BRIGHTON & HOVE
Brighton is one of the most popular seaside spots in the UK, with day trippers flocking there as soon as the sun appears to make use of the large beach and fun tourist attractions. With a plethora of funky bars, gourmet restaurants, independent boutiques and vintage stores, it’s got something for everyone. Journey further down the coast and you’ll reach upmarket Hove, Brighton’s slightly quieter neighbour. Rain or shine, set up on the pebbled shore and enjoy the magnificent ocean vistas, plus a perfect view of both the old and new piers.
Where to stay… Artist Residence is a boutique hotel closer to Hove, but an easy walk away from Brighton city centre. All rooms have a stylish, contemporary feel with classic seaside touches – some have beautiful sea view balconies. In-house bar The Cocktail Shack is good for a pre-dinner drink.
Where to eat... There are so many restaurants to choose from in Brighton and Hove. The Ginger Pig serves up a sensational Sunday lunch menu with a list of top-notch puddings, while small Italian joint Cin Cin is the place to head for an aperitif.
Where to shop... Along with the plethora of restaurants, Brighton and Hove are also home to an abundance of shops. We love Our Daily Edit for beautiful womenswear pieces and DOWSE for interior gems that no one else will have. If you want to pick up a gift, head to Workshop on Prince Albert Street.
How to get there... The train journey from London to Brighton takes just over an hour, while the drive lasts roughly an hour and a half. Parking wise, try and opt for somewhere out of the city centre, as prices can be high the closer you get to the main strip of shops and bars. The London Road car park is one of the most reasonable spots, with a day’s parking costing £15. It’s just a short walk away from the city centre.
Deal is a pretty town in Kent. Rent bikes and pedal around its old town’s winding streets, before taking a stroll down the long pier. After walking along the seafront, a visit to Deal Castle is a must. Built by order of King Henry VIII, the castle is a rich piece of British history filled with fascinating Tudor artefacts that tell the stories of its previous inhabitants. Carry on your journey by heading to Walmer Castle and family-friendly Walmer Beach, taking in the sea air as you go.
Where to stay… The Rose is a kitsch hotel with an eclectic mix of fabrics, vintage furniture and bold colours that leave rooms feeling cosy yet stylish. The perfect spot for some R&R, it even has hallway bars filled with tea, biscuits and spirits for guests to help themselves to.
Where to eat… For good pub grub, head to the Zetland Arms. It sits right on the beach with a garden that spills out onto the pebbles and is well known for its fresh seafood dishes. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, book a table at Frog And Scot. A buzzy French bistro, menu highlights include the hake fillet with chorizo and pork tenderloin.
Where to shop…We love Hoxton for unique homeware pieces like Moroccan rugs and scented candles as well as Will And Yates for artwork, ceramics and beach-friendly basket bags. Don’t forget to stop off and admire some of the local artwork in one of the many galleries in town.
How to get there… Direct trains takes about an hour and half from St Pancras or two hours from London Bridge. For those driving, there are plenty of central parking spots in Deal. Middle Street is the closest to the beach and costs £1.30 an hour for a maximum of four hours. You can also park at St George’s, near the town hall, for £7.80 a day.
Rye is one of the trendiest spots on this stretch of coastline thanks to its proximity to beautiful Camber Sands, the beach famed for its golden dunes. One of the most picturesque seaside spots in the country, the chocolate-box town is full of historical buildings, charming pubs and antique shops. Drive, cycle or hop on the bus down to the beach and drink in the sunshine, or walk there and back before rewarding yourself with a few treats, such as a tasting session at one of the vineyards dotted around the area. We recommend Gusbourne and Chapel Down.
Where to stay… The Gallivant, with its beachy, Californian feel, is the perfect spot for an overnight stay. The hotel gazes over Camber Sands and features decor inspired by its coastal surroundings – think stylish blue and white interiors with driftwood touches.
Where to eat… Book into The Globe Inn for family-friendly pub dining or The George for gastropub food. We also love Knoops, which sells expertly crafted chocolate along with indulgent milkshakes and hot drinks. You can pick up baked goods for a seaside picnic at White House Bakery.
How to get there… The drive from the capital to Rye takes just under two hours. One of the most central car parks is Cinque Ports Street, which charges £7 for any time spent over four hours. A slightly cheaper option is Bedford Place, which charges £5 for a minimum four-hour stay. Both are open between 9am and 7pm. Near Camber Sands there are three pay-and-display car parks, the most popular being Camber Central, but note that this shuts its gates at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays. There are no direct trains from London to Rye, but you can change at Ashford International.
Chichester is a cathedral city to the west of Brighton. It’s home to a pretty harbour where visitors can watch the boats bob up and down, and is just a short drive to West Wittering beach, a designated Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Families can embark on the Windmill Trail, a relaxed walk that leads to the picturesque Halnaker Windmill, or visit Medmerry Nature Reserve for some wildlife spotting. Chichester is also home to Goodwood Estate, which hosts the iconic Festival of Speed every year (except this one).
Where to stay… The Goodwood Hotel is a cosy, dog-friendly inn. Guests can use the spa facilities during their stay, as well as the health club and golf course. Be sure to take the opportunity to eat at Farmer, Butcher, Chef, the estate’s sustainable restaurant.
