Q&As

Karen Walker

Both Karen Walker and her eponymous label are well travelled. She’s been to 24 countries and her wares are sold in 200 cities (which doesn’t include the places they’ve gone whilst being worn by, say, Rihanna or Gigi Hadid). Born and based in New Zealand, the designer reveals her travel habits via our Proust-inspired questionnaire.

Q Which in-flight film do you hope for?
A

Planes are either my office or my bedroom, so I don’t really look for a good film when I’m flying. I prefer something light and silly to half watch while I’m knocking my in-tray into shape.

Q What's the last book you took on holiday?
A

My last holiday was last week and I loved reading David Sedaris’ new diary, Theft By Finding: Diaries: Volume 1. Laugh-out-loud funny on every page.

For some reason, I always have twice as much yoga gear than I actually need.
Q You tend to pack too many...
A

Pairs of yoga pants and track pants. For some reason, I always have twice as much yoga gear than I actually need.

Q What's your idea of travel happiness?
A

Getting to know a city I’ve not been to before, preferably one that’s old and beautiful and a little chilly, and to wander around it with my family and without anything on my agenda.

Q What's your idea of travel misery?
A

A bad hotel. Any hotel with harsh lighting is automatically bad. Ditto, any hotel with slow Wi-Fi.

Q What's your favorite quality in a hotel?
A

Good lighting, attentive service, great views, and, of course, quiet! Looking at you The Upper House in Hong Kong – you get every one of those perfect every time.

Q What do you appreciate most in a travel partner?
A

Someone who shares my tastes and interests, and doesn’t mind that sometimes I just need some quiet time back at the hotel.

Q What is your greatest extravagance while abroad?
A

I always like a nice hotel and have probably, from time to time, gone a little over the top in this regard.

Q What is your favorite journey to take?
A

I love any kind of journey really – a drive, a train ride, a plane ride. I’ve never taken a significant boat ride but I imagine that, on the right boat, I’d love that too.

Q What is your greatest fear abroad?
A

Catching some nasty bug that sees me bed-ridden in a hotel with no one to make me hot toddies and fetch me medicine.

Q Which historical world traveler do you most identify with?
A

He’s not an historical traveler but I am a huge A. A. Gill fan and I’d love to be able to travel in the way that he did.

Q What is the travel habit you most deplore in yourself?
A

Annoyingly, I can’t relax in a hotel until I’ve unpacked absolutely everything from my bags. Even if I’m only there for one night, I have to unpack it all before I can relax or go about my day.

Q What is the travel habit you most deplore in others?
A

I can’t stand a messy hotel room or someone who leaves things until the last minute.

Q When and where were you last happiest?
A

I had a holiday recently with my husband, daughter, brother and brother-in-law. We went to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, an hour and a half drive from Christchurch in New Zealand. We had a wonderful house on the water’s edge. Every morning our friends would pick us up in their boat and we’d tootle five minutes out into the harbor and swim with dozens of Hector’s dolphins. It was such a gift to have that every morning. The weather was hot and still, the water was warm and the dolphins would play and jump — it was magnificent. We’d go home for lunch, cook a lovely meal, read and do the day’s crossword. In the afternoon, we’d head back out on the boat to go tubing which made us all laugh uncontrollably. The evening would see us cooking another sensational meal, drinking great wine and watching the sunset change the light over the harbor. It was all completely heavenly.

Q What is your most treasured take-along?
A

As long as I have a great book, a nice candle and my yoga mat I can make any hotel room feel like home. Sorta.

Q What is your travel motto?
A

Check the weather and pack appropriately.

Follow Karen Walker on Instagram @karen_walker and Twitter @karenwalker.