An insider guide to Brighton
Image: Adam Bronkhurst
An ever-population destination for weekenders, Brighton is at its most charming when the sun shines on its long stretches of coastline and visitors can enjoy the pretty cobbled streets of the Lanes district well into the evening. Read on for our guide to the city’s finest sights, plus our recommendations of dining hotspots and boutique hotels…
WHAT TO SEE
It would be hard to spend a day in Brighton and not visit the beach, extending as it does across eight kilometres towards neighbouring Hove, which is known for its picturesque timber beach huts. Stroll down to the end of the pier and amuse yourself on the arcade games; try your hand at volleyball, frisbee or kayaking; and ascend to the top of the British Airways i360 observation tower.
Image: Adam Bronkhurst
If you fancy some culture after all that fresh air, visit the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in the Royal Pavilion garden, whose current exhibition, ‘Constable and Brighton’, explores the artist’s time in the seaside town, where he produced about 150 works. Then there are a host of independent galleries scattered throughout Brighton and Hove, including ONCA, a creative space for artists and performers, the avant-garde No Walls and the eclectic IO Gallery. Plus, of course, there’s the Royal Pavilion itself, which was built as a pleasure palace for King George IV and whose architecture blends Regency grandeur with Oriental features.
If you have a little more time on your hands (and preferably a car), head to the outskirts of the city and explore the woodland wonders of Stanmer Park, a vast green space that is home to wildlife including foxes, badgers and deer, as well as a lovely set of garden nurseries and the historic Proud Country House, a popular wedding venue with a restaurant and a public exhibition space.
WHAT TO DO
Carve out some time in your day for shopping in the Brighton Lanes, where you’ll find a bevy of independent boutiques selling everything from antique jewellery to children’s toys. We recommend the vintage-style homeware at Lavender Room and the contemporary furniture at Lollipop Shoppe.
If relaxation is what you’re after, you’ll be well looked after at Brighton Harbour Spa or The Treatment Rooms, both of which offer everything from luxurious spa treatments to facials, manicures and massages.
WHERE TO DINE
Praised by Jay Rayner for its “extremely assured cooking”, The Salt Room, which overlooks Brighton’s famous shingle beach, is a relaxed all-day-dining venue serving dishes inspired by its seaside surroundings: think salt-cod fritters, south-coast fish soup and scallops in their shells. The sharing roast on Sundays is a hearty affair – roast sirloin of beef with dripping roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, all served with a bone-marrow gravy – but perhaps the highlight is the afternoon tea, which takes diners on a nostalgic gastronomic journey, moving from savouries such as crab Scotch eggs and Marmite crumpets to classic scones, Battenburg cakes and even candy floss.
Carnivores will enjoy stopping by the Coal Shed for its menu of Aberdeen Angus steaks, all cooked over the restaurant’s Josper charcoal grill (try a side of the truffled mac ’n’ cheese if you’re really throwing caution to the wind). For something lighter, share a selection of the daily-changing small plates at Plateau, a neighbourhood wine bar that offers more than 20 wines by the glass, many of them organic.
If you’re simply in need of a mid-morning pick-me-up, the Flour Pot Bakery, which has several branches across Brighton and Hove, serves excellent artisanal bread, sandwiches, pizza slices and a range of tempting cakes.
WHERE TO STAY
A unique concept in hotel design, Artist Residence has 24 bespoke bedrooms, each one decorated by a local artist and furnished with rustic vintage finds. Set within a townhouse in Regency Square, it’s full of character and offers wonderful ocean views.
In Brighton’s bohemian Kemp Town, consider booking a room at Blanch House, a boutique hotel with striking themed rooms (we like the Harlequin, pictured above), or the White House, which has a youthful, contemporary feel, with its colourfully decorated walls and Orla Kiely bath products.
For more Brighton recommendations, consult Visit Brighton.
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