Photo: Shutterstock


The best of Brighton

In many ways Brighton crams everything that’s great about London into a small package, with the added attraction of the seaside too.

While other British coastal towns have withered from neglect, Brighton is hotter than ever. Thanks to its proximity to London – just an hour by train – its quaint Victorian waterfront and a long history of tolerance, Brighton has all the hallmarks of a sophisticated global city in a space you can explore in a day. Yet it’s more than a salty-air microcosm of London. Creative exiles from the capital and a healthy LGBT community have lent the resort a gritty, indie attitude that infuses its raucous bars and clubs, avant-garde boutiques and experimental restaurants. Devour the epicurean delights, then walk it off on miles of boardwalk. Or settle into the deep shingle beach and listen as the waves lap it up. The contrasts are striking. 

Photo: Miles Storey / Unsplash

Have some old-school seaside fun

At dusk, the seagulls fly off and the neon lights come on at Brighton Pier, a vintage amusement park jutting into the Atlantic. Give a video game a whirl in the ding-dinging arcade, or make a beeline to Horatio’s Bar for a breezy G&T in the shadow of the Turbo rollercoaster. Buy a wristband online and you’ll save up to 25% on rides.

Brighton Pier

Madeira Drive, Brighton

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Photo: Shutterstock

See how the other half live

Brighton’s very own Taj Mahal was the crash-pad of Britain’s most flamboyant king, George IV. Before his coronation, he hired the Regency architect John Nash to design this seaside getaway topped with onion domes, minarets and pointed arches. Velvet curtains, silk rugs, Oriental art and gilt festoon rooms the size of Olympic pools. You literally can’t miss it.

Royal Pavilion

4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton

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Open Daily, Apr-Sep 9.30am-5.45pm (last admission 5pm), Oct-Mar 10am-5.15pm (last admission 4.30pm)

Photo: Shutterstock

Look like a local

A few blocks from the train station you’ll hit the narrow streets of North Laine, where twee shopfronts are dressed with high-impact jewelry, hipster tailoring and strings of bunting. The boutiques of The Lanes get more expensive the further past North Street you head. Workshop Living, on Prince Albert Street, sells handmade baskets and soothing sea-grey ceramics. Most shops close at 6pm, so don’t leave it too late.

Sun your buns

There’s enough beachfront in Brighton for every tribe. Those who aren’t squeamish about showing some skin walk east to the naturist beach by Sussex Square. Introverts can walk 15 minutes in the opposite direction. Past the i360 observation tower and the frilly Victorian bandstand the crowds peter out, leaving an uninterrupted expanse of grass, fringed by sloping shingle beach. Stretch out on the green while the waves lull you into a mid-day nap. Afterwards, explore the genteel streets of Hove, replete with mossy Gothic churches, tall Regency homes and bijou fashion boutiques.

Kingsway, Hove

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Photo: Terre à Terre

Eat guilt-free

Trust Brighton to serve some of the finest vegetarian food in Britain. Under a glass roof a few steps from the ocean, Terre à Terre makes vegetable soups and stuffed pasta seem rich and meaty. Wash it down with a glass from the list of biodynamic wines, or buy a bottle from the counter and carry it out to the beach for later.

Terre à Terre

71 East Street, Brighton

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Photo: Plateau

Dine à deux

Plateau seems designed for date-night with exposed brick, soft lighting and a backing track of jazzy beats. Plates are meant for sharing, so you can sample pork belly, lamb empanada and duck confit in a single, heaping platter. Consider lightening it up with some crisp, salted cavolo nero greens on the side. Or start with a platter of oysters.


1 Bartholomews, Brighton

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Photo: Plotting Parlour

Break the ice

Book ahead online for a red-velvet cinema seat at one of the intimate tables scattered around Plotting Parlour, an out-of-the-way speakeasy that glows with candlelight. All it takes is a single cocktail, served with a smile, to get you humming along with Olde Tyme jazz standards. What to order? The Pear Pressure gin sour, or a Sage Against the Machine mojito.

Plotting Parlour

The Aquarium, 6 Steine Street

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