A weekend away in Brighton
Brighton has long been the holiday destination for hedonists, so much so that one of its most famous landmark’s is Prince George of Wales’ folly Brighton Pavilion, a shrine to mischief and excess.
The seaside town swarms with visitors in the summer – there are independent shops, vast beaches and a kitsch pier to enjoy – but it has much to offer the aspiring vivant at any time of year.
Where to stay
If you want to live the bohemian dream, Artist Residence has everything you’ll need. Set at the apex of a regency square overlooking the seafront, the townhouse hotel is the first of three boutique getaways opened by Charlotte and Justin Salisbury.
Furnished with handpicked pieces from auctions and reclamation yards, and boasting bedrooms curated by up-and-coming artists, its funky, eclectic look is matched by the fun amenities. Expect bedrooms with exposed brickwork and quirky illustrated wallpaper, tea trays prepped with punchy Le Creuset mugs and retro caramel wafers, and a mini bar fit for a rock star, stocked with champagne, Brighton gin and Fever Tree tonics.
The period features lend a romantic air too, with French country-house headboards on the beds and sumptuous curtains framing the double height sash windows, which open onto dainty wrought-iron balconies.
Where to eat (and drink!)
If you can bear to leave your boudoir, head down to the hotel’s very own Cocktail Shack for an aperitif, where the bar is shaped like a beach shack and made of salvaged wood from Brighton pier.
Expect drinks mixed from specialist spirits and everything from plum sake to burnt hemp, with novelty names such as “Obi Wan Negroni” and “Sauvignon Private Ryan”. The drinks I imbibed, including a coupe of frothy lemon delight, were delicate and well-balanced.
Not kooky enough? Don’t worry – downstairs, hidden behind a bookcase, is The Curious Mr Hanbury, a diminutive bar with an ever-changing menu of intriguing libations. And there’s a table tennis, too.
With its own restaurant, The Set, serving seasonal tasting menus and fresh, hearty breakfasts, you could happily remain at Artist Residence from dawn to dusk; my breakfast of creamy, golden eggs and perky smoked salmon was a satisfying example of an often-disappointing dish.
It’s well worth taking a stroll along the seafront to sniff out some other gems nevertheless.
A great place to kick-off the weekend is Indian Summer on East Street, which offers sophisticated pan-Indian dishes including regional specialities from chefs’ families. Don’t miss the delicate scallops rolled in sesame and fennel seeds, and the pineapple pickle and butter roti.
But for pure seafood bliss, set course for The Salt Room Restaurant, on the seafront.
The breadbasket here is seaweed sourdough, accompanied by endlessly moreish brown crab mayonnaise and tarragon butter. It’s an excellent indication of things to come. We shared a whole sea bass, caught only a few miles away, marinated in thick mustard-yellow lemon butter, and filleted at the table to reveal snow-white flesh with crispy, charred skin.
Sides, including, glossy new potatoes and juicy mussels, all had a mouth-watering umami punch, but be sure to save room for dessert too. The sweet menu is fairground favourites all grown up, from rhubarb and custard to a chocolate waffle reimagined as ice cream.
For the thrill-seekers, there’s the ‘Taste of the Pier’ to share, a riot of candy floss, chocolate pebbles, miso fudge and yuzu doughnuts. It’s not a cheap option, but The Salt Room really hits the seaside-spot – and it doesn’t hurt that the interiors are cool and classy, with brass fittings and marble galore. I’m sure Prince George would have approved.
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