The hottest day of the year so far and the beaches fill up, Brighton Pier invariably features in the news report. There is though much more to Brighton than the beach, the sea and the pier!
Brighton and Hove achieved city status in 2000. It’s resident population of nearly 300,000, work in tourism, banking (American Express), conference, retail and quite a few commute the fifty or so miles to London. With over 7.5 million visitors per year, it is the UK’s most visited seaside resort. Over 4.5 million nights per year are spent in it’s hotels, of these, around 400,000 are from overseas.
Brighton grew rapidly with the coming of the railways in the nineteenth century. It’s attractions though were recognised earlier; George, Prince of Wales, later the Prince Regent built his royal residence, The Royal Pavilion there in 1811. The Indo-Chinese design with its domes and minarets, is one of the most unusual buildings in the country.
Although like most cities, there are areas of hardship, it scores well for quality of life, and has high property prices.
Apart from the obvious, the beach, pier and the sea, there is a lot to do. The Pavilion already mentioned is as unusual inside as it is outside, definitely a must see, even if the sun is shining.
There are several live theatres and venues, most famous is the historic Theatre Royal. Museum and art lovers are well catered for both in Brighton itself and adjoining Hove.
The newest major attraction is the i360, an observation tower on the promenade overlooking the ruins of the old West Pier. At 531 feet it is taller than the London Eye.
The promenade itself is wide and full of activity, at the eastern end, it runs parallel with Volk’s Electric Railway, the oldest in the world still operating.
The Palace Pier is worth a mention, entry is free, at the pier head, there is a large fun fare as well as the usual pier shops and attractions. If by the way you are looking for a sandy beach, you will be disappointed. It is a shingle beach, still incredibly popular and at least it easily brushed off!
The Lanes and Shopping
Not surprisingly, all of the leading chain stores can be found most in Churchill Square. For a unique shopping experience you must visit The Lanes. This is a network of narrow, some very narrow, thoroughfares working there way back from near the seafront. There are antique, art, boutique and specialist shops with a healthy sprinkling of cafes, restaurants and bars. Be prepared for crowds!
Eating, Sleeping and Nightlife
If a statistic exists for the most restaurants per head of population, Brighton would be near the top. Whatever your taste or budget, you will find what you are looking for; from traditional fish and chips to fine dining.
Being an important conference centre, there is no shortage of accommodation. The Grand Hotel, the Ship and the Hilton Metropole all occupy dominant sea front positions. There are boutique hotels but also places catering for the backpacker.
Night owls are well catered for, there are numerous late bars and nightclubs.
The Brighton Difference
The moniker, London by the Sea, whilst understandable is misleading. Brighton has a certain something quite unique, that is difficult to define. It is a very art influenced city, it’s festival and fringe is second only to Edinburgh’s. Throughout the year it hosts events, bringing people onto the streets.
Outside of London, it has the largest LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community). Brighton Pride is celebrated in August.