Post written by Laura
During my current week of freedom with the shackles temporarily broken from the work laptop I was fortunate to spend a couple of days in Brighton popping down to visit my daughter Zoe. I was lucky to have chosen this staycation week with amazing weather and temperatures nudging or even at times exceeding 30 degrees!
Brighton is a vibrant seaside resort on the south coast of England just an hour or so by train from Central London. As a new resident, Zoe took me around to showcase this colourful and I must say, pretty cool and arty kind of place!
The Lanes is a flamboyant and quirky neighbourhood where you twist and turn through the narrow streets which are lined with all manner of restaurants, artisan cafes, vintage shops and galleries… and jewellery shops. With many outdoor seating options, some on the streets and some in little shady courtyards this was a fantastic place to enjoy a wander during the day and to relax in a warm summer evening.
Brighton has an impressive range of street art particularly in the Lanes district. At every turn you see colourful murals, shop fronts and walls. If you wish you can book yourself onto a street art tour although it is probably more fun to explore the quaint and cobbled streets for yourself.
There is always something to see as you walk the length of Brighton beach! En-route towards Hove we came across a curved sculpture which is made from recycled cast iron by an artist called Charles Hadcock.
Further along and nestled amongst the pebbles was a photography exhibition by the Brighton and Hove Camera club.
The Upside Down House is a tourist attraction which is open daily and apparently you can go inside and take topsy turvy selfies!
The i360 is a 162 m observation tower which opened in August 2016 and offers visitors amazing views of Brighton and the coastline.
From the relatively new construction of the i360 to the ornate bandstand which originally opened in 1884. Brighton became popular with the rich and famous during the 19th century when some of the large and imposing Victorian hotels were built along the seafront.
The Constellation by Jonathan Wright is a sculpture based on the solar system but instead of planets, these are replaced by icons representing Hove such as a beach hut, a skateboarder and a seagull!
Wikipedia estimates there to be around 20,000 beach huts dotted around the UK’s beaches and Brighton is no exception. People use them to store their beach kit and we saw people sitting outside of them and enjoying a cup of tea. Some look quite homely with carpets or fake grass laid out in front of them! Prices have soared in recent years and the average cost of of a beach hut is around £36,000!
There is no shortage of eateries along the promenade. Zoe and I enjoyed lunch in the West Beach Cafe Bar at the foot of the i360 tower.
And a bit further along, a refreshing drink on the roof terrace of the Rockwater Hove restaurant. While we were able to walk in and there were some spare outside tables, this is a popular place and it is probably advisable to book a table if you wish to sit inside and have dinner. Without any breeze and with temperatures at around 27 degrees the roof terrace was a real sun trap! However there was plenty of umbrellas, which would also cater for the more common occurence of rain!
This section of the beach was less crowded and the sea on both days was unbelievably calm! Where were the waves? People were even able to paddle-board!
Blue flag Brighton beach is famous for its pebbles – there is no sand along this 11 km stretch of coast. The promenade runs alongside and the beach is a great place for people of all ages to enjoy.
One of the most famous features of Brighton is the Palace Pier which first opened in 1899. The pier contains fairground rides, amusement arcades and bars and restaurants. There is no charge to walk the length of the pier.
Zoe and I walked around the pier during the evening from where you can often see spectacular sunsets and watch the sea turn subtle shades of orange or pink.
We walked through the grounds of the Royal Pavilion which was first built as a seaside retreat for the royals in 1787. There is also a museum next the the pavilion which currently has a David Bowie exhibition!
For the second day Zoe and I walked for about 2.5 miles along the sea front from the centre of Brighton to the marina and back.
I was quite surprised that the marina is lined with well known chains such as Wetherspoons, Prezzo, TGI Friday’s and Nando’s! I think I was anticipating some exclusive little independents… maybe there are some that I just didn’t see? But we enjoyed a refreshing drink in the sun, in Nando’s while overlooking the marina before our 2.5 mile trek back to the city centre! If you don’t wish to walk there is a little train that will take you 🙂
Where to stay?
There are hundreds of options from small B & B’s to luxury hotels. I stayed in the Cappadocia Guest House which is a small collection of 12 rooms above a Turkish gift shop! The guest house is located in the North Lanes area of Brighton which is only a 5 minute walk from the station. I would highly recommend for its location and also because it was clean and comfortable and really important in 27 degrees was the excellent air con!
Where to eat?
We enjoyed a wonderful al fresco dinner in The Olive Grove, a Mediterranean taverna style restaurant where we shared a selection of tapas style dishes. With the unusually warm evening air and relaxed ambience we felt we were in Greece rather than England!
This is just a snapshot of some of the highlights I experienced during my short visit to Brighton. There is much more to explore whether you are visiting for a day or for several days. Brighton has a well deserved reputation for being laid-back, quirky and liberal… it definitely has the feel of a free spirit about it!