Recorded as the tiny fishing village of Brithelmeston in the Domesday Book, BRIGHTON seems to have slipped unnoticed through history until the mid-eighteenth century, when the new trend for sea-bathing established it as a resort. The fad received royal approval in the 1780s, after the decadent Prince of Wales (the future George IV) began patronizing the town in the company of his mistress, thus setting a precedent for the “dirty weekend”. Trying to shake off this blowsy reputation, Brighton – which was granted city status in 2000 – now highlights its Georgian charm, its upmarket shops and classy restaurants, and its thriving conference industry. Despite these efforts, however, the essence of Brighton’s appeal remains its faintly bohemian vitality, a buzz that comes from a mix of English holiday-makers, foreign-language students, a thriving gay community and an energetic local student population from the art college and two universities.
Any trip to Brighton inevitably begins with a visit to its two most famous landmarks – the exuberant Royal Pavilion and the wonderfully tacky Brighton Pier, a few minutes away – followed by a stroll along the seafront promenade or the pebbly beach. Just as interesting, though, is an exploration of Brighton’s car-free Lanes – the maze of narrow alleys marking the old town – or a meander through the quaint, but more bohemian streets of North Laine.