All my favourite local spots; 28 years in the making
I’ve done dribs and drabs of a Brighton City Guide here already on the blog if you can be arsed to piece together the various posts on restaurants and shops that I’ve done over the years, but I’ve never collated all the information in one place so I have a post to handily send over whenever a mate or Twitter friend is heading down to Brighton for the weekend – so here it is! Being Brighton born and bred I like to think that I’m up to the task of dishing out pretty good advice when it comes to visiting the city by the sea. However it’s worth noting that as I’m based to the left-hand side of the map, my recommendations tend to sit slightly more Hove-centric and if you’re heading here for the weekend and fancy being a little off the beaten track, whilst still having the main attractions a short 20 minute walk away and some of my favourite bars and restaurants on your front door then I’d shack up in an airbnb in that general direction. See? I’m rambling already, onto the guide that’s been 28 years in the making…
How To Get Around
If you can leave your car at home and travel by train to get here then DO IT. Car parking across the city is a royal pain in the backside and extremely pricey. If you do have to drive down then I’d recommend taking advantage of the Park & Ride service on the bus, or parking waaaaay out of town and walking or busing yourself in. That’s the thing, everything is easily walkable and simple to navigate thanks to the seafront acting as a constant compass point south. The public transport is also pretty easy to get your head around, although it’s worth downloading the Brighton & Hove Bus App before you get here to plan your routes. We also have Uber and a bike share programme if you fancy a slightly speedier way to get around.
When it comes to places to stay, given that I’ve lived here most of my life I don’t have too many hotel recommendations unfortunately. Friends have stayed in the Artist Residence when they’ve been to visit (although I’d request a room on the upper levels if you’re a light sleeper) and I once stayed in the My Hotel and it got a thumbs up from me for being surprisingly quiet despite being slap bang in the centre of town. Check out this Telegraph article for more recommendations, but like I mentioned an Airbnb a little further out of town in the Kemptown or Hove area might be a less costly idea.
Where To Eat
Ok, this is the section that I could probably write a dissertation on if I tried to, so I will try and keep it brief and save it for just the crème de la crème of Brighton foodie spots. Let’s talk breakfast first. If you come down at the weekend then the chances are that you’re probably see Mark and I ordering at V&H Cafe – me, the homemade beans on toast and Mark, the veggie breakfast with an extra sausage (oh the irony). It’s our favourite breakfast in Brighton hands down and is a good quality, locally sourced, semi-greasy spoon, without being greasy. We also love I Gigi for the most Instagram-able food you’ll ever be served, Red Roaster for brunch with a fancy twist and Cafe Marmalade which is homely spot over in Kemptown that do lovely eggs.
In terms of cafes to pop into if you fancy a coffee, cake or a small spot of lunch you can’t go wrong with Gail’s, which is a newly opened London chain, but they seriously have the best hot chocolate and there are always spare seats in the Hove branch. More locally renowned there’s Small Batch Coffee and Flour Pot Bakery, both of which were locally founded and have branches all over the city. Mark says that Small Batch do the best coffee in Brighton.
If I had to pick a favourite place for dinner, it would undoubtedly be Cin Cin. They’ve recently opened up a second branch but it’s slightly fancy Italian fare that you’re after then call ahead and book because this place gets BUSY. A runner-up would be 64 Degrees, which again is one you have to book up months in advance, but is surely on the course to get Brighton’s first Michelin star. We go here for special occasions exclusively. Speaking of special occasions we had our wedding lunch at The Coal Shed – fab if you like a steak or a hearty Sunday roast. For quicker, casual bites try Fatto a Mano for pizza, Curry Leaf Cafe for Indian, Burger Brothers for the best Burger in town and La Choza for Mexican. Actually speaking of Sunday dinners, give the Dizzy Gull at Brighton Beer Dispensary a go for a ‘laid back, play a game of scrabble whilst you wait’ kinda vibe.
Given that I never really stay out past 9pm I don’t have too many drinking hole recommendations up my sleeve, but if you’re in Hove then The Gin Tub, Bison Beer and Hixton Green are all great and within a five minutes walk of each other. If you find yourself in Brighton give Ten Green Bottles a go if you fancy somewhere swanky, or The Basketmaker’s Arms if you want a true U.K pub feel.
Where To Explore
Whilst the Palace Pier is an obvious choice, I’d recommend avoiding it at peak times because it gets MAD on there. If it is crazy busy, grab some fresh doughnuts from one of the stalls at the front, have a quick wander on to get the feel and grab your picture, and then get back onto dry land ASAP. If you’ve spent all your money on brunching, then a wander around the North Laines will keep you entertained for a couple of hours; just be sure to check out Bond Street, Gardner Street, Kensington Gardens and Sydney Street which are all basically one after the other. Speaking of walks I’d recommend a wander up the promenade and heading up to Hove Seafront for a slightly more relaxing feel and plenty of spots to sunbathe (if the weather ever permits it!).
The tour around the Royal Pavilion (the building that looks like a mini Taj Mahal) is one of the best things I’ve done in Brighton. It’s well worth the money and don’t forget to pick up the audio tour. If fancy a little more history then why not head to The Duke of York Cinema which is one of the oldest picturehouses in the country. My Grandma has many stories of her and my Grandad seeing films there. It’s also worth checking out what’s on at Fabrica, The Old Market and The Dome, as they often have exhibitions, talks and music artists come to town.
Where To Shop
Of course Brighton has all your usual chains, but I reckon where it really excels is with the independent boutiques, selling things you might not be able to source elsewhere, therefore giving you a fully justified reason to drop some serious dollar and support local businesses. Let’s talk food first. Infinity Foods is basically our version of Whole Foods and I can easily spend an hour in there just looking at the supplement section alone. If cheese is more your thing then fill your boots at La Cave a Fromage (they also do a wine and cheese night that I can personally highly recommend!), or if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth then head to Choccywoccydoodah, even if just to see the window displays alone.
There are a tonne of general interior/homeware/clothing shops where there is absolutely no way that you’ll leave empty handed and Workshop Living is by far the best of the bunch. The guys in there are some of the friendliest shop owner’s you’ll met – we ended up stumbling in on our wedding day and it was lovely to see them. Tidy Street General Store and Abode are of a similar ilk and always make me want to redesign the flat from scratch. If it’s clothing that you’re after then you have to have a sniff around Our Daily Edit, which do exactly that and have a great selection of mens and womenswear and jewellery too, although Mark LOVES Peggs & Sons and drags me round there every time we visit town. Heads up: it’s completely cool because Ben’s Cookies is over the road and you all know where I’m heading…
Photos by Lauren Shipley
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