As a travel writer who is on the road for much of the year, there is nothing I enjoy more than returning to my hometown for a fun girls’ weekend in Brighton. These precious weekends give me a chance to catch up with the girls, re-visit our favorite haunts and check out the hippest new venues. We enjoy the best that Brighton has to offer in a whirl of social activity and cocktails.
Brighton is situated on the south coast of England under an hour by train from London. It has a reputation as a free-spirited party town with a social conscience. Not only was the Brighton the first city in the UK to elect a Green Member of Parliament, it has a large LGBT population, a nudist beach and a vibrant arts/music scene. Combined with heaps of traditional seaside fun, it is no surprise that the city is a popular weekend getaway.
One of the advantages of a get-together in Brighton is that the city is a breeze to get around. You can walk everywhere and all of the attractions and venues are within strolling (or staggering!) distance of one another.
Where to Stay in Brighton
I stayed at Hotel Pelirocco, the original rock n’ roll hotel Located on Regency Square and inspired by popular culture, the rooms are all themed. Choices include Modrophenia, DollyWould or Soul Supreme just to name a few. The staff were hospitable and welcoming and it proved to be the ideal base for the weekend.
Things To Do in Brighton
Saturday morning and it was time to meet the girls. We started the proceedings with a bottomless brunch at the Tempest Inn. A leisurely full English breakfast, free refills of Bloody Marys or Mimosas and lots of laughter was a fabulous way to kick of our reunion. The bar itself was pretty cool, a myriad of caves with a large room above them overlooking the sea.
Well-fed and watered, we decided to head for Brighton Pier, a short walk along the seafront. We took our chances at the amusement arcade, gambling away more than we intended to, before continuing to the funfair at the end of the pier. After an alcoholic brunch, none of us were willing to brave the rides, but we enjoyed an impressive view of Brighton’s skyline basking in the sunshine.
What would a weekend away be without a little shopping? With that thought in mind, our next stop was North Laine. Funky specialist shops, cool cafes and bars, street art and a bohemian vibe combine to form the spiritual heart of Brighton. After a little retail therapy, we paused at The Dorset for a refreshing drink. North Laine is a great place to people watch and we sat outside the bar, observing the tourists passing by. Being in Brighton, known for its colorful characters, we also caught sight of one or two of the city’s more eccentric residents.
The Upper Gardner Street Market takes place every Saturday in the North Laine. Feeling rejuvenated, we took a wander through the market. A diverse assortment of stalls sold everything from bric-a-brac, street foods, vintage clothes and locally made arts and crafts.
Night-time Fun in Brighton
Next stop was a tipple or two at Brighton’s steampunk pub, The Yellow Book. Steampunk paraphernalia adorn the walls and a rather eerie never-ending cellar can be seen through a glass hole in the floor. It’s the kind of place where you find yourself chatting to the people on the table next to you. They also have a great assortment of hats which we naturally felt compelled to try on!
We rounded our evening off with a night of comedy at Krater Club, which takes place several nights of the week. We had a table close to the stage and enjoyed food and drinks whilst watching the show. We all agreed that two of the three comedians we saw were excellent. We were all still laughing as we made our way through the atmospheric and bustling city streets. It was time to call it a night, but we were already anticipating another fun-packed day in Brighton.
Morning After the Night Before in Brighton
With slightly sore heads, we reconvened on Sunday morning at Bill’s, an outstanding deli/restaurant using fresh and tasty locally sourced ingredients. It is something of a Brighton institution and without doubt, my favorite breakfast venue in the city. Some strong coffee and a hearty organic breakfast worked wonders and we were soon good to go.
We wandered along a couple of blocks, passing the resplendent Royal Pavilion. Built as a party pad for the Prince Regent, later to be crowned King George IV, the domes and spires would appear more at home in the Rajasthan desert than an English seaside town. More impressive from the exterior, it is nevertheless an interesting building to explore within and has a rich and fascinating history.
Our route continued through the Brighton Lanes, a multitude of narrow ancient passageways and squares. Previously a 17th-century fishing village, the area is now home to independent shops, cafes and restaurants. Many old public houses and historical buildings remain and the Lanes retain a medieval vibe.
We were all keen to experience Brighton’s newest attraction, the world’s tallest moving observation tower. A somewhat controversial addition to the seafront, the tower resembles an industrial pole. A futuristic pod with capacity for two hundred people takes about twenty minutes to smoothly glide up to the summit.
Luckily for us, it was a clear day and we were treated to views of the English Channel, the coastline and the city. Although it wasn’t the most spectacular of outlooks, the overall experience was worthwhile. Apparently, in the evening the pod transforms itself into a bar serving a variety of local alcoholic beverages. We decided to save that little excursion for another time.
Cocktails and Drag Queens, Brighton Has It All
The Plotting Parlour in Kemp Town was our next port of call. We ordered a round of decadent and inventive cocktails to sip in the elegant bar. Tucked away in an alleyway off the seafront, this relatively new venue is something of a hidden gem.
After being tempted by a second round of deliciousness, we were ready to eat again! We made tracks to Terre a Terre, Brighton’s award-winning vegetarian restaurant. An absolute heaven for veggies and impressive enough to convert the most staunch carnivore, I can’t enthuse enough about this place. It isn’t cheap, but for a special occasion, it can’t be bettered.
A weekend in Brighton wouldn’t be complete without some entertainment provided by one of the many local drag queens. The Zone Bar offers camp fun and frolics. The clientele is eclectic and the staff friendly. We have spent many a night singing along to show tunes and decided that it would be the perfect way to round off our girl’s weekend.
The lovely Sally Vate put us through our paces with ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ and ‘Hey Big Spender’ among others. By the end of the evening, we were hoarse but happy. It had been a suitably fabulous Brighton girls’ weekend, filled with great company and a taste of Brighton’s abundant delights. We had already started planning a reunion for next year.