The intoxicating aroma of the sea air provided an exhilarating punch as I walked along the prom watching the waves crash as they hit the pebbly beach. True it was cold and the sun was only making small guest appearances but nevertheless it felt invigorating to be in Brighton.
A stroll on the renowned Brighton Pier is a prerequisite of a trip here. A ride on the dodgems, a flutter on the slot machines all seem part and parcel of a day at the English seaside.
Chances are, like me, along with sampling some fish ‘n’ chips, and a trip to Brighton’s Lanes (where the fishermen once lived), its renowned shopping area, is how you while away a typical day here.
Of course, meandering round the labyrinth of narrow streets awash with jewellery shops and boutiques is a great way to indulge yourself. Even if you are not a chocoholic, the incredible window displays at Choccywoccydoodah will lure you inside to sample their goodies.
Most day trippers don’t venture to North Laine – separate from The Lanes – but you will miss a real treat if you don’t go. It’s the place to immerse yourself in street art. Look out for Banksy’s piece of two policemen kissing.
From 1940s fireplaces to vintage clothes, to vegetarian shoes and sweets from around the globe, this is the edgy part of town. The roads bustle with an array of independent shops that cater for a wide range of tastes. Tribeca in Bond Street is the place to head for chic and elegant clothes.
The Royal Pavillion
You should pepper your retail therapy with a dollop of culture. The Royal Pavilion, Brighton’s icon, is an essential stop. The glitzy pleasure palace of the Prince Regent, who later became George lV, was redesigned by architect John Nash over a period of seven years starting in 1815 and was transformed into a palace to be proud of. An Indian exterior collides with a predominately chinoiserie-style interior, it is hard not to be impressed with its opulence.
George first visited Brighton in 1782 and his love of the town helped to cement Brighton’s reputation as a fashionable seaside resort. Although it is thanks to Dr Richard Russell and the health claims of his seawater cure in 1750 that morphed Brighton from a small fishing town into a place that attracted the aristocracy.
Not only did Russell think it was a good idea to drink the salty water, he also advocated bathing in the sea. Bathing machines were used to pull people out to the water while the role of dippers for the women and bathers for the men was to immerse them.
The Royal Pavilion was used as a Royal Residence until the mid 1800s when Queen Victoria decamped to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
Make time to go the council-owned Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, a quick walk through the Pavillion Gardens. Salvador Dali’s Mae West lips sofa, the Egyptology collection and the Fashion and Style gallery are among its star attractions.
Also pop into in SEA LIFE Brighton. Built in 1872, it is reputed to be the world's oldest operating aquarium. Don’t forget to stop and admire the Regency squares and architecture as you wander round this compact city. If your feet start to give way, you can always take a ride on the Brighton Wheel to admire the city from up high.
Brighton may have gained a reputation for its nightlife – the arches under the beachfront are home to some of the best places – but if clubbing and music bars are not your thing, you will find plenty of other activities to keep you busy.
There is a plethora of restaurants catering for every pocket. From vegetarian to Lebanese, you are never going to go hungry in Brighton. And when you need a caffeine injection you won’t be short of coffee shops in which to spend an hour or two. As well as the usual chains there are plenty of individual ones. It seems the residents of Brighton can’t get enough of the stuff.
Sea air always makes me feel famished so I was rather looking forward to dinner. The famed Grand hotel on the seafront where we were staying, may offer the best afternoon tea in town, but its fish restaurant is well worth a visit.
What I like about Brighton is that it can be just a day trip to the seaside but it can also be so much more. From lively festivals to thrilling theatre, it’s the perfect pick-me-up any time of year from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
By Daralyn Danns
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Stay at the Grand www.grandbrighton.co.uk