Another post that’s way overdue. If you’re coming to Brighton looking for all the usual chain shops you’d find in any other British town or city in the UK, this is not the post for you. If you’re looking for unique, chic and interesting independent shops to browse, where actual Brightonians really shop, then you’ve come to the right place. These are basically my go-to shops, for food, gifts, homewares, where to grab birthday cards, I’ve tried to order them by proximity, starting from the London Road area and working my way over to Hove via the North Laine and Lanes. Enjoy!
1. Rainbow Organic Chocolates: a charming hidden chocolatier with a big heart
After lunch at this incredible falafel bar, a trip to Rainbow Chocolates is an absolute must for a palette cleansing sweet treat. Owner Suzanne, a former scientist, relocated to Brighton six years ago after started the business in Edinburgh 10 years ago. She makes each and every beautiful piece of chocolate herself, to her own recipes using the best organic seasonal ingredients. No plastic is used in the packaging and she isn’t afraid to experiment – they currently have a dark chocolate ganache truffle with liquorice in store. Best sellers are the seasonal chocolate collection and boasts several award-nominated chocolates, including the delectable marmalade truffle.
Find Rainbow Organic Chocolates in the Open Market, Marshalls Row, Brighton BN1 4JU
Open: Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm
2. Brighton Apothecary: an overlooked haven of lotions and potions
I must have passed by this place countless times before I actually tried it. You have a 10-minute mini consultation with a medical herbalist who then comes up with an exciting sounding remedy for you. It’s a tiny place but stocks a fascinating and huge selection of herbal lotions, potions and tinctures. They can even blend bespoke oils or creams.
Find Brighton Apothecary in the Open Market, Marshalls Row, Brighton BN1 4JU
Open: Wednesday to Saturday 11am-5pm
3. Hisbe: rebellious food shopping
We can’t really talk about shopping like a local in Brighton – the city of all things earthy and alternative – without mentioning a health-food shop. So, while everyone else is competing for space inside busy North Laine food emporium, Infinity Foods, you’ll find me in this spacious alternative outside central Brighton, taking my time to browse all the amazing selection of fresh veg, and trying to resist the chunky slices of vegan tiffin…
Find Hisbe at 20-21 York Place, Brighton BN1 4GU
Open: Daily 9am-7pm
4. Preloved of Brighton: neighbourhood consignment gem
Set in the residential Fiveways area of Brighton is this neighbourhood gem second-hand clothes shop. With its ever-changing themed window displays, it’s hard for passers-by not to stop and have a look to be tempted inside to nab a vintage bargain.
Find Preloved of Brighton at 267A Preston Drove, Brighton BN1 6FL
Open: Monday to Saturday 8.30am-5.30pm
5. Hi Cacti: a tiny plant shop with a TexMex twist
If there’s one shop that stands out from the crowd in the Seven Dials neighbourhood, it’s this one. Painted bright yellow, it’s impossible to walk on past without peeking through the window. This is Brighton’s only shop specialising in cacti, and easy-care houseplants and it’s run by the lovely Sabine Palermo who started it when she moved to England from Austin, Texas – which explains the Tex-Mex meets Palm Springs vibes inside. I guarantee if you’re having a bad day and arrive here sad, you will leave full of inspiration and cheer.
Find Hi Cacti at 83 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3JE
Open: Thursday to Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 10am-4pm
6. Seven Cellars: great little wine shop in an old butchers
Lovely local wine shop up at Seven Dials in what was an old butcher’s shop – you can see the old tiles and hatch behind the till and half except a beefy bloke in a bloody apron to appear out front while you’re choosing a nice Friday night bottle of red.
Find Seven Cellars at 104a Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3JD
Open: Daily 12pm-8pm
7. Yashar Bish: an Aladdin’s cave of exotic soft furnishings
This stylish home shop set on the corner of the North Laine is packed with Middle Eastern soft furnishings – think Afghan rugs, Kilim cushion covers in all kinds of colour schemes, patterns, sizes and shapes, Turkish mosaic lamps and tribal jewellery.
Find Yashar Bish at 96 Gloucester Road, Brighton BN1 4AP
Open: Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm
8. Yum Yum Oriental Supermarket: Asian escape
Looking in supermarkets abroad is one of my favourite things to do on holiday – fact! So, if I want to feel like I’m on holiday, I’ll come here and to lose myself for a while browsing the shelves packed with interesting looking Asian products that make you want to go home and whip up some noodles. It’s also a welcome break from the hipsterville craziness of the North Laine. I love the little Chinese soaps which come in rose, jasmine and ginseng, and and they also sell fortune cookies!
