Once upon a time, Brighton was considered to be a tired old seaside town, populated by shrieking hen parties and coaches of day tripper pensioners. Brighton has since managed to shake off it’s ‘has been’ image and is now a cosmopolitan and vibrant hangout town. Given it’s close proximity to London, you can easily pop over and spend a glorious 48 hours in Brighton, for a cheeky little weekend trip.Brighton is a cosmopolitan and vibrant hangout town and is a perfect weekend break place. Click To Tweet
With its promenade, parks and pier you might reasonably expect that a trip to Brighton is exclusively a summer endeavour rather than a winter weekend away? So when ibis hotels invited me to spend a weekend in Brighton to beat the January blues, I was up for a challenge. I brought along my travel buddy Hannah, for a girl’s weekend away, to cheer ourselves up in the gloomy month of January. Brighton was voted Britain’s happiest city, so surely some joy would rub off on us during the most depressing time of year? Here’s my guide on how to spend 48 hours in Brighton, so you can enjoy this beautiful beach town, year round.
Hunt for Brighton Street art
From elaborate street art to rough and ready graffiti, Brighton has a vast range of street art and tags across the city. The kooky North Laine area features many street art murals and is home to Banksy’s famous ‘Kissing Policeman’. Here, everything is a possible canvas to street artists, walls, phone boxes, wheelie bins are all fair game.
Friend Hannah and I spent some time hunting in lanes and side streets to see what weird and wonderful Graffiti we could find. When you visit Brighton, I recommend you grab your camera and seek out some seriously cool street art.
Shopping at North Laine
I’ll admit, shopping is not a preferred activity of mine, I have never fully understood the appeal of wandering around department stores on a Saturday, as a leisure activity. I have to say though, Brighton manages to make shopping a little bit fun. Their bohemian North Laine shopping area is full of retro shops, vintage fashion, quirky jewellery shops and uber-hip cafes, it is a veritable hipster paradise here.
There are not many shopping areas where you can pick up a kaftan, a slightly phallic sculpture, a retro telephone and vegetarian-friendly shoes in one retail outing. It is definitely quirky, i’ll give it that.
Brighton Laughter workshop
Yes, you read that correctly, a laughter workshop. We went along to Purple Turtle Wellbeing, for a laughter session led by professional chortler, who enthusiastically announced we were going to make like Santa and release our inner ‘ho’. Now, this is normally exactly the sort of activity that has me on high cynicism alert, especially when the first exercise is to shake hands with your fellow group members whilst laughing and maintaining full on, manic eye contact.
I found myself easing up as the session went on, even when we had to ‘light our fuse and launch our laughter rocket’. In fairness, I laughed throughout the entire session, awkwardly, genuinely and mostly at Hannah’s awkward face and whispers of ‘am I doing my laughter milkshake right?’ Not a question I ever imagined having to answer as an adult if i’m honest?
I imagine a laughter workshop is not for everyone, the enforced laughter will either make you smirk, or you will come over all British and uncomfortable. It is a unique experience, though, when else in life are you going to find yourself running around a room, clapping your hands together and chanting ‘ho, ho, ha, ha, ha’?
Hotel ibis Brighton City Centre
Brighton Pier is a Grade II listed pleasure pier that has traditional fairground rides, an amusement arcade, food kiosks, bars and restaurants. Spending an hour or two walking the boards and feeding coins to the 2p machines is a delightfully kitsch and novel way to hark back to your childhood. Inside the main arcade area are all manner of whirring machines, flashing lights, modern video games and prize booths to keep you entertained for an hour or so.
Walking toward the end of the pier you will find the fairground rides, featuring several classic rides of your childhood with a log flume, helter-skelter and a traditional carousel to ride on. As it was January, not many of the rides were open and there seemed to be vague maintenance work going on. This was probably a good thing as the rides appear to be hideously expensive for what they are, the rather tired looking log flume costs £4.00 per person to ride, making it a rather costly trip down memory lane.
We went searching for chips, candy floss and ice cream, all the major food groups for a seaside visit but couldn’t seem to find any kiosks open on this blustery but bright January day. Visiting the Pier in January will inevitably mean that most things are closed or having maintenance, so you are better off having a nostalgic stroll, taking some photos and then exploring the rest of Brighton.
Mock Turtle Tea Shop
Se amongst all the hipster haunts and shabby chic cafes, The Mock Turtle Tea Shop is a traditional Victorian tea room at simply exudes vintage charm. Here you can sit amongst shelves of fine china and other tea shop regalia for a lovely homemade cake and a pot of tea. The Kath Kitson style decor simply screams ‘Pinterest goals’.
There’s a large range of home-baked cakes to choose from including sponges, slices and doughnuts. you can also have a pot of Mock Turtle blend, loose-leaf tea, served on fabulous blue willow china. We opted for warm scones with jam and cream for our sweet treat. The portions were excellent and the price was really reasonable, expect to pay around £6.50 for two scones and a pot of tea. It’s a definite ‘must visit’ for tea fans exploring Brighton.
Proud Cabaret Brighton
When one is visiting Brighton, one must simply see a cabaret show. Proud Cabaret is a retro cabaret show, set in a plush, former ballroom show features a three-Course Dinner with Prosecco and a glittering show. Waitresses wander around in their underwear serving drinks and pouring prosecco, which seems rather bold in a post-Harvey-Weinstein-world.
However, once the drinks are flowing, the drag act is belting out a number and the lights are shining, you find yourself caught up in the fun and the theatre of it all. There is a variety of cabaret, jazz and risqué burlesque performances to enjoy whilst food and drinks are served.
It’s fair to say that the food is not the main focus here, I had Crispy Pepper And Chilli Squid to start, followed by Duck Leg Confit for main and Oreo Cheesecake for dessert. The starters and main were of a very average quality, the dessert was actually the best part of the dinner, gooey, creamy and extremely moreish. I recommend you skip the food and settle for drinks and a show.
Proud Cabaret does put on a marvellous show of nipple tassel twirling, fire-breathing and show-stopping numbers. It’s a night out that will definitely be remembered for years to come. A word of caution though, it is about 1000 degrees in the venue, I have not been that insufferably warm in quite some time. Hannah and I discovered that the hand dryer in the ladies toilet blows out cold hair, so we took it in turns to stick our heads under the dryer for relief. Cleary we forgot all about the heat when the post-show disco started up, as we decided to reenact our laughter workshop on the dance floor for our own amusement and then leap upon the empty stage, to give a stirring rendition of ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’. As you do.
Visit the Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavillion, [also known as the Brighton Pavilion], is a Grade I listed, former royal residence, that has a 200-year history. Many of the items in the palace are on loan from her Majesty and the downside to this is that no photography is allowed inside, this means there are no #Royal Instagram photos my loves. If history isn’t your thing, take a stroll around the pretty Pavilion gardens and marvel at the wide variety of plants.
48 hours in Brighton seems to cover a lot of weekend break essentials. It has an eclectic mix of the seaside, kitsch, clubbing and a splash of culture. I would definitely recommend taking a trip here and experience the delights of this cosmopolitan city over a weekend. The sea air will definitely do you some good, even if all the boozy cocktails won’t.
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My stay at Ibis Brighton was complimentary, but views, as always are fabulously my own.