During that insane heatwave a couple of months ago (I think it was 38 degrees in London??), we packed up our bags and headed down to Brighton. Neither me or Matt have ever had the pleasure of going here before, and we couldn’t wait to see what it was like.
Where to stay
My friend Emma is always very good at organising us (you need someone like Emma to have even half a chance at making a group holiday happen) and especially good at finding accommodation to fit us all.
This year’s trip to Brighton was no exception, and she found a cute little family home on airbnb, big enough to fit us all comfortably, walking distance from the town centre.
Our first full day in Brighton started with us heading into town, walking past the Royal Pavilion on our way. This Grade 1 listed building used to be a royal residence, built in 1787 for the Prince of Wales (George IV) to use as a seaside retreat. In the First World War it was used as a military hospital. Nowadays it’s a tourist attraction, concert hall and wedding venue – and was the venue of one of the first legal same sex marriages in the UK!
The Lanes could be considered the “old town” of Brighton, and were the original settlement of Brighthelmstone. The narrow streets and winding alleyways are packed with antique shops, cafes, boutiques and ring shops. This is a great place to get lost for a few hours – especially if you’re a couple thinking about getting engaged!
The North Laines are – you guessed it – further north than the Lanes. To picture them all you need to do is imagine Camden in London, but at the seaside. Slightly grotty, but vibrant and full of life, the North Laines are full of music and record stores, markets, surf shops and vintage clothes shops.
Two of my highlights were the Irregular Choice shop, where weird and wonderful shoes glitter from every shelf, and Collectif, a retro clothes shop with 50s style dresses in every pattern you can imagine.
Resident Music is a record store, fab for finding your favourites on vinyl and discovering new artists. This is a great place to deposit your music-loving partner while you look at jewellery in Snoopers Paradise across the road.
Another destination for music lovers visiting Brighton is the Guitar, Amp & Keyboard centre (GAK). This place is a guitar players paradise – every wall is layered with a rainbow of guitars in all shapes, sizes and prices.
Ole Ole Tapas
For lunch we slipped back into the Lanes and visited Ole Ole Tapas. Their lunchtime deal is really good value – I can’t remember quite what it was… I think maybe 3 tapas dishes each and a glass of wine or sangria for £10 or something? Anyway it was excellent. The Berenjenas A La Miel De Cana (fried aubergine slices with honey), was a particular highlight.
Secret Comedy Club
Recommended by a colleague, the Secret Comedy Club takes place on Friday and Saturday nights at the Artista Cafe in Hove. This tiny cafe bar is super cute, with the comedy show taking place in the basement. Careful though – there’s a microphone down there that transmits the audience into the bar above!
The show we saw consisted of comedians practicing their set in preparation for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. So much of the audience in the room was taken up by our group that the MC comedian focused in on us immediately, and we were the butt of many, many jokes.
For dinner we ordered takeaway pizza from the pizza place across the road Pronto In Tavola. The pizza was delicious but the service was terrible, and they were completely overwhelmed by how many pizzas we ordered. Despite being told that we could order ahead and they would have them ready for us to eat during the interval, it seemed like they actually totally forgot about us and we ended up having to take our pizzas into the second half of the show.
After the show finished we stayed at the bar for another hour, and ended up hearing our own private stand up routine from the MC, who particularly enjoyed berating one of my friends for not being engaged to his girlfriend. Poor Deco.
Hove Promenade parkrun
If you’re feeling brave like these crazy kids you can wake up bright and early the next day and join the Brighton parkrun. There are a few, but why wouldn’t you get the best view by running along the promenade?
This 5k run starts every Saturday at 9am on the Hove Lawns. It’s free, but you need to register. There’s also a professional photography snapping great photos, so you can see what you look like when you run.
Trading Post Coffee Roasters
Our brunch on Saturday was fantastic. When we arrived at Trading Post Coffee Roasters it was much busier than we realised, despite it being quite a big place. We had to awkwardly squeeze our way onto some tables. It was worth it though – the poached eggs were done to perfection.
Brighton Palace Pier
Next up is the must-see attraction of Brighton, the one you see all over the ‘gram – Brighton Pier. I personally loved how vibrant and full of buzz it was. Matt was immediately on edge because of the hoard of tourists cramming its way into the arcade.
The only other seaside arcade I’ve been to that I remember well is the one at Dawlish near Exeter. I guess this is kind of like that – all the same games pretty much – but on steroids. And, if you care to raise your eyes from the flashing lights, in a much nicer building.
When you exit the other side of the arcade you come out on the boardwalk that leads to the fairground. All your classics are here – haunted house/ghost train, ferris wheel, helter skelter… lots of things that spin you round really fast. I’m more of an up-and-down ride person than a round-and-round person, so I was super keen to try Turbo.
It’s been a good few years since I went on a roller coaster, and this was really fun. I’ll be honest I was a bit worried about leaving my stuff in a big unattended heap of strangers’ bags, but it was all there waiting for me when I came back afterwards.
I’m so glad I went on a ride too, even if it was just the one. It would have been a shame not to when it’s such a big part of the Brighton experience.
That evening was our main evening out of the trip, so we all got gussied up and set off into town.
We chose Chamuyo for our big meal out, an Argentine steak house in town with a really great Groupon Deal. If you’ve read my steak leaderboard, then you’ll appreciate the gravity of the following statement. This was the third best steak I’ve ever had. Do yourself a favour and order yours with the blue cheese sauce – insane.
World’s End Barcade
After some excellent steak and a lot of red wine we dragged ourselves across Brighton to an evening of fun and games at World’s End, a bar near the train station with an arcade upstairs.
Easily the best activities was the car racing game – look how cool it is! – and the GIF photo booth.
Brighton has an excellent chilled out vibe, similar to Camden but all the better for being by the sea. There are so many great streets to explore and cool places to shop, not to mention restaurants, bars, the arcade, the fairground, and the beach itself… you can’t get bored!