Brighton is a colourful, historic town on the Sussex coast of the south England. This seaside town is 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. You’ll find fabulous shops, restaurants, nightlife and a great aquarium among the many attractions but here my top 5 things to do in Brighton.
Top 5 things to do in Brighton
1. Shopping in the Lanes
I’m a fairly regular visitor here, as I never grow tired of wandering around the alleyways of The Lanes, filled with interesting quirky little shops and stylish boutiques, and I love the street art, bohemian shops and cafés of the North Laines too.
2. The Royal Pavilion
If this is your first visit to Brighton then exploring the exotic Royal Pavilion and gardens is a must. From the outside, it looks like an Indian palace. Inside the opulence of the oriental decor is astounding with giant sculptures of gold plaited dragons holding huge chandeliers. You can read more about the history of the pavilion an see some of the splendid interiors in here, Royal Pavilion.
3. A stroll along the seafront and a visit to the pier
The seafront itself, with a long promenade and more shops, bars and cafés is a lovely place to wander on a sunny day any time of year. In the summer, there’s a real buzz in the air and if the weather is hot the beach itself can get very crowded.
4. Visit the luxurious spa at The Grand
This luxurious, iconic Victorian hotel overlooks Brighton’s beach, in a central location, and it’s an ideal base for exploring the town. I had 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 elegant 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.
5. Afternoon tea in the Victoria Lounge
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 and catering for all dietary requirements.
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.
Following my massage, 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 paled 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.
If you love street art, you can find out where to find it here, Brighton Street Art.
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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.
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For some reason I have still never ventured to Brighton, whether it’s because I thought there was nothing there that appealed or just because it’s the other end of the country to NW England. Either way, I feel like I have missed out on experiencing this seaside town and after reading your review I have definitely added this back to our English bucket list whenever we next return to the homeland.
That English Cream Tea looks delectable but then again they always do! The walk at the end of the day through the gardens and then through the Brighton streets to the seafront looks relaxing and well worth exploring, as you never know what quaint shop you may come across in these types of towns!
I came across a very interesting new chocolate shop with a cafe upstairs last time I was there so I think another visit soon for me is a must!
That all sounds wonderful. It’s such a long time since I had a massage and I know my shoulders are really tense right now. Next time give me shout – I’d love to meet up for a cream tea!
That would be lovely! I’ll email you:-)
This looks gorgeous! And what a lovely way to spend a day in Brighton. I also love Brighton so will be checking out the Victoria Lounge next time I’m there.
Oh yes do, Monica. It was a real treat!
Looks like a great cream tea, Kat! I don’t know Brighton that well but have known of this hotel for many years – it sounds like one of the places to stay there. I think I’d be needing to find the gym as well as the spa after that tea, though… 😉
You must visit Brighton one day Paul. I know you like jogging and the promenade on a sunny day would be the perfect place for that!
This is SO lovely! Brighton sounds like a perfect weekend getaway. 🙂 I really like such indulgences – spa and facial. And of course, an afternoon tea followed by a walk in the garden is just too good. (I like the cutlery as well).
It was a wonderful treat and the cream tea was fabulous. The silverware really was lovely (but I wouldn’t want to clean it all!).
Brighton and Afternoon Tea are two of my favourite things! It sounds like you had a fantastic day in Brighton (amazing weather as well!) and those scones look divine xx
Yes, we’ve had some lovely weather the last few weeks but it broke yesterday. I’m off to a outdoor festival in London this afternoon and the forecast says rain and thunder!
Excellent pictures! Especially the Tea setting.
Thank you! A lovely subject to photograph (and then consume!)
I love Brighton also Kat, and maybe it’s cos I am not so much in touch with the prices in the UK, but for such a gorgeous, iconic place, the prices don’t seem too horrendous to me. What a perfect way to pass some time with female friends …I think I could easily do with a treatment or two myself at the moment! 🙂
No, I think the prices are quite reasonable. You’d certainly pay a lot more for afternoon tea in a similar hotel in London I expect.
Nothing like a day of pampering to recharge the batteries Kat. Looks like this would be a lovely place to do it. And that table with the silver service, even the second time seeing it, I am loving the design. The Grand reminds me a bit of the Taj in Mumbai, same Victorian architecture with a beautiful garden behind.
Oh I love India but I’ve never been to Mumbai. If I ever make it there I’ll have to see if the Taj serves afternoon tea in their garden. I’m sure they do!
What a wonderful day of pampering – how nice to indulge in a day of relaxation and to end up with tea and scones!! Definitely a perfect way to unwind 🙂
It was indeed! I had a glorious time and felt very spoilt. We all need a little pampering for time to time!