Today we’re exploring Seven Dials, the Brighton neighbourhood I write about a lot, I’m embarrassed.
Seven Dials – or ‘The Dials’, as locals call it – is a small, affluent, attractive neighbourhood in Brighton, a mile north of the beach. It has lots going for it: quiet, leafy residential roads, a buzzy high street, a good location five minutes from the train station for trips to London, and easily walkable from the shops and seafront, but far enough away to give respite. It also hides some of the city’s most beautiful historic architecture.
Seven dials, Brighton: A neighbourhood guide
It feels sophisticated but laid-back and there’s always a pleasant buzz about the place. It’s compact, too, but offers enough things to do to fill a slow day, including a couple of museums and a (mini) art gallery, alongside plenty of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Let’s explore…
Things to do in Seven Dials, Brighton
See Brighton’s smallest gallery
Two once-abandoned, now-restored tomato-red London phone boxes are the setting for the Dog and Bone Gallery, Brighton’s smallest art gallery. You’ll find them tucked away on the edge of the grassy and green Powis Square.
Hidden Seven Dials walk
If you love snooping around residential neighbourhoods, as I do, you’ll love this self-guided trail around Seven Dials. It’s part of my hidden Brighton walks series I designed during the lockdown. This one takes you wandering and weaving around an area I call ‘the Notting Hill of Brighton’ for its whitewashed townhouses and exclusive feel.
Despite how beautiful this area is and its city-centre location, somehow it remains off most people’s radars as a place for a wander. You can do this walk either way around. I tend to start on Dyke Road then zigzag my way south. Follow my self-guided hidden walk around Seven Dials, here.
I write about Anna’s Museum, a mini natural history collection in an old Victorian shop window a lot. The display changes regularly – think taxidermy seagulls, bones, eggs, and even letters from fans!
It’s also near this great coffee shop and Nowhere Man, a cool café decked out 70s style with a bright-yellow shopfront you can’t miss, known for its stacks of pancakes heaped with toppings. Find Anna’s Museum at 44 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FL
Brave the Booth Museum
Stepping into the off-beat Booth Museum of Natural History on the leafy fringes of Seven Dials is like walking into a giant musty Victorian attic of a compulsive collector.
Lining each wall are 300 dioramas of every British bird – from seagulls and owls to hawks and starlings – each one stuffed and on display in its natural habitat. Also on display are insects, fossils, features, butterflies and bones. Find the Booth Museum of Natural History at 194 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA
Where to eat in Seven Dials
The Red Snapper is a small, buzzy BYOB Thai place with a colourful dining room. When I say buzzy, I mean this place gets noisy. This works if you’re with friends, not so much on a date or with family. This said, the food is consistently good, especially the Thai green curry, and the service efficient.
This postage-stamp-sized local-favourite Japanese restaurant opposite The Red Snapper is good for a quiet lunch or dinner. It has a soothing décor – natural wood floors, clean white walls – a handful of tables and always feels relaxed. They serve Japanese classics like katsu, tempura, sushi, nigiri, and bigger portions of noodle and rice dishes, everything designed for sharing.
Order a plum wine on ice and browse the menu. I love the aubergine miso yaki: chunks of aubergine with crispy tofu in a tangy miso sauce are nice to start, maybe some prawn tempura if you’re feeling fancy and a plate of mixed sashimi. Find Murasaki at 115 Dyke Road, Brighton BN3 1TJ
For a quick bite with a Portuguese flavour, Latina Deli is the place. The front glass cabinet is filled with tempting little savoury Portuguese pastries like rissoles and croquettes with fillings like tuna and salted cod. They also do salads and sandwiches – the Piri Piri chicken salad baguette is a must.
Another deli option in the area is family-run Ricci’s Deli opposite the Post Office. They stock lots of local products, and all take-out food is homemade. Find Latina Deli at 104B Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3JD
Called the Shakies for short, this small, laid-back pub just got a makeover. Gone is the cosy, rustic, shabby bar room with references to Shakespeare. In are stripped floorboards, new-old, mismatched furniture and bags more room – walls have been knocked down; outside it’s had a new paint job and the front terrace tidied up.
On the menu? Sausage and mash. In fact, there are 11 sausage varieties, seven flavours of mash and six gravies to choose from: “that’s 560 meal combinations.” Find The Shakespeare’s Head at 1 Chatham Place, Brighton BN1 3TP
Where to drink in Seven Dials
Brighton is full of coffee shops, and like fish n chips, where to get the best is hotly and regularly debated. Puck is one of my absolute favourites. The coffee is consistently good, and the staff friendly. They’re unique in that they hide a tiny record shop upstairs and serve bratwurst.
