Artsy, liberal, laid-back Brighton is London’s coolest cousin. It’s an hour train ride from Victoria Station, and it won me over in just one weekend.
More than a seaside resort, its famed Brighton Pier (www.brightonpier.co.uk) offers an amusement park at one end, and cafés, shops, crowds, and fish and chips everywhere else, no matter what the weather. The Pier’s adjacent beach is long, wide, and free, the English Channel laps serenely at its rocky shore, and there are umbrellas, mats, and chairs to rent and people to watch. Should you prefer to see more of them, you might try the very private nudist beach a mile east, Cliff Naturist Beach. It’s shielded from the road and very popular with you know who.
That gay demographic is considered to be about 30,000 strong in this city of 250,000, so let’s call Brighton über-gay- friendly. One of the first cities in England to offer marriage equality meant that many early civil partnership ceremonies were conducted here. The city was also the one-time hangout of Oscar Wilde, who stayed at the seafront Royal Albion Hotel(www.royal-albion-hotel.co.uk) in the latter part of the 19th century. Unfortunately, the Regency-style hotel with its original columns and balconies is a bit sad and faded, these days.