Today I thought we could play a little game – it’s called pack your bags for an imaginary weekend in Brighton! Just think of the benefits: no spending any money, no getting lost trying to find your way round, no ending up having a bad meal in an unfamiliar cafe or restaurant, no getting caught in the rain without your umbrella, that sort of thing. So grab a glass of red wine or mug of hot chocolate, get comfy and let’s pretend to travel.

Side point: This isn’t the kind of imaginary weekend taking in the obvious places, chains and cliches. Those intrigued to discover unique, unusual and beautiful ideas for a weekend away, carry on…

 

Imagine you’ve checked into this charming, inexpensive seafront hotel

artist residence hotel brighton seafront

The bag’s unpacked, the red wine is poured and waiting to be sipped, the seagulls call out in the distance, you’re about to take a seat in the orange armchair by the window to admire the seaview and think about  how to spend the rest of the afternoon…

I often get asked by readers planning a trip to Brighton to recommend a charming, cool, cosy unique and inexpensive hotel. So, while I finish working on an Ellie & Co Hotel Guide (coming soon) – here’s a great place I love directing people to and highly recommend having had a mini staycation here once myself.

The Artist Residence is the perfect small boutique hotel with a stylish bohemian cosy atmosphere. Decor-wise, there’s lots of exposed brickwork, original wooden floors, vintage bits, kilim cushions and rugs, local art, and lots of comfy slouchy armchairs. There are plenty of luxuries, too, like amazing rainfall showers and roll-top baths. It feels like you’re in a rich bohemian artist’s home – and is basically the kind of hotel you’d want to move into – from just £85 a night including breakfast.

Take the full tour over here.

 

Or this charming houseboat close to Brighton

The Raft is a floating home for two, perfect for that romantic getaway – with a twist! – close to Brighton. It has all the comforts of a modern house and includes a main living room, a kitchen, a dining area, a cosy bedroom, a full bathroom, and an outside deck.

house boat airbnb brighton

What’s amazing is that it’s so much cheaper and far more characterful than so many other Airbnbs and hotels you’ll find in Brighton and the best bit – it’s available to rent through Airbnb for just … wait for it … £77 a night!

Take the full tour over here

 

Or perhaps one of Brighton’s cosiest AirBnBs for rent

I don’t know how many times I’ve got an email from a reader or friend asking for some advice on where to book an AirBnb in Brighton, so I’ve finally got around to making a wishlist of my favourite stays for all budgets, group sizes and tastes. I’ve carefully selected each one, and they’re all located in my favourite streets or neighbourhoods; ones I think you would love to get to know.

You’ll find my guide to some of the city’s most authentic, unpretentious, charming AirBnB rentals here and the full list here, which I’ll be updating regularly.

Feel free to email the Ellie & Co concierge if you’ve any questions on planning your next real Brighton trip.

 

Imagine you’re taking a romantic stroll around Brighton’s nicest neighbourhood

You’re  wrapped up and feeling red-wine fuzzy in the fresh breeze as you get settled into your new surroundings with a wander around Brighton’s most beautiful neighbourhood.

I’ve named it the ‘Notting Hill of Brighton’ for its beautiful architecture and you’ll find it hidden behind Brighton’s main shopping road. This otherworldly neighbourhood has the power to stop and transport even the busiest person in their tracks. I think it’s because it’s so peaceful here, even though it’s so close to the hustle and bustle. It’s known as Cliftonville and it’s where you’ll find some of the most stunning architecture in the city. I stumbled on it by accident when I first moved to Brighton, and couldn’t believe my eyes.

Take the full tour over here.

 

Imagine you’re hunting around the city for ghost signs…

the hat box floor mosaic brightonDo you love old shop signs? I do and I’d love nothing more than to time travel down my local high street in its vintage signage heyday and see it as it once was, full of all the art work and shop signs that have disappeared today. Most have gone, but if you look up and around there’s always the chance you’ll spot one lurking up high on the side of a building or even on the floor… I’ve spotted quite a few around Brighton and now have quite a collection I thought I’d share.

