Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Esquire UK

Courtesy Simon Emmett/Esquire

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was recently named Model of the Year for a reason.

The 27-year-old beauty graces the cover of Esquire U.K.'s April travel issue and models a series of skimpy swimsuits for the accompanying pictorial. Though she's an industry veteran now, having worked with brands like Burberry, Coca-Cola Life, Marks & Spencer and Victoria's Secret, she has never forgotten her roots.

"I was the country kid who wanted to go to the city. As soon as I hit my teens, and I started to get inspired by fashion and culture and travel, I wanted the cosmopolitan life and the opportunities you could only get if you lived in London," says Huntington-Whiteley, who stars alongside Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. "I wanted to be in a city that was glamorous, that was sexy, that was dangerous."

Huntington-Whiteley currently lives in the U.S. with boyfriend Jason Statham.

"I've lived out of the country since I was 18 but I do feel inherently British," the supermodel tells Esquire U.K. "Even though I live in L.A., a big bulk of my work is in England and so I feel really cemented here."

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Esquire UK

Courtesy Simon Emmett/Esquire

Huntington-Whiteley has been modeling for 12 years, but it wasn't until years ago that she became a fashion icon. "Sometimes I almost forget. I moan about having to get on a 12-hour flight and I catch myself and go, 'Shut the f--k up, Rosie. Who thought you would be sat in First Class on British Airways sipping a cup of tea, everyone asking if there's anything else they can bring you?'" the model confesses.

"It's a very privileged bubble I rotate in," she adds, "and it's important for me to remember that."

Of course, life in the limelight isn't always glamorous, which is why Huntington-Whiteley relishes private moments. She recently experienced a sense of anonymity during a vacation in Thailand with Statham. "It was really the first time in the five years we've been together where Jason and I have been able to lie on a beach and not have some zoom lens up our arses, where people weren't really fussed about us, and we were able to do normal things," she says. Best of all, the Transformers: Dark of the Moon actress explains, "You can't get The Daily Mail in Thailand so that is one of the major reasons to go back there."

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Esquire UK

Courtesy Simon Emmett/Esquire

Where else does the model want to visit? "I'd like to go to Vietnam. I'd like to go to Laos, Burma. South America: I'd like to spend more time in Rio. I.d like to go to Argentina again, and Chile, and I.d love to go to Machu Picchu. I should write a list, really, of all the incredible places to see before I croak," she says.

Despite her travels, Huntington-Whiteley admits there's no place like home, saying, "I had to leave Devon to really appreciate it. I've travelled really broadly across the whole world. I've been to some stunning places and now I go back to Devon and it is right up there. I mean, it's kind of breathtaking."

Read the full interview in Esquire U.K.'s April issue, on sale now. It's also available as a digital edition.

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