Just Park is a great way to find a place to park in cities like Brighton and Cambridge for less. I stupidly thought when I went to Brighton that I would just ask the hotel where to park when I got there but the closest car park cost £18 per day! One of the places where you have to prebook was fullbut recommended that I look up on Just Park and I am glad I did. Instead of paying £22 per day at the parking garage at the Hilton hotel, I paid £33.30 for 4 days.
I planned to leave Cambridge during Bug’s first nap so that she would be asleep for most of the way. In total, it only took me 2.5 hours from my house to get to Brighton. This may be because I was not traveling in peak hours, there weren’t any accidents and it was half term. But on the way back, there was a lot of traffic and it took me over 3 hours.
Driving from Cambridge, you do cross the Dartford Crossing and pay a toll. You can do this online or by phone. You have 24 hours from when you cross but best to do it before hand.
I am not overly picky about hotels because for most of my trips I just return at night to sleep. I chose to stay at The Beach Hotel off the Regency Square and conveniently located next to the Brighton i360 which just opened in August 2016.
The Beach Hotel was lovely. The room was perfect for Bug and I. One thing I like about older hotels is the quirkiness. I once remember staying in a hotel in Aldeburgh which you had to go up and down several flights of stairs to get to our room. The room was nice an spacious and Bug liked practicing her walking going in and out of the bathroom and bedroom. Our room was on the fourth floor overlooking Regency Square and I could see the i360 from our windows.
The breakfast was a full English breakfast served from 8-10am which was perfect for us. We would be there first thing and then set off for our day.
The hotel didn’t have wifi but I was close enough to the i360 to pick up theirs. I would just load up the pictures I wanted to when I was nearby since I was running low on data. Sometimes being unconnected is a good thing.
Brighton became popular in the mid-18th century when sea bathing became popular. It is very close to London compared to other beaches. But don’t head here if you are dreaming about building sandcastles, it is a stony beach. I came here in October but I think it is enjoyable anytime of the year. Obviously, the warmer the weather the more busy Brighton will be.
My friend actually lives in Hove which is the next town over but easily walkable along the promenade. So once we got sorted in our room and the parking I headed West along the promenade taking in the fresh sea air and the lovely views.
We met up and took the children to the park to burn some energy. One thing I have noticed about a lot of the parks here is that there is a cafe selling coffee and tea nearby. I thought this was brilliant.
The second day we played tourists. I got the new joint pass which allows you a i360 flight and entrance to the Royal Pavillion and SeaLife. It saves you £13 when booking it this way and you have 7 days to enter the other places from your ‘flgiht’.
I enjoy walking around the places I am visiting to get a feel for them. One thing I always do is hit up the local Co-op or grocery to get a few bits. But the second day whilst Bug was to take her morning nap and we were on a mission to get her some new leather shoes as we lost one the day before, This was great because I got to wander the areas I probably wouldn’t because I am not a big shopper. Brighton has some fantastic graffiti which is something I appreciate as I have some friends who are graffiti artists back home.
The streets closer to the Royal Pavillion are very quirky with a mixture of independent and nation shops. You will be spoilt for choice for places to eat here as well with local and chain restaurants everywhere.
We had our flight on the i360 in the morning. It was a great way to see the coast of Brighton, the city centre and the South Downs. You can take your buggy with you and drink a bit of fizz at 173.45m above sea level.
Then we headed to the Royal Pavillion. The palace you see here was built in 1823 by John Nash. King George IV secretly married the Catholic widow, Mrs Fitzherbert in 1785 and they would spend time together in Brighton. He was officially married to Caroline of Brunswick in 1795.
King George was known for his parties so since the parties got bigger, he needed more space. This palace is Indian inspired and may be one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Looking at the outside of the building, I was not sure what to expect. But once I walked inside, my jaw dropped. It was room after room of elaborate decorations. It is a must see if you in Brighton.
Sea Life is located near the Brighton Pier. It is in the location of the world’s oldest operating aquarium which was built in 1872. The displays are fantastic with the 3,500 fish, turtles and sharks. There are also things for you to touch. There is a Harvester nearby so stop for a bit of lunch and spend your afternoon looking at the fish!
Brighton Pier is a typical Victorian seaside pier with games, rides and arcades.
Lucky for us, there was a restaurant tied to the hotel I was staying in. The Regency Restaurant serves fresh seafood and other dishes. The serving sizes are big but it is very affordable. Bug and I ate there two nights in a row. It was very child friendly and the staff were lovely. They have quite a few repeat customers from what I can tell which tells you about the quality.
The third day, I drove to Southampton to visit a couple of friends. I wouldn't recommend doing this for a day out. The traffic is horrible around Arundel but it was closer for me to do this than travel down from Cambridge.
The last day, Bug and I recovered from the day before and met up with my friend again for lunch and a playdate before we headed home.
We really enjoyed our time in Brighton and can see why my friend fell in love.
More pictures of my visit can be seen here.
All the Best!
American to Britain