It also has a buzzy setting right by the Dials: in the morning, it’s fun to sit on the front terrace and watch the neighbourhood coming to life. There are some tables inside, too, hidden to the right of the counter. Find Puck Coffee at 19 Chatham Place, Brighton BN1 3TN
A tiny, local favourite coffee shop oozing New York vibes – dark paintwork, plants, vintage-style typeface and the name – Stoney Point – transporting us to a spot in the Appalachian Mountains it refers to. Originally a sit-in café serving breakfast, but since lockdown, they continue to serve customers from their beautiful old front sash window.
On the menu, just coffee and rich banana and walnut bread. Apparently, they change their espresso according to the crop, season and flavour profiles. Find Stoney Point at 15 Montpelier Place, Brighton BN1 3BF
The Crescent Pub
A friendly local with a laid-back décor, and an inviting atmosphere. It’s set within a beautiful old Regency-era building on the corner of Clifton Road and Clifton Hill away from busier main roads. It’s also a stop on my self-guided hidden walk around the area and makes a great discovery no matter what time of year you’re visiting.
There’s a huge suntrap paved terrace complete with an outdoor TV for sipping Pimm’s on sunny summer days and watching tennis, and a roaring fire inside for winter. On the menu: unpretentious pub stables, like burgers, and plenty of veggie options. Find The Crescent at 3 Clifton Hill, Brighton BN1 3HL
Where to shop in Seven Dials
This colourful shop with its bright-yellow facade is easily one of my favourite shops in Brighton for its unique spirit and colourful aesthetic. It’s Brighton’s only shop specialising in cacti, and easy-care houseplants.
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. If you’re having a bad day and arrive at Hi Cacti sad, you will leave full of inspiration and cheer. Find Hi Cacti at 83 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3JE
The Feminist Bookshop
This is the newest and most radical Brighton bookshop and it’s located in the founder, Ruth’s, front room. She originally started it as a feminist book club, as a way to make new friends and share a love of feminist literature, held in members’ living rooms around Brighton and Hove.
The community snowballed which gave her the confidence to open her shop in 2019. As the name suggests, every book it stocks is either written by a female author or takes a feminist stance. Inside, the décor is simple – white walls with colourful furniture – and there’s a café for coffee and cake. Find The Feminist Bookshop at 48 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH
Kate Langdale Florist
There are plenty of florists in Brighton but none more special than Kate Langdale. She’s been crafting beautiful bunches of flowers for all occasions for 35 years out of her pastel-pink Wes Anderson-movie-worthy studio, which she opens as a shop occasionally.
It’s here she makes bespoke designs for weddings and events, and hosts appointments and flower workshops. She’s friendly and lovely to work with and always nails it with the vaguest of briefs and the tightest of budgets. Find Kate Langdale Florist at 84c Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3JD. Open by appointment only (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Treasure and Trash
Next door to Kate Langdale’s studio is this tiny antique shop with an enticing faded maroon front and gold-painted sign. If it’s not raining, there’s always an enticing jumble of vintage furniture haphazardly spilling from inside onto the pavement.
When you step inside the shop and see how tiny it is, it’s hard to imagine where all this treasure and trash comes from, yet it’s piled high with even more antique finds, from sideboards to chairs, to lamps to picture frames. The mind boggles. Find Treasure and Trash hidden at 27 Bath Street, Brighton BN1 3JD
There are two things to love about this local wine shop. Firstly, not only does it have a pleasing sage green old shopfront (yes, I have a thing for old shopfronts), you can see remnants of its former life as an old butcher’s shop – old tiles and hatch – behind the counter at the back (see above picture). Secondly, it feels like you’re in Aladdin’s cave of wine.
Floor-to-ceiling shelves on either side wall and crates lining the middle shop floor creak and bulge with the stuff. It makes browsing even more fun. Staff say hello and ask if you need help but leave you to browse. They also host the occasional tasting night. Find Seven Cellars at 104 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3JD
Where to stay in Seven Dials
Most Brighton hotels I like to recommend are located nearer to the city centre, but there are a few AirBnBs in Brighton nearby, like this lovely studio apartment for two with bags of vintage character and just £88/night (pictured above). It’s in the heart of the Clifton Conservation area, well located for shopping and the local bars and restaurants. See the full listing here.
Seven Dials in Brighton is a small neighbourhood and easy to walk around. It’s a five-minute walk to Brighton station, and 10 minutes to the seafront and central Brighton.
Find a map of Seven Dials’ independent shopping and nearby addresses of note, here.
If you want more inspiration, my secret guidebooks will take you off the beaten path.