A certain Englishman wrote, "When you are tired of Londo,n you are tired of life". Today, Londoner's weary of life in the fumey fast lane pack an overnight bag and head for Brighton.
Brighton is only an hour away on the train, but this city by the sea is no sleepy seaside retreat. With more bars and pubs per capita than anywhere else (outside the capital) in the UK Brighton offers a smorgasbord of good food, heady nightlife and fabulous shopping, all washed down with a good dose of stiff sea breeze.
In Regency times, this is where royalty came to frolic. The excesses of the period are encapsulated in the Brighton Pavilion, Raj-style folly and playhouse of the Prince Regent, packed with treasures from the Empire (now open to the public).
The place has never quite lost its air of decadence. In more recent times it has become synonymous with the 'dirty weekend', somewhere to whisk away to with an illicit lover. Wake up hung-over in a rumpled hotel bed to the sound of seagulls and you know you're in Brighton.
The city boasts two universities, and the large student population ensures a vibrant ambience. The place exudes an air of arty endeavour and bookish learning. Craft shops breed at an alarming rate down among the old Laines, book sell by the bushel and exhibition space abounds. The Alternative world has also made its home in Brighton, if crystals are your thing you will not be disappointed.
Brighton folk pride themselves on the cosmopolitan, broad-minded feel of their city. There is a large population of gay and lesbian residents and the annual Gay Pride celebrations draw crowds from across the country.
For others the Palace Pier is what Brighton is all about. Stretching out into the choppy English Channel the pier represents the world of the British seaside holiday. Grab a seat and play the Dolphin Derby, take your life in your hands and ride the rickety roller coaster, buy your date a fist of candy floss and a stick of sticky rock.
Brighton is all these things and more. Get down there, buy yourself a 'kiss me quick' hat and have a ball.