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The Hippie City By The Sea: Brighton

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I recently visited Brighton for the first time, and I was blown away by how much character, life and art fit into one small city.

One of the predominate impressions I got from my visit was that Brighton has always been proudly different, and justifiably so. The first region to have an MP from the Green Party, this coastal city is filled with creative, forward-thinking people who don’t like to colour inside the lines. It is a city that not only accepts diversity, but sees it as a defining strength of the community. For locals, it is quite simple: whoever you are, as long as you embrace this value, Brighton is happy to have you. I could see this principle in action as I wandered Brighton’s streets: An old man in a suit talking to a young woman with piercings and dreadlocks, a Vegan clothing store next to a Burger joint, a young transgender girl casually walking into a dress shop with her mum. 

It is as a result of this proud diversity that Brighton has come to be such a thriving city, drawing similarly forward-thinking, creative people from all reaches and professions to make Brighton their home. This is evident in the city’s plethora of independent businesses and restaurants, including their sizeable artist community. It is also evident in Brighton’s innovative and progressive standpoints on many issues such as global warming, responsible consumerism, and LGBT rights. 

All of this accumulates to a magnetic atmosphere, which you can feel as you wander around Brighton. It is easy to understand why locals speak so passionately about their home. It is a city that naturally welcomes, encourages and inspires.

There is part of me that would happily make Brighton my home one day, but I also know I would end up very broke indeed, spending all my money in vintage stores, artisan markets, cosy cafes and Thai restaurants. This is basically what I did during my long weekend getaway to Brighton, but that’s what vacations are for! You can see all the highlights of Brighton in two or three days, making it perfect for a weekend getaway.

I am far from an expert on Brighton, but these are the places I’d say are a must-see if you visit:  

The Laines and the North Laines (including Kensington Gardens) make up central Brighton and are filled with a wonderful array of independent, artistic shops and high quality restaurants and cafes (of all budgets). It’s worth noting that you can spend a whole day just wandering and eating your way through these streets.

In terms of food, cafes are incredibly popular in Brighton and the way to go if you want affordable, but delicious, food (think freshly made pastries, drinks and meals). The cafes I particularly enjoyed during my visit were That Little Teashop in the Lanes and the Angel Food Bakery. But also make sure to ask locals, as everyone has a great place to recommend. Infinity Foods is a organic, sustainable grocery store and pharmacy that is also worth visiting. It has a lot of high quality fresh food, really interesting products and healthy snacks. Just looking around I learnt a lot about the plethora of companies making eco-friendly alternatives to big-brand beauty products, detergents, and other household staples.

The shopping in Brighton is fantastic. Whatever you are looking for, be it art, trinkets, clothes, antiques, you will find it in abundance. If I made a list of all the great shops worth visiting, it would be endless, but there are a few that really stood out to me:

  • Pen to Paper: Beautiful, high quality stationary and pens
  • Snoopers Paradise: Antiques store that has a vast and quirky collection (even if you are not buying, it is fun to look)
  • Edited: Interior and homeware store with an eclectic range of products
  • Magazine Brighton: Fantastic collection of independent, high quality magazines catering to every interest, with passionate and informed owners
Of course, you can’t go to Brighton without visiting the beach and the Brighton Pier. The pier is classic fun, best experienced at night when the lights are especially dazzling. I also highly recommend taking a tour of The Royal Pavilion; the rooms look like they are taken out of a fairy tale with extravagant wallpaper and furniture, and it is a fun look into a slice of royal history.

Last but not least, if you are looking for a place to stay, we stayed at the Marina House Hotel and loved it. It was quaint and cosy. You’d wake up to the sound of the gulls and a delicious breakfast, the service is welcoming and friendly, and you are a 15-minute walk from the town centre.

Alas, as much as I wanted to stay in Brighton forever, I had to make the most of two days in this amazing city, but without a doubt, I will be returning very soon! I’m sure I missed a lot of great spots, so if you have any fun places to recommend, please share in the comments.

 




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