Brighton’s Best – Short Break Brighton:
On a stunningly bright and clear January day, we headed down the M23 to Brighton for a short break and a winter getaway. Brighton is the perfect destination for a quick trip with super fast road and rail connections to London. We were excited to be staying at Drakes boutique hotel, winner of the prestigious Editor’s Choice award from the Good Hotel Guide 2018
We parked in one of their guest parking spaces, dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed out into town. Drakes is conveniently placed on the seafront – just a stone’s throw from the Palace Pier – our first destination.
It’s a classic British seaside spot with slot machines, a palm reader, fish and chips and a funfair all adding to the gaiety of the nation. But for us, it was a chance to blow out the cobwebs with some fresh sea air after a winter’s hibernation.
Adjoining the seafront is the atmospheric quarter known as The Lanes. It’s a maze of alleys full of antique shops, restaurants and smart designer clothes shops all nestled together. Brighton is something of a retail mecca and The Lanes represent the top end of the offer.
Just over the road sit the more bohemian North Laines. Specialist boutiques, vintage shops and trendy cafés jostle together in a blur of colour and activity. There are live events and film at The Komedia and for theatre buffs, the area is bordered by The Theatre Royal.
The Brighton seafront is a destination in its own right with a plethora of interesting outlets and lots going on. We decided to have lunch at Brighton seafood restaurant Riddle & Finns.
We feasted on a saffron-infused bouillabaisse and a fiery wok-fried crab Singapore style washed down with a delicious glass of local Court Garden rosé. There’s such a variety of great restaurants in Brighton making it a real gastro destination for the South of England.
Before heading back to Drakes we popped into Sea Life Brighton, amazingly enough, the world’s oldest operating aquarium. Built in 1872, it’s a temple of Victorian Gothic architecture with the fish displayed under the magnificently lit arches.
There’s a lagoon with rays swooping through the water, there are big fish displays and an interactive rock pool where you can touch a starfish or sea anemone. The lobster was donated by a local fisherman about to retire – he pops in to chat with it every so often…and also my favourite sea creatures – seahorses. Perfect for kids of all ages! With a tropical feathered starfish arriving on February 10 for the Sea Stars exhibit and a jellyfish zone charmingly entitled Jelly Invasion opening on Good Friday, there is a turnover of attractions to keep regular visitors satisfied.
Returning to the hotel bar having a well-deserved cup of tea as the sun began to set we watched as a murmuration of starlings swooped around the pier in a stunningly beautiful display of aerial choreography.
And then up to the room. With such a view of the seafront our suite couldn’t have been more inviting and romantic; with a blissful foam bath covered with rose petals waiting for us to slip into it was the perfect way to relax – and it’s the only time I’ve waved to the top deck bus passengers from a bath!
After a fab dinner at The Restaurant at Drakes (covered in a separate review) it was time for bed…and with Egyptian cotton sheets, Designer’s Guild throws and handmade Vi-spring mattresses very comfy it was too! With the full Sky package on the flatscreen TVs, fast broadband and air-conditioning and only 20 bespoke rooms it’s no wonder that Drakes is the celebrity hotel of choice in Brighton.
Breakfast was down in the restaurant and after some amazing homemade granola, freshly baked pain au chocolate…
and a full (veggie!) English we decided to hit some more Brighton sites.
The Royal Pavilion is an exotic seaside pleasure palace in the centre of Brighton built for King George IV.
The interiors are stunning – a mix of Regency grandeur with Indian and Chinese influences. It’s a must see and perfect for sight-seeing on a winter stopover.
If the weather is good another must-do is the British Airways i360.
When you’re 138 metres high at the top of the world’s tallest moving observation tower, the view of Brighton and the South Coast are stunning. Conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye, on a good day you can even see the Isle of Wight!
Brighton is full of exciting music venues, art spaces, cabaret bars, theatres and comedy clubs to keep you entertained in the evenings so with the shopping, culture and food on offer it really is a 24/7 city. I can’t think of anywhere better in the UK for a fun winter’s break.
And, we loved our time at Drakes Hotel. One of the joys of staying in a boutique hotel such as Drakes is that you get to know the staff who were delightful and always trying to make our stay even more pleasurable. So why not find out for yourself and book a stay.
If you are thinking of planning a trip to Brighton yourself why not pin this post for later!
Disclosure: We stayed in Brighton as guests of Drakes Hotel