Gul Panag dons many hats, one of which is that of an ardent traveller. She talks about her favourite urban getaway, her most wholesome winter vacation, and where she’s planning to take her superbike next. By Shikha Pushpan
T+L What does travel mean to you?
Gul Panag Travel is a timeout from daily life. It can be different things— a bonding trip with friends and family, a time for solitude and clarity, or an adventure and time of discovery; each has a different flavour, but any way you look at it, travel is refreshing and rejuvenating.
T+L What kind of a traveller are you?
Gul Panag I like clear itineraries as a rule. Life is busy, so I like to make the most of my time. But that itinerary could be full or very laid-back, depending on the intention of the trip. I also like to travel solo. Solo trips for me are essentially self-indulgent, usually with my phone off, to enable me to spend maximum time introspecting.
T+L What makes London so special to you?
Gul Panag London is an annual trip for me and my favourite urban getaway. It is familiar and fun. The place has many special memories with friends and family. For me, London stands for unwinding, food, theatre, and a bit of shopping.
T+L Favourite neighbourhoods in London?
Gul Panag I enjoy the arty vibe of Peckham; it’s one of South London’s coolest neighbourhoods. I enjoy Franks, a rooftop bar in a car park, the indie-store scene around Bellenden Road, and of course, the endless chic cafes. I also like the shopping areas and theatre district.
T+L Where do you shop in London?
Gul Panag I like the high street boutiques on St John’s Wood. Fenwick, Liberty, and Selfridges are some favourites.
T+L Road trips you plan to take the next time you are in the UK?
Gul Panag My husband and I did a road trip in Scotland from Edinburgh to Mallaig and then to Isle of Skye two years ago. I’d like to do that trip on a bike this time—on a Triumph Bonneville T120.
T+L Cafes, restaurants, and bars you love?
Gul Panag I love breakfast at the Dean Street Townhouse, Dishoom in Kensington, the Gong at the Shard for a nightcap, afternoon tea at the Wolseley, lunch at Indian Accent, an evening drink at The Athenaeum.
T+L Your favourite airports?
Gul Panag The Changi International Airport in Singapore, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
T+L Your must-have travel essentials?
Gul Panag I like being comfortable and practical. A leather jacket is a must for me as airports and flights can be cold; a pashmina shawl is light enough to be carried in a handbag; my eye mask; Sue London foldable ballerinas; and my Bose wireless headphones.
T+L How has life changed after becoming a mom?
Gul Panag Interestingly, it’s become a lot more organised! Rishi [Attari] and I are both more careful about our itineraries, and now that the baby’s six months old, he travels often with us.
T+L Does your son, Nihal, travel with you?
Gul Panag We took him on a road trip when he was three months old, and had an amazing mini vacation in Bangalore. We’ve also travelled to Delhi and Chandigarh. I think as time goes, there will be many more holidays planned around things he enjoys, so I’m expecting to include zoos, parks, etc.
T+L Favourite travel destinations?
Gul Panag I think it has to be Finland. It is the ideal winter destination for those who like adventure. During my vacation, I enjoyed being on a sledge pulled by huskies, who wanted nothing more than to run! I also went on a reindeer safari. I rode 100 kilometres on snowmobiles to go ice-fishing, and saw the Northern Lights from within a glass-topped igloo. I also learnt to snowboard! Another place I can never get enough of is Ladakh. There’s something ethereal and magical about seeing the sun rise over the rugged mountains. It’s a place very close to my heart for its people and its raw beauty. There’s also an element of nostalgia as I lived there for two years when I was a schoolkid.
T+L What’s next on your travel bucket list?
Gul Panag I’m very keen on exploring Japan, Iceland, and Bolivia. I also want to go on a bike trip on the old Silk Route, and traverse the canals of Wales in a houseboat. A coast-to-coast road trip in the US is also on the cards!