Today I’m kicking off a new series of guides on Ellie & Co to Brighton’s best neighbourhoods you’ll find useful if you’re planning a trip to the seaside, or even a big move. Each week, I’ll share insider tips on alternative and authentic places to eat, drink, shop, stay and discover in a different Brighton and Hove neighbourhood.
One of the things I love about living in Brighton is having adventures on my doorstep. I particularly love wandering around the different neighbourhoods, taking in the details amid their colourful streets. To get you in the mood, here’s a flavour of the seven Brighton neighbourhoods we’ll discover together in the coming weeks:
Best Brighton Neighbourhoods
Seven Dials – or ‘The Dials’, as locals call it – is a small, affluent and attractive neighbourhood in Brighton, a mile north uphill from the seafront. It has lots going for it: picturesque, leafy and quiet residential roads, a cute buzzy high street – and the best location five minutes from Brighton station for trips to London. It’s also easily walkable from the city centre shops and seafront, but far enough away to give respite. It hides some of the city’s most beautiful historic architecture, too.
It feels sophisticated but laid-back and there’s always a pleasant feel about the place. Even though it’s compact, there are enough things to do here to fill a slow day, including a couple of museums and an art gallery, alongside plenty of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, for the chance to get to know the area like a local.
Kemptown is an eclectic neighbourhood of Brighton. It runs for about a mile from Black Rock by the Marina in the east to the end of St James’ Street, just short of the Palace Pier. It’s a tangle of little streets lined with historic terraced houses sandwiched between Edward Street (which becomes Eastern Street further east) in the north and Marine Parade by the seafront.
I like to think of Kemptown as a trio of distinctive parts: The Kemp Town Estate with its whitewashed Regency-era townhouses centred around the Kemp Town Enclosures; Kemptown village filled with delis, cafes, antique shops and bars; then more buzzy, hedonistic St James’s Street which has long been associated with LGBTQ culture, where rainbow flags adorn many of the bars, clubs, cafes, and B&Bs.
I often enjoy a weekend walk around Kemptown, and a browse in its village shops, before hitting the beach. In some places, you might feel you’re in London’s Chelsea.
Brunswick Town is an upmarket Hove neighbourhood close to the seafront, home to Regency-era architecture, independent cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Today, it stretches east to west roughly from the Paris House pub on Western Road and the Lion and Lobster pub on Sillwood Street and this classic cafe, over to Grand Avenue by Hove Lawns with its colourful beach huts.
It’s home to several seafront squares, including Brunswick Square, one of the first upper-class housing developments to have been built in the seaside city – the first was in Kemptown. It’s easy to spend a lazy morning or afternoon wandering and weaving around Brunswick Town, armed with treats from The Real Patisserie nearby.
The gritty graffiti-covered London Road area is not as well-known outside Brighton as other parts of the city might be, but it has an interesting personality and well worth exploring. It’s set between the south end of Preston Park, the New England quarter and the Level green space with its cool skate park. It has a distinctive artistic, young vibe that gives it an intriguing edge that other parts of Brighton don’t have.
It’s the unlikely home to the city’s beautiful vintage cinema called the Duke of York’s – also the country’s oldest cinema – the city’s tallest church designed to look like Noah’s Ark apparently, the eclectic Open Market with world-food offerings from Mexico to Greece under one roof, charity shops, organic food emporiums not to mention a handful of quirky independent restaurants and cafes.
5 North Laine, Brighton
The North Laine is Brighton’s best-known central neighbourhood, famous for its independent shopping area called the North Laine Bazaar, packed with colourful and eclectic shops, selling everything from guitars and African drums to Bonsai Trees and comics. It’s also home to a vast concentration of the city’s vintage shops and flea markets. It’s buzzy with a relaxed village feel and as well as shopping areas, its residential streets are lined with neat whitewashed Regency cottages. There’s a great deli and French restaurant and people say hello as they pass in the street.
Life in the North Laine gets going early, especially at the weekend when it’s centred around its café culture. Especially on Gardner Street which fills with tables and chairs and people having lunch outside the little cafes.
Hanover is a compact neighbourhood on the east side of Brighton bordering Queen’s Park and not far from Kemptown. It has a buzzy, friendly atmosphere, and is popular with couples, student groups and families. It’s Brighton’s hilliest neighbourhood and if you decide to go for a stroll around it, you’ll probably want to walk slowly to save your energy for the steepest bits.
It’s mostly residential, its steep streets lined with small pastel-coloured terraced houses, but has a small handful of shops, a few cafes, the odd takeaway and LOADS of pubs including a pub with the best sunset view.
7 Fiveways, Brighton
This unpretentious, leafy area of Brighton is located about a 30-minute walk north of the centre of Brighton and the seafront, and a 15-minute walk from London Road mentioned above. It’s centred around five junctions at the top of the hill where Preston Drove and Ditchling Road converge. The area is the furthest away from the seafront and city centre of all the Brighton neighbourhoods in this list. This makes it the perfect peaceful escape hatch if you like dipping in and out of the city centre action.
It has a friendly down-to-earth atmosphere and streets lined with Victorian terraced houses, some set within a stunning conservation area. Although at first glance it looks thin on amenities, you can get most essentials in the area – from organic eggs and local meat to refills and great coffee – which means you can avoid going into town if you’re not in the mood.
Which Brighton neighbourhood will you explore first?
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