Brighton sits on the pebbly south coast of England, which has featured in many books and films, and is THE quintessentially British seaside resort.
For years we have toyed with the idea of visiting the town (actually now officially a city) and this year we got the chance to spend a long weekend there. And while we had a very nice time, it wasn’t at all what we had expected.
Our vacation was part of an experience package that included a trip up the British Airways i360 tower, and a two course meal at Cafe Rouge. Added to this a two night stay in our preferred Holiday Inn chain of hotels, and we were raring to go.
Holiday Inn Brighton
The Holiday Inn is right on the seafront almost directly opposite the i360 tower, and a sea view room gives commanding views. The rooms are typical to the chain of hotels, with breakfast, lunch and dinner being served in the attached restaurant.
The first noticeable thing it the maze of roads we had to navigate to get to the seafront, which had my satnav seriously confused. The second thing we noticed was the underground carparking, which was equally a bit of a maze, poorly marked out with a number of bays reserved for residents of the building. It took us a while to find a spot to park which was big enough to fit the car in and didn’t have white liquid dripping from the ceiling, which I guessed wasn’t going to my paintwork any good.
Once in the hotel, staff were efficient and welcoming as usual, our room was ready and up to normal standards. The outside of the hotel was undergoing a refurbishment while we were there, but it did not impact on our stay.
The grill restaurant served good meals and we enjoyed a nice evening meal with an excellent bottle of Wicked Lady White Zinfandel which we have struggled to find on sale anywhere else!
The cost of the hotel was in line with the generally high prices in Brighton, and while it was not a cheap stay for March, it was by no means the most expensive hotel for the duration of our stay. The same dates in the Grand for instance were a couple of hundred quid higher per night, and yet when we visited the whole hotel was covered in opaque plastic sheeting while they did renovation work. I’m very glad we did not waste our money on a sea view room there!
The weather wasn’t brilliant during our stay but it remained dry and we managed to walk down the sea front and into the Lanes (a small shopping area) and back up to the shopping centre, before completing the circular route back to the hotel. The first thing we noticed was how dingy and run down some areas seemed to be – we had arrived with the impression that Brighton was a sparking resort similar to the well kept Bournemouth further down the coast, but actually it reminded us more of Blackpool.
The pavillion was particularly disappointing and scruffy looking, in need of a good jet wash in our opinion.
The lanes had a mix of high street establishments and quirkly local shops, while further up the town, the Churchill Square shopping centre features all the normal large retailers.
Brighton has a surviving pier and looks very popular but it was a little beyond our walking distance so we did not visit on the occasion.
British Airways i360
One attraction we had not heard of before we booked the stay was the BA i360 observation tower. Built in 2016, the 162m glass tower is well worth the visit – creeping slowly up the central pole, it gives commanding views of the surrounding countryside. The presentations in the pre-boarding lounge showing the parts being shipped in and built is fascinating. There is also a nice little bar right next door to the attraction.
There are a multitude of eating venues in Brighton, but our package had a two course evening meal included at Cafe Rouge, just behind the Jury Inn hotel on the Lanes.
The meal was excellent, as were the staff, and we can heartily recommend it.
Our short visit to Brighton was nice, and its somewhere we could maybe see ourselves taking the grandchildren in future years, but as a holiday destination I think we can find places in the UK which have a little more to offer at a more economical price.