By far the chicest, most cosmopolitan and most highly populated seaside resort in the UK, Brighton is famed for its creative spirit, liberal outlook, iconic piers and tooth-cracking candy. Its Victorian architecture, metropolitan style and growing number of resident commuters have all led to it being broadly known as "London by the sea." With advance train tickets from the capital as low as $10, and a 45-minute journey time, a stopover during your next UK trip – armed with our insider tips – is a must.
Brighton is the epicentre of an über-hip, boutique bed and breakfast scene, with dozens of properties to choose from, all located just minutes from the beach. For quirky mock Tudor designs (look out for the bizarre gargoyles) and a handy central location, Hotel du Vin is great for both wine lovers, as its name indicates. It’s owned by a wine merchant, has a wine bar, and its own tasting room. It's also great for lovey-dovey couples – or even better, wine-loving, lovey-dovey couples.
Alternatively, it’s fairly straight-forward to book an entire house if you’re traveling in a large group. Brighton is, after all, home to some of the country’s most boisterous bachelor and bachelorette parties. Airbnb always has lots of interesting sleeping options in this beautifully boho city.
Parties on all budgets
Sticking with the group travel theme, one way to get your evening off to a (very) lively start is with a group cocktail-making class. Bar 76 on the central Preston Street is well versed in dealing with giggling gaggles, and offers up a 90-minute lesson for $40, including a "fishbowl" drink per group on arrival, three cocktails per person, and a final hit-the-spot shot.
If, however, your idea of fun is slightly more subdued, there's very little that beats the lure of two plastic cups, a bottle of red, and a blanket laid out on the beach, ideal for whiling away a few hours while stargazing to the sound of the waves. When (and if) you get bored, there are various waterfront clubs under the arches to try, including much-hyped Life, recently under new management and thus charged with a new lease on, well, life.
Hungry? The city’s most interesting 2013 foodie venture is owned by none other than celebrity resident and very vocal Brighton fan, Fatboy Slim. The jovial big beat DJ has set his sights on the culinary world, opening up Big Beach Café on the seafront, located within a 20-minute bike ride of the city centre, and serving up big and little kid favorites such as burgers and ice-cream, alongside Brit hits like Scotch eggs, pie and cake, all on a frugal, family-friendly budget. We hate to stir things, but Brighton might just have the edge on London. Maybe the new slogan should be "London: Brighton too far from the sea."