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Brighton beaches, Sussex

Sussex is geographically blessed with undulating hills and a coastline of fierce white cliffs, soft, white sand and raspy pebble beaches. It also harbours Britain's most cosmopolitan seaside town: Brighton, where boho easily rubs shoulders with brassy seaside tack.

Beach

Brighton beach is a long shingle-and-sand shore, with lifeguards in the summer and deckchairs for hire. Across the beach and out to sea stalks the Victorian Palace Pier, laden with seaside amusements. Its counterpart is the spooky metal skeleton of West Pier, once Britain's finest but since destroyed by fire and the weather. It's mooted to be redeveloped into a viewing mast.

Beyond the beach

Around 22km (14 miles) northeast of Brighton, Charleston Farmhouse (www.charleston.org.uk) was the home of painter Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf), her husband Clive Bell, and her artist lover, Duncan Grant. As conscientious objectors, they moved here during WWI, when the men worked as farm labourers so that they could avoid active service, and decorated every possible part of the farmhouse with their painting. The house also contains works by Picasso and Renoir.

Exploring further

Preston Manor (www.prestonmanor.virtualmuseum.info) is a delightful old manor house with walled gardens at Preston Drove, 3km (2 miles) north of the city centre. Foredown Tower Countryside Centre (www.foredown.virtualmuseum.info) near Portslade to the west of Brighton, is an old water tower which is now home to a countryside centre and one of the two remaining operational camera obscuras in the South East.

Splashing out

The Neo Hotel (www.neohotel.com) is a nine-room boutique hotel in a beautiful grade II-listed Georgian house. The owner is an interiors specialist, and all of the elegant, contemporary rooms have original wallpapers such as Chinoiserie by Ralph Lauren, or 1930s prints by Florence Broadhurst. At its spa, guests and non-guests can indulge in treatments, from aromatherapy massages to organic facials.

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