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krisek Brighton - A travel report by Krys
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Brighton,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
5747 readers

krisek's travel reports

Brighton still knows how to party. At what cost?

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Brighton remains one England's most popular seaside resort. It might be due to its proximity to London, as the pebble beach is not the best. Recently, this great city has suffered from increased crime, but it is not as bad as reported by media.


Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier
For decades, if not centuries, Brighton has enjoyed the status of England's prime seaside resort and and the number one beach destination for the Londoners. Trains from London take about an hour to reach Brighton, which is not longer than to get from one end of the capital to the centre, on average.

I have been to Brighton on several occasions, but never stayed overnight. This time round (May 2009), I came for business and had a chance to enjoy the city for four days, so I decided to write this report to tell what I thought about this seaside resort. Weather was near perfect, which was important for a place on the coast, and it definitely had an impact on my recent impressions. Many people frequented the beaches, bars and restaurants, and although I was working it definitely felt like I was on holiday. Almost.

It was Brighton Festival week, which was complete with the contest Brighton's Got Talent. No, I did not participate, but it might have been fun. The festival must have attracted more crowd than usual, and the streets were full of relaxed and, to certain extent, merry (slightly tipsy) revellers. I always like to see happy people having fun. But there was no trouble at all.

The only disturbing sight in Brighton today is the West Pier, which burnt completely a few years ago, and has not been restored. The rusting metal skeleton of the pier sticks out above the waterline, which is not pretty. Hopefully, one day the authorities will rebuild the venue, if only to clean up the city's 'skyline'.

Favourite spots:
Seafront walk
Seafront walk
My favourite spot in the city is the beach and the seafront promenade. No surprise here! However, the promenade is of really good quality. It is 4 miles long and links Brighton's Marina with the Hove's Lagoon. It is a great place for walking and jogging. There are two levels even. The upper street level, which offers great views of the beach and the beachgoers, and the lower beach level. The lower level is complete with many bars, pubs, restaurants, clubs, fitness centre, shops, and even a museum - all occupying the arches under the street and stretching onto the beach with their table and table service. It is always clean and a great place to relax. With the hotels right up on the street, one does not need to venture anywhere in the city to satisfy their needs.

The beach is made of smooth pebbles, which not everyone's preference, but for me it means no annoying sand getting everywhere (particularly my camera!) and therapeutic treatment for my back - not that I desperately need it.

What's really great:
Seafront promenade
Seafront promenade
Between the train station and the pier, there is a cluster of narrow lanes, which like a maze, create a great atmosphere. Cafes, restaurants, boutiques and clubs give life to these narrow passages. They contrast remarkably with the grand and super-grand mansions and near-palaces standing opposite the beach. It suddenly feels as if Brighton was a small little town by the sea, or even not by the sea (one cannot see the coast from the lanes), which is quiet and romantic. It is Brighton's great quality to have more than just one face.

Another quality of the city are its people. Despite reports that Brighton might be one of England's hot spots for crime and drugs, I am yet to experience any of this nastiness. Perhaps it is an image problem, rather than a real issue. All people I met during my four days and three nights stay, I met very friendly and open people - much better than those in London. At night, I noticed no trouble and it was safe to wander anywhere. Even with my giant camera!

Sights:
The Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion
Brighton has two great sights. One of them is the Royal Pavilion, the other is the Brighton Pier. Uh, but I also like the train station a lot - very classic with iron-supported giant arches.

The Royal Pavilion, which was built by King George IV in 1803 when he was still Prince Regent, to create a seaside residence and to treat his gout, looks exceptionally striking with its Indian and Chinese architectural features. The contrast is remarkable. On closer inspection, however, the building looks a bit tacky, and its hard to believe that even Queen Victoria, the ultimate traditionalist and conservative stayed there, too. These days the pavilion is a popular venue for weddings.

The Brighton Pier, also known as the Palace Pier, is one of the finest examples of British piers, which can be found around the island. It houses shops, pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues, which include mini casinos, carousels, and a roller coaster, which appears to extend over the pier out to the sea!

