cocktail bar in smuggers' tunnel brighton

If like me you enjoy a unique setting for drinks and dinner, you’re in for a treat! I stumbled on this great place researching for my Secret Brighton guidebook, and although I wrote about it for this post on ‘secret restaurants in Brighton’, I’ve always felt it deserved air time of its own. So today, I thought we could take a walk down to Brighton seafront, not far from the Palace Pier, for another look. Follow me!

old ship hotel dining rooms

We’re inside what’s called the Cellar Bar and Dining Room hidden underneath Brighton’s oldest hotel, The Old Ship. Wouldn’t it make the perfect setting for a secret subterranean cocktail party, wine-tasting session, private candlelit dinner – or even a wedding breakfast?

Being down here feels like you’ve wandered away from an exciting exclusive party taking place upstairs, in search of more to drink, and ended up in your rich host’s wine cellar. Or something like that… (And in case you were thinking it looks a bit chilly and damp, it’s actually surprisingly cosy and warm.)

underground bar brighton

The tunnels are thought to have been used by smugglers bringing goods into England from France, but their stories are lost to history, so no one knows for sure. Although a huge wooden beam made of French oak supporting one of the ceilings in the tunnels is a big clue that it was the site of illicit business!

It’s such a unique and exciting space, it seems a shame that it’s mostly used for private events, but it does open to the public as the Cellar Cocktail Bar a couple of times a year – usually around Easter time and at the end of summer. Details of Cellar Bar cocktail nights are posted on the hotel’s Facebook page. Cheers!

old ship hotel dining rooms

Follow The Old Ship Hotel on Facebook here.

See page 70 of Secret Brighton: An Unusual Guide to unlock the secrets of the Old Ship Hotel! Find out more, here.

Photos by Emma Croman.


  1. A former dynamic events manager from the Old Ship Hotel approached me to combine my tour, Ghost Walk of the Lanes, with a candlelit supper in the cellars. Needless to say, it was enormously successful. Sadly, the events manager moved to another hotel and her successor was not enterprising enough to seize upon the opportunity to market it to corporate groups. Thus a golden business opportunity was squandered.

    • Ellie Reply

      That’s a shame – sounds like the perfect evening.

Write A Comment

Pin It