We try to do something special for my birthday each year (it’s a good excuse right?) and when I discovered that my Mum would be staying with us over my birthday weekend, we decided to take advantage of having a live-in babysitter and booked a hotel in Brighton for the night.
We do love a Brighton day trip but it’s also perfect for a mini-break too. It’s only around an hour form Tunbridge Wells but it has a completely different vibe. I had a look at the different hotels available online and we decided on the Hilton Brighton Metropole firstly because of where it’s located and also because it has Health Club & Spa and was really reasonably priced. Booking directly through The Hilton’s website and joining up to the Hilton Honors Club (which is free of charge) worked out to be the cheapest way of doing it for us.
I downloaded the Just Park app on the way there, which offered the cheapest parking rate and we left the car in the Regency Square carpark which cost £17 for just over a day. This is a better rate than paying on exit, so if you are interested in saving a few £££s it’s definitely worth using.
We had booked ourselves onto the British Airways i360 and I was secretly pleased when it turned out to be pretty much opposite our hotel when we arrived. Having opened in August 2016, the i360 is the latest project from Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the world-famous London Eye. Again it’s slightly better value to book tickets for the i360 online, plus you get to skip any ticket queues there may be.
My husband is not a fan of heights so he was pretty quiet as we waited to board our glass observation pod, which then glided gently up to 138m above ground level. It felt like stepping onto an airplane with the BA Staff dressed in their crew outfits, welcoming passengers at the door.
With stunning views across Brighton & Hove, the South Downs and the beautiful south coast, we enjoyed a glass of Nyetimber British sparkling wine as I posed for pics taken by a very shaky husband and some of the really lovely staff. It was a super start to our break in Brighton and I’m looking forward to taking the kids on it in future too…
Next up was check-in to our hotel. The Hilton Metropole Brighton is set on the vibrant seafront, Kings Road, and has managed to maintain its Victorian charm throughout. We had a sea-view and very spacious room on the fourth floor. As I grew up by the coast, staying anywhere with a sea-view always reminds me of being ‘home’!
I’m a huge fan of anything sweet, and one of the highlights of this mini-break was the vintage afternoon tea at The Hilton’s Waterhouse Bar. Our server, Nathaniel was as attentive as they come and the afternoon tea was awesome!
To keep momentum going after my first glass of fizz on the i360, I tried both a glass of Champagne and Prosecco, along with a super selection of decadent cakes, macaroons, scones, sandwiches and more – all served on vintage bone china and tea from a traditional teapot.
Word had spread that it was my birthday and we were invited to take part in a cocktail making masterclass with the lovely Nathaniel at the bar. A little tipsy by this stage, we picked up some useful advice on making our own cocktails and got to put our learning into action by making a Passion 76 – a mix of Absolut Vodka, Aperol, Archers, lime and passion fruit syrup. Divine! I was a little incompetent at this stage at following instructions, but if Nathaniel noticed, he didn’t say a thing.
We decided to chill out in the lounge before getting ready for ‘hitting’ the Brighton nightlife. We had a booking at The Chill Pickle for 9pm and although it was just a 15 minute walk from our hotel, it was pelting with rain, so the concierge organised a taxi for us which took only a few minutes to arrive.
The Chilli Pickle was recommended by Brighton blogger Eshe Brown (from Foodie Eshe – check it out!). Based on Jubilee Square, the restaurant is bursting with colours with a vibrant and flavoursome Indian Cusine menu. We both had the Cornfed Chiken Momos (nepalese dumplings) with a classic punchy chutney to start. Delicious!
I opted for the Hyderabad Chicken Biryani as my main course which came with riatta, fesh dates, spiced gravy and pickle on the side. Dave had the Tandoori Lamb Platter and although I enjoyed my Biryani, I have to say I did have some food envy. The subtle flavours along with the black dahl, beetroot raitta, cilli pickle and pudeena naan worked really well together.
The next morning, we went to the Health Club & Spa at The Hilton before breakfast and did several laps of the pool before trying out the steam room. The spa is bigger than I thought it would be and it was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday morning. Bonus!
The pool is quite shallow throughout, so it’s a good option if you are thinking of taking the kids too. We enjoyed the jacuzzi and finished up with a nice dry sauna which did just the job for detoxing from our previous day of indulgence!
Breakfast at The Hilton was superb. If I hadn’t turned over a new leaf (ahem!) I would have taken advantage of the bubbles on offer but opted for the freshly squeezed orange juice and a strong coffee instead. The buffet was heaving with all of the ingredients for a full English breakfast along with continental style options too – all served in the very grand 1890 At The Met with a stunning view of the sea.
A trip to Brighton wouldn’t be the same without a stroll down the pier as well as a spot of shopping at The Lanes. I visited several of my favourite shops including Cath Kidston, Jack Wills, Lush, Choccywoccydoodah, Mac and All Saints and popped in to some of the more quirky places too. Shopping without the kids in tow is an absolutely luxury and there’s no better place to do it than Brighton!
After 24 hours in Brighton, it was time to get home to see the little critters and relieve Grandma of her duties. This city is a breath of fresh-air and the ideal getaway for parents who need some time away but don’t want to go too far! I’m already planning our next visit…