Where to eat… Enjoy lunch at The White Horse, a traditional countryside pub. The menu features only the freshest seasonal ingredients, so expect new dishes on every visit. If you go exploring in the nearby South Downs, stop at The Hungry Guest for tea and some homemade cake.
Where to shop… Chichester has tons of charming shops, from high-street favourites to quirky, independent stores. Head to Draper’s Yard for under-the-radar brands and to rummage for a one-off gem.
How to get there… You can get a direct train from London Victoria to Chichester in just over an hour and a half. If you’re driving, expect to be in the car for over two hours. Avenue De Chartres is the best long-stay car park, costing £5.80 for a stay longer than six hours. If you travel to West Wittering, you need to book your spot in advance. A space for the whole day – 8am to 6pm – costs £9.
We love Whitstable for a seaside break close to the capital. Families and couples alike can enjoy an afternoon on Tankerton Beach, a traditional shingle beach with grassy slopes and a low tide that means you can wade right out to sea, before heading along to the harbour, which comes to life as the sun goes down. Carve out some time to wander around the town centre, stopping off to gaze into shop windows before enjoying a sundowner or scoop of Sundae Sundae ice cream, back on the beach.
Where to stay… There’s no better place in town than the iconic Hotel Continental. There are plenty of bright, spacious rooms to choose from, as well as a large family room that can sleep up to five. For that all-important sea view, book into a deluxe suite, which also has a private balcony.
Where to eat… Try the local delicacies at The Lobster Shack or tuck into a five-star tasting menu at The Sportsman, an unassuming pub that boasts a Michelin star. For a coffee and cake fix, hit up Blueprint Coffee, home to the best roasted beans on the Kent coast.
Where to shop... For simple beachwear such as Birkenstocks, Breton tops and linen cover-ups, head to The Clothes Horse. For personalised artwork and child-friendly gifts, visit Indie, a gift shop on Harbour Street.
How to get there… Direct trains run from London St Pancras to Whitstable frequently, with the journey time coming in at about an hour and a quarter. Driving from the capital takes about an hour and a half. Keams Yard is a central car park that’s a short walk from the harbour; it costs £2 per hour. Tankerton Road is the closest to the beach and costs 60p an hour. It fills up fast at the weekend.
Another gem on the Kent coast, Broadstairs is fast becoming a popular spot for some seaside fun. Just east of Whitstable, it boasts sandy beaches and plenty of charming shops, as well as sweeping bays that feed into the glistening sea. The best stretches of sand in the area are Viking Bay, with its pretty beach huts, the ever-popular Joss Bay and wilder, more rural Botany Bay. In the summer, the beaches fill up pretty fast, but get there early and you’re almost guaranteed a spacious sunbathing spot.
Where to stay… Belvidere Place was once Broadstairs’ best-kept secret. Now it’s a much-loved boutique B&B, with intimate, cosy rooms and a pretty courtyard. Set in a beautiful Grade II-listed townhouse, it’s the perfect base camp for a seaside getaway.
Where to eat... Wyatt & Jones is widely considered one of the best places for a gourmet meal in the area, serving up classic British dishes with creative twists. Stark is an equally impressive eatery that boasts a seasonal six-course tasting menu. For that all-important ice cream, head to Morelli’s.
Where to shop… Pick up some unique pieces at Kit Lifestyle. Selling adorable childrenswear along with homeware, womenswear and jewellery, it has something to keep everyone happy. It also stocks a large selection of Rains waterproofs, ideal should you get caught in a British downpour.
How to get there… The car journey from London to Broadstairs can take two hours. Broadstairs Harbour is one of the closest car parks to the beach and costs £12 a day. St Peters Park Road is slightly further out of town, but is free of charge on Saturdays and just a short walk down the high street to the beach. You can also catch a direct train from London St Pancras, which gets you to this seaside spot in about an hour and 20 minutes.
In east Sussex, Eastbourne is home to plenty of picturesque spots. The Seven Sisters is a series of white chalk cliffs that mark the end of the South Downs, looming between Eastbourne and Seaford over pebble beaches with foamy waters. Just east of them, Beachy Head is a must-visit spot, offering stunning views of the coast all the way to the Isle of Wight.
Where to stay… Book an overnight stay at The Tiger Inn, a quintessentially English pub that looks out over a pretty village green. There are five cosy bedrooms to choose from, all with open fires, ancient beams and comfy soft furnishings. The inn is a ten-minute drive from Eastbourne town centre and well placed for trips to the beach.
Where to eat… Drive 20 minutes out of Eastbourne and you’ll reach the Rathfinny estate. Head over to taste its wines; homemade picnic hampers from the outdoor kitchen can be enjoyed in the vineyard. For something child friendly, you can’t beat Anema e Core, a cosy Italian restaurant.
Where to shop… There’s an abundance of traditional seaside gift shops in Eastbourne, where you can pick up any beach essentials you may have left at home. Get a treat for the journey home at Beanzz, which sells exceptional cakes and traybakes.
How to get there…The train journey from London Victoria to Eastbourne takes roughly an hour and 20 minutes, with trains leaving approximately every half-hour at the moment. The drive takes longer – over two hours – but your car comes into its own if you want to reach the local beauty spots. For a long stay, head to Trinity Place Car Park, which costs £6 a day. You can book a spot in advance on the NCP website.