Travel Writer Hannah Lay shares her favourite places to spend a wintery weekend in EuropeWritten by Hannah Lay on 15th February 2019
A Student’s Guide to Brighton
Deputy Editor Kat Smith shares a student guide to Brighton
Brighton isn’t exactly a hidden gem, it’s more of a garish diamond situated on the south coast of sunny England. Popular with many, and notorious for its costliness, I visited Brighton in June for a mini-break with my friends.
Quite frankly, I expected to have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. I’d only really heard about extortionate seaside rides and expensive escape rooms, but to my surprise, I was able to experience the city for a forgivable price without compromising much.
Soak up the Art
As a keen art nerd, I was shocked to find out that Banksy’s two kissing policemen were originally situated on a pub in Brighton. My A-Level art teacher will be disappointed. A stone’s throw from the station, a replica of the famous piece can be found on the outside wall of Prince Albert. Though it was taken from the wall and sold in 2011, the framed piece is still a fun find, even if it’s next to a bin…
Surrounding Banksy’s masterpiece, is an abundance of famous faces painted on Prince Albert. The colours, liberty and sheer joyfulness embodied in the art felt like an apt last sighting of this wonderful city.
Unfortunately, my travel companions weren’t the biggest art fans so I wasn’t able to go into the galleries and shops I wanted to, but Brighton struck me as a brilliant place for creatives. Its reputation states it as being so, but I feared it was going to be pretentious or way too hipster. While it has its fair share of independent shops and #edgy cafes, it felt accessible and welcoming. Little touches like CassArt’s ‘draw what you see’ stand outside their shop really demonstrate the relaxed and social vibe of the city.
I met Kimchi and Reggie amongst many other furry friends. I unashamedly asked everyone I bumped into with a dog if I could fuss them and I genuinely consider that an activity. I’m used to the southern attitude of keeping yourself to yourself, but Brighton felt a lot friendlier. It was so friendly that I went to a vape shop to meet Kimchi (#KimchitheStaffy on Instagram), somewhere I don’t normally feel like I belong!
Explore the Lanes
The Lanes are a defining part of Brighton’s identity. There you’ll find countless independent and small shops, stocking everything under the sun. It’s easy to find yourself going round in circles, but it’s an alright place to get lost.
If you prefer mainstream shops, there are also plenty of those, ranging from high street favourites to high-end brands.
You’ll also find the so-called ‘Mothership’ of Choccywoccydoodah in the Brighton lanes, with amazing cakes and sculptures. It’s where the chocolatier began and their only other store is in London. They also frequently have amazing tasters, with us being lucky enough to try the amaretto-infused chocolate cake.
Picnic by the Sea
While chips smothered in salt and vinegar was the obvious choice for a sunny afternoon by the seaside, our fear of the seagulls and the fact we’d just inhaled our weekly recommended intake of pasta meant we opted for fruit instead. Brighton may be known for its pier, but the pebbled beach that surrounds it was almost as bustling. Nearer to the sea, the beach offers a place of calm to chill when the seagulls aren’t trying to eat you alive.
Get a spontaneous piercing/tattoo
Maybe me telling you to factor this into your trip undermines the ‘spontaneous’ element, but with the plethora of tattoo and piercing shops in Brighton, the temptation is hard to resist. I’d wanted a navel piercing for a while and Brighton felt like the perfect place. After a little bit of research, I found Guru in the North Laines. They offer 10% student discount and had an appointment the day I went in to ask despite being popular. It’s also created a little memory of a fantastic trip, so that’s a bonus. I may not have been brave enough to get a last-minute tattoo, but there’s definitely enough options to choose from!
Wander through the Royal Pavilion grounds
The Royal Pavilion was built as the seaside palace for King George IV and is an iconic part of the city.
Though you can pay to go inside, with student prices currently standing at £12, the gardens are a sight to behold in themselves. Volunteers work tirelessly to maintain the vast flower population and there is an aim for the gardens to encourage wildlife to return to the centre of Brighton.
Its position in the heart of the city means you can easily weave it into your day, whether it’s on your way to the beach or on your way home from the Lanes, and you’re sure to feel a little more cultured at the end of it.
Brighton may be known to be on the pricier side when it comes to excursions, but being so rich in culture means there are countless free/cheap things to do. With direct trains from London and many other UK towns and cities, you also won’t have to max out your overdraft to get there. Balancing seaside rides or drinks in bars with sightseeing is the perfect way to stay in-budget while still experiencing the best of this magnificent city.