Brighton is a colourful, historic town on the Sussex coast, just under an hour by train from London and the perfect location for a weekend getaway, hen party or a family day out by the seaside.
I’m a fairly regular visitor here, as I never grow tired of wandering around the alleyways of The Lanes, filled with interesting little shops and boutiques, and I love the street art, shops and cafés of the North Laines too. Not to mention the lovely Royal Pavilion and gardens and then, of course, there’s the seafront itself, with a long promenade and more shops, bars and cafés. When it comes to looking for somewhere to eat or drink there’s a superb choice of independent places here, from historic, traditional pubs to quaint tea rooms to quirky little restaurants selling every kind of cuisine imaginable.
But if you want to do it in style, you can’t top an afternoon tea at The Grand, the perfect choice for celebrating a special birthday or anniversary or a great excuse for a get-together with the girls.
This luxurious, iconic Victorian hotel overlooks Brighton’s beach, in a central location, ideal for exploring the town. I’ve heard great things about their spa facilities so I headed over there last Saturday to investigate, having booked a massage and a facial followed by afternoon tea in the hotel’s Victoria Lounge… all in the name of research you understand.
The Grand Spa
Just off the sumptuous entrance lobby, with its impressive spiral staircase, The Grand Spa is elegant and luxurious, decorated in neutral tones of taupe to create a relaxing atmosphere. The opulent relaxation room has an abundance of cosy armchairs and recliners and a luxuriant double bed in its centre. With 8 treatment rooms, the spa is happy to accommodate groups of up to 10, perfect for a hen party or a girls’ weekend away.
1 hour 30 minutes / £82
My day started with the spa’s Brighton Rock – an hour and half of heaven. Having discussed my needs, my therapist Justine, started with a salt and oil scrub to exfoliate my skin, leaving it silky soft, followed by a full body massage, using oil from the ESPA range, which I love, combined with a hot volcanic stone massage. She expertly cajoled my aches and pains away – possibly the best massage I’ve ever had. I was particularly impressed that she noticed that the curve in my lower back is extreme – if I lie flat on my back it gives me a backache – and she offered me a bolster cushion to place under my knees, which is much more comfortable for me. I’ve had many massages around the world and this is the only time a therapist has done this without my prompting. I have never felt in better hands.
25 minutes each / £35
This was followed by an Express Facial, which felt anything but fast and included three cleansing processes, as well as a face and shoulder massage, which really worked wonders.
My therapist also noticed my tense shoulders, from spending too much time hunched over a computer no doubt. She worked very hard to get every trace of tension released, in particular during my facial, when she returned to my shoulders a number of times. They felt so good afterwards, and still do, and my skin still feels beautifully soft.
Afternoon tea in the Victoria Lounge
Victoria Terrace Tea £14.95
I had a little time to relax before my afternoon tea and not having had any lunch I was certainly rather peckish.
Tea is served in the hotel’s elegant Victoria Lounge from 3 pm to 6 pm Monday to Friday, with two sittings on Saturdays and Sundays, at 2 pm and 4.30 pm. The lounge is decorated in soft greys and dusky blues and, in the glassed terrace, with lovely driftwood coffee tables.
I arrived promptly at 2 and every table soon filled up. Next to me a group of ladies celebrated a birthday and opposite sat a couple enjoying an anniversary. Just as I had found in the spa, the staff were attentive and friendly without fussing and it wasn’t long at all before I had a lovely pot of spearmint tea. A short wait and some lovely scones arrived with a pot of West Country clotted cream and another with strawberry jam. There were also a couple of little lemon cakes, but these pales into insignificance compared to the wonderful scones.
I opted for the Victoria Terrace Tea (a traditional English ‘cream tea’) costing £14.95. For those with a bigger appetite, The Victoria Grand Afternoon Tea comes with a selection of sandwiches including Wye Valley smoked salmon and a selection of pastries including chocolate delice, cream horn and Paris-Brest, as well as the scrumptious scones AND home-baked lemon drizzle cake with pistachio crumbs and frosting. This costs £22.95 per person weekdays and £26.95 at weekends.
My day ended with a walk in the sunshine along the seafront and through the gardens of the Pavilion followed by a spot of window shopping in the Lanes.I can’t think of a better way to spend the day by the Sussex seaside. A day out or weekend away in Brighton would be ideal for any hen party and I’ll be back there again soon, no doubt.
Disclosure: While my facial and cream tea were complimentary and I paid a reduced rate for the massage, as always, I am free to write whatever I like and will always give you my honest opinion.