Ever since I was young I’ve liked the winter. Wrapping up warm, windswept walks, cinema trips. It’s probably because I’m a December baby with hardy Scottish roots I have a tolerance for dark nights and cold weather. So today, I’ve pulled on my snow boots to bring you this little Brighton winter survival guide, one you can pull out the bag when the sea fog sets in and the biting wind takes hold. I’m hoping it will be as helpful for locals and visitors alike.
1. Start with a Mug of Hot Chocolate.
I didn’t want to do this, start with food that is, but we can’t really talk about winter and the seaside in the same post without mentioning hot chocolate, can we? You’ll find this temple of Brighton chocolate shops, Choccywoccydoodah, smack bang in the middle of the famous Lanes up a teeny tiny street close to the sea. Head upstairs to its decadent ‘Bar du Chocolat’ – a kind of chocolate boudoir if you will – serving mugs of molten chocolate covered in cream and chocolate chips.
2. Buy Yourself some Flowers…
Miss Mole’s Flower Emporium is the best florist in Brighton, if not the world. Stet. I love it so much I’m in danger of becoming their pesky stalker fan (you know, like the one in Flight of the Conchords). Inside the shop, it’s a Victorian wonderland of vintage washed flowers tumbling out of cut glass vases, glass jars, ceramic jugs and off every surface. Outside, its showpiece window display is a traffic stopper. It’s not unusual to find yourself walking into a hotbed of creativity as owner Barbara works on a new idea.
3. Gather Friends, for a Tea Party at Home.
Love this! The fabulous people over at the 1930s gin-stroke-tea parlour Metro Deco have come up with a genius idea. They will deliver supplies for an entire tea party to your home – sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, petit fours, and loose leaf tea. They even provide vintage crockery if you need it – and authentically dressed waiting staff! Who’s up for it?
Metro Deco, 38 Upper St James’s St, Brighton BN2 1JN.
4. Check In for Some ‘Hut Therapy’.
Grab some hot cocoa, it’s time to dream about a magical winter getaway in this cosy cabin – with a difference. Hut Therapy, in a little village called East Chiltington about 10 miles from Brighton, is a kind of wholefood bed and breakfast retreat if you like – so you might have to ditch the cocoa while you chill out in this bespoke hut in the woods and fill up with a healthy wholesome macrobiotic breakfast each morning before you set off adventuring.
Sign up for some Hut Therapy, here.
The more ‘homemade’ a cake looks the better, in my opinion. Icing must ooooze out the sides and sit thick on top covered with a generous handful of sweets. Cake perfection. Betsy the baker from Brighton bakes and delivers my kind of ‘proper looking’ homemade cakes – to you on your couch. Choose from delectable triple-layer Malteser cake, millionaires shortbread, cranberry, marshmallow and peanut chocolate fridge cake, Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle (here’s the cake list), all for consumption from the comfort of your cosy couch.
Place your orders with Betsy’s Bake.
6. Coffee To Go.
Why waste valuable cosy Netflix time at the shops when you could order up some of this delicious coffee from Brighton-Based Roasted Bean Co? I’m sooooo fussy but promise you their Guatemala blend is addictive – smooth with a kick and not too bitter. (I got through two packets in three weeks to prove it, ahem.)
Shop their lovely website, here.
7. It’s Honey Bun Bath Time.
They say honey is ideal for colds. So why not bathe in it? No, really. I came across a little shop in the Open Market entirely dedicated to honey and tea where the very nice lady who worked there told me that I could indeed bathe in their specially made honey. Honeys of all sorts such as lavender, mint or eucalyptus have various textures and therapeutic uses. Whether you eat it or bathe in it, doesn’t it seem like a delicious way to help get you through winter?
Tea and Honey, The Open Market, Ditching Road.
8. Practice the Art of Floating.
Close your eyes. Now imagine you’re floating on the crystal-blue sea off the coast of a tropical desert island. At least, this is how I hope to feel after a weightless hour bobbing around in one of these futuristic floatation pods.
The Float Spa, Third Avenue, Hove BN3 2PX.
9. Geek out!
“Ted talks (but maybe not as smug)”. This is how the guys behind Nerd Night Brighton describe their monthly event which I must admit I haven’t actually been to, but am signing up for immediately. The opportunity to spend the evening, sipping wine and listening to three nerds give nerdish talks on subjects as ludicrous as space donuts (what the what?) is too good to ignore. What else is there to do from January to March?
Book tickets, here.
10. To the Salt Cave!
Not a Hobbit house, but a treatment room which recreates the microclimates of natural salt caves in Eastern Europe said to clear the airways. Perfect if you’re starting to get a cold. Sessions last an hour.
The Salt Cave, 372 Portland Road, Hove BN3 5SD.
11. Succumb to the Seaside Soul food.
Oh no, fish and chips on the sea front would be waaay too obvious a choice. Not to mention mostly greasy and overpriced. The fish pie at Cafe Marmalade in Kemp Town is what you want to warm you up. It’s a little away from the centre of town, so what I would do is stroll there along St James’s Street to work up an appetite, with a bit of window shopping on the way and a browse at the curiosities at Brighton Flea Market. After lunch, finish off with a walk along the seafront back to town.
Cafe Marmalade, 237 Eastern Rd, Brighton BN2 5JJ.
12. Huddle with Some Sheep!
13. Visit a Cabinet of Curiosities…
Read More here.
14. Go snooping for vintage stuff…
• Snoopers Paradise: Two floors filled to the brim with retro bric-a-brac including a floor dedicated to creations from 20 collectors and designers.
• Brighton Flea Market: My secret off-the-beaten-track hidden curiosity shop in Kemp Town.
• Diplock’s Yard: The best place for a bargain. 73 North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD.
15. Imagine It’s Summer.
…And you’re sitting outside on the Marwood Coffee Shop terrace sipping ice tea… or you could just go inside and drink a ‘kick arse’ coffee, have a bit of cake and snoop around the books, 1980s relics, weird toys and crazy bric-a-brac.
Marwood Coffee Shop, 52 Ship Street Court, Brighton BN1 1AF.
16. Check into a Luxury Sauna
When I thought about visiting a sauna in Brighton to feel some real warmth in the depths of winter, I was a little stumped for ideas, other than those types in local leisure centres. Not right for this post. So, in the nick of time I found the ideal spot which might be a little extravagant, but when I saw it I knew I had to squeeze it into my Brighton winter survival guide. Once host to President Kennedy (apparently…), the luxurious Victorian Grand Hotel hides a special secret. Go downstairs into an elegant 1950s-style lounge which sets the scene for a private spa session. From Monday to Thursday you can reserve this place for two hours to yourself or for a little bit of romance as a couple. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this could make a great gift – then again who wants to give away a gift like that? £19.50 per person for two hours use of the sauna and steam room, and a glass of prosecco.
The Grand Hotel, 97-99 King’s Road, Brighton BN1 2FW.
17. Do Something Non-Wintry…
How about an ice cream? Indoors of course. Not an obvious choice of winter activity, I know, but the ice cream at this new parlour in the North Laine is something special, made in small batches with milk from a Sussex dairy. I think I might campaign for the ‘gelato burger’ to become Brighton’s official winter speciality – a hot brioche bun filled with gelato, chocolate sauce, sealed to keep it frozen while you eat it. OMG.
Gelato Gusto, 2 Gardner Street, Brighton BN1 1UP.
18. Watch Old Movies in a Vintage Brighton Cinema.
This eccentric Regency picture palace has been showing independent films to Brighton audiences since 1929. I go mostly for those sofa seats on the balcony. And wine.
Duke of York’s Cinema, Preston Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4NA.