A cosmopolitan and sophisticated city by the sea, Brighton is one of the UK’s best and most popular weekend retreats. Here’s our handy guide to where best to eat, sleep and drink, with a bit of culture thrown in for good measure.
If you’re after something memorable a trip to Chef-owner Michael Bremner’s 64 Degrees won’t leave you disappointed. The kitchen is the star in this experimental and molecular influenced restaurant as it sits in the dining area, with the chefs acting as waiters to those with a counter seat. It’s a social way to eat and the food sensational – a Michelin Star is tipped in the near future.
Indian bistro The Chilli Pickle in the famous old cobbled lanes of Brighton is run by husband and wife team Alun and Dawn Sperring and offers a top class modern take on Asian street food. Vegetarian restaurant Terre à Terre is a local institution having maintaining the most exacting of standards for over 21 years. For those that feel a trip to the seaside is not complete without fish and chips, Wolfies on Goldstone Villas in Hove is garnering plenty of decent press since opening in March 2014.
by Bev Goodwin
Although Brighton is known more for its ‘anything goes’ nightlife than the sedate pleasure of a lovingly crafted pint, it still holds its own in the craft beer scene. The best place to start is The Evening Star on Surrey Street. Dark Star Brewing was born in the Star’s cellar some 25 years ago and is now credited as being one of the key brewers who kick-started the craft ale boom. Its range of international ales would sate the appetite of even the biggest beer geek. The North Laine pub on Gloucester Place also houses Laine Brewery, so its beer is never less than at the top of its game. The eight cask beers on offer are thoughtfully curated and rarely disappoint.
Craft Beer Co (part of the London Craft Beer Co group) on Upper North Street has knowledgeable staff and a drinks list that would take a fine old session to get through. If you’re after a more traditional/authentic boozer then Hand in Hand on Upper St James’s Street is the type of place where a quiet pint can quickly turn to six, as a regular regales you with tales of bygone nights long-since mythologized. Brighton Rocks (Rock Place) and The Black Dove (St James’s Street) are better known as cocktail bars but both have an intriguing range of beers on offer.
The UK’s hippest seaside town is not short on boutique options when it comes to accommodation. Narrow sea-front townhouse Drakes was voted one of the ‘Top 50 New Boutique Hotels’ in the World by Conde Nast and is a perfect haven for an afternoon’s celeb spotting, whilst nursing an award winning cocktail in the hotel’s basement. Woody Allen and Kylie Minogue head a spattering of names said have given Drakes a big thumbs up and with rooms from £89, it’s hardly a bank buster either. With most rooms sporting sea views and decor that has more than a touch of decadence to it, Drakes may just be Brighton’s best hideaway.
For something totally different, and certainly no less unique, Hotel Pelirocco’s 19 individually styled rooms are either pop culture perfect or an insult to good taste. One man’s meat is another man’s poison and all that. In terms of B&B and guesthouses, Una’s contemporary refashioning of a Georgian townhouse is for the most part a triumph. The Kemp Townhouse offers an understated retreat in a Grade II listed building on a quiet street, but still very much in the hub of the action.
IN-BETWEEN THE EATING AND DRINKING
That you can eat, drink and party to your heart’s content is a given, but Brighton is much more than just a hedonist’s ideal weekend retreat. Whilst the gaudy Brighton Pier and the more skeletal West Pier are well worth investigating, try taking a left out of the station to discover hipster haven North Laine. Independents reign supreme here, with record shops, boutique and vintage clothes stores, bars and restaurants making it the coolest spot in town. Sample the splendour of the Royal Pavilion, take a turn on the Brighton Wheel, visit the Brighton Dome arts complex and make sure to sample the upmarket The Laines. To the east of the city, Kemp Town offers the best gay clubs and bars. If you’re after doing something completely different, and something you might not expect to find in Brighton, a trip to the dogs to bet on greyhound racing is a great night out with friends. Of the rest of the city’s attractions, Prince Regent’s farmhouse turned pleasure palace is well worth a visit too, as are the Pavilion Gardens.