Here we are, catching up on my black hole of content from September of 2016 to April of 2017! So excited to be turning my detailed notes and journals into blog posts from the United Kingdom, Hawaii, Thailand and Bali! Shall we head to the UK together, then?
Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane.
I cannot believe it took me four trips to England to finally make it to Brighton.
On paper, this weird and wonderful, bold and bohemian, quirky and quaint seaside town was made for me. And as I planned our grand United Kingdom trip, I made it a top priority to find out if Brighton and I had the chemistry I thought we would.
Spoiler alert: we did, and I now have a new favorite destination in the United Kingdom.
“Brighton is without doubt Britain’s most colourful and outrageous city,” writes the Lonely Planet England. It’s also, I found, one of the most insanely easily accessible. We left St. John’s, Newfoundland on a red-eye flight and were sipping tea seaside in Brighton by 9am the next morning. With London’s Gatwick Airport an affordable and easy five and a half hour direct flight from St. John’s, and Brighton an easy half hour train ride from Gatwick Airport, it was one of the easiest ocean-crossings of my life.
We had three full nights ahead in Brighton, which felt like a luxury compared to the day trip from London that many travelers allot time for. Our goals? Laze by the beach if the early September weather allowed for it, hit up some of the town’s offbeat attractions, and simply enjoy each other’s company after a summer spent either apart or in family mode while we visited relatives in Canada and the US.
It was far too early to check into our bed and breakfast by the time we arrived, so we dropped our bags and set off to enjoy the blue skies and bright sunshine. I was wearing boots and a sundress that I’d changed into on the train, and I was actually too warm when the breeze wasn’t blowing!
Our first destination, once Ian had wrestled me out of every quirky little shop in our path? The infamous Brighton Palace Pier.
The pier is undoubtedly on the tackier end of the town’s attractions, but we couldn’t say we’d been to Brighton without visiting it. After getting our fill of people watching, roller coaster riding (I wasn’t leaving without getting on at least one ride!), and silly-sign photographing, it was just about check-in time.
Unfortunately, I must confess, our bed and breakfast was the single greatest accommodation fail I’ve ever had in my entire traveling career.
But I think I’ll save that story for a dedicated Total Travel Disasters edition — for this post, as we did for our three and a half days in Brighton, we really tried to make the best of it. Still, it was a heartbreak after the amount of time we’d put into researching the perfect place and the amount of money we spent splurging on it. It sure was cute, huh?
Anyway, after an awkward check-in, we quickly headed out again for lunch at The Set. Ian is pretty much always in charge of bar and restaurant research when we travel and he was overwhelmed with how we’d ever choose among Brighton’s many buzzed-about favorites. I had a feeling we couldn’t go wrong.
We’d actually considered staying at Artist Residence, the hotel The Set is within, but it had been just a tad out of our price range. However, after seeing how well they executed the design and menu and atmosphere of their restaurant, I might justify a more outlandish splurge next time.
We had lunch in the cafe, which unlike the main dining room has an a la carte menu. We ended up splitting a set lunch regardless which came to $50 for two, with cocktails. It was so good we vowed to come back to dinner later in the trip.
After a long, late and leisurely vacation lunch and a nap back our hotel — who really gets a perfect night of sleep on a red-eye, anyway? — we wandered back to the beach to watch the sun set from the sand. We picked a spot right between the glittering Brighton Palace Pier and the ruins of the West Pier, the historical landing that now makes for a stunning evening silhouette.
The beach was as lively at nightfall as it had been that sunny morning, abuzz with happy families, silly students, and adorable couples. I looked back from the water and saw a skyline glowing with energy and remembered how much I love this combination of the best of both worlds: a city, by the sea.
We’d been there less than twenty-four hours and already I wondered aloud to Ian what it might be like to call Brighton home.
Unsurprisingly, Ian had another trendy eatery ready to whisk me away to for dinner. As soon as we walked into 64 Degrees, I was relieved Ian had made a booking — there couldn’t have been more than two dozen seats in the entire restaurant. We happily cozied up to the bar while Ian hemmed and hawed over the small menu and I declared myself happy with anything as long as we ordered whatever the “Rum Gummy Bear” dessert was.
It was one of those menus where just a couple of ingredients are listed, so each and every dish was a surprise. While they weren’t all to my taste, exactly, I adored the presentation and the atmosphere and seeing Ian die a little bit of happiness with every bite.
I ended the evening totally smitten with Brighton — and wondering how it could have possibly taken me four trips to the UK to make my way down to this vibrant and just-the-right-amount-of-offbeat city. We couldn’t wait to spend two and a half more days exploring.
Have you been to Brighton? What were your first impressions?
Hurray! The comments are enabled! I love that you loved Brighton. Weirdly, for YEARS I too thought this colourful, quirky seaside town was MADE FOR ME which leaves me a bit puzzled about why, after 2 visits, I’m not head over heels in love. Why I ask!! Perhaps I need to keep reading your adventures for more ideas of how to better enjoy Brighton. To be fair, I rushed through the lanes and have never spent longer than 2 nights there. Luckily, my London bestie moved there last year so I have many more opportunities for my fondness to grow. Perhaps ours is a slow burning love??
Well, personally I think a bestie moving ANYWHERE is a recipe for falling in love with that place! I bet she’ll scope the perfect Becky-approved itinerary for your next visit 😉
Considering I’m from the UK, I’ve never been to Brighton and it’s been towards the top of my bucket list for years.
Get there for sure, Steph! Though perhaps hold off until summer 😉 I’m curious what the place is like the rest of the year!
Ha, I have lived in London for a month and I never ventured outside the city! Unbelievable right? So I have never visited Brighton, but it looks gorgeous!
Well, considering I lived on Gili Trawangan for several months and never ventured over to either Gili Air or Gili Meno, it doesn’t seem that unbelievable to me, ha ha. But I’d definitely put it on your list!
I was tempted to visit Brighton long time ago. The legendary Brighton Pier and collectively, seemed like a charming place where cool people live, like Fatboy Slim. 🙂 I finally visited Brighton few years ago & enjoyed my time there, despite not having crazy nite out. There’s a live event hall down the beach, Concorde2 (a venue for famous bands/artists when they are in Brighton) So for music fans, should check the calendar to see who is in town.
We definitely would have loved to have seen a show… if we weren’t so lazy and tired 😉 Next trip, for sure!
This is my favourite spot in the UK too and if I ever move back, it would be to here. If you go back, grab a meal at Silo – it’s a zero-waste restaurant, right up your alley.
Ah, that sounds magical! Will definitely remember for next time!
I studied abroad in Brighton and loved it so much, I came back to stay! Gorgeous pictures make me miss the warm and sunny days!
I totally get why someone would — if I had to move to the UK tomorrow, I’d make a beeline to Brighton!
Brighton is so colorful. I guess the word bright in the name is perfect. Looks like you had some fun and good eats.
Indeed, we noted how perfect the name is as well 🙂
Wow Brighton is adorable! I’ll have to keep it in mind. I was not really into London and only saw a few other places in England. I’ll definitely make a point to go there next time, along with the Jurassic Coast!
It’s crazy, this trip TOTALLY changed my opinions of all things England. I went from being very blah England to now being like I LOVE IT AND I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK ha ha. I am trying to get back there next summer!
I love this post, it was super helpful since I am thinking about attending college/sixth form/high school in England and Brighton is now one of my top 3
I’m so glad to hear that! I can’t wait to return to Brighton someday!