One of the UK’s most progressive cities is home to laid-back beach life, top vegetarian restaurants and all the trappings of a classic seaside resort, says Andrew Messios
Why go One of Britain’s iconic seaside getaways, Brighton has a long and colourful history of offering respite for city misfits and as a place to retreat from the trials of modern life. In the 19th century, its saltwater and sea air were touted by physicians as aiding good health, while King George IV built his own fantastical pleasure palace, the Royal Pavilion. Over the past decade it’s quietly developed a sophisticated side, with huge investment in infrastructure and a spate of boutique hotel and restaurant openings. July brings pleasant temperatures that hover around 21C, making it the ideal time to explore the antique markets and pastel-coloured indie shops that line the streets. The UK’s largest beachfront cinema Brighton’s Big Screen brightonsbigscreen.com launches on 28 July and on 30 July you can check out the London and the South heats of the 2017 British Street Food Awards. britishstreetfood.co.uk
What to do Book a space on a VIB (Very Independent Brighton) Food Tour brightonfoodtours.com which promises a smorgasbord of gourmet and street food stops and an opportunity to learn about the city from its passionate local vendors. Afterwards, unwind in the Royal Pavilion’s Regency Gardens royalpaviliongardens.co.uk and check out the Constable and Brighton exhibition at the nearby Brighton Museum brightonmuseums.org.uk which examines the painter’s four years living in the area. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down the promenade and the iconic Palace Pier brightonpier.co.uk to marvel at the UK’s most precariously placed arcade amusement park. Soak up the briny breeze over fish and chips as you appreciate sweeping vistas over the English Channel. Where to stay Brighton is packed with stylish boutique hotels and quirky lodgings. Artist Residence 01273 324 302, artistresidencebrighton.co.uk on Regency Square has an eclectic and retro feel with bespoke rooms offering views over West Pier. For a truly relaxing break, try Brighton Harbour Hotel & Spa 01273 323 221, brighton-harbour-hotel.co.uk overlooking the
Southern operates train services to Brighton, departing London Victoria every 15 minutes. Direct trains take less than an hour and start at £17pp return. southernrailway.com
National Express offers good-value fares and regular coach services to Brighton from locations all around the UK. An adult return ticket from London Victoria starts at £16.60pp with journey times between 2-3 hours. nationalexpress.co.uk
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Jun promenade. Complimentary decanters of gin and sherry greet you in its sophisticated, airy bedrooms and the basement houses a candle-lit spa. Hotel Du Vin 01273 855 221, hotelduvin.com is nestled amid the shops and galleries of the lively Lanes and offers attractive rooms and a Parisian-style bistro. On a balmy summer evening, enjoy dining alfresco under its vine-covered pergola. Where to eat and drink The food scene here emphasises sustainability and embraces the region’s natural larder. At 64 Degrees 01273 770 115, 64degrees.co.uk head chef Michael Bremner’s menu changes with the seasons (expect fresh mackerel and Saddlescombe Farm lamb in July). His small plates are served meze style and diners are encouraged to sit at the pass and watch the chefs at work. The 20-capacity venue creates an intimate, sociable atmosphere but it also means you should book a month in advance. Brighton is a mecca for vegetarians so expect to see well-thought-out plant-based dishes on most menus, as well as some of the finest vegetarian restaurants in the UK. Terre à Terre 01273 729 051, terreaterre.co.uk has been plating up spectacularly inventive and flavourful dishes for 24 years. Eat your way around its eclectic menu with the Terre à Verre, a selection of six dishes served with a carafe of organic wine. For a classic crustacea experience, visit English’s of Brighton 01273 327 980, englishs.co.uk which has been serving seafood lovers for more than 150 years. It offers modern twists on classic dishes such as tempura oysters and a lobster Thermidor with garlic chips.
Time running out? Brighton Beach is home to the world’s tallest moving observation tower. The British Airways i360 offers incredible views of the coastline over a glass of sparkling wine from its Nyetimber Sky Bar. britishairwaysi360.com
Trip tip The Brighton Greeter Scheme offers newcomers a chance to explore the city with the help of an enthusiastic local guide. Tours last around 2 hours and guides will accommodate any interests you may. Even better, it’s free. visitbrighton.com/greeters Resources
Visit Brighton is the tourist board’s online resource and is packed with practical advice and inspiration for your trip. They have a helpful app you can download too. visitbrighton.com
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (Vintage Classics, £8.99) details a troubled teenager’s journey through the city’s underworld.