Craving a speedy escape from London for the day? We've rounded up the very best day trips from the city.
Get design inspiration at Brighton Pavilion
Possibly the campest building ever constructed, Brighton's Royal Pavilion is the decadent pleasure palace built for the Prince Regent by architect John Nash between 1787 and 1823. Admission to the Pavilion is £11, worth it for the glimpse of the dining table alone, and trains from London to Brighton take under an hour.
Brunch with beer at Whitstable Harbour Market
Just an hour and a half out of Victoria station and you're in this pretty seaside town, with candy-coloured coastal cottages and posh fish and chip shops aplenty. But come around lunchtime on weekends for the atmospheric Harbour Village Market, rustle up an international buffet brunch of tacos, falafels and Sri Lankan curries, and wash it all down with a Whitstable Brewery beer as you swing your legs on the harbour wall.
Laze in a rooftop Jacuzzi bath
With Bath just a 90-minute train ride from London, you can be splashing around the rooftop pool of Thermae Bath Spa less than two hours after setting off from Paddington. This sleek, modern complex is home to Britain's only natural hot springs, and during the day the rooftop pools offer unbeatable views of the historic cathedral below; at night you'll see this historic city eerily aglow.
Take in the Turner Contemporary in Margate
This much-loved seaside town in Kent is firmly back on the map for daytrippers, having recently massively upped its artistic credentials, with both the Turner Contemporary and the Margate Gallery battling for your eyes and ears. But don't overlook some of the smaller creative spaces, like Pie Factory and Marine Studios.
Explore the secret courtyards of Oxford
Oxford dates back to the 12th century, and for centuries this university town has cast a spell over visitors with her eclectic, grandiose architecture and the cultured atmosphere emanating from Oxford's 38 distinct colleges. Wander the cobbled streets and duck into the colleges themselves, to find dreamy spires looming over manicured courtyards. Round it off with a pint at the Turf Tavern and if you like the spooky and the quirky, duck into Pitt Rivers Museum to squirm at the shrunken heads and voodoo dolls.
Take a steam train to Bodiam Castle
14th century Bodiam Castle is one of Britain's most ridiculously picturesque National Trust properties, a veritable storybook castle. Just in case this wasn't romantic enough, there's also a seasonal steam train that brings you to the castle from nearby Battle, on the London Charing Cross to Hastings route.
Give a mate an MOT at an Essex spa
The new, award-winning Lifehouse Spa in Essex is a little over an hour from London, but you'll feel like you've escaped to a countryside retreat. The £85 Pamper & Prosecco package is the perfect pressie for a mate who needs a serious reboot.
Learn to surf in Broadstairs
Who says that London ladies can't be surfer girls? Broadstairs in Kent is a peach of a seaside town, and the well-regarded Kent Surf School at Viking Bay will have you riding waves and rinsing the city out of your hair in no time.
Drink in art and cocktails in Somerset
The beautiful Hauser & Wirth Art Gallery in Somerset is worth a visit on its alone, with Louise Bourgeois sculptures in the courtyard and a Piet Oudolf-designed landscape garden. But this summer it became somewhere you'd really like to linger, with the opening of the fantastic Roth Bar & Grill. Come for lunch on a Friday, linger until dinner, and if you're lucky, DJs and musicians will keep the party going until the wee hours.
Go snowboarding in Hemel Hempstead
In under half an hour from Euston Station, you can be zipping yourself into your salopettes and scooting through the white stuff at the Snow Centre, just north of Hemel Hempstead. The snow is created overnight by pressurising cold air, the slope stretches a respectable 160m, and both boarders and skiers can enrol in private lessons or group tutorials. And you can be back in London in easy time for le apres-ski.