Around this time of year (early December), we usually go on a mini adventure to celebrate the OH’s birthday. It’s normally a surprise, and I had planned a trip back to Iceland in search of the Northern Lights (again!).
Sadly, due to the new Covid testing regulations, a year long planned birthday trip for a long weekend in Iceland became impossible due to having to take too many days off work on our return. So another cancelled trip sent me on a mission to organise a fun weekend at only 48 hours notice!!
Not really spoilt for choice at the last minute, we spent 30 minutes choosing a destination we both agreed on. I suggested Bath, he said no, I suggested Devon, he said no, I suggested Brighton, he said no, so I ignored him, and Brighton it was!
Where did we stay?
Our first night was spent at the Hilton Metropole, excellent position right on the sea front. The hotel itself was a bit tired, carpets and bathrooms weren’t particularly fresh looking and the rooms were a bit sparse, however we didn’t spend long in the room and wanted the good position, so tolerated it. You can park in their underground car park which was also a great help.
Our second night was where we wished there had been availability for both nights, but sadly not. Their policy is 2 nights minimum, but if there is availability at short notice then they will let you book the one night, and when we checked out after only an 18 hour stay I could see exactly why this was their policy. Just as you got the hang of the layout and facilities of this beautiful lighthouse, and started noticing the beauty of the surrounding landscape in daylight hours, it was time to leave.
There are 6 choices of bedrooms at Belle Tout Lighthouse. This unusual B&B was recommended by one of the 6,000+ members on my Facebook group The Worldwide Luxury Chic Budget Boutique Travel Club and I’m so glad I came across it.
We were given The Beach Hut room to sleep in. A tiny room (especially if you’re 6ft 3in tall) but with the lovely double aspect windows and fresh white decor with warm lighting we didn’t feel too cramped. Everything had been thought of, little shelves by the bed, a small shower room with Temple Spa products, nothing was missing. Tea, coffee and biscuits on a tray, plastic cups for drinking water (from the tap) and a great information booklet, telling you all about the Lighthouse.
The check in by Nina, the housekeeper, was very thorough and informative and the breakfast the next day was sooooooo lovely. From the presentation on the set table to the food that was served by Louise in the kitchen, it was all carefully considered. My OH said even the cooked tomatoes in his English Breakfast had such amazing attention to detail! We weren’t up early enough to see the outstanding sunrise, but we heard it was a good one!
The complimentary drinks early evening were welcomed, you could either have them in the lounge up top, or take them back to your room. And the bed, along with mattress topper, was one of the most comfortable beds we’ve slept in away from home.
We had planned to spend our last day exploring part of the world famous Seven Sister chalk cliffs at the National Trust’s Birling Gap in East Sussex. This was the perfect stop to do so at leisure, but sadly the good old English weather put a stop to this. We are definitely fair weather walkers.
What did we do?
On our way down, his first surprise was some axe throwing. Not something either of us have done before and something I felt we’d both benefit from, a bit of anger management directed at an inanimate object. I found Polowood Shooting Ground online, set in acres of farm land in the South Downs. They also offer shooting and archery, but I didn’t want to give him too many ways to see me off!
This was a really fun activity, well organised, with lovely guides to give you as much or as little training as you needed. It only lasted an hour, but we didn’t feel rushed, and there was time for a competition at the end. The winner had to get 5 successful throws to win. Obviously that was me, as I’m the angrier of us both.
We visited the British Airways i360 viewing tower, built by the team who created the London Eye, stands at an impressive 170 meters making it the world’s tallest moving observation tower, allowing visitors to enjoy the surrounding views as they slowly unfold.
We had booked the VIP tour which basically meant you got a glass of Nyetimber sparkling wine for the journey. I loved the way you had to ‘check in’ and go through security as you would for a normal ‘flight’. I did feel a bit aggrieved that we didn’t go right to the very top, obviously health and safety prevented that, but otherwise we really enjoyed seeing Brighton from the same perspective as the seagulls do!
I wanted to go inside the Upside Down house, but the OH was obviously now too old for this one, so I just peeped through the windows instead.
We went to a lovely bar/restaurant for pre-dinner cocktails. No 32 was buzzing and full of atmosphere and I’m guessing the dinner would have been good had we stayed. We happened on this one by chance, as we went wandering through The Lanes for an hour before dinner. We didn’t get further than this. We wrongly assumed the shops would be open later on the third Saturday evening before Christmas, but sadly not.
Where did we eat and drink?
The Regency Restaurant, opened in the early 1930’s, it is one of the oldest and most popular seafront restaurants in Brighton. My only complaint here was that the waiting staff were so efficient and actually too quick. No sooner had you put your menu down, the starter arrived, and no sooner had you put your cutlery down after eating, the dishes were quickly whipped away and the next ones soon arrived. A more leisurely experience would have been preferred, but the food along with the Bucks Fizz, were lovely. Did you know that according to wine tasting professionals, the best thing to drink with fish and chips is Champagne?
The Coppa Club. Finding this place was the biggest challenge, but once we did, it was worth the walking round in circles in heels. From Igloos, to banquettes, to leather sofas and armchairs there is an array of options when it comes to eating/drinking here. A modern vibe with a casual menu, the food was good as was the wine list.
The Beachy Head Pub & Restaurant. This was a delightful gastropub right in the middle of Beachy Head. Full of hikers and nature lovers, the food here was delicious and I had my first roast turkey Christmas lunch, but only because there was no roast chicken on the menu and I was desperate for a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Lovely home made soup to start with and a mulled cider for desert!
The Tiger Inn – our second pub of the day, was not at all busy, in fact between 7.30 and 9.30pm we were the only people in there, maybe due to it being pre-Christmas or maybe because when we left, the Thai restaurant over the road was heaving with people! Don’t know why as this pub is rated one of the best quintessential pubs in the area, maybe it was just bad timing as around 15-20 people were just leaving as we arrived.
Brighton can be fun and full of adventure or it can be quiet and full of rest and relaxation. You can choose whatever you want it to be.