Until this summer, I’d never actually been to Brighton. Shocking, I know. But that all changed with two nights at The Grand Hotel Brighton: a beautiful Victorian seafront hotel that reveals a stylishly decorated place to stay – one that’s chic yet not at all pretentious – when you step through the revolving door.
The Grand Hotel Brighton is an easy 15-20 minute walk from the train station: our mode of travel of choice, with car parking in Brighton being notoriously tricky. The Grand does have limited parking, but at £35 per night, it worked out more cost-effective to get the train in from where we’d been staying with family.
From The Grand, you’re just a stone’s throw from Brighton’s pebble beaches and the British Airways i360: a spaceship-like observation tower that gives fantastic views over the city. The shops, restaurants and amazing vibe of The Lanes are not far away, and the hotel is just along from entertainment venue, The Brighton Centre.
Immediately after arrival, the concierge team made us feel right at home – and continued to impress us throughout our stay, recognising us, remembering what we’d had planned, and asking us about it afterwards. They also gave us some great tips on events happening throughout the weekend that they thought we may find interesting.
After offering to carry our bags, they ushered us through the front door into the lofty, marble-clad entrance hall, where we dropped our bags at the concierge desk and headed to reception. We were early, but were told that we’d be phoned when our room was ready: the entire process was incredibly smooth and the reception team just as friendly and helpful as the concierge.
We decided to go and have a drink on the seafront – but not before we’d marvelled at the incredibly ornate staircase winding its way up to the upper floors.
When we returned, our bags had already been taken up to our deluxe seaview room, located on the second floor. Similar to the classic seaview rooms but with the addition of a separate seating area, these rooms appear to start from around £235 per night, bed and breakfast, increasing at weekends and during school holidays.
Our front door led into a small entrance hall where the air conditioning controls can be found, before opening out into the main room: a beautifully light and airy room with floor-to-ceiling windows across its length, and incredible views of the seafront.
The room itself was sizeable, with a separate seating area near the door, a comfortable kingsize bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and a mattress that was on the softer side, and patio doors through to a private balcony with seating.
In terms of amenities, the room was pretty well-stocked. The 32-inch LCD TV (the movement of which could have been greater) sat on the desk alongside a coffee machine, and the mini fridge contained complimentary bottled water, which was replaced each day.
A clock-radio and telephone sat on one table beside the bed, while the cupboard in the separate dressing area had plenty of space for clothes storage, as well as branded bathrobes, plenty of tea and coffee (plus milk sachets and biscuits), a kettle, a safe, an iron and ironing board, and a hairdryer.
The bathroom was a decent size, with a shower over the bath, shaver sockets, decent mirrors and a selection of Noble Isle toiletries.
Decor-wise, it was beautiful (minus the large stain on the carpet, visible in the photo below): a blend of more contemporary features and nods to the building’s history, with the room layout and amenities clearly carefully considered with guests’ needs in mind. That said, the one disappointment was the scarcity of wall sockets, which surprised us in a hotel of this standard.
After a jaunt around the seafront, it was time for dinner, booked in for us at the hotel’s restaurant: Cyan. Located just off reception, the first room you enter is stroking, with its projected images, bright lights, black walls and lofty pillars – but we were taken to a table in the adjacent room: a brighter affair, with our table beside the window for great views of the beach.
The half dozen Porlock Bay oysters (£18) were perfectly shucked, and so sweet that they didn’t really even need the raspberry vinegar and shallots they were served with – let alone the Tabasco that was offered.
Meanwhile, the pork belly starter (£8.50) was served in thin, tender slices with a meaty jus, intensely zingy baby leeks and a hearty and warming smooth charred apple purée.
The cod main course (£22) came with a beautifully rich smoked garlic and celeriac purée, earthy wild mushrooms, a perfect confit egg yolk and crispy onions for a mix of textures.
Meanwhile, my wagyu beef burger (£18) was lovely and tender, topped with rich pulled pork, local cheese and a sprinkling of crispy onions.
