England's sunny gay seaside
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Brighton article click DailyXtraTravel
Large white sea gulls fly low over Brighton's beach as the waves crash on pebbled shores. Locals and tourists sit on the beach eating fresh sardines and salad, or wander the narrow streets lined with shops, pubs and restaurants. It's a relaxed retreat from the stress of one of the world's most urban environments, not far to the north of here.
With eclectic styles in interior and exterior architecture and decoration, King George IV brought fame and style to Brighton, building monuments to encourage members of high society to visit this seaside resort. His Royal Pavilion, a creation of Indo-Chinese inspiration, remains a landmark in the middle of town to this day.
From London you can reach Brighton by train in about an hour, traveling through the southern English countryside. National Express coach company runs good daily bus service, and driving can be pleasant, and should you be coming in at Gatwick Airport you're only 30 minutes away. During holidays the roads can get badly jammmed with traffic if you time it wrong.
Legends Hotel, Bar & Club (31-34 Marine Parade), a complex at the center of the Brighton action, offers gay Brighton's largest number of hotel rooms (some with sea views), a huge bar with Sunday cabaret, and a lavish Basement Club state-of-the-art disco, open until 4am. Food is served in daytime in both the bar or outside in the sea air, with pleasant vistas. Breakfast, served until 10:30am, is full English: plates overflowing with the requisite bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, fried tomatoes and mushrooms.
Queens Hotel (1 Kings Road) overlooks Brighton Pier and promenade with the amusements, cafes, and attractions all around. An fully equipped gym, pool, sauna and sun bed are among the amenities. Rooms are bright and spacious, some have panoramic coastal views. Breakfasts are served buffet-style with muesli and fruit as well as the classic English fare. Free wi-fi in the lobby or computers for use, can fill your need to stay in touch. Queens also hosts gay weddings and civil ceremonies.
Gulliver's Hotel (12a New Steine Road), an Automobile Association-selected hotel, has clean and comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi.
New Steine Hotel (10-11 New Steine) is a 50-meter hop from the beachfront with friendly service. Their restaurant, the New Steine Bistro, opens Tuesdays through Saturdays, 6 until 11pm.
Amsterdam Hotel (11-12 Marine Parade) -- is a hotel, restaurant, bar, and sauna with a major recent makeover. At their bar, busy from lunchtime, you can meet guys from all over the world, as well as in thir ample sauna facilities.
Strawberry Fields Hotel (6-7 New Steine) a gorgeous boutique hotel has sea views a short stroll from the Pier. Hot bacon rolls and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels are among breakfast items delivered to your room with the morning coffee or tea.
At the Kipps Brighton (76 Grande Parade) has front rooms with views of the Pavilion, and both the town center and seafront are but steps away. Service is laid-back and friendly at their fully licensed lounge and bar, plus they have free Wi-Fi and digital TV.
HERE for over two dozen area hotels, hostels and B&Bs that cater to the gay community.
Shopping and services
Cardome (47a St. James St) is always fun to visit. Their range of cards and artwork is extensive, ranging from modern to classical, humorous to rude, along with items strange and surreal. Owner Mike Dalley keeps his shop up-to-date with books, gifts, comedy wrapping papers, aromas, as well as creative cards of his own design, and limited-edition art pieces.
Next door is Tube Station Tanning (47 St. James St) for a tan whatever the weather. They have early-bird discounts for visitors between 9:30 and 10am, and final appointments are taken at 6:15pm.
Just off St. James, on George Street, you'll find Spruce (11 George St), run by the professional and talented Johan, with cuts and finish, massages, and facials, paying full attention to all details of customer service.
Pomegranate (10 Manchester St), at the center of the gay area, just around the corner from St. James Street, has delightful Kurdish cuisine and its romantic fireplaces.
Their wine list offers the best of Australian, Chilean, French, and Spanish vineyards, as well as champagnes. Make sure you try their stuffed figs with walnuts.
HERE for more local cafes, pubs and restaurants in the Brighton and Hove area.
Bulldog (31 St James St) goes day and night on weekends and holidays with dancing nightly, strictly men Tuesdays Kruz nights, Thursday cabaret, and wild weekend dancing, karaoke and shows.
Charles Street (8 Marine Parade) bar and nightclub has a seafront bar and restaurant for light bites or three course meals inside or on their terrace. The bar is a classy warm-up spot for later events. There's danceing and evening entertainment at their busy upstairs club including drag, cabaret, comedy and theatrics. For Sunday lunches here, there are huge portions of food and lots of men!
Legends Bar (31-34 Marine Parade) has nightly clubbing until 4am on weekends, when tourists and locals mix in a lively way on their modern dance-floor.
Regulars pack the Queens Arms (7 George St) is a daytime chill-out spot with WiFi and lively nightclub. The sounds of their cabaret and comedy can be heard from the street. Check out the outrageous Kitty Litter, The Boy George Experience, and karaoke with Betty Swolocks; and their Q Factor contestants vying for a 1000 pound prize package.
At Revenge (32 Old Steine) a long-running club just back from the Brighton Pier, with next door venue R Bar, you can dance the night away or enjoy cabaret and stripper shows. Entry and line-jumpign tickets for nights such as Kinky Dangerous, Girls-On-Top, Lolipop and Emergency Room can be bought in advance at their website.
HERE for more area bars and club events.
Just at the peak of green hillsides as you enter Brighton is the Brighton Racecourse, set back from the beach in the Sussex Downs. As well as exciting horse races, there's high-end food and drink with a three-course meal for 40-55 pounds per head at Silks restaurant.
The Brighton Festival, this year May 1-23 2010, includes top notch dance, theater, and music performances.
Brighton Pride is from July 31 to August 8, 2010 with Carnival Parade and main events set for Saturday August 7th, 2010.