London Stories and Tips

Brighton: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside....

Brighton has been called the San Francisco of southern England. Not because it has a huge red bridge or cable cars climbing hills but because it has a laid-back tolerant atmosphere welcoming all creeds, sexualities, and lifestyles in its embrace. It is most famous, of course, for being London's beachside playground and thousands of visitors descend from the capital each weekend and along with a huge foreign-language student contingent makes a bubbly international atmosphere. I would recommend it just to view one of the most unusual buildings in Europe - the Royal Pavilion. Which looks like someone built Moghul Indian palace in the middle of town. But most people are here to have a good time and with its hundreds of pubs, restaurants, clubs and shops you will have that. It has a saucy, naughty feel, and as someone said, Brighton put the sex into Sussex.

Brighton was the sleepy fishing village of Brightonstone for hundreds of years. It became fashionable when the Prince Regent took an interest in (If your history is rusty and you need to picture him, remember Blackadder III, Rowan Atkinson was butler to the monarch). He built the famous kitschy Royal Pavilion built and where royalty went the beau monde followed and Brighton became very fashionable. The cities beautiful white Georgian terraces date from this period. It's popularity lasted up to the present day and it has now been given city status and its student population has given it a youthful air.

To get there take the train from London from Victoria or Waterloo stations. Or the bus at Victoria Coach station which is about £8.00. The city itself is set along the famous beach and its focus is probably the enjoyable garish Palace Pier with the Royal Pavilion a few minutes walk away on Old Steine. The beach on a hot day gets packed but is rather pebbly, sandy beaches are about a mile eastward around the marina including a nude one. But between the seafront and the station are the lanes which are an intertwining maze of narrow alleys and narrow streets lined with shops. If you are not careful you can get lost and your credit card will get a pounding.

It has a massive gay population which is mainly based east of the Pavilion around Kemptown or 'camptown' as it sometimes called. The locals are very friendly and welcome tourists especially if you are nice about Brighton. Below are some of the pubs which are good places order a pint of ale. There are plenty more (about thirty in all) and the best place to look is Brightons copy of the free magazine BOYZ.

'The Bulldog', 112 Church Street, (normal pub hours)

Cosy seaside pub with wood panelling and long bar. Full of Brightonians who come here each week and can be very friendly. Piano in one corner and also entertainment in the evening. Good place to meet before a night on the town.

'Zanzibar', St James's Street, 1.00pm-200am,

This is a basement bar a few yards away from the beach. Rather trendy and youthful it pulls in the disco-dollie who swivel away to the latest top-twenty. Has video screens, bottled beers and a disco pumping away. Wear your best gear for this place.

'Club Revenge', 32 Old Steine, opposite the Palace Pier 10.00pm-2.00am, £5 entry

Right in the centre of things between the Palace Pier and the Royal Pavilion (which looks spectacular lit up at night)this is a Brighton institution. A massive place with three dancefloors, four bars and a huge stage. It pounds to techno music and also top twenty and women are very welcome. The views of the pulsating Palace Pier through the dancefloor windows are worth the admission price on their own.

So there you are, there is no excuse for not having a good time in Brighton. A suggestion might be if you are doing a tour of Britain to come here first, follow it with Bath, Oxford and Stratford and leave London till last. Whatever you do - you will come back - probably whistling "Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside..Oh I do like to be beside the sea....."

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