Brighton & Hove - City Guide
welcomeBrighton is a charming city (population 2001 - 247,817) and famous seaside resort in on the south coast of England, in the county of East Sussex and almost immediately due south of the capital city London (47 miles / 76 km). In 2000, the two neighbouring communities of Brighton and Hove joined together to form the unitary authority of the City of Brighton and Hove.
understandBrighton was a sleepy little fishing village, then known as Brighthelmstone, until Dr Richard Russell of Lewes began to prescribe the use of seawater for his patients. He advocated the drinking of seawater and sea-bathing in 1750. In 1753 he erected a large house near the beach for himself and for his patients. A further factor in Brighton's growth came in the early 19th Century when the Prince of Wales built the Royal Pavilion, an extravagant Regency building by John Nash. But it was only with the development of the railways, around 1840, that Brighton truly started to boom. (For more information on Brighton's history, consult]). The city is convenient for London, and increasingly popular with media and music types who don't want to live in the capital. It is sometimes called "London-by-the-Sea" for this reason. Brighton is probably the gay capital of Britain. There is a significant gay district in Kemp Town which adds to the Bohemian atmosphere of the city. It is home to two universities, the University of Sussex (situated on the edge of the city at Falmer) and the University of Brighton.
Brighton PierThe Flamboyant Royal PavilionBrighton Pier aka the Palace Pier has all the usual seafront arcade attractions. There is also the wreck of West Pier which was derelict for some time before finally burning down recently. Brighton Pier is all owned by the same company, so there's no real point shopping around for bargains on it (unlike other UK piers); but this does mean it has forced off threats to close it. Brighton Beach. In the summer, the pebble beach is covered in tourists and Brightonians alike. Poi twirlers strike a beautiful image against the sunsets. To the east of Brighton there is a designated nudist beach. The pebble beach gives way to a flat sandy seabed just below mid tide line so time your swimming to the low tide and avoid the painful feet.
The North Laine.A wild nest of alternativism, The North Laine area is walked by dreadlocked hippies, bright colours, punks, goths and oddballs. The shops sell everything from bongs to magic potions, from giant wooden hands to fairy wings and from bagels to fire staffs. The Lanes -an adjacent area of small shops, the tumbled street plan reflecting the layout of the original fishing village of Brighton which was located here. The merchandise is more mainstream, although the Lanes are known for their wide selection of antique shops. Sea Life Centre. An aquarium with walkthrough underwater tunnel, adjacent to Brighton Pier. This is the oldest working Aquarium left in the world.
The Royal Pavilionopen daily October-March 10am-5.15pm (last tickets 4.30pm), April-September 9.30am-5.45pm (last tickets 5.00pm), closed from 2.30pm 24 December and all day on 25-26 December, admission £8.80 adults, £5.10 children, other concessions available, tel 01273 290900 - An interesting architectural attraction, transformed between 1815 and 1823 by the architect John Nash, at the direction of the then Prince Regent (later King George IV), into a sumptuous pleasure palace by the sea. The exterior has an Indian theme, whilst the interior was decorated with Chinese decor. Guided tours available and well worthwhile.
shopShopping is one of the main reasons to visit Brighton. But don't get stuck in the mainstream shopping area around Western Road. There are a huge array of shops catering for all tastes but the impressive assortment of independent shops and boutiques is something that differentiates Brighton from many other British cities. The atmosphere in the North Laine and in The Lanes is one of the intangible aspects of the city that leaves many wanting to return time and time again. Brighton is especially good for Music, Books and independent clothes shops. North Laine contains heaps of shops and market stalls to tempt everyone’s quirky or vintage fancies. There is a flea market with numerous stalls in Kensington Gardens. Shops tend to get less mainstream, the further north into the North Laine area you go. The Lanes are famous for their independent shops, especially antique shops and jewellers. The Lanes Armoury is World famous for selling antique war memorabilia and weapons. Churchill Square Shopping Centre and the surrounding area offer more mainstream goods, but are invaluable if that's what you're looking for. London Road is an older "High Street" type shopping area but is worth a visit for the Open Market. Brighton Marina contains more up-market shops. Brighton is packed full of independent record shops, most of which sell vinyl. There's a whole load in the North Laines, but Resident is the best one. Neon Collective - Brighton is famous for its ethical fashion and vegetarian shoes. Neon Collective is an online vegan boutique based here.
eatBrighton has excellent food, especially for vegetarians. The most famous vegetarian restaurant (and, after a recent buy out, now fairly expensive) is Food for Friends situated in The Lanes. On the other end of the scale, there are many takeaways in Brighton catering for different kinds of tastes (pizza, Chinese, Mexican, Indian food). Prices are usually fairly cheap and most are open until late. Bardsley's, 22-23a Baker Street (Just off London Road, near the level park), ☎ 01273 681 256, . 11.30-14.30 & 16.00-20.30. Fine fish and chip restaurants serving delicious fish and chips as well as some really excellent specials (roys shark steaks are amazing). The family run restaurant has fantastic reviews. It is very popular with locals.
drinkThere are many, many pubs and bars catering for all tastes. Any list of reasonable length will be far from complete; if there's a street in central Brighton there is likely to be a pub on it.
tipsAlthough Brighton is generally a safe place, like every other big city it has its share of problems. Visitors should be advised that the city centre can get quite rowdy at weekends, and West Street is best avoided after midnight. The sheer volume of people on weekends combined with alcohol consumption make Friday and Saturday nights on this street potentially volatile. Brighton attracts quite a large number of homeless people, although most of these individuals are harmless. They will likely only ask you for money and, if you refuse, will simply go on to the next person. Junkies often gather around London Road and the Level, although these places are perfectly safe before dark. Areas such as Whitehawk and Moulsecoomb have a bad reputation, but most tourists will have little reason to visit these places anyway.
connectThere are plenty of internet cafes around, prices are usually about £1/hour.
WifiFree wifi is reasonably common in Brighton. Loose connection provides free wifi in a number of pubs around Brighton. Pier to pier is a collective that provides free wifi along the beachfront. The City of Brighton provides a list of free hotspots on their website.