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Great Girly Weekend!
Brighton in General
Member Name: caralyn
Brighton in General
Date: 27/08/02, updated on 27/08/02 (247 review reads)
Advantages: loads to do at all times of day and night, a lot more upmarket than expected, FUN!!
Disadvantages: expensive, the british weather!
When my friend told me she was taking me to Brighton for my hen weekend, my heart sank. You see, I’m just not the type for plastic souvenirs, the “British seaside” and kiss-me-quick hats.
However, the main thing I would advise anyone is “Leave your preconceptions at home”!!
Brighton is far, far more than the pier and the souvenir shops, and in fact there are very few souvenir shops at all! These days, the city is used as a major conference centre and has got very trendy, more upmarket, but still retains its sense of fun. I actually tried to be tacky and buy a kiss me quick hat, but it took me the best part of 2 days to find one! Here is a quick run down of what else is there…
1. Accommodation. The main hotels are all along the seafront, with B&Bs up the side streets going backwards from the coast. The most imposing hotel is the De Vere Grand (formerly just the Grand) which looks stunning with it’s white flower covered balconies jutting out towards the sea. However if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to that (£275 per night for a sea view room!), you still won’t be stuck for somewhere to stay as long as you book a bit in advance. With only about a week’s notice before August bank Holiday we were in a small B&B about 2 minute’s walk from the sea, but it was perfectly clean and comfortable, and £100 per night total for 4 people sharing. Be warned though – many hotels offer low rates, but equally the majority insist on a booking of at least 2 nights, and often 3 at Bank Holidays! Brighton and Hove tourist office issue an accommodation guide which is useful for planning where to stay. www.tourism.brighton.co.uk is a useful online resource as well.
2. Shopping. Brighton has 3 distinct areas for shopping. The Lanes, North Laine, and the main shopping centre. The Lanes is a jumble of tiny back streets, many of them too narrow for traffic, in which you will find jewellers,
upmarket clothing and craft shops, and some of the nicest restaurants and cafes. North Laine is a very long street with mainly ethnic / surfer type shops. Great if you want cheap t-shirts, but nothing really stands out, and this type of shop can be found in areas of most cities. The main shopping centre has all the major chain stores and department stores, but is very much aimed at residents not tourists, and unless you want to do very general shopping, I don’t think it’s worth a visit since there are so many more unique places.
3. The seafront. This is probably what impressed me most. I was expecting cheap, tacky, hundreds of deckchairs, lobster red brits and men with hankies on their heads. Instead, there was a wealth of facilities for all ages. The seafront “promenade” is set down from the road, so there is no traffic and you are more or less walking on the beach. The road above is supported by arches at sea level, which house shops (mainly local crafts, beach clothing, and souvenirs), bars and restaurants, as well as the fishing museum and some loos! The nearer you get to Palace Pier, the busier it gets, but even on a sunny bank holiday, I was amazed at the amount of space and it could have been the end of the season for the lack of hustle and bustle. Also at the seafront are many sporting facilities such as a beach volleyball court, a basketball court, a skateboard area and a pitch for playing boules. Although I haven’t been there, the general feel of the place was like the Los Angeles beaches I’ve seen on TV (although admittedly the people aren’t as glamourous!)
4. Eating out. The seafront bars are perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon drinking cocktails and eating pizza / salad etc. For something a bit more substantial in the evening, The Lanes has everything you could ask for, from the chains like ASK and Pizza Express to French Bistros, Tapas Bars, Mexican restaurants, steak houses. You name
it, it’s probably there! However, almost every street you walk up will have some sort of bar or restaurant so you won’t get hungry!
5. Nightlife. This is where we went a bit wrong! We picked up a guide from the hotel and went to what as billed as a “80s and disco” night. It wouldn’t fail the trades description act, but the flyer portrayed it as quite a large club whereas in fact it was very small, very dark, and not as much fun as we thought (this was Club New York). What we should have done is head back to the seafront where the daytime bars turn into night-time clubs, and where the atmosphere is a lot more light-hearted and carefree. If you go to Brighton for the gay scene, the clubs are up by the Palace Pier, and easy to spot since nearly every building is flying the rainbow banner!
6. The Pier. This is where we decided to forget about images of the typical British seaside and just have fun! The first time we went, we went simply because it had started to pour with rain and we thought that eating chips on the pier in the rain would be rather fitting and traditional! As you walk along the pier you pass several souvenir shops, funfair games, the Brighton Rock shop, and lots of food stalls. There are 2 fairly large penny arcades, but these are extremely noisy and busy. The one bonus is that the second arcade has a cashpoint inside – useful to know. Carrying on up, there is a good fish and chip shop, and a couple of pubs, and finally the funfair. I’m pretty sure the only reason they make you buy tokens for rides rather than just pay cash is that “5 tokens” sounds a lot less than £2.50 for a 30 second rollercoaster ride. However, when we went back at a sunnier time we forgot about the expense and went on a few rides, before collapsing in the free deckchairs
In conclusion, whether it’s wet or dry, there is plenty to do in Brighton. The sea is clean and clear, and well policed by life
guards if you are worried. Hotels, bars and pubs are plentiful, and the amount of attractions means that there appear to be far fewer people around than there are, and no queues for anything. My one complaint is that it was expensive. I’m not sure if this was more a matter of spending a lot since there was a lot to do, or whether things were generally overpriced, but to make the most of a weekend there, don’t do it on a budget!
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