As our closest coastal town, just under 40 miles away and less than an hour by car on a good run, Brighton is our go-to place when we are looking for a familiar day out, for food, shops, sand and sea. But when we were looking to celebrate a weekend away how did it fair?
Well, as a birthday surprise for Andy last weekend, I booked us in to The Grand Brighton for three nights, from Friday through to Monday. I booked train tickets to keep the surprise going, dinner reservations in a couple of his favourite places, and a trip to the i360 and an hour in a Room Escape.
I was looking for a few days away where we would be familiar with the surroundings so we could relax and enjoy rather than race around exploring, and I wanted to be close enough to home should the need arise. I am pleased to say home survived well without me and we had an uninterrupted weekend.
It was worth every penny just to see Andy's face as our taxi from the station drew up outside The Grand Hotel, Brighton. He absolutely loves the hotel, the Victoria Bar and the superb cocktails, which are prepared to the highest level. For me, I am tickled every time the bar staff bring out the little buckets of olives and nuts to accompany your drinks, and feel a little more special with every serving.
The new uniforms that the hotel has just brought in are slightly reminiscent (please forgive me) of Rupert Bear, but this really is a compliment as they are exceptionally on trend while looking distinctive and smart. And they make me feel, as a guest, a little more like I have taken a small step back to my younger days.
Our seafront room was without a view as the hotel is undergoing a face-lift and is presently wrapped in plastic. But as this was reflected in the cost, and completely explained before we booked we were not at all worried, with the sea view accessible from the terrace, and along the promenade. We would certainly book again once the renovations are complete so that we can cuddle up on the sofa provided and watch the sun set over the sea.
Our room was much larger than expected and exceptionally airy, with heating and air conditioning controls. The large bed enveloped us every night and we woke in crisp clean comfort, to a hot working shower (which isn't a given at many hotels we have stayed in). Breakfast was available and included in the price, with an ample selection of food served downstairs in GB1's dining area, and on Andy's birthday we took the option to have a loaded tray delivered to our room for just a small extra charge.
The first night we had dinner reservations at Indian Summer, where we had been to review on a press trip in 2014. The standard, like The Grand, had made such an impact it was an obvious choice to return again. Andy really isn't a curry eater but at Indian Summer the food is all about flavour not heat, spices are blended to compliment the dish and sit well together rather than clash around. Our review from 2014 still stands, and it is a pleasant surprise to find the standard is equal and sustained for all customers. We have been lucky enough to be invited to other tasting menus and dinners in the course of this work and it is always a delight to return unannounced to a venue to see if the service and standard is equal for all, rather than a special effort for press trips. At Indian Summer everyone eats the same.
We spent Saturday scouring North Laine and wandering around The Lanes shopping for bites to eat and hidden treasures. The array of shops never ceases to amaze, especially with favourites like The Blue Bird Tea Co, Yo! Sushi, Small Batch Coffee, Infinity Foods and more. A night in the Victoria Bar (well, most nights really - seemed a shame not to!) before Sunday when we had a date with a Mad Scientist courtesy of Escape Room Brighton. This was a venue which had mixed reviews but we decided to give it a go as we had played so many similar online games. We had an hour in a room, full of props and clues, to solve puzzles, unlock boxes and find a code to stop the launch of a rocket into space, which would irradiate the world's atmosphere.
Luckily Richard, our game host, led us on for another five minutes, directing us to various missed clues so that we could finish the game. Next time (and there will be a next time because this was incredibly good fun) we will be more clued up as to how we should try to play the game. With two other missions to explore we will have a whole new set of clues to solve.
The British Airways i360 was next on our tour and we had missed the perfect night before - when the sky had been clear and the sunset unreal. On our 'flight' the heavens opened and we went up in to the clouds as dusk descended. It made no difference to the ride and the view was still far and wide. We had time to enjoy a gin and tonic at the on flight bar and we could walk around the whole i360 to look out over land and sea. Once the flight had landed we had the chance to see the build process involved and buy a set of photographs to mark our visit.
Dinner followed in GB1 and we booked the last sitting to enjoy a birthday meal together in fabulous surroundings. The food, much the same as Indian Summer and on a previous planned visit, was equal to the quality expected, clean and satisfying to the palate. Fresh fish by the sea. What more could we want?
Brighton has so much to offer, as a holiday destinations, for a short weekend break or on a day trip out for the whole family. Staying at The Grand Brighton was a well deserved luxury for Andy and the perfect way to spend his birthday weekend. If you are looking to treat yourself or share an experience on the south coast this has to be near the top of the list. It doesn't always come cheap but it was certainly worth every penny. And I am sure we will be popping in for cocktails the next time we are down for the day.
If you are planning a visit take a look at all the area has to offer at www.visitbrighton.com