Located on the south coast of England, this iconic city has quickly become one of our favourites with its bohemian vibes – discover our sustainable guide to Brighton.
Brighton in the sunshine represents so much about what Britain can be proud of – a celebration of diversity; inclusivity, creativity and – amid the kiss-me-quick hats and screams from the harem scarem rides on the pier – progressive thinking (and not just because it opened the country’s first ever naturist beach in 1980). Having voted the UK’s first Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, into power in 2010, the city has built itself into a prime example of how positive living can work for everyone. After a couple of days there it’s hard not to get the bug.
Here’s our little love letter to – and from – Brighton, with invaluable help from proud Brightonian and founder of William Vintage, William Banks-Blaney:
THINGS TO DO
From the moment you reach the endless shingle beach you’re faced with Brightonian priorities. The Rampion Project, comprising a 116-strong forest of wind turbines just off the coast, is visually controversial but when you consider its ambition to power half of Sussex’s homes by its completion next year, it’s tricky to stand against.
Pebble throwing can while away hours for children – rain or shine. We collected pebbles to take home and paint into Christmas decorations (using Okonorm environmentally friendly paints) with a promise to take them back next year.
Simple kids entertainment, including trampolining and mini golf all along the front feel like an antidote to the endless activity merry-go-round of standard city-based activities, while food and drink lined up beside them seem to be infused with positive messages too.
FOOD AND DRINK
For all the jellied eels in the world, you may want some less traditional food while you’re there. From composible straws in Jamie’s Italian; to water refill taps in Pret A Manger and vegan ice cream offered along the sea front, a trip to Brighton feels like a happy little sustainabilty pilgrimage without really having to try.
- Visit Cloud 9 for delicious homemade ice cream (hint: Malteser flavour is delicious; less so when we realised Maltesers contain palm oil **thumbs down**) – as well as incredibly elaborate – and fully vegan – cakes.
- Lucky Beach restaurant (look at the pier; walk right a bit; and hit the beach), offers great quality, high-on-taste-low-on-impact organic food, coffee and locally sourced produce. Plus gorgeous organic skincare in the bathroom.
- Stop by Audrey’s Chocolates in Hove, aka “the best choc shop,” says WB-B. “All made onsite, in one regency townhouse.”
- Cafe Pelicano in North Laine does the best coffee in Brighton – all ethically sourced and boasting unusual (sometimes quite weird and wonderful) blends including chilli and aubergine. “Fab little place, I love it,” says WB-B.
- Terre A Terre – one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in the UK “where vegetarianism is more about indulgence than abstinence” has been there almost 30 years and claims to “stimulate your mind as well as change the way you view vegetarian and vegan cuisine forever”. With good reason.
- Cafe Rust – eat delicious vegetarian food while gazing at an amazing collection of English and European antiques. It’s a joint venture with William Morris Antiques – to put you in the mood for a bit of shopping…
Brighton is a great place to go for a vintage spree, to dress either yourself or your house. For interiors, start in Kemptown where you’ll feel in the heart of the picture postcard-worthy city – its faded grandeur adding to the romance of searching out prized new-to-you pieces.
For glamorous furniture, Moderne Brighton does quite high end Forties and Fifties pieces, while nearby the Brighton Fleamarket is, says WBB, “a real hotspot of crazy and eclectic – old crystal decanters; possibly a sofa on a really good day – you just never know. It’s proper older fashioned flea market shopping.”
Swag, North Laine is a fabulous mix of antique colonial and Fifites industrial furniture: architects tables; library ladders; metal desks; light fixtures. WARNING – you may need childcare for this bit – you could lose yourself in here for hours…
AND FINALLY, CLOTHES
Wolf and Gypsy Vintage, North Laine. “It’s a fab vintage clothes shop – relatively inexpensive; full of lovely things – Thirties negligees; crazy Seventies stuff – just one of those really nicely run, unmissable vintage shops,” says William. As vintage shopping advice goes, this is about as good as it gets. Enjoy.
For more sustainable travel tips, read our guides With Love from Milan, New York, and Sri Lanka and see our list of the most sustainable cities in the world to visit.
See the best eco resorts on the planet.