Less exciting was the dessert. On the other side of the table, there were no complaints about the coffee and three handmade chocolates (£5.95). However, the pineapple tatin (£8.50) was disappointing: a bowl of far-too-thick pastry topped with a caramelised pineapple ring. The coconut sorbetto it was served with was delicious, though.
We retired to our room, where we enjoyed the sounds of the live music on the beach being carried up to our window as the sun set. The bed was as comfortable as it seemed on arrival, and the thick, heavy curtains blocked out the evening light perfectly for a great night’s sleep.
Compared with what we’d seen of the rest of the hotel, breakfast the next morning was far more C&B-style – very much a corporate mass catering feel. The range of food and drinks on offer was great, though: a full cooked buffet breakfast offering; a bread and pastry station with a range of toppings; cheese and cured meats; cereals; and even a dedicated vegetarian and vegan table.
Our hot drink orders were taken as soon as we were seated, and we were impressed with the range of juices on offer, too – including a blend of apple, lemon, cucumber, mint and ginger which fast became a new favourite, and which I’ve since attempted to replicate at home.
We had plenty of time to enjoy more of the delights that Brighton has to offer before we returned to the hotel for afternoon tea in the Victora Terrace and Lounge. In 2022, the afternoon tea offering at The Grand Hotel Brighton has been voted as the town’s best in the Brighton Restaurant Awards for the third year running, so we knew we were in for a treat.
While described as a terrace, it’s simply a room at the front of the hotel: a beautifully decorated and airy room, mind, with views across to the sea (and of the classic cars appearing on the hotel’s driveway after taking part in the London to Brighton classic car rally – a treat that we hadn’t expected!)
There are various menus on offer: The Grand Afternoon Tea for £35 a head; a cream tea priced at £20; plus vegan and gluten-free options. Of course, you can also upgrade your afternoon tea by adding the boozy treat of your choice, be it a G&T, a glass of Champagne, a cocktail or a flute of local sparkling wine.
Never mind the booze, though: it was difficult enough choosing which tea to go for. I counted no fewer than 21 on the menu, including black, green and white teas, as well as herbal and other decaf options.
The Napoleon Blend that I chose – a house-blended combination of Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong and Gunpowder – certainly packed a punch: a deep, rich blend with a beautiful smokiness. Of course, it was served in its own little teapot, a tea strainer on hand to pour it into the bone china cup on the table.
The food itself was served partly on a three-tiered stand by the side of the table, partly on individual plates. We began with a buttery, flaky pork and leek sausage roll and a beautifully delicate sun blush tomato, smoked cheese and rocket quiche, before we moved onto the contents of the stand.
The sandwiches were perfectly crustless and contained four different fillings: poached salmon, cucumber and mint cream cheese, ham and English mustard, and egg mayonnaise and cress. The scones? One plain, one cherry and almond, freshly baked and still with some warmth. They were super soft inside, and it was disappointing that the clotted cream was served fridge-cold – far too cold to smear over the cut scones without them crumbling.
The cakes and pastries were a real work of art. The zingy mango and passionfruit curd meringue tart, with its mountain of torched meringue, was probably my favourite. The dark chocolate, caramel and raspberry cup was rich and delicious, the macarons beautifully made, the blackberry and white chocolate pannacotta mousse delicate and fragrant.
But that wasn’t all. The afternoon tea also includes a slice of cake from the cake trolley, and I can confirm that The Grand’s carrot cake with its generously spread cream cheese icing was well worth the need to lie down and recover afterwards.
On departure (at a very respectable checkout time of 11am), the concierge team once again offered to look after our bags so we could spend more time enjoying Brighton before heading home. It was a weekend spent enjoying the perfect blend of old-school glamour and contemporary design and service of The Grand Hotel Brighton: a place where guests enjoy incredibly chic surroundings while still able to relax thanks to the down-to-earth nature of the staff, who make every guest feel right at home. Well worth booking if you’re Brighton-bound.