It was mine and my boyfriend’s one year anniversay on the 13th July (lol, one year since he got so shitfaced I had to feed him a Big Mac in Camden McDonalds and he slurred ‘so are you my girlfriend now or what?’ Romance). Anyway we thought we would celebrate the occasion by going to a place we both love separately but had never been to together: Brighton.
To preface this, I wouldn’t usually read a travel guide by someone who isn’t a local, either. However, most of these recommendations were given to me by Brighton locals, so I guess that sort of counts (?).
STAY: Fab Guest Boutique Guest House.
I am good at two things: making Spaghetti Bolognese (add sugar, ketchup and worcester sauce, use half the amount of tinned tomatoes you think you need), and booking hotels.
Fab Guest is a super cute guest house (with 14 rooms) and they’re all so FUNKY. Think glittery mannequins, good typeface prints, baths in bedrooms, cool lighting. Overall our room was v cool, but there were some odd things about the hotel in general. For example, there’s no onsite staff, so when we needed some new bedding, the duty manager had to come back and then just give us the bedding because the cleaner wasn’t there to put it on (I sound so #firstworldproblems, but the cleaner doing your sheets for you at a ~pricey~ hotel is quite standard, espesh as we had the nicest room). Also, instead of mini bars in your room, there’s an ‘honesty bar’ in reception where you take stuff and then text the manager (???) who, presumably, adds the cost to your bill. You also don’t get a room key, instead, a pin code to enter into the doors. We had to text the manager a couple of times when we needed stuff because she wasn’t in, and basically the lack of staff was just kind of… weird and empty? When there were no other guests around, there’s usually staff at least, and there wasn’t in this situation. It wasn’t weird in a bad way, I’m just used to fully staffed, 24/7 hotels I guess, and texting them for stuff rather than going to reception and talking to them felt very 2016. But who knows! Maybe this is the future of hotels and I am just a cynical 90 year old woman in a 20 year old’s body..?
The only negative thing I’d have to say about the room was the odd breakfast situation. Breakfast is included in your room price which I originally thought was a great deal. Turns out the breakfast is a small, extremely limited serve-yourself continental type thing in the tiny lounge (pictured below). Although there are only 14 rooms, the lounge got waaay too crowded, and there wasn’t really enough food to go around. We ended up taking the food we did get back to our room, but it wasn’t anything to shout about (croissant, muesli, a slice of toast and some cheese and parma ham). BUT NEVER FEAR. I recommend a great brunch place in a sec, be patient. OVERALL the hotel was so quirky and lovely and in a great location (right on the seafront and about 8mins from the centre of town), and when the staff were there they were lovely and attentive, so I would definitely advise you to stay here (also on their website they have loads of various booking offers to get a deal on your room!). If you want to stay in the exact room we did, here’s the link.
The lounge area had some v cute decor, including giant angle poise lamps, various cute armchairs, some upcycled theatre seating (pictured) and some super cute wallpaper with little sketches of Brighton pier on.
The Chilli Pickle
I was told to go here by so many people, and the window had so many awards the restaurant had won displayed in it, so we had to try it. It was kind of weird, I went expecting a ‘normal’ indian menu, but it was actually very inventive and street food themed. This was difficult for me, the whitest girl alive, as everything looked exxxtremely spicy. I explained my concerns to the waitress and she recommended a curry and then GOT THE CHEF TO MAKE IT LESS SPICY FOR ME. It was already a ‘one chilli’ rating on the menu. Anyway, I’m pathetic. We had some funky starters too, including some v yummy crispy paneer and pea ballz with plum chutney. Again, not sure how authentic everything was, but it tasted pretty good.
Due to the hotel’s weird breakfast situation we decided to get Sunday brunch at this tiny place we had walked past a few times. The food was SO GOOD. And so cheap! The decor was cool too, but the seating area was mainly outside, so maybe save this one for a hot day. They also had great lunch and dinner options, and it turns into a bar/club in the evening, Also: it’s cash only, just an fyi.
Riddle & Finns
Seafood isn’t my number one food of choice, but I realise that when you go to a seaside location, you kind of have to at least have one fishy meal. Obviously we had to go to the fanciest seafood restaurant in Brighton. This place was recommended to us by just about everyone, and the queue (after lunchtime, completely ‘off peak’) was an hour long. When it came for us to sit down, we sat on a marble bench, opposite another couple. Usually this is fine, if you’ve ever experienced a London pop-up situation, you’re used to sharing seating. But the woman opposite me ate like such a SAVAGE it kind of put me off my food. Anyway, the food itself was great. The seafood was super fresh, and the bread basket with three types of gorgeous fish paté that they bring you and happily refill was a lil bonus, I could eat various breads n spreads all day, every day.
Kind of a clichéd one, this. I realise that since they got a London location and a TV show where they just make dumb cakes and be dicks to one another, Choccywoccydoohdah is way less cool than it used to be, and it was RAMMED with tourists. It’s sort of nostalgic because I went a few times as a kid when it just opened in Brighton and was like the coolest edgiest café ever, so I wanted to take Joel to show him what I kept going on about.
