For Australian expat Rose Hood, one of the best things about living in London is its proximity to some of England’s greatest sights and attractions.

“Coming from Victoria’s Western District where you have to drive for hours just to get to the shops, it’s so amazingly compact… and green!” she laughs.

As the founder of the Instagram-famous Farm Girl cafes, where lavender lattes and organic breakfast bowls meet a cottagecore aesthetic, Hood has her hands full with the expanding empire she operates with husband Anthony – rice-paper roll shop Roll Baby in London’s South Kensington is their newest project.

But when time permits, they hit the road to explore the best of England. Here, Hood shares her five ultimate favourite road trips.

London to… Stonehenge & Bath

Stonehenge & Bath, UK

Around two hours from London, the World Heritage wonder of Stonehenge is not to be missed, says Hood.

“I love that there’s nothing else around, it’s just a field with a really discreet modern visitors’ centre. You can spend an hour there or half a day and there are guided tours as well.”

An hour’s drive north-west of Stonehenge lies the historic town of Bath, where people have been taking to the restorative waters since Roman times. “It’s the original wellness destination, which I really love. The Georgian architecture is insanely beautiful, too.”

To fortify you through a day of thermal indulgence at the Thermae Bath Spa – Britain’s only natural hot springs at which people can bathe – she recommends a coffee pit stop at The Colombian Company. Meanwhile, lunch at Hare and Hounds on the country outskirts means great English-style gastropub food, like pan-fried cod, overlooking the rolling green hills. “On the terrace on a sunny day, it’s just magical.”

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London to… The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, UK

When Aussies think of the English countryside, they’re probably thinking of the Cotswolds. “So many TV series and films are made here, it’s storybook England.”

Around two hours north-west of London, the sprawling network of quainter-than-quaint villages with their trademark limestone cottages covers an area of more than 2000 square kilometres. With a mix of vibrant market towns, stately homes and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them hamlets, the Cotswolds provide the perfect fodder for a DIY road tour exploring destinations such as Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury and Winchcombe.

“You’ll be mesmerised by the countryside and the towns where people live in these button-cute cottages – I get real estate envy. Among the highlights are the wonderful family-run pubs in tiny villages where it feels like nothing has changed over the past 100 years.”

Hood recommends the Ebrington Arms in the Oxfordshire town of Chipping Camden, “a traditional stone inn where you can get great pub food like a pie and mash – and it’s close to sights such as the birthplace of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon”.

Feel like shopping? Bicester’s enormous designer outlet Bicester Village is the home of designer brands and bargains. “It’s designed like an actual village and has every label you can think of. People fly into Heathrow just to go here… It’s addictive!”

London to… Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace, UK

Built by Henry VIII, the extravagant 16th-century Hampton Court Palace and its 24 hectares of precisely manicured gardens is only 40 minutes’ drive from central London in Richmond-upon-Thames. “The scale of it is overwhelming; the size will leave you speechless.”

Highlights of the beautifully preserved Grade 1-listed palace include a tapestry-filled Great Hall and the enormous Tudor kitchens. The best way to appreciate the abundance of royal history is with a guided tour. “The ghost tour is lots of fun although I wouldn’t take younger children.”

While you’re in this green corner of London it’s worth taking time to explore the town of Richmond, home to the botanical extravaganza of the Kew Gardens and a great food and drink scene including the Petersham Nurseries Café, which has a Michelin Green Star for its sustainably minded Mediterranean menus. “It’s like dining in a greenhouse surrounded by plants. It’s beautiful.”

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Margate, UK

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London to… Cambridge

One of the world’s oldest and most revered universities is also its most beautiful. Around 90 minutes’ drive north of London, Cambridge University is the star of the medieval town of the same name. Cobblestone streets and grand heritage-listed buildings like the Gothic King’s College Chapel and the Venetian-inspired Bridge of Sighs make it a photographer's dream, but this compact city is also a vibrant modern destination.

“It’s got that great university town energy. You have to do a river punt and head to Cambridge Cookery for a delicious Scandi breakfast. Also, go for a late pub lunch at The Granta, a famous riverside pub. If you’re there in summer the outdoor deck and beer garden is heaven. Have a pint of ale and a sausage roll with HP sauce.”

Don’t leave without a dose of culture. A notable collection of museums, galleries and performance spaces includes the offbeat Kettle’s Yard, an art-filled one-time home of a former Tate Gallery curator, and the ADC Theatre, Britain’s oldest university playhouse that counts Tom Hiddleston and Emma Corrin as alumni.

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Margate, UK

$450 Qantas Travel Credit

London to… Margate

England’s new go-to coastal getaway, Margate has long lured visitors to its famously sandy beach on the Kent coast. “It’s one of those timeless seaside places where you see families hanging out on the beach and enjoying the amazing sunsets.”

A two hour drive east of London, Margate has enjoyed a Renaissance of artistic energy in recent years. The resurgent Old Town is home to buzzing venues and arty destinations – the bold Turner Contemporary art gallery near the Harbour Arm stone pier hosts rotating exhibitions and features the work of local luminary Tracey Emin.

The hipster appeal of Dreamland Margate, an amusement park with vintage rides and a roller disco, is similarly hard to overestimate. “It also has festival events and indoor club nights, so it’s really become a place that attracts younger people.”

But for Hood, there’s no beating the old-fashioned appeal of being by the ocean. “A long, easy walk along the beach followed by a fantastic dinner of locally caught seafood eaten overlooking the water at Buoy and Oyster... that’s what it’s all about.”

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Getting there

Fly Melbourne to London Economy one way for 1 person from 55,200 Qantas Points plus AUD $230 taxes, fees and carrier chargesˇ.

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SEE ALSO: 5 Epic Experiences You Need To Have In New York

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1. Receive 100,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online by 2 April 2024, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Qantas American Express Ultimate Card within the first 3 months from the Card approval date. This offer is only available to new American Express Card Members. If you are an existing David Jones Card Member and don’t hold or have previously held any other American Express Card(s) in the past 18 months, you will be eligible for the offer. All other Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited, in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for the bonus Qantas Points offer. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Qantas Points are earned in accordance with and subject to the Qantas American Express Card Points Terms and Conditions. 100,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member’s account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Qantas Frequent Flyer membership and the earning and redemption of points are subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program available at qantas.com/terms. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

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