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Your guide to… Brighton

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With its pebbled beach, vibrant arcade and shrieking seagulls, Brighton and Hove epitomizes the quintessential British seaside resort town. It was actually in the early nineteenth century, when numerous hotels started popping up along the stunning seafront to accommodate the visiting rich and famous, that Brighton became a tourist attraction. Today, the town still continues to attract high volumes of visitors, and is a prime choice for stag and hen dos wanting to soak up the iconic nightlife. But don’t get it twisted - Brighton is not just a great place to visit, but a popular and fantastic place to live. It's a firm favourite for young professionals, and SpareRoom always has at least 400 room ads in the city. Even a few celebs (Noel Gallagher and Fatboy Slim, to name a few) call it home! Of course this is hardly surprising given that the nautical town offers plenty to see, eat and drink.

And so with that, the guide begins...

Where is it?

Only an hour’s train journey from London, Brighton sits on the south coast of England in East Sussex, sandwiched between fellow seaside towns Portsmouth and Eastbourne. The quick commute to London could be why so many young professionals now choose Brighton as their new home away from the city.

What is there to do?

Brighton may only be an hour’s train from Victoria station, but with so much to do there’s no real reason to leave!

Undoubtedly the ‘Palace Pier’ is the face of Brighton. The stilted platform runs 525 meters out to the English Channel and is home to an amusement park and arcade (think helter skelters, candyfloss and coin machines). Such a place offers the perfect opportunity for thrill seeking or making use of all those unwanted 2ps that are sitting in your wallet. Get lucky, and you might even come away with a giant cuddly toy! PS: it’s a mandatory part of your visit to get a photo in the pier’s cardboard cut out….otherwise, did you even go?!

The Brighton Palace Pier offers some wonderful views of the stunning Sussex coastline, but you can step it up (literally) by climbing the British Airways i360; a 450 foot viewing tower which opened its doors in 2016. From standard viewing tours to sky-high dining or even meditation classes, the British Airways i360 promises plenty of unique ways to experience Brighton from above.

The town is also known for its great shopping experience – especially ‘The Lanes’; a collection of winding alleyways filled with independent shops and boutiques. The area’s red brick floor and ample amounts of bunting are basically crying out for a cheeky Instagram…

There’s also North Laine; a bustling road with more shopping and markets, but also internationally-renowned street art, most famously Banky’s ‘Kissing Coppers’, which stands proudly on a wall of the Prince Albert pub. Admittedly, it’s not actually the original (that was sold to an anonymous buyer in 2014), but you’d never be able to tell.

Given that Brighton is the unofficial LGBTQ Capital of the UK, it would be criminal not to mention Kemptown. Kemptown has been labeled “Brighton’s Gay Village” due to the abundance of lively gay bars, clubs and shops that line the streets. It’s particularly buzzing and colourful in August when the town hosts Brighton Pride; the largest Pride festival in the UK!

Other great things on offer include the South Downs for breathtaking walks, the Amex Stadium for Premiership football and the Royal Pavilion for Regency history and architecture. Bored yet? Thought not...

Where do I eat?

Can you really visit the British seaside without fish and chips?! Obviously a true Brighton resident knows to steer clear of the chippies on the beach (tourist trap, duh!). Instead head to Bankers Traditional Fish & Chip Restaurant; an award-winning, family run chippy that’s a mere 5 minute walk from the seafront. Beware of those pesky seagulls though...

For a more upmarket fishy experience, head to The Salt Room. This modern seafood restaurant (just opposite Brighton West Pier) caters for all fishy cravings, from halibut to crab claws; all of which are roasted over coal for amazing flavours. Ironically, perhaps the best part of The Salt Room is not actually the fish, but the ‘Taste of the Pier’ dessert, which comes complete with donuts and candy floss on a stick. The A La Carte menu is a bit on the pricier side, but if you go for lunch between 2-4pm Monday to Thursday you can get a full 3 course meal for £20. #winning

But what if fish doesn’t float your boat? Not to worry, The Camelford Arms has your back with its legendary, giant roasts. When a pub’s Sunday lunch gets dubbed ‘the best in Brighton’, you can expect crowds, so make sure you book in advance. It’s well worth it for their famous meat and many, many trimmings…

Another one of Brighton’s hidden gems and a favourite of the locals is the very modest, Semolina. The independent café/bistro, founded by Husband and Wife duo, Orson and Linda Whitfield, might not look like much from the outside (or the inside for that matter), but that’s the beauty of it – the food speaks for itself. Everything is locally sourced, made from scratch and beautifully presented. Ticks all the boxes really, doesn’t it?

Wandering The Lanes, although fun, can be tiring… Which gives you a decent excuse to stop for tea and cake at the aptly named That Little Teashop in the Lanes, or Leman. Draped in lace and florals, both are as vintage and English as tea rooms get. However, if you fancy your cuppa with a bit of edge, Metrodeco’s crushed velvet and animal print decor will spice up your life and satisfy your sweet cravings.

And the drinks?

If you consider yourself a cocktail connoisseur, The Plotting Parlour will be right up your street. The bar, which features an impressive mural ceiling, was the winner of "Best Cocktail Bar" in the 2017 Brighton and Hove Food Festival awards. No doubt this is due to some original twists on some old favourites: ‘Caught In The Rain’ is a lighter alternative to the Pina Colada, whilst ‘Sage Against The Machine’ is a spin on the classic Mojito (no guesses for whats replaced the mint leaves). But the best thing? It’s table service – which means no more “I’ll get this round” to avoid the queue.

There’s also the equally exciting cocktail bar, The Fix. Here the drinks change with the seasons, so you can guarantee your cocktails are made from the finest ingredients.

Other just generally cool places to get inebriated in Brighton include The Tempest Inn where you and friends can hang out in your own built-in cove, Proud Cabaret Brighton where you can drink AND watch glitzy performers strut their stuff and music heavy Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar where local bands and artists showcase their talents amongst kegs of beer.

Proud resident of Brighton? Let us know your favourite spots!

Image credit: Arild, Les Chatfield, Miles Storey

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