If you have stumbled across my blog whilst searching for a review of the new Helen Mirren movie 'Brighton Rock', I apologise. 'Brighton Rocks' is actually a statement. I hadn't been to Brighton for about 8 years. I used to visit regularly for fun times and occasionally assisting my photographer friend with exhibitions. I was slightly cautious after all these years, hoping that none of the charm had vanished.
I booked us into the Radisson Blu - which was previously called the Royal York Hotel (http://www.royalyorkbrighton.co.uk/) . It was a bit of a risk because the hotel had mixed reviews, but the location is good and Radisson Blu hotels usually don't disappoint. Checking-in was easy as the staff are efficient, smiley and polite. Our room was at the back of the hotel and it had a fantastic view of the pier. As we found out later, unfortunately it also had a fantastic view of a nightclub and directly below is a coach stop. The lack of double-glazing gave us concern. Our room was styled very nicely with solid pieces of furniture, a double bed (which was possibly a little too solid), a table and 2 chairs and some gorgeous lined curtains to block out the morning light. The en suite was impressive; a nice wide sink and a spacious shower. Though the interior designer should have paid attention as the shower head angle caused water to splash on the floor - and the sink tap had a similar issue. We didn't dine in the hotel as we had other plans, but we were impressed with the live jazz band which we caught briefly on our way out. To sum it up - great location but ask for a room at the front or you will need ear-plugs to cope with the noise. 7/10.
I've always wanted to go and have afternoon tea at The Grand (http://www.devere.co.uk/our-locations/the-grand.html ) , the famous victorian hotel. I was expecting big things but I'm afraid to say that it didn't live up to my expectations. The interior was quite impressive because of the classic structure, the high ceilings, guilding and mouldings. Though it was also clear that is a lack of regular maintenance. The antique furniture has seen better days. You could clearly see chips and scratches and it didn't quite live up the quality you would expect for a premium hotel. My scones were dry and they didn't provide enough clotted cream (which is always the best part!). Shabby. 4/10.
Brighton has so many restaurants and bars - so much so that it can be hard to choose. On a friends recommendation we had dinner at Pho (http://www.phocafe.co.uk/locations/brighton) , a great vietnamese restaurant. How would I describe it? Like Wagamama but better! 8/10. Whilst wandering through the lanes we dropped into Havana (http://www.havana.uk.com/index.htm) , had a cocktail (or 2) and we were so impressed that we went back for dinner. I had baked cod, which was completely delicious. The staff were attentive and professional. The interior was spectacular. Wooden blinds, ceiling fans, polished wood - it felt like a world away from Brighton. 8/10.
Of course, any Brighton tourist must go to the Royal Pavillion (http://www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk/RoyalPavilion/Pages/home.aspx). We paid for an audio tour. You won't believe your eyes at some of the antiques and ornaments in there. BTW - The audio tour is brilliant. 8/10.