May 12, 2020

Slow Travel: Brighton

Seagull on railings

Travel (or even getting further than a thirty minute walk beyond the front door) doesn’t feel particularly achievable right now while we are in the midst of a pandemic. In these extraordinary times however, staying connected to the outdoors is more important than ever, which is made so much easier with so much beautifully curated online content – in all of its different forms.

With more time to myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about travel and particularly the idea of slow-travel, experiencing a place not only for its famous or historical landmarks but also for it’s hidden gems, places off the tourist-track, quirky eateries and up and coming areas. On trips we’ve been on in the last few years, we’ve had an itinerary of places we’d like to see and certain experiences we’d like to take part in but it’s become so much less of a tick-box exercise and more of a balance between making the most of our visit but also taking time for ourselves and really living in the moment rather than rushing around and trying to experience everything. Now, more than ever, I feel it’s good to leave one or two things so that you have somewhere new to explore when you go back.

The extra time has also given me the opportunity to write, something I simply don’t do enough considering how incredibly therapeutic I find it. For months, I’ve been meaning to write about our week trip to Brighton that we took almost one year (!) ago. Now I’m finally getting around to it, the memories that are springing to mind are not just the sights we saw but the down-time we had, meandering through the Lanes one coffee shop at a time, enjoying a poke of chips on the beach, desperately trying to avoid the preying eyes of seagulls, lazy evenings in our beautifully restored attic apartment with a glass of wine and a book in hand and generally unwinding from our busy lives in Edinburgh.

I often journal when I travel (I’m so grateful I did this for this trip as some of the finer details are already feeling a little hazy) and looking back at my my travel journal now, I’m smiling at how much of the trip revolved around eateries. So this post is a departure from an ultimate travel guide and more of a highlights guide of places I’d recommend visiting and experiencing, in your own time and at your own pace.

Eateries

There are so many wonderful eateries in Brighton that it’s not too arduous a task to find somewhere for a tasty snack, brunch or meal. On our arrival into Brighton, we opted for Redroaster Café, situated in St James’ Street which interestingly was a former post office. We were drawn in by the brilliant menu and were soon tucking into fish tacos and tomatoes on toast, which very happily filled us up, ready for an afternoon of exploration before we could check into our apartment.

Redroaster Cafe, Brighton

One of our favourite places we tried for breakfast was Nowhere Man in Upper North Street. Oh my word, their pancakes were sublime. We were served a towering stack of fluffy, perfectly-cooked pancakes oozing with blueberries, lemon juice and dusted with a generous coating of icing sugar with a drizzle of maple syrup thrown in for good measure.

We stopped at a number of coffee shops but we particularly loved The Flour Pot, not only for their flavoursome coffee but also because of their outdoor seating space. We sat happily outside this bustling cafe, watching passersby window shop, lost in their own worlds or chatting merrily to their companions. There are so many other places we wanted to try but didn’t quite get around to – Lost in the Lanes on  Nile Street is definitely one for next time!

For dinner, two places spring to mind – both very different from one and other. We had a romantic date night at The Coal Shed in Boyce’s Street, which was definitely one of the fanciest places we went to on the trip. This was our ‘treat night’ and it felt really special and intimate. The staff where attentive, the food was such high quality and the ambiance was just right. My other favourite was a fish and chip shop, called Bardsley’s on Baker Street – we got takeaway battered cod and chips and headed to the beach, where we sat on a bench overlooking the old and new pier in the sunshine, chatting away and enjoying that classic British seaside experience.

Sights

For me, exploring the Lanes was one of my top highlights of our week in Brighton – partly because I love to window shop and partly because I love discovering and supporting small businesses of which the Lanes has ample of. If I listed all the shops we popped into, this section would be far, far too long so I’ll just mention some of my favourites and encourage you to go and explore this area as much as you can if indie shopping is your thing. At our time of visiting, Lucy and Yak had a pop-up shop where I bought the first of many cord dungarees. We loved delving into North Laine Antique and Flea Market which was a treasure trove of a shop – filled with lots of pre-loved items and beautiful mirrors. We also really enjoyed our visit to Magazine Brighton, which had the best collection of magazines I’ve ever seen.

Aside from the Lanes, we also chose to explore the Royal Pavilion and opted for a tour inside. The interior is absolutely stunning and really quite unique – there’s a real mixture of architectural styles. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside but each room was so beautifully curated. It’s surrounded by gardens which are open to the public (and free to visit) and you can imagine what a treat it would have been for George. Prince of Wales to come for a sea-side retreat here.

Lastly, the pier which is synonymous with Brighton was somewhere we wanted to visit. Yes it’s ridiculously touristy and over-priced but for some reason, it still has a real charm and was so fun to experience. My fiance, Richie, talked me into going on the Haunted House ride with him, for which we paid some extortionate fee for what was less than a 2 minute ride but it is one of those memories that really stands out in my mind and is one that I particularly cherish.

Modern day image of Brighton Pier

Accommodation

Brighton was our main holiday of last year so we decided to splash out a little more on our accommodation than we normally would – choosing both style and location. We went for an AirBnB on Upper North Street called ‘The Loft’, which was as airy and whimsical as it looks in the pictures. There are so many places you can stay in Brighton – no matter what your budget. If we were going back for a special occasion then we would definitely consider the Artist Residence but really there are so many brilliant options out there that if you do your research, you can’t go far wrong.

I truly loved our trip to Brighton – a week was perfect for our slow-travel approach to this quirky seaside city and I often reminisce about our time there when I see an ad pop up on one of the Edinburgh taxis or hear someone mention it. It’s where my grandparents grew up and fell in love so holds a particularly special meaning in that sense and I felt completely at home there during our weeks stay. It’s one that we’ll definitely be adding to the re-visit list in years to come.

Boy sitting on Brighton beach near the Old Pier

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