The East Sussex seaside town of Brighton is often referred to as “London by the Sea” by its visitors. Why, I hear you ask? Well, in addition to Brighton once being the preferred holiday destination of the Prince Regent, the town also shares many similar traits and links to the English capital. With dazzling architecture, labyrinth lanes, a lively café culture and colourful annual festivals, there’s much to enjoy in Brighton. Let’s take a closer look as to why “London by the Sea” – Brighton is loved by so many people!
Architecture in Brighton
From past to present, Brighton’s architecture has had links to London. Around 1815, thePrince Regent commissioned his London-based architect John Nash to extend and re-design his opulent seaside retreat in Brighton – known today as The Royal Pavilion. Nash was well-known in London at the time, having designed much of Regent Street, Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch. The Royal Pavilion showcased his credentials and versatility with unique Indo-Saracenic exteriors based on the Taj Mahal in India. Today, it’s Brighton’s most iconic landmark with museums, gardens and water features.
The Royal Pavilion isn’t the only link to London architects in Brighton. Brighton’s most contemporary structure, the British Airways i360 was designed by Marks Barfield Architects who created the London Eye and the treetop walkway in Kew Gardens. The i360 stands at 162 metres high boasting incredible views which stretch across the English Channel and towards the South Downs. Venture to the top of the observation tower on a pod flight and sip English sparkling wine in Nyetimber Sky Bar whilst overlooking the glorious Sussex landscape.
Brighton Jewellery Shops
London’s Hatton Garden may have a street filled with upscale jewellers, but Brighton has more! The maze of narrow streets in the town centre known as “The Lanes” are home to many jewellers in Brighton. These gemstone connoisseurs and goldsmiths specialise in vintage and contemporary pieces ranging from precious stone and diamond rings to beautiful stud and drop earrings. The price tags are not as hefty as those of Hatton Garden and the location more impressive, as these mainly family-run businesses are set inside old fisherman houses in the beating heart of Brighton’s historic quarter.
North Laine, Brighton
Brighton’s North Laine is often compared to eclectic area of London Camden High Street. The Brighton street is positively brimming with independent shops, bars and restaurants, representing a colourful mix of arts, crafts and vintage stores. This lively area of Brighton dates to the 1830s and features over 300 shops, 30 plus cafes, pubs, theatres and even a museum! Visitors can discover everything from retro clothing and musical instruments to organic foods and vegan shoes! There are no high street stores along North Laine either, allowing the neighbourhood to retain a close community atmosphere which makes it an absolute joy to browse.
Brighton’s Café Culture
Brighton’s café culture is legendary. Forget the city coffee chains, this seaside town has some of the best small, independent coffee venues in the country. Stylish cafes with industrial design interiors, atmospheric lighting and comfy seats serve gourmet sandwiches, fresh artisanal baked goods and hand-roasted coffee. Many cafes are dog friendly, serve Vegan food, afternoon tea and reasonably priced bites which can be indulged in throughout the day. Many of the cafes advocate for fair trade and sustainable practices too, so you can rest assured your coffee beans are sourced from ethical farms around the world.
Brighton can easily rival London for its annual festivals. It hosts the UK’s largest “Pride Festival” every year, where LGBTQ rainbow communities from all over the UK and Europe converge in Brighton to let their hair down and enjoy the party atmosphere. The festival was founded in 1972 to promote equality, diversity and advance education. This, the town’s largest event is usually held in early August and includes a flamboyant parade though central Brighton, a festival and abundant night time parties. As an additional benefit, there’s also an Arts and Film Festival and even a popular Pride Dog Show to enjoy!
There are also other several events in Brighton to look forward to throughout the year. The Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe and the Great Escape are held across the city throughout the year, plus there are fabulous cultural and art exhibitions during the month of May! What more could you ask for?