A. A. Gill is at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival High Tea today at 3.30pm at The Langham.