Take the full tour over here

 

Imagine you’ve stopped for lunch in a charming Brighton cafe
cafe rust brighton brunch
Cafe Rust, Brighton

Brighton has no shortage of cafes where you can easily spend an hour resting in between wandering and shopping sprees. Some are obviously more charming than others and serve better food, and for me, there are four with especially charming atmospheres, serving great coffee and food, I return to over and again, recommend to family and friends.

cafe marmalade brighton
Cafe Marmalade, Kemp Town
Cafe Marmalade, Kemp Town

One of them is a buzzy place called Marmalade in Kemptown. Inside be prepared to go into a food trance and struggle to decide what to have when you see its counter filled with homemade cakes, pretty pastries, plump pies and quiches stacked on vintage plates; and the cabinet filled with hearty sandwiches. There’s also a menu full of breakfast treats: boiled eggs and soldiers, bacon sarnies, scrambled eggs on lightly toasted Real Patisserie chewy brown bread, smoothies, granola…

cafe salvage western road hove
Cafe Salvage, Hove

At Cafe Salvage, no two visits here are the same, the owners Meg and Tazz filling the cafe with their regular antique and flea market finds. So, order a nice pot of tea  – there are 100s to choose from in glass jars on the counter – a coffee, a hearty breakfast of pancakes, perhaps?, maybe a toasted bagel for lunch, settle in and let your eyes wander around all the curios. While who can resist the beautifully presented food at Cafe Rust?

cafe rust preston road brighton
Cafe Rust, Brighton

Take the full tour of Brighton’s most charming cafes over here.

 

You might prefer keeping it real with an imaginary full English at this hidden classic cafe

belchers cafe brighton

Here is Belchers, one of the only no-frills classic English cafes left in Brighton – which refuses to give into tourism and food trends and somehow seems to survive.

I mean those time-worn local places that serve up cheap, honest English food in unpretentious surroundings. Think: fry ups in every combination imaginable, bubble and squeak, pie and mash, fish and chips, tea in mugs, sandwiches and rolls, toast, omelettes – that kind of thing. With its unpretentious decor, cosy atmosphere, friendly service and cheap hearty comfort food, it’s stayed popular enough since to stay open, yet remain an unspoiled hidden gem.

Take the full tour over here

 

Imagine you’re browsing this time-capsule chocolate shop

audrey's chocolate shop hove

Yes, buying chocolates at Valentine’s is a cliche, but not if you buy them from this time-capsule chocolate hidden down a Hove side street.

audrey's chocolates hove fortnum and masonIt’s the most treasured shop with heart you’re likely to come across in the city, if not the world, called Audrey’s. The scene is set for this marvelous time-capsule chocolate shop with its roots in the 1920s in a charming, yet ordinary Georgian townhouse.

audrey's chocolates hove

Oh, and did I mention that as well as all these sweets you see in the shop, they supply London food emporium Fortnum and Masons with FIVE THOUSAND boxes of chocolates a week? Not to mention Easter eggs, Valentine’s gifts, Christmas treats…

Find out the full story over here and tour their secret chocolate factory over here

 

Imagine you’re shopping for vintage clothes

all about aud brighton

Frankly, there are just so many vintage clothes shops in Brighton, it’s hard to know where to start, so here are a few to get you started, each one unique in its own way and there’s not a musty-damp-smelling jumble-sale-style vintage shop in sight.

snoopers attic vintage shop brighton

Take the full tour over here

 

Imagine you’ve stumbled on this hidden vintage shop

vintage clothes store brighton

While everyone else is competing for vintage finds in the shops and markets of the North Laine, here’s an exclusive hidden boutique on the other side of town to discover it’s likely you’ll have all to yourself, too. From your stroll along the seafront or running errands around central Brighton, head to Ship Street and take a detour up Ship Street Gardens, one of Brighton’s oldest streets, with old cobbles underfoot and bowing flint walls.

hope and harlequin brighton

Take the full tour over here.

