Dreaming of a weekend break now that spring is finally in the air? Escape the capital for cosmopolitan Brighton, and discover where to eat, sleep and visit en famille for a fun-filled 48 hours
SLEEP: The White House
Whatever your budget, there’s certainly no shortage of places to stay. But for the ultimate Great British Seaside experience, this family-friendly bolthole has charm in abundance. Located in a quiet corner of Kemptown, just metres from the seafront, guests can relax in the comfort of their south-facing rooms which have either a walled garden or sea view. The suites are modern, sleek and sophisticated, but with inspired touches to remind you that you’re at the seaside – think retro-print cushions, fresh flowers, Orla Kiely toiletries and bright ’60s-style furnishings. The Nespresso machines, boozy rum truffles and ever-replenished KitKat Chunky bars are a welcomed treat, too. Enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in the comfy beds, complete with warm throws and powder-soft pillows, and come morning, head downstairs for a delicious breakfast, home-cooked by professional chef and owner Sean Edlin. With everything from a full English to cereals, fruit and yoghurt on the menu, you’ll all be ready to face the day in no time at all.
From £85 per room, per night.
DO: Explore the seafront
From the magical underworld of the Brighton Sea Life Centre, where kids can enjoy face-to-face encounters with sharks and hands-on rock pool experiences, to the dizzy heights of the British Airways i360 viewing tower, there is so much to explore along the city’s vast seafront. Brighton’s famous pier is also a hub of things to do, from children’s rides and trampolines to family shows. If you’re heading down this Easter, the pier will be hosting its very own egg hunt, complete with games, face painting and live entertainment.
DO: Visit The Lanes
This bohemian quarter of Brighton is bustling with street art, small bistros, bars, galleries and shops, and is a treasure trove for vintage lovers. The narrow streets and winding alleyways are filled with independent boutiques selling everything from clothing to art and coffee, with a host of sweet finds for little ones. Check out Loula and Deer for baby and children’s clothing and accessories.
EAT: The Ginger Pig
If you want more for lunch than a saveloy and chips to go, follow the seafront trail down to Hove to dine at this easy-going, contemporary gastropub which serves up a rustic menu of local and seasonal produce. Not only is the setting warm and welcoming – with an outdoor dining area for the summer months – but the friendly service here is second to none. The staff welcomes families, which means there is space aplenty for buggies and children. On the menu are hearty, home-cooked dishes including oxtail croquettes with a Bois Boudran dipping sauce; leek, potato and Duddleswell pie; roasted cod loin, and, of course, chargrilled hanger steak, while the dreamy selection of desserts will satisfy those with a sweet tooth.
DO: Visit Stanmer Park
With its stunning woodlands and extensive open fields, there is plenty of space for little ones to run around at Stanmer Park. Wrap up warm and wear them out with a stroll over the Downs, or pack up a picnic in the summer and spend the whole day there. The park is home to a varied range of plants and wildlife, and the kids will love spotting deer, badgers, foxes and buzzards amongst the bluebell woods. Plus, all that walking is the perfect excuse to stop in the Stanmer tea rooms en route home for coffee and a slice of cake.
DO: Take in the culture
See an eclectic mix of exhibits, from art deco furniture to punk-rock fashion, at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, which also hosts a number of ‘drop-in-and-do’ sessions for families throughout the year. Children can find out what goes on behind the scenes at the museum and follow downloadable trails, including the Go Wild Amazing Animal trail and the Ocean Explore trails. Located opposite is the city’s famous Royal Pavilion, an Indian-inspired palace built for George IV back in the 18th century. There are banqueting rooms, music rooms, saloons and gardens to be explored, with a special 40-minute children’s tour for families to enjoy.
EAT: Riddle & Finns
For an evening meal you won’t forget, bag a sea-view table at Riddle & Finns On The Beach for its famous oysters and champagne. Housed in the seafront arches, enjoy your meal al fresco on the terrace or in the dining room with views of the promenade. Choose from a huge variety of hearty fish dishes – think New England clam and bacon chowder, braised octopus and slabs of John Dory served with mussels. As expected, the wine list is fantastic, and the oysters come complete with an array of accompaniments (pack a punch with the Oyster Bloody Mary). With crystal chandeliers, candlelight and a cosy, romantic ambience, this bijou eatery is probably best saved for date night.
Getting there: Get a direct train to Brighton in less than an hour from London Victoria, stopping at Clapham Junction en route.
For more, check out visitbrighton.com
Words: Danielle Wilkins
Photography: Adam Bronkhorst