Ideal Itinerary: Brighton by the Sea

Exploring England’s Brighton by the Sea in 24 hours By: Gabrielle Hendren
The Royal Brighton Pavilion // © 2011 Gabrielle Hendren
The Royal Brighton Pavilion // © 2011 Gabrielle Hendren

There is no doubt in my mind that Brighton is the ideal destination for an easy, yet relaxing, day trip from London. Just an hour away from England’s capital by train, this bustling resort town has something to please just about every traveler including delicious regional delicacies, quaint shopping and stunning views of the English coast.

Shopping Spree
Brighton is divided into two main shopping areas: the Lanes south of North Street and the North Lanes. The former showcases vintage and bespoke shops nestled in tiny winding streets, both charming and quintessentially British. The latter offers quirky clothes and home decor shops, bookstores and cafes, all with the alternative punk-indie vibe that Brighton is so reputed for. Some of my favorite finds here include a cat-printed dress, a ginger beer kit and homemade banoffee pie. There is also a shopping mall, Churchill Square and mainstream stores such as Top Shop and H&M along Western Road.

The Royal Brighton Pavilion

Built as a royal residence by George, Prince of Wales, who longed for a home outside of London, this pavilion testifies to the opulence, luxury and sophistication so often associated with Great Britain. The exterior, designed in the Indo-Saracenic style typical in the 19th century, resembles the Taj Mahal, while the inside is decorated with chinoiserie furnishings renowned throughout the kingdom at that time.

Lunch at the Cricketers
A Sunday roast is simply a must-have meal while in England. At The Cricketers, roast options include beef, chicken, lamb or vegetarian nut loaf, and are usually served alongside carrots, parsnips, broccoli and the famous Yorkshire pudding topped with gravy. Nestled in the Lanes, this pub has a bar, cozy booths and an airy dining area brightened by an overhead skylight, not to mention a very reasonably-priced roast for about $11.

Strolling the Brighton Pier
Also known as the British Coney Island, the Brighton Pier extends into the English Channel and offers all of the fair fun you remember from your childhood, complete with the cotton candy stands, fish and chips joints, arcade games and rides. The collapsing West Pier, not far down the coast, and this impressive new pier underline Brighton’s summer resort town atmosphere.

Touched by an Angel
Finish the day off right in the 200 square feet of heaven that is the Angel Food Bakery. The cupcakes, available in such flavors as red velvet, crystallized ginger or cookies and cream are culinary events in themselves, but the whoopie pies and Victoria sponge cake also contribute greatly to its appeal. After finally picking your ideal cupcake, order some tea, coffee or hot chocolate and sit at the counter facing Meeting House Lane for some people watching.

Calling It a Night
For those who find that a day trip to Brighton isn’t sufficient enough, book a room at the Brighton House Hotel. It is a wonderful bed-and-breakfast located right on Regent Square and offering beautiful views of the water. Service is superb, and fresh cakes are baked every afternoon in time for tea. Another highlight is the organic breakfast served daily, featuring Scottish smoked salmon, a fruit bar, an extensive cheese selection and a granola bar.
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