Travel review: Seaside city provides perfect weekend trip
Chips on the beach, fresh fish at the seafront, a walking tour through the city’s unique, independent shops – Brighton makes the perfect weekend getaway.
The seaside city is ideal for both those who looking to enjoy a quiet, peaceful break, and for those who want to experience the sparkling night life.
Brighton is a well-known seaside resort on the south coast of England – about 47 miles south of London. Famous for its long stretches of pebble beach, it’s ideal for family fun, a romantic city break, or a fab weekend with friends.
Although a fair distance from the West Midlands (about three hours in the car) it’s well worth it when you dip that first toe in the foamy surf, or sip your first taste of icy gin and tonic out on the seafront.
And no matter who you’re with, or what you want to see or do – there really is something in Brighton for everyone. How about a walking tour to experience some of the city’s best local food? Or a stop at one of the architectural, historical landmarks? There’s also the famous pier, with its colourful, musical arcade machines, fairground rides, and kitsch little souvenir shops.
We went down for just a weekend, and stayed in a beautiful little boutique bed & breakfast called The White House. Only a very short walk (about 100m) from the seafront, The White House towers up about four floors, and offers teasing slithers of ocean view in some of the rooms. It was comfortable, ideally located, and did the tastiest breakfasts – options include the classic full English, continental, smoked salmon, and vegetarian.
The White House owners were friendly and helpful, pointing out the best (and cheapest) places to park our car and making sure we were comfortable.
There are little touches too, that puts this B&B above some other accommodation. Like the tasty (and very welcome) Kit Kat Chunky bars left out with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits in our room every day. Also the soft earplugs left out on the night stand in case we needed an early night and wanted to escape the noisy Brighton night life. Rooms start at about £50 a night – a bargain for what you’re given.
Eager to experience Brighton in a nutshell with the few days we had, we spent Saturday on a walking food tour – visiting some of the small, independent restaurants, cafes and food shops across the city. It was a fabulous few hours, and comes highly recommended. We tried piping hot, homemade sausage rolls; hand-crafted hot chocolate with a thick dollop of cream; organic houmous and pitta; the ‘best burgers’ of Brighton (and they were REALLY good); vegan sushi; gelato; straight-from-the-ocean oysters; and so much more.
The guides are friendly, funny and knowledgeable – and fill you in on the history of the city as you stroll round. If you try the Very Independent Brighton Food Tour, don’t have lunch (or even breakfast beforehand) as you eat plenty going round. It was one of the highlights of our trip, and I can’t wait to try it in other cities.
Always keen on a quick thrill, we also picked up a couple of tickets for the i360. Just make sure your party is comfortable with heights before embarking, as the British Airways i360 is a 162m observation tower on Brighton’s beach front. You walk into a crystal clear, huge glass pod and it slowly carries you up to the top, offering panoramic views of the south coast.
Thankfully, we chose a glorious day for it and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. The pod is big enough to fit a half-moon shaped bar, offering fizz, cocktails, and soft drinks to make your journey even more special.
If you’re a foodie (like me) and you’re not too full from the Very Independent Brighton food tour, there are a wealth of different eating spots to choose from in Brighton on a night.
Our trip was only for two evenings – so we made sure we chose carefully when dining out. Both big meat eaters, we opted for The Cricketers on Friday night. It’s a proper, classic pub. Based in the Brighton Lanes, The Cricketers dates back as 1547 making it the oldest pub in the city. There are plenty of Victorian touches; plush red velvet seating, thick carpets and framed prints, but it feels cosy, warm and welcoming rather than dated.But the food is the main draw here – The Cricketer is rather famous for its sensational roast dinners and beef burgers.
Offered every night of the week in winter, the pub’s expert chefs can whip up a roast lamb with mint sauce, beef and Yorkshires, or chicken and gravy to an impossibly high standard. Not quite hungry enough for a full roast, I opted for lamb roast in a bap with a side of thick cut chips. My other half chose the full-on roast lamb, with all the trimmings. As if we didn’t already have enough, we ordered a side of macaroni cheese and huge pigs in blankets.
For our second night, we opted for a little more traditional seaside cuisine – as we couldn’t visit a coastal town without visiting a fish restaurant. So Saturday night saw us head to the Regency. Based on the seafront, this bustling restaurant has a real atmosphere. It’s always packed, so book before you go, and make sure you’re in the mood for seafood. While the restaurant offers alternatives, it’s clear that its fresh-from-the-ocean cuisine is its biggest selling point. I opted for stuffed clams to start, which were delicious, followed by Lobster Thermidor and chips for mains. The portions were generous, the waiting staff friendly, and the wine flowing. It’s an ideal place to head to on a Saturday night. And it was only a short 15-minute walk along the sea front from our B&B.
Brighton is a sprawling, bustling city – but you genuinely forget that when you’re visiting. It’s packed with narrow, cobbled streets; tiny, independent, chic stores; and wonderful little sun spots where you can sit back and watch the world go by.
The White House, Brighton (www.whitehousebrighton.com), The Regency (www. theregencyrestaurant.co.uk), The Cricketers (www.cricketersbrighton.co.uk), VIB Food Tour (www.brightonfoodtours.com).