â€œ Address: 126 KingÂ’s Road / Brighton / East Sussex / BN1 2FA / England â€ž
My brother lives in Brighton, and my parents stayed with him for Christmas last year (2008). As Christmas coincided with their Ruby Wedding Anniversary I schemed with my brother that I would drive over for a couple of days and surprise them, taking us all out to dinner and a show (albeit a very modest one - an intimate production of A Christmas Carol at the Old Ship). It was this idea which led to me scouring the internet for hotels and B&Bs for a couple of nights stay in Brighton in December.
Brighton, lovely and much visited as it is, has plenty of choice of accommodation, from expensive Boutique Hotels to flea pit hostels. Before the advent of websites such as this and TripAdvisor, I'd have been basing my decision purely on price and location, but these days it is easy to access reviews of hotels - making the process of choosing one all the more laborious and lengthy! It seems that there is someone who has a bad word to say about pretty much every hotel there is....
Anyway, after a lot (and I mean a lot) of price comparison and review reading, I settled on Cecil House Hotel. My criteria was pretty simple. I needed somewhere cheap, definitely. Ideally it should be close to the seafront, because this is Brighton we're talking about, after all, and also within walking distance of my brother's flat in Hove. The Cecil House satisfied all of these requirements, at Â£39 a night for a "Junior Double" for my son and I, it was very reasonably priced. My final requirement, which was more of a 'hope' really, was for quiet, as I had read several reviews bemoaning the presence of hen parties and the like and really wasn't looking forward to being kept awake.
I booked online through LateRooms, with cash back through Quidco. This all went very smoothly and I received email confirmations. We arrived in Brighton by car and parked in the Imperial Square carpark, a few hundred yards away. Even though it was December 28th and the sales were in full swing, we managed to find a space without too much trouble. This car park is certainly very convenient for the seafront hotels and the beach. Cecil House was easily found, on Kings Road, facing out onto the beach. It is a townhouse with several storeys, I think 4, possibly with a basement too.
Check in was 3pm, although we arrived a few minutes early and the person on reception seemed to know who we were. He ushered us through the hotel into the Granville Hotel next door, which appears to be owned by the same owners. We were shown a couple of computers, and it was explained that internet connection was free for us to use, to check email and so on. In the event, we didn't use this, but it was a nice touch. Having paid for the room, we were provided with a key and pointed in the direction of the second floor. Cecil House's website explains that it has some rooms with a sea view, and others (the cheaper options) with a view over a French Church. Ours, being as I had gone for the budget room, was the latter.
Looking out of the window was a bit disappointing. Ok, so there is a church. In fact, very helpfully it has a large sign on it saying "FRENCH CHURCH", so no one could accuse the Cecil House website of misrepresentation!. There are also a couple of unattractive high rise buildings and areas where bins were kept - this is absolutely, definitely not a romantic view! For my son and myself this was not a problem, we wanted the room as a place to sleep and were planning on being out of the hotel for most of our visit. The sea view would have been just that and I'm sure would be stunning, if you chose to pay a bit extra for it.
The room itself was of adequate size. It housed a double and a single bed, so could have been described as a Family Room if they had wanted - I had only been expecting one double bed. There was also a dresser, with tea/coffee making facilities (that's a kettle, then) with the obligatory sachets, a built in wardrobe and bedside tables. There was also a small wall-mounted tv. The en-suite shower room had basic facilities (loo, cubicle shower and wash basin) but was window-less and didn't appear to have an extractor fan. There was soap and shoer gel provided, but nothing as luxurious as a towel rail, a hook on the door for a towel, or a cup for toothbrushes. I found this a bit frustrating, as these homely additions would not cost much to add.
Overall I would describe the room as basic. It was clean, but only to a standard that you might expect in someone's home - not to the super sterile clean level that you may get in more modern hotels. Mostly this was because everything was fairly old, the bathroom suite for example, and the soft furnishings. The hotel itself could really do with updating - a coat of paint would be a good start in the room we stayed in. The sash window frame had clearly seen better days and a draught could easily be felt though it. Outside the window was a fire escape, and had we been on holiday with passports and items of value I would have been concerned about security, as there did not appear to be locks on the window.
Despite the draughts and the freezing weather in Brighton at that time, and even though the quilts we had seemed very insubstantial, we were warm at night. And save for some distant television noise and a disagreement between the proprietor and prospective guest on one night, it was very peaceful and we slept well.
Breakfast was included in the stay, and was served between 8am and 10am in the basement restaurant of the Granville Hotel next door. I really can't fault the breakfast! A menu listed a choice of cooked breakfasts including the full bacon, sausage and so on, but impressively there was also not only a Vegetarian cooked breakfast but also a Vegan option on offer too. Additionally, there was a buffet table from which guests could help themselves to cereal, fruit juice, fruit and freshly made toast. The restaurant also opens in the evenings but we did not sample the evening meals.
On the first morning I had the Vegan breakfast - I felt obliged to really, to encourage them! A waiter refilled my coffee, and my son was very happy to make his own toast and honey. The restaurant was clean and the food was great value. The only problem we had in enjoying our peaceful morning meal was the howling of several small children who were staying in the hotel, and the associated growling and chastising from their tired and frazzled parents. It is worth mentioning that the Cecil Hotel advertises itself as child-friendly, which may or may not be an attraction, depending on your circumstances!
Overall, I would describe the Cecil House Hotel as a good no-frills budget option for staying whilst sampling the many delights of Brighton. Although, the breakfast deserves special mention so perhaps that should be described as a 'frill'! For the couple of days that we stayed between Christmas and New Year it was obviously a lot cheaper than actually at Christmas, or for New Year's Eve, and substantially quieter I would expect too. I didn't find any other hotels offering a breakfast included for this price. This is not somewhere to stay for a romantic weekend, or if you really want to pamper yourself, but it is a great option simply for B & B.
The hotel is within a few minutes walk of the Pier, Pavillion and the Lanes shopping streets (and my brother's flat,but you don't need to know that!). One final note, the Cecil House website mentions a discount for hotel residents at the nearby car park, but sadly this is out of date, I was informed that the City Council had revoked this offer. Still, the rate for 24 hours was a reasonable (I think) Â£12.50, this is a multi-storey and as I mentioned, is very conveniently placed. I left the car there for 48 hours without any worries.
(Of course, I left my lights on and so when I went to collect it to drive home the battery was flat and I had to call out the RAC - but you really don't need to do that.)
Located right on the seafront.