A grand day out… 24 hours more or less in Brighton

Last Updated on : 17th May 2022

Brighton is one of those love it or hate it places. You either love the exhilarating feel of permanently thinking you’re about to be mugged, or you hate that the place smells of Victoria drains and looks like it’s only the peeling paint is keeping it upright.

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair as I recently had an overnight trip that I rather enjoyed. It could be that my possession of a return ticket back to London Victoria increased or even enabled the enjoyment, who can say…but have fun I did.

I was off to see legendary Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams at the Brighton centre and the sparseness of late trains had permitted me to indulge in a whim and book into the Grand Hotel, somewhere I’ve wanted to stay since losing the power of speech in the bar during a stag party.

I’d intended to go down in the late afternoon with just enough time to freshen up before the concert, but when the day arrived, I was overcome with excitement and travelled down at lunchtime. Brighton was much as I remembered it, a mixture that day of sunshine and shabbiness, where even the buildings look like they have a hangover.

Despite my room costing nearly £200 (and if I’d booked more recently it would have been over £300,) it wasn’t going to be available till nearly 4pm, which left me some time to mooch around town having left my bag with the concierge. Across the road from the hotel and now looking like an emaciated climbing frame lie the remains of the west pier, once the more upmarket of Brighton’s protuberances.

The Palace pier the more plebian of the twins is still going strong. Though not really that long, it manages to fit in penny arcades, tarot readings, donut, hotdog and fish and chip stalls. These are complemented by a sit-down restaurant, pub and cocktail bar and of course the rides at the end of the pier. You could quite happily spend half a day there getting lost amongst its many distractions.

Across the road from the pier and behind the seafront hotels, but in front of the Pavilion, you’ll find the lanes. These Georgian streets are now populated by upmarket shops, bars and restaurants, well if you’ve ever been to Brighton before you’ll know this, but my tip is to head to the Cricketeers pub on Black Lion Street, just outside the lanes. Lovely outside area, great selection of beers and when I was there stag and hen parties from all 4 corners of the UK, and it wasn’t even 3pm.

The seafront itself is home to many places of refreshment and one name I’ve heard a lot recently is that of Riddle and Finns, the seafood specialist. There are now 2 branches, one near the centre of the front and one in the lanes. The menu is both exquisite and expensive and I would suggest something to be enjoyed as an experience and not because you just had 8 pints and now need to refuel.

That afternoon I just made do with a cocktail but was rewarded by a phone call telling me that my room was ready slightly early at 3:30pm. That cocktail and the pint of cider I’d had earlier left me feeling somewhat somnolent, and I was intrigued to find what my near £200 was getting me.

As I opened the door, I was reminded of what I believe Judy Garland’s policy was when she was on her uppers, booking the smallest room of the most expensive hotel…my accommodation felt like that. It was well decorated, and the bed large and comfortable, but it really was a bed-room as there was precious little room in it for anything else. The bathroom was complete with a genuine Edwardian bath and water so hot you could make tea without a kettle. The furniture though nice in my room at least was starting to show the ravages of time, it didn’t really bother me though as the hotel must have had some perilous times over the last couple of years, and I was just glad they were still open.

The bath was as refreshing as I expected and feeling renewed I met my friend in the hotel bar prior to the concert. The bar does both high-end cocktails and pints of session beers and is rather comfortable. We ventured across the road though to the Fortune of War pub, the oldest along the seafront.

Despite feeling like the pub itself should have tattoos, the drinks here are OK priced and the pizzas tasty. Downing a drink in the sunshine, you could believe that you really were away on holiday rather than just at the end of the railway line. This conceit though was rather spoilt when the members of a stag started dancing on then falling off a table nearby, but they didn’t have Bryan Adams tickets and we did.

What can I say about Mr. Adams, well more than I’m going to here. It was an excellent concert, reminding me what an experienced showman with an extensive back catalogue he was. Lasting about 2 hours, you left wanting yes, a bit more but still feeling satisfied.

Back at the Grand, the bar had now filled to capacity and it took time to get drinks, but then those drinks went and it took less time to get the next drinks and soon we found it was nearly 1am and we’d said we’d be in bed by 11 thirty.

The breakfast is an extensive hot and cold buffet, with nearly everything you can think of. I was disappointed that there were no kippers available, but there were vegetarian sausages and tofu if you’re on the hunt for non-meat protein. There are of course meaty sausages, black pudding and bacon rashers available for the carnivores as well fruit, pastries, yoghurts, juices, breads etc. etc. I was impressed.

I left Brighton with a smile on my face. I’d made it through 24 hours, and by and large only nice things had happened. I was thinking about perhaps arranging a return trip for the summer when I tripped over a loose paving stone and grazed my knee. Well perhaps Brighton is always going to go out of it’s way to get me.


You Might Also Like

Soi. Thai

Soi.Thai sits about halfway along Battersea’s Northcote Road. In previous incarnations it’s hosted many different cuisines, most recently Greek and only opened ... Read Feature

Encore at Franco Manca,

Some years ago, I wrote about my first ever visit to Franco Manca on the Northcote road. My memories are that I liked it, but ... Read Feature

Underneath the arches at Tonkotsu Battersea -

Tonkotsu, Battersea sits in a railway arch near the revamped Battersea power station. The area has been redeveloped as a sort of gastronomic fun park ... Read Feature

Join the Discussion

Latest From Instagram