Brighton and Eastbourne!
From London Victoria Railway Station you can reach Brighton in around an hour, where the must-see sight in this city with a reputation for being cool and trendy is the Royal Pavilion and Museums housed in a stunning neo-classical villa built in the Indian style.
‘The pavilion is just extraordinary,’ says Sean Edlin, owner of The White House Bed & Breakfast
Sean is not just Brighton born and bred; his family has owned pubs and hotels in the city for more than 200 years. ‘A lot of the ghosts in the older hotels have names attached to my relatives,’ he says.
Sean praises Brighton’s ‘inclusive and can-do’ attitude and suggests that after perhaps taking the Volks Electric Railway visitors should explore the area away from the main marina and head for North Laine. Once a slum area this is now a rejuvenated Bohemian quarter crammed with independent streets and bars.
When you’re hungry, you will find that Brighton boasts many fine restaurants and cafés. One of Sean’s favourites is Terre a Terre a long-standing vegetarian restaurant. ‘I’m not vegetarian but they serve the best vegetarian food I’ve ever tasted.’
A good option for alternative sites is to book a guide from ‘Brighton Rocks’ Hidden Mysteries Tour, which takes you to unexpected parts of the city, including hidden tunnels and tales of witchcraft.
Nearby, Eastbourne is only 30 minutes’ more journey time from London than its neighbour and has a contemporary feel and a slightly slower pace of life. The Little Chelsea area of the town features rows of pretty pastel-coloured properties, independent boutiques, cafes, galleries and record shops and was recently named as one of the UK’s coolest neighbourhoods by the Sunday Times.
For more traditional seaside past-times, head for Holywell, at the western end of the Eastbourne seafront. This peaceful piece of coastline provides rock pools full of marine life at low tide and pretty Italian Gardens. Eastbourne also boasts that most quintessential of English seaside features, the bandstand. Dating to the 1930s, it is a busy focus of entertainment with performances ranging from traditional military bands to tribute bands.