Article Summary:An overview of a Brighton, England vacation.
We flew from Vancouver B.C. to London's Heathrow Airport, boarded a National Express Coach and arrived at our destination - Brighton and Hove in East Sussex. Brighton is a seaside city very popular with the London summer crowd and now one of our favorite vacation spots.
From the Bus Depot in Brighton it was a short walk albeit up a hill to our Bed and Breakfast, The Ascott House Hotel located in Regency Garden Square on New Steine Street. The hotel, located on a side street just one block from the ocean, was set amongst a row of B & B's that overlooked a fenced grassy park, a beautiful setting in a quiet, upscale neighborhood. Our accommodations were booked using the Internet and we were more than pleased with our choice.
The Ascott House Hotel is a refurbished three storey house owned and operated by a husband and wife team; they made us feel very welcome. Every room in the house had been preserved or restored to its original beauty. The elegant sitting room with its overstuffed Italian leather furniture and the dining room with its huge wood burning fireplace, antique lamps and white lace curtains made us feel like we had taken a step back in history. Even our room, located on the second floor in the back of the house was furnished with beautiful antique furniture, white lace curtains and hardwood floors. We had our own bathroom with a shower, it is important to specify when reserving your room that you want your own bathroom otherwise you will share a community bathroom down the hall.
Breakfast was served every morning in the dining room on the main floor. A small buffet was set up in the sitting room for guests to help themselves to juice, fresh fruit salad and an assortment of cold cereals. That was the appetizer. We were then given a menu of hot selections to choose from along with bottomless cups of coffee or tea. For those who have never experienced a full English breakfast, you are in for a treat; sausage links, bacon, baked beans, two fried eggs, mushrooms and toast. You shouldn't be hungry again until at least dinner time.
Brighton is an enchanting, romantic and exciting seaside town where Londoners can hop on a train or a bus and be enjoying warmer than usual temperatures at the seaside in as little as one hour. There were numerous accommodations available to tourists from the upscale beachfront hotels to Hostels and everything in between.
Once we had checked in we were eager for our vacation to start. We immediately went for a walk down to the shore; Brighton has approximately seven miles of beautiful seafront. The water was calm, the sun was shining and we could smell the sea air - this was paradise. Even though it was a very hot day, the breeze off the water felt cool and refreshing after our long trip. We were ready to walk for miles we thought. It didn't take long to realize just how tired we were.
On our way back to our hotel we came across something we thought was a little different. A naturist beach! There were about half a dozen tents set up right on the sand. As we got closer, we realized there were a number of seniors running around in their birthday suits! So, not exactly what I was expecting but they were probably a lot cooler than we were. What else does Brighton have to offer?
During our month in Brighton, we never ran out of interesting places to visit like the Royal Pavilion; beginning as a modest farmhouse some two hundred years before, the original building had been added on to many times until it became a palace with lavishly decorated state rooms, drawing rooms and kings apartments. The fenced grounds surrounding the Pavilion had benches strategically located under shade trees, a refuse from the afternoon sun and a place to sit and relax amongst beautifully manicured flower gardens.
The Brighton Marina is the largest Marina in the UK and is a community unto itself. A cinema, bowling alley, several shops, pubs, restaurants and approximately eight hundred residences made up the unique and very upscale neighborhood. At any one time there could be as many as one thousand boats moored at the Marina from millionaire yachts to the smallest and oldest fishing boats. It was an excellent place to shop for the nautical themed souvenirs.
In the oldest part of Brighton we discovered The Lanes, a maze of narrow streets winding through specialty shops, boutiques, theme restaurants, outside cafes, pubs and bistros. Vehicles were not allowed so we would walk for hours, never getting bored but eventually getting very tired. It would be time to sit down, order a cold drink and enjoy one of many outside live entertainment groups or sample some very delicious, freshly baked pastries at one of the many bakeries.
Another very interesting and fun place to walk was the Brighton Palace Pier. It had to be the most popular area in Brighton with its arcades, rides, restaurants, bars and even a night club, the pier was always plugged with tourists. It was a great place to buy an ice cream and if we were lucky enough to find a vacant bench along the pier, sit back and relax and people watch or just do nothing. Below the Pier was the Artists Quarters where pieces of art, driftwood carvings as well as items made from wrought iron were available for sale. We browsed through the little kiosks and then found an outside pub where we had a feast of fish and chips. We never tired of fish and chips probably because the fish was always so fresh and tasted almost sweet.
Shopping in Brighton was never ending. Besides The Lanes, there was Churchill Square, a very stylish indoor mall housing the very exclusive shops; not too many bargains in that mall. Boutiques, specialty shops and street stores were everywhere and just when we thought we had run out, we would come upon an outside market where the streets would be filled with shoppers buying local handicrafts, fresh flowers, clothing and books or people would be sitting at one of the outside cafés, sipping on a cappuccino and catching up on local gossip. On weekends, everyone would flock to the flea market that was held on the grounds of the Brighton Train Station. The locals, with their children and some with their pets would set up their little stalls, ready for the day. Browsing and shopping for just the right items became a day of entertainment with excellent bargains on everything from antiques to food. It was a family day!
Brighton had theatres, cinemas, clubs and cabarets as well as approximately 400 café's and restaurants that offered cuisine from every country. We had our favorites of course, like the "Its Café", an Italian family run restaurant that served the best pasta and pizza and had the friendliest staff and "The Tapas Bar". We would spend hours sipping on wine and enjoying Tapas - a variety of items served in small portions like deep friend zucchini, grilled prawns, salmon balls and deep fried sardines. Most of the pubs and bars also served excellent meals like fish and chips, meat pies called pasties and they usually offered a special each day at very reasonable prices.
What a fabulous holiday we had, Brighton was a breath of fresh air. Everyday was exciting, interesting and exhausting; we wanted to see it all. The proprietors of the Ascott House Hotel were very gracious hosts; they definitely helped to make our vacation memorable.
Lori's Final Comments:
You will need a Passport with an expiry date of at least six months past your exit date. Brighton has something to offer all ages and all price ranges. You can't help but have a fabulous vacation!
Lori Guretzki lives in Abbotsford, B.C. with her husband of 23 years. By day, she is an Administrative Assistant in a large high school in Abbotsford, by night she has a home based business called Lori's Canine Creations and in her off times, she shares her love of traveling to all corners of the world with her husband. Lori's latest accomplishment is her book, soon to be published, The Reluctant Traveller, about holidaying in Peru, South America.