Anything goes in Brighton: it’s an excellent choice for a seaside break, rain or shine. And with its burgeoning restaurant scene luring Londoners to move south, a stay here has become even more appealing. But, where to bed down? Sparkly seas views? Tick. Hip pub with rooms attached? No problem. Quiet glamour or burlesque kitsch? We have them covered. In fact the choices are as colourful as the city itself.
Best for celebrations: Drakes
Neighbourhood: Kemp Town
Stylish, seriously sexy and a firm favourite with Kylie Minogue and Cate Blanchett, Drakes is a gem of a boutique hotel and its basement restaurant serves up top-notch modern British cuisine. Even better, 13 of the 20 bedrooms enjoy pier and sea views, the best of which have roll-top baths placed in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. The look to this double-fronted Georgian hotel is 1930s swish, with elm wood detailing, rippled cornices, sizeable wet rooms and heavenly handcrafted beds. Order up a bottle of bubbly or a love hamper of adult toys then run a bath and relax…
Sea-facing doubles from £140, room only
Best for indie shopping: My Brighton
Neighbourhood: North Laine
On the fringes of the boho North Laine district, this 79-room hotel is ideally placed if you’re into creative eateries, indie shops and gnarly flea markets. My Brighton may look bland from the outside, but step inside and there’s a playful Teletubbies-chic look going on: think porthole windows, citrus colours, curvy walls and pod-shaped bathrooms. It makes for a fun stay and most bedrooms have huge picture windows (the best views being to the rear). Kick off the evening at Merkaba cocktail bar downstairs, then slip next door to the award-winning Chilli Pickle for one of the best curries in town.
Doubles from £88, room only
Neighbourhood: Centre, Regency Square
At the top end of Regency Square and facing the i360 observation tower and skeletal West Pier, Artist Residence is an impressively stylish 25-room boutique hotel. Junk shop finds (old tea chests, copper slipper baths, wrought iron beds and vintage lamps) mix with striking graffiti or murals hand painted by the owners’ favourite contemporary artists. Downstairs is The Fix – considered one of the city’s groovier cocktail bars, and next to it, The Set, a locally acclaimed restaurant that majors in clever cooking at affordable prices. This is a hotel for style conscious media types, although their “below deck” bunk rooms provide perfect crash pads for small groups out on the razz.
Doubles from £90, room only
Best for seaside glamour: The Grand
Neighbourhood: Brighton seafront
A recent refurbishment sees this Victorian Italianate beauty looking as glam and glossy as when she opened in 1864. The Grand is certainly the grande dame of Brighton’s hotels – perfectly located overlooking the sea, a pebble’s throw from the pier and just minutes from the antiques shops of The Lanes. New bedrooms carry a cool rethink on art deco, with soft Farrow & Ball colour tones (the best of course, face the sea); the bar is buzzier than ever and serves bang-on cocktails with free nibbles and live jazz, and the spa (try the bee venom facials) has a heavenly relaxation room with double day beds.
Doubles from £100 including breakfas
Neighbourhood: centre, Regency Square
Sassy and saucy, this 19-room boutique hotel takes kitsch up a whole new notch: hot pinks, glitter sofas, mirrored ceilings – you name it, they’ve bought into it. Each of the rooms is different – and by different, we mean seriously bonkers. A fan of Star Wars? Check into Lord Vader’s Quarters complete with light sabers and Darth Vader costume. Fancy 50s kitsch? Ask for Bette’s Boudoir – all whirlpool bath and leopard print excess. The breakfast room doubles as a DJ/live gig and cocktail space, and downstairs, there’s karaoke. And yes, the “Peli” will happily serve you Bloody Marys in bed the next day…
Doubles from £59 including breakfas
Best for clubbers & groups: YHA Brighton
Neighbourhood: City centre/seafront
Brighton has its fair share of hostels, but easily the cleanest and most stylish is this pad, located in a former swish Regency hotel just north of the beachfront. You’re within staggering distance of the city’s best bars and clubs, and with 180 beds across 51 rooms it’s also ideal for groups. That said, there are doubles if you want privacy on a budget – the best of which is the en-suite premium with a floor-to-ceiling bay window overlooking the pier and coastline. If you’re a light sleeper, avoid the rooms above the coach station. Downstairs is a reasonably priced café-bar (open until 2am) and self-catering kitchen, and a decent self-service cooked breakfast can be scored for £7.
Doubles from £35, room only, beds from £15
Best for boutique B&B: Hotel Una
Neighbourhood: Centre, Regency Square
With side views onto the sea and i360 observation tower, this 18-room boutique hotel exudes good looks: think handcrafted furniture, funky pendant lamps and sparkly abstract paintings that enhance rather than mar the original regency footprint. It’s a super discreet pad, much loved by rock musicians and politicians, and each room is individually decorated and named after a river. Quaile, the luxury duplex, has a private cinema with leather recliners; but better still are the first floor south-facing rooms with oodles of space for sofas and roll-top baths in the bedroom, and access to a sit-out balcony for perfect sunset moments. Oh, and trendy Bar Una also serves up seriously good cocktails delivered to your door.
Doubles from £110, including breakfast
Best for hanging with the locals: The Ginger Pig
This cool gem opened a couple of years ago above the highly popular Ginger Pig. Eleven beautifully rendered bedrooms come with dense Farrow & Ball colour schemes – inky blues and velvety greys – with brighter accents found in orange trimmed cushions and retro radiators. Add to that, prints by Hackney steampunk artist, Dan Hillier, well-stocked beach bags, Nespresso machines and pre-mixed mini-bar “Ginger” cocktails, and you’ve a swish place just up from Hove’s sedate seafront. Locals adore “The Pig’s” big-flavour cooking (hake with mushrooms and chestnut; venison pie and celeriac), and Sunday lunch is buzzing.
Doubles from £100, room only
Neighbourhood: Kemp Town
Nearly every bedroom in this smart nine-room Kemp Town B&B enjoys some sort of a sea view, but arguably the loveliest is at the top of the house: the cosy roof terrace room which has a tiny balcony sheltered enough to watch the waves going wild in winter months. Elsewhere, expect seriously comfortable rooms decked out in soft tartan fabrics, high thread count linen and space enough for armchairs. We also like the thoughtful extras: binoculars, ironing boards, kettles and mini fridge which you’re encouraged to fill up. Breakfasts focus on locally sourced grub, with delicious hot choices cooked to order.
Doubles from £99, including breakfast
Best for wine lovers and foodies: Hotel du Vin
Pistachio-toned gothic from the outside and cool beachy vibe within, Hotel du Vin & Bistro was formerly a wine merchants – an appropriate beginning for this renowned temple to all things grape. Be sure to book a table at its smart Parisian-style bistro, before heading upstairs to one of 49 stunning bedrooms. Comfort is the key here: soft, seaside colours, beds dressed in crisp Egyptian cottons, drench showers and squashy sofas. The best, Cristal, has a wet room big enough to accommodate a rugby team and side-by-side roll top tubs with an overhead wide screen TV. And if you don’t feel like a beach stroll, Cristal’s private terrace features a powerful telescope trained on the waves.
Doubles from £125 including breakfast