Accommodations:
Stairway at The Grand Hotel
Stairway at The Grand Hotel
The Grand might be Brighton's most famous hotel. Not due to its luxurious facilities (they are no longer that grand, actually), but due to the political parties organising their conferences there, and perhaps due to the terrible bombing of the hotel in 1984. It stands proud overlooking the beach (and the busy coastal road) and has a great restaurant, by the way.

There are very many accommodation options in Brighton, ranging from very expensive, offering uninterrupted seaview, to the very questionable, shabby and extremely expensive for what they offer. Oh, but between these two extreme categories, there are still a good number of middle range options. However, these book up quickly particularly at weekends and festivals.

A lot of the hotels, from all categories, can be found within yards from the beach and the nightlife actions. The proximity to the beach does not appear to make much difference in price, but the rooms with the view do. Expect to pay c.£60 per night for middle range.

Nightlife:
Arches by the beach - many are home to great clubs, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Arches by the beach - many are home to great clubs, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Brighton nightlife rates amongst the best and most vibrant in the country. I had a chance to go out in a few towns across England, Scotland and Wales, and I can comfortably say that Brighton is really great. The greatness of nightlife, according to my criteria obviously, can be rated based on the quality of the venues, their number and, what most important, on the people one meets there. Brighton ticks all the boxes. Its additional advantage is that the clubs, pubs and discos are walking distance from one another, so it is very easy to change venues if one wishes. The quality of people at the clubs is impressive. They all seem very friendly and relaxed (like in Liverpool, for example). It is clear that they come for a party and for trouble.

I could recommend a few places; Honey Club at the beach - extremely popular, Oceana Club with very relaxed door policy; and Font - in the lanes with great music and good value drinks.

Hangouts:
Brighton Beach
Brighton Beach
What would be a better place to hang out in Brighton than the beach? The city is perfect for killing time. One can rent a deckchair and laze watching the waves and the changing colours of the water as the day goes by. The beach walk with its numerous eateries and drink bars offer unprecedented spots for people watching. For those, who come with kids there is even a carousel and a few sports places to play ball or to do some acrobatic rollerskating.

If the beach is too much, the upper street level boasts a good number of cafes and pubs to do the same, away from the sun and bustle. Brighton truly has a near-perfect seafront!

Restaurants:
Garden by the Royal Pavilion
Garden by the Royal Pavilion
For a very popular seaside resort, Brighton does not disappoint with the choice of places to eat. I mentioned that beachfront is an excellent place to sit down for some food, be it simple fish and chips or more sophisticated English fare. But in the city, there are plenty of excellent restaurants, and they do not need to be hotel venues, although these are also very good. The choice of cuisine is great. There are excellent Italian, Brazilian, Thai, French, Indian, Chinese, Turkish, you name it.

On my previous visits I tried the Fortune of War for small snacks (not that comprehensive choice, I'm afraid) and Fish & Chips at the beach, a couple of Brazilian ones and recently it was an Italian called Donatello in the Lanes, which were great. The Italian was excellent for prawn cocktail and beef lasagne - not the cheapest option in town, but if quality is priority, then you will not get this one wrong.

Other recommendations:
Carousel at the beach
Carousel at the beach
Brighton is just an hour away from London by train. One of the lines goes through London, north to Bedford and passes through London Gatwick and Luton airports. The other goes to London Victoria. They are operated by different train companies, so one has to get the correct ticket, as the prices vary and the tickets are usually valid only on the specific train company.

In recent years, Brighton has received reports that it might be violent for crime, with robberies on the rise, executed by petty thieves and junkies. On this visit to the city, I experienced nothing of this. I did not spot a single drug addict and having parties until wee hours in the morning every night, I gave the criminals all the opportunities to target me. In fact, none of the 200+ group of people who were with me on that conference, experienced any trouble at all. Surely, some of the reports might have been appropriately substantiated, but there is no reason to be avoiding Brighton. It is a lovely and lively place!

Published on Wednesday May 27th, 2009


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Wed, May 27 2009 - 02:57 PM rating by jacko1

Thanks for this great report Krys, I will forgive your slight bias towards the club scene but this was more than made up for by a detailed and comprehensive overview of the resort, I am almost tempted to give it another try!!.

Wed, May 27 2009 - 01:09 PM rating by porto

Another magic report and pics Krys on one of Englands beautiful seaside resorts, and I will walk on that pebble beach sometime.

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