Brighton is home to an eclectic crowd: among the media and music types, you’ll also find swathes of students and tourists who flock to the seaside town for some weekend fun. With the famous stretch of pebble beach, bubbling nightlife and quirky boutique shops, the compact city ensures that many of Brighton’s gems are within walking distance. Here is where bohemian borders cosmopolitan – read on to find out how to experience it all in a weekend.
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The Victorian pier is beautiful all year round: in winter, it stands brooding romantically against dark skies, and in summer it comes to life with families milling around the pier’s attractions. Complete with a funfair, an arcade and fish and chip shops, it’s the perfect spot for a photo op or for letting the kids run wild while you relax with a drink.
The Royal Pavilion, in all its opulent glory, was once George IV’s seaside pleasure palace. Despite its beauty not all royals were fans – even Queen Victoria once called her predecessor’s indulgent residence as a “strange, odd, Chinese-looking place”. Regardless of opinion, the palace is a striking contrast against the city, a mini Taj Mahal rising from the centre of Brighton. It’s definitely worth a visit – if not for its fascinating history then for its Regency grandeur, Indian domes and spires and writhing Chinese dragon motifs.
Photo by Miles Sabin / Imaged edited to black and white
A lively shopping mecca by day with twisting alleyways, live jazz and funky cafés, The Lanes transforms into one of Brighton’s most haunted areas by night. Originally a fishing settlement of Brighthelmstone, the area is the oldest in Brighton, with its closely-packed buildings housing eight haunted sites. Your 70-minute tour of the city’s ghoulish past will reveal macabre stories of brutal murders, apparitions, poltergeists and even wandering nuns…
No bookings are required. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £4 for children. Check the website for full details.
Even those who don’t like shopping will be tempted to meander around North Laine, if only to check out the innumerable cafes and bars against the backdrop of graffiti art. There are also market stalls and everything from vintage furniture to musical instruments and tattoo parlours – the list goes on. You’ll never guess what’s around the corner or how long you’ll spend people-watching at one of the Laine’s quirky cafés, so it’s best to leave your schedules behind.
Can’t get enough of Brighton’s café and shopping scene? Head over to Kemptown, the city’s thriving gay quarter, for elegant high-street shopping mixed with eclectic independent shops.
If there were a vintage heaven-on-earth, it would be at Brighton’s Snooper’s Attic. It’s perfect for the vintage lover looking for that extra sparkle to stand out in the crowd. And let’s face it – vintage is always in. A Brighton collective of more than a dozen designers, Snooper’s Attic features antique clothes from the Victorian era right through to The Roaring Twenties, as well as decorative homewares and an array of curious trinkets and treasures.
More than just a weekly shop for locals, the historic Open Market showcases wares from more than 50 local producers to the sound of live music, buskers and even the bustle of craft workshops. Originating from fruit-selling barrow boys in the 1880s, the market still holds true to its community values. Here, you can meet who is growing your food or painting the artwork on your walls – as well as learn from their expertise. As well as fresh produce, there’s everything from art and fashion to books and herbal remedies.
Breakfast at Bill’s Restaurant
Formerly a bus depot, this warehouse-style restaurant features high windows, lofty ceilings, exposed pipes and recipes scribbled casually on walls. But there’s more to looks, of course: Bill’s Restaurant receives rave reviews from satisfied locals looking to tuck into a wholesome English breakfast. You won’t go wrong with the classic Bill’s Breakfast with Cumberland sausage, and those who prefer a vegetarian option will be pleased to see delicious poached free-range eggs, hummus and guacamole on the menu.
Mains range from a reasonable £3.95 to £7.95.
Lunch at The Regency Restaurant
Photo by quuuan
Fresh, expertly-cooked seafood doesn’t have to cost the contents of the ocean – in fact, anyone can enjoy reasonably-priced fish ‘n’ chips at one of Brighton’s oldest and most popular seafood restaurants. You won’t even pay a premium for the stunning sea views to accompany your choice of scallops, scampi or seabass, so you can be sure to expect humble and hearty fish fare.
Choose from a delectable fish ‘n’ chip menu ranging from £5.25 to £10.25.
Dinner at The Salt Room
Mint choc chip “99”, raspberry marshmallows, candy floss doughnuts, pebbles and fudge… though it may sound more like the start to a children’s nursery rhyme, this is in fact The Salt Room’s signature dessert Taste of the Pier – doesn’t it bring back childhood memories? You may be tempted to skip straight to the sweet course, but that’s only if you can bypass the restaurant’s Fruits of the Sea, a platter of colourful crustaceans, or the Black Angus rib-eye steak – all cooked over a charcoal grill.
Mains dishes range from £14 to £45.
The staff at Brighton Rocks Bar don’t give themselves much credit for their dress sense (they rate themselves 45/100) but they do give themselves 100 in mixology – and satisfied bar-goers seem to agree. Tucked away in Kemptown, Brighton Rocks Bar do a mean cocktail using only high-quality spirits and homemade citrus juices and syrups. With live DJs, eclectic music and banging burgers, it’s the perfect spot for partying or grabbing a bite.
Voted the Best Comedy Venue in the South a staggering 11 times in the past 13 years, Komedia is sure to bring you an evening of giggles. It’s the perfect way to grab a weeknight dinner at the Krater Comedy Club whilst catching the top UK and international comedians live onstage (careful not to choke on laughter, though!) If dancing is more your scene, Komedia also runs a variety of themed club nights with everything from retro to psychedelic and rockabilly to funk. For the little ones, be sure to check out the Comedy Club 4 Kids.
Kitch but fun and fabulous, the themed rooms at Hotel Pelirocco are a whole lot of fun for romanced couples – there are sensual rooms, but also quirky design rooms for every type of traveller as well. Any Star Wars fans will enjoy Lord Vader’s Quarters, complete with a Light Sabre, a Darth Vader Costume and Star Wars DVDs. Guests can also get lost in the plush Cloud Cuckoo room, featuring cloud motifs, quilted cotton furniture covers, a bespoke cuckoo clock and vintage mirrors.
Each room is individually designed and reflect their Brightonian indie creators – full of character, the hotel is even known to have been frequented by the likes of Primal Scream, The Bees and The Scissor Sisters. If that’s not enough, get the full experience by booking a Singstar room, a massage or catching a gig at the hotel’s bar.
Nestled in the North Laine area, myhotel Brighton is perfect for shopped-out visitors who prefer to return to an oasis of calm. Here, the independent flavour of Brighton’s boutique streets continues throughout the hotel, with cool artist studios that are both bright and airy. Though the curved walls and rounded furniture carry a slight retro feel, the rooms remain modern with funky but tasteful mandala artwork, crystal tiles and contemporary bathroooms.
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