 

Go imaginary souvenir shopping for kitsch gifts

blackout shop brighton kitsch gifts

Should you ever find yourself stuck in a present-buying conundrum, in need of a gift for that special, eccentric friend or family member, this is a place to remember: Blackout Shop in Brighton, its colourful shopfront; a big hint at what’s inside – a carefully curated riot of colour and kitsch from around the world, all of it tamed within one of the dinkiest shops in the North Laine area of Brighton.

Take the full tour over here

 

Freshen up with an imaginary sauna session

beach box sauna brighton

Now some relax time after all that shopping and pavement pounding. Seeing as it’s an imaginary weekend, we can pretend summer is in full swing!

Welcome to the Beach Box Sauna, a unique outdoor bathing and authentic sauna experience here in Brighton. With an its cosy beachside setting and a distant view of the Palace Pier, this is where you’ll find hardy locals and visitors in the know hanging out. Open all year round, this little hidden gem is guaranteed to invigorate and refresh you in sunny months or warm the chilly cockles in winter.

beach box sauna brighton

Quick heads up: those after a typical fluffy robe and slipper type of beauty spa experience should look away now. Those intrigued to discover a new way of life, follow me…

beach box sauna brighton

Walking through the gate, it feels like you’ve been transported to another world, and the stress immediately melts away. I guarantee you’ll feel so at home here you’ll want to secretly move in. With its various cabana cubby holes it’s totally possible (I checked!).

 Take an imaginary tour of the sauna over here

 

Time for an imaginary pre-dinner cockail at a cosy bar!

After a hard day’s shopping and sightseeing or before a cosy, romantic date-night dinner, one of Brighton’s pleasures is to enjoy a cocktail, preferably in a darkened, candlelit corner.

To get your night off to a snug start, here are five cosy cocktail bars in Brighton and Hove I recommend.

 

Or you prefer to pull up an imaginary chair at this bar hidden behind a bookshelf

Take the full tour over here.

Pretend to have a romantic dinner at a cosy local gem restaurants

riddle and finns brighton

Time to kick back! You’ve travelled, you’ve unpacked, you’ve walked, you’ve shopped, you’ve lunched, you’ve had an aperitif… now it’s time for your date-night dinner.

Generally speaking, when it comes to date-night dinners, small, cosy, candlelit restaurants have the most romantic charm. Obviously the food must be spot on, too. Seeing as Brighton is the ‘romantic weekend-away capital’ of the country, it’s packed with restaurants – some set the tone for date night far better than others. Cheesy places handing out single red roses to the ladies must be avoided at all costs!

wild flor brighton

So, to make sure you have one of those fantastic, giddy, date-night meals you’ll remember for years to come, here are some romantic restaurants in Brighton all tested and highly recommend:

 

Imagine it’s movie night at this romantic vintage picture house

duke of york's picture house brighton

The best end to a romantic imaginary Valentine’s weekend, a night in a vintage cinema – which sells wine and has a balcony with sofa seats.

Find out more here.

 

Before you go home, say until death us do part with an imaginary walk around Brighton’s city of the dead

woodpile cemetery brighton tomb trail

Sending you to a cemetery in search of romance is probably going to sound a little odd, but then again, this is Brighton and its largest cemetery is less spooky but rather, irresistibly romantic. It’s a miniature city of its own complete with a Victorian burial ground, filled with winding pathways and ornate ivy-covered tombs.

Take the full tour of Brighton’s city of the dead over here

 

PS Don’t forget to pack some fancy undies!

Just think of all that money you’ve saved going on an imaginary Valentine’s weekend to Brighton! This means you’ve a great excuse to indulge in some extravagances, like these dreamy luxury silk undies. They’re handmade in Brighton by Ayten Roberts, out of sustainable fabrics and upcycled vintage lace. Treat yourself over at her website here.

 

But, What If you’re not ready for your imaginary weekend in Brighton to end?

brighton city guide ellie seymour

Don’t worry! I’ve plenty more posts for you to carry on your imaginary seaside travels- like my Brighton Like a Local guide over here and my ultimate guide to Secret Brighton over here. For more armchair travels to other places, check in at the concierge desk.

Where else would you like to go for an imaginary weekend away right now?

The End. 

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