I grew up in Sussex just along the coast from Brighton or the City of Brighton and Hove as it’s now known. I love to go back for so many reasons – family and friends are there, of course, but Brighton is a diverse and fun city and it keeps calling me back. I thought it about time I introduced you to the British seaside town that really rocks. My Brighton…
What to do in Brighton?
A ten-minute walk south from the train station down Queens Road takes you straight to the vibrant, holiday atmosphere of the promenade and Brighton’s infamous pebble beach.
This is the fun sea-sidey area of town; under the promenade stalls sell crafts, colourful prints and original pieces by local artists as well as buckets and spades and Brighton Rock. A carousel lends that funfair vibe and when the sun is shining the bars, cafés and restaurants fill the air with happy chatter.
Brighton Pier, although I’ll always think of it by it’s original name, The Palace Pier, has rides, slot-machines and fish and chips – do beware the seagulls – they’ll have your chips if you look away for so much as a second. Brighton’s Sealife Centre is right next to the pier. It was a clear, crisp December morning when I took these shots – Brighton’s just as appealing in winter don’t you think?
There’s another pier in Brighton, The West Pier although, sadly, not much of it remains.
Brighton’s West Pier is where my grandparents took me for days out with my brother when we were young and I can remember rides on the bumper cars and speed boats launching from the end of the pier. This is me with a front tooth missing aged 5 on the West Pier. You can just see the Palace Pier in the background.
Take a walk along to the West Pier and you’ll see the Old Bandstand and the elegant squares and terraces of Regency Houses painted their uniform cream colour.
There’s a new attraction which opened in August 2016 – The BAi360. Book a flight and you’ll glide up 450ft in a space-age pod for breathtaking views of the area.
Walk further west and you’ll come to Hove Lawns and a rainbow row of beach huts.
The Brighton Wheel
Udated: Now that the BAi360 has been completed the Brighton Wheel has been dismantled and has moved on. Shame, because I loved the look of the wheel sitting on the seafront.
There’s a new feature on Brighton’s seafront, The Brighton Wheel, where you can take a ride and take in panoramic views of the seafront. I’m waiting for a low tide and perfect sunset.
If you’re looking for upmarket shopping head for The Lanes; a maze of narrow alleyways yielding a cornucopia of classy shops, restaurants and even the odd celeb. Jewellery and antique shops, designer boutiques and gift shops mean you may want to flex your wallet.
Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is a must see. Built for George IV as his seaside retreat, this is Brighton’s jewel in the crown and a visual Turkish delight.
Domes, minarets and turrets are accentuated by clever night-time lighting – pink during Gay Pride and blues and purples for Christmas. Inside gets even more exotic with a riot of Chinese opulence and silk paintings, the ultimate seaside pad. At Christmas the Pavilion becomes the backdrop for an outdoor ice rink where you can don your earmuffs and skate away to Christmas classics while the spicy aroma of mulled wine fills the air.
Ready for lunch? Try Bill’s in North Road for fresh, seasonal, smile-on-your-face food – a deli come café, come bistro. A friendly vibe with fab, fresh food. Brighton was the second Bill’s, after Lewes, and is now a nationwide chain with over 30 stores. The Brighton and Lewes cafes are the best though!
If your shopping tastes are eclectic then the nearby North Laine (not North Lanes!) is bohemian heaven; second-hand furniture, ornaments, vintage clothes, vinyl and an assortment of kitsch collectables can be foraged for and there’s a Saturday table-top street market too. The bars and cafés are laid-back, hip and arty with excellent people watching potential. For entertainment it’s worth checking out The Komedia for an evening show, its café-style live entertainment consists of music, cabaret and its Krater Comedy Club hosts live laughs every weekend.
Time for a treat and the best gelato in town without doubt (I’ve tested them all) is in the North Laine just around the corner from the Theatre Royal. Gelato Gusto makes fresh gelato every day in the most amazing flavours – I’m still waiting to try the chilli chocolate and mint! Sorbetto, Belgian Waffles and other mouth-watering deserts will tease your taste buds and in winter the hot chocolate’s a dream – there’s seating inside. It’s just as good as the gelato I saw being made at the Carpigiani Gelato University.
Brighton has more than it’s fair share of street art – it’s big, bold and colourful and you’ll find street graffiti all around the North Laine area and where you’re least expecting it.
How to get to Brighton
Brighton is so easy to get to from London. Just half an hour’s drive from Gatwick Airport or 50 minutes on the train. From London’s Victoria Station it’s just over an hour by train. Step out of Brighton Station and you can see the sparkling sea. Breathe deep and smell that fresh, salty sea air. Brighton’s waiting for you.
Where to stay in Brighton
The stylish Hotel du Vin is just off the seafront and in the heart of the lanes. The ancient building has quirky rooms and a fabulous restaurant in the cellar. If you like a more modern hotel stay at the marina a couple of miles along the seafront at Hotel Seattle which is now part of the Malmaison group.