Brighton is a cultural cornucopia of creativity, with more than its share of festivals, museums, galleries and gigs. Famous for magnificent Regency architecture, Brighton is without doubt one of Britain’s most colourful and fascinating cities.
A bohemian vibe runs through the streets, from the exuberant 19th-century Royal Pavilion to the wonderfully tacky Brighton Pier, and the maze of independent shops along the warren of alleys, the Artists’ Quarter and the quirky fashion hub, North Laine. What’s more, you can head to the pebbled beach and seafront promenade for fresh air, fish and chips and traditional seaside entertainment.
For party peeps in search of entertainment, the city offers a cornucopia of choice from comedy to cabaret. And if music is your raison d’etre then there are many enchanting nightspots where you can dance from dusk ‘til dawn, catch an old school band or see fresh musical talent.
Whether you’re looking for top notch restaurants or bohemian independent shopping, Brighton offers urban glamour by the bucket load.
TIME TO CHECK IN:
For a real bohemian experience, Hotel Una is independently owned and sits in the heart of Brighton, just a stone's throw from the beach with a great view of the historical West Pier. With 20 individually designed bedrooms and suites, this recently converted Regency town house is a stylish mixture of old and new, industrial and traditional; with free standing baths, stone fireplaces and avant-garde furnishing.
Artist Residence is another option that encapsulates the spirit of a town into one building; creative, bohemian and downright eccentric, this 24-bedroom townhouse is at the head of Regency Square and each room is a riot of original artwork and local character.
The Grand Brighton is a traditionally elegant building with a beautiful seafront view. Rooms have been decorated in a classic-meets-contemporary finish and offer beautiful furnishings and interiors.
10:00 THE ROYAL PAVILION & BRIGHTON MUSEUM & ART GALLERY
Start at Brighton’s ode to hedonism, the iconic palace with an Indian exterior and an Oriental inspired interior, the Royal Pavilion. Originally the home of the Prince Regent (later George IV) who set the tone for Brighton to be known as a place to relax and escape the mundanities of everyday life.
The Royal Pavilion’s Basement and Tunnel Tours gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the what life was like below stairs for the servants, including a visit to the tunnel which led to George IV’s royal stables and riding school (now Brighton Dome).
The Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is a treasure trove of pieces including Salvador Dali’s Mae West lips sofa. Throughout the year there is an eclectic mix of temporary exhibits and events.
13:00 GET LOST IN THE LANES FOR LUNCH
From locally smoked fish to home-brewed beer, Brighton is bursting at the seams with veggie treats, beachfront brunches, fine dining and tasty value options. Nestled in a cobbled back street in the South Lanes, Lost in the Lanes celebrates fresh, healthy food, and exclusive coffees. Smoothies are made to order and smashed avocado comes on sourdough toast.
15:00 MEANDER THROUGH WINDING ALLEYWAYS
It’s easy to lose yourself amid the quaint, winding alleyways of The Lanes, browsing hip boutiques brimming with vintage clothing, sparkling jewellery and all manner of kitsch and quirky goodies. The North Laine and Lanes areas have over 500 independent retailers within a 5 mile radius, and with everything from vintage fashion to contemporary designer homeware, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sourcing an elegant keepsake.
18:00 LIFT OFF FOR BRITISH AIRWAYS I360
British Airways i360 is the world’s first vertical cable car and the world’s tallest moving observation tower, designed by Marks Barfield, architects of the London Eye. Cruise up slowly to 450ft to enjoy spectacular 360° views of up to 26 miles. The giant glass viewing pod has a Sky Bar, sound system and video screens.
19:30 EXPERIENCE THE RENOWNED FOOD SCENE
Brighton city’s food scene has been grabbing headlines for years, from firm veggie favourites like Terre a Terre and Food for Friends to stylish, quirky restaurants like 64 Degrees, and Silo, which prides itself on having zero waste by trading directly with farmers and composting.
Riddle & Finns on the beach offers exactly what it says on the tin – an alfresco terrace perfect for watching the world go by on a balmy afternoon, or dine later in the day to enjoy a summer sunset with a glass or two of bubbly, freshly shucked oysters or a celebratory seafood banquet. Or check out The Salt Room, Brighton's newest dining hotspot, serving the best of British food - with a particular focus on fish and crustaceans cooked over a real charcoal oven.
21:30 CHECK OUT THE INFAMOUS NIGHT SCENE
Famous for its vibrant and varied nightlife, Brighton’s nightspots cater for all tastes from the relaxed to the outrageous. Enjoy drinks whilst watching saucy burlesque acts at Proud Brighton; dance till the early hours of the morning at the popular Concorde 2 and watch top class stand up, theatre and live music at Komedia. In addition, there is a fantastic array of classy cocktail spots, including Mrs Fitzherbert's - a lovely pub in the North Laine that serves craft ales & cocktails.
10:00 TAKE A LOOK AT THE CITY’S STREET ART
The Prince Albert pub under Brighton Station is the site of Banksy’s famous ‘Kissing Policeman’. Wander the streets of the North Laine and you’ll soon see the whole area has become a gallery with everything becoming a canvas – from walls to cable boxes. In addition to street art the city is also home to sculptures. The sculpture trail can be downloaded to guide you around, highlights include the ‘Kiss Wall’ on the seafront featuring six kissing couples and celebrating the diversity of Brighton’s population.
Also on the seafront is ‘Afloat’; the shape is based on the globe where the north and south poles are pushed together forming a central hole, which is why locally the sculpture is known as the doughnut.
15:30 BUCKLE UP FOR OLD-SCHOOL THRILLS
The traditional seaside delights of the quintessentially English Brighton Pier is not to be missed, with its old-school dodgems, helter skelter and carousel – not to mention clouds of pink candy floss and sticks of colourful Brighton rock.
16:30 EXPLORE THE LEGENDARY BEACHFRONT
Brighton’s quirky promenade is home to a seafront arches full of independent shops selling photography, furniture, fashion and more. As visitors approach the Brighton Pier you can enjoy more traditional seaside pursuits such as Punch & Judy, the carousel or simply sitting back in a deckchair to enjoy the view
17:00 TUCK INTO TRADITIONAL FISH AND CHIPS IN FRONT OF THE PIER
A trip to the seaside city wouldn't be complete without fish n chips, so the Regency Restaurant should be on every visitor’s holiday hit list, for the best crispy batter and superb views of the sea and iconic West Pier.
Despite being ravaged by re in 2003, Brighton’s West Pier still attracts thousands of visitors. Every December, a black cloud drifts across the horizon from as far away as Scandinavia towards the pier’s charred skeleton. Swelling up to 40,000 in number, the starlings come to perform their annual pre-roosting aerial show, known as ‘murmuration’. Their arrival is particularly significant since plummeting numbers have earmarked the starlings as a Species of Conservation Concern.
The best time to catch their hypnotic display is at sunset, the sight of these speckled birds looping and swirling across the rose-tinted sky is simply spellbinding.
HOW TO GET HERE:
Air: The nearest major airport is London Gatwick Airport. Regular train services take 30 minutes to the city centre.
Rail: Brighton Station is around one hour from London Victoria Station.
Road: Brighton is just over 50 miles south of London, and is at the end of the A23/M23