Café wise, we sort of accidentally broke the rules, as the upstairs to the café was cordoned off with red rope. No one told us not to go up, so we ignored the rope and went upstairs. We sat down, when a member of staff asked us if we had a reservation or if we were on the waiting list (oops: downstairs we had accidentally barged past a huge group of waiting tourists). We apologised and were going to leave when they moved us to a smaller table and told us it was fine, lol. So, #protip, avoid waiting by just straight up ignoring the queue system. ANYWAY. The chocolate itself is okay, but the cakes and novelty items the café does are the real star of the show here. Joel had a cake comprised of seven different flavours which he didn’t stop raving about, and I had a chocolate fondue. The staff are also super duper nice, and when I asked for a doggy bag for my leftovers (NB: you will have leftovers), the lady threw in like a whole other dessert’s worth of extra cake and chocolates for me, too.
I’m not a massive ice-cream-on-a-cone person (mess, it’s because of the mess), but Joel kept going on about how good the ice cream was at this place. Surprise surprise, another queue. Anyway I’m not the best measure of whether or not an ice cream is good, but mine was nice and creamy, but very rich. Most of it ended up all over my hand, in Joel’s mouth and on the pebbles of Brighton beach. If you’re an ice cream person this is probably your best place to go, as they had soooo many odd (but not gross sounding) flavours, like Pink Lemonade.
The Planthouse Coffee Shop
This is just a lil coffee place inside a homeware shop called Edited, but I had the best brownie of my LIFE there so it deserved recognition. It was a gooey, heavy, vegan brownie full of walnuts.Not a dry crusty bit in sight. They also did some really nice fresh looking sandwiches and I think it was all vegan and vegetarian, if that applies to you. Also, the cafe itself was totes #Instagrambait, all cactii and palm tree errrything.
Seven Stars Pub
This pub was fun inside and the staff were super nice. The cocktail I had there was also spot on (and aptly named ‘The Basic Bitch’, as it was essentially a passion fruit martini). If you’re into gin I would recommend here as they had a wall covered in hanging glass tanks, each full of various flavoured Sipsmith gin infusions which then had recommendations underneath of what to mix them with. I’m not a gin fan, but I hadn’t seen anything like that before, so I bet they make some ~funky~ gin combos.
Other recommendations: I was RELENTLESSLY recommended some bars called Twisted Lemon and Mrs Fitz, a ‘clean’ burger place called Burger Brothers, and a Mexican place called La Choza. Although we didn’t have time to go ourselves, all these places were packed so if you’re staying for a little longer than we did, I think they’d be pretty safe bets.
The city centre and The Lanes are the best place for shopping (sorry if this is the most basic advice ever, but everyone has to go somewhere for the first time). There are all the main, high street shops, and also quite a few higher end ones (e.g, COS, Jaeger, Reiss etc). Walking around I took notes of the cute, boutiquey ones I found. I don’t really have photos from the shops, but I’ll do my best to describe the kind of stuff they sell.
Edited: A very cool little homeware shop that stocked more HAY than I’ve ever seen in England, in one room (also, as above, this is where I got the gooey brownie from).
England at Home: There are two England At Homes in Brighton, right next to each other. One is more of tacky novelty home stuff, and one actually stocks some very legit homeware, but considering they’re right next to each other you may as well try both.
Space NK: Ok so not really an indie shop, but I don’t have a Space NK near me anywhere so this was super exciting for me! Also: it’s a huge one. It stocked literally every brand you see on Cult Beauty but want to try irl. (FYI: they even had the whole Jaclyn Hill x Becca line in).
Workshop Living: this place sells cool candles and kitchen shit. A very rustic Scandi homeware type deal, marble, concrete and rose gold errywhere.
Our Daily Edit: if you love expensive, minimal clothes, this is the shop for you. They also stock loads of cool stuff like my favourite bath stuff brand, Herbivore.
Do tourist stuff!
This, again, is very basic advice. BUT when I told my boyfriend I wanted to go to the pier he was like ‘noooOOOoooOOOoo it’s going to be manic’. I mean: true, but the pier has deck chairs so we sat out there and roasted in the sun for a bit, and walked around the sides of the arcade to avoid the brunt of the screaming kids. Even if you’re not into rollercoasters and children hyped up on candyfloss, we had fun walking up and down the pier, like, six times in the sun. If you’re trying to have a very refined, relaxed, sophisticated holiday then what are you even doing in Brighton?
The beach! I love a pure white sand beach on a beautiful, secluded desert isle as much as the next person [this is a lie, I hate sand], and Brighton Beach is nothing like this. The beach is made up of stones and pebbles, making it slightly less romantic than a beach in, say, The Maldives, but also way more practical. For example, you can sit on it in your clothes and not get sand everywhere. You can eat food on it without getting grit in your sandwich. You can have stone skimming contests with your boyfriend and lose because you have tiny, weak arms. All the good stuff.
Also, shoutout to me saying ‘fuck sake I hate street art’ at a group of tourists taking a picture of a big mural and then two seconds later finding this one and going OMG JOEL TAKE A PHOTO OF ME WITH MY BEST FRIENDS:
So yeah I had a great few days eating everything and slobbing around with my boyfriend, celebrating our anniversary in the way we know best.
If you have any other recommendations tweet me or comment because I will use any excuse to go back.