Find Yum Yum Oriental Supermarket at 22-23 Sydney St, Brighton BN1 4EN
Open: Monday to Wednesday 11am-5pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-6pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
9. Black Out Shop: purveyors of kitsch
Off the beaten path on the fringes of the North Laine is this wonderland of kitsch filled to the brim with all kinds of fun trinkets, gifts, cards, homewares and clothes from around the world – think Mexican Loteria cards, Morrocan melanine plates, candles and jewellery and tons of Indian kitsch – tin ornaments, woven bags, as well as kitschy Christmas decorations. Be prepared to lose yourself for a while.
Find Blackout Shop at 53 Kensington Place, Brighton BN1 4EJ
Open: Daily 10am-6pm
10. Real Patiserrie – Brighton’s original artisan bakery
Inventors of the city-famous ‘Chewy Brown’, this trio of patisserie shops give French bakeries a run for their money. Be prepared to come for a loaf, get totally carried away, and leave with arm fulls of paper bags filled with sweet treats. They also do quiches, sandwiches, party food and the most amazing Viennese-style mince pies at Christmas time.
Find Real Patisserie at 43 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4ED
Open: Monday to Friday 7.30am-4pm, Saturday 8am-4pm
11. Magazine Brighton: an emporium of indy publications
This sleek family-run local favourite is a haven of tranquility in the North Laine that stocks an eyepopping selection of beautiful-to-look-at independent magazines. Oh, and my book, Secret Brighton.
Find Magazine Brighton at 23 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4EQ
Open: Wednesday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-4pm
12. Pen to Paper: a discerning time-worn stationer
To me, shops don’t need to be fancy to be enticing. In fact, the more fancy the interior design, the more intimidating the shop in my opinion, which is why I love this time-worn place that thinks more about what it stocks – tons of notebooks, chic cards, fun pens, beautiful wrapping paper etc – than its interior design. They also have a great selection of Rhodia notebooks, made in France since 1934.
Find Pen to Paper at 4 Sydney St, Brighton BN1 4EN
Open: Monday to Saturday 10.30am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
13. Spider Plant Shop: a hidden miniature botanical haven
14. New Fabric Fair: a feast for the eyes
This is my favourite place to buy fabric if I’m in a sewing mood which I am occasionally. It’s been open for over 80 years (!!!) and for the past 40 years by Monty and Shashi who took over in the 1980s. Inside, it’s organised chaos with shelves bursting with fabric from all over the world, that spills onto the pavement outside. There’s also a mesmerising collection of haberdashery including buttons, zips and all sorts of other useful bits and pieces.
Find New Fabric Fair at 51 Gardner Street, Brighton BN1 1UN
Open: Monday to Saturday 10am-5.30pm
15. Utility: straightforward household goods
Stepping inside this no-nonsense honest homeware shop is like time-travelling to 40s, 50s or 60s Britain or onto the set of Open All Hours. It’s been open an incredible 25 years, probably because it steers clear of trends, favouring products that are designed so well there’s been no need to change them. Think Spode crockery, Duralex glassware and Silvine stationery.
Find Utility at 28A North Road, Brighton BN1 1YB
Open: Monday to Saturday 11am-5pm
16. Hope and Harlequin: the hidden vintage shop of the Lanes
Tucked up an alleyway is this tiny vintage emporium that specialises in beautiful gowns from the 1920s up to 1970s. It’s the place to come if you’ve never really thought vintage is your thing and you wouldn’t know where to start even if it was. It’s also worth finding to escape the Saturday crowds. Read more here.
Find Hope and Harlequin at 11 Ship Street Gardens, Brighton BN1 1AJ
Open: Thursday to Sunday 11am-5pm
17. Taj the Grocer: a feast for the senses
Another gem of an exotic supermarket I get to pretend I’m on holiday in. I also don’t know how Brightonians survived before this place opened up. It stocks everyday items as well as more special ingredients. I love the deli counter where you can pick up a delicious lunch or dinner – think mousakka, curries, bhajis, samosas…
Find Taj the Grocer at 98-99 Western Rd, Brighton BN1 2LB
Open: Daily 8am-9pm
18. Unithai Thai Supermarket: no messing around
If you’re into Thai and Chinese cooking, and live in Hove, this is where to come to buy your ingredients. An alternative to Yum Yum I talked about above, which is also hiding a tasty secret out back which I highly recommend. Read more here.
19. City Books: a neighbourhood institution
Another family-run shop, this is Brighton and Hove’s best-loved local indy bookshop. It’s a nice destination after a wander along the seafront from town. It’s well stocked with all the best-sellers and classics as well as a big range of local books, which includes Secret Brighton.
Find City Books at 23 Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF
Open: Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 11am-4.30pm
20: Audrey’s Chocolates: a nostalgic hidden sweet shop
This is the most treasured shop with heart you’re likely to come across in the city, if not the world, called Audrey’s, a time-capsule chocolate shop with its roots in the 1920s and connections to Fortnum and Masons. Read more here.