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Brighton History

Sunny and vibrant Brighton was one of Europe’s first great seaside resorts.

A fashion for sea-water cures around the middle of the 18th century coincided with the beginnings of seaside tourism generally, and the result was the transformation of the old fishing town of Brighthelmstone into the modern sea resort of Brighton.

Prince Regent George IV ordered the construction of the city's most famous landmark, the Royal Pavilion, during the early 19th century.

The Prince Regent’s patronage made Brighton both famous and fashionable. By the time the railway between London and Brighton arrived in 1841, the age of modern tourism had truly descended on the city, bringing an estimated 250,000 annual visitors even before 1850.

Brighton's popularity saw the building of a number of seafront hotels, including the Grand Hotel in 1864, and the Metropole Hotel in 1890.

In 1823, the Royal Suspension Chain Pier was built, initially as a landing point for boats. Sadly, it had already been earmarked for destruction when a storm hit in 1896 and saw it crumble.

Today, one of the landmarks of Brighton’s seafront is the burnt-out remains of the West Pier, built in 1866 by renowned pier architect Eugenius Birch.

The pier closed in 1975, and a storm in 2002 caused a partial collapse. Next, the pier’s main concert hall fell apart, and in 2003 a fire caused further damage. Two more fires followed, and in 2004 the middle of the pier disintegrated. Another chunk dropped off in 2014.

The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier, which opened in May 1899, has seen its own fair share of dramas. A storm in 1973 smashed a barge into the end of the pier and it suffered fire damage in 2003, but it’s still going strong today.

Did you know?
• The Duke of York’s Picture House opened in 1910 and claims to be the UK’s oldest continuously operating cinema.
• When Fat Boy Slim performed a free concert on Brighton Beach in 2002, a quarter of a million fans turned up; he’d expected 60,000.
• Brighton elected the UK’s first ever Green MP, Caroline Lucas, in 2010.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Una

A boutique hotel stationed in the centre of the Regency Square, Hotel Una names its rooms after the rivers of the world. Each has been individually designed with a focus on style, so when you’re not sitting at your pine bureau scribbling in your journal, you’ll be lounging on slick leather sofas. The Fifty Five Cocktail bar downstairs is ideal for sophisticated pre-dinner oiling.

Hotel du Vin

Boasting a convenient location between the Lanes conservation area and the beachfront, Hotel du Vin is an elegant Brighton hotel with 49 stylish bedrooms housed in a collection of gothic revival and mock Tudor buildings that dates back to 1695. Next door is the Pub du Vin, where sports heads can catch the latest matches on the big screen and get involved in the local plonk.

Hotel Pelirocco

Self-styled as ‘England’s Most Rock n’ Roll Hotel’, the Pelirocco wears its (tattooed) heart on its sleeve. With unique designs in each room, visitors can count sheep in sleeping quarters such as the Modrephenia (complete with scooter bedside table) and the Pretty Vacant (think: angry teenager’s bedroom with punk posters and guitars). For a naughty weekend away, the Nookii room is your best bet with its peep show shower and adult board games.


Suitable for the budget-conscious, this low-key hostel is set away from the hustle and bustle on a quiet residential side street in Hove. Rooms come with one, two or four beds, with shared facilities on each floor. It has stylish wooden floorboards, warm basement kitchens and a converted coal cellar for a chinwag.

The Grand Hotel

Brighton's most famous hotel and one of the only 5-star establishments in the city the The Grand’s elegant Victorian building enjoys a central seafront position. This extensive hotel has more than 200 lavishly appointed rooms and offers a stylish and luxurious base from which to explore the city. Its afternoon teas are world famous too.

Drakes Hotel

This Georgian townhouse is where the media set stay when they’re in town, with the likes of Sadie Frost and Woody Allen amongst its former guests. The interior combines orientalism and Indochine French design, and it pitches for laidback glamour. The onsite restaurant is fabulous, while the accompanying cocktail bar has an abundance of classics on offer - though mercifully no Sex On